"Why Are Recovering Alcoholics So Selfish?"

     Just came across this search phrase:

     “Why are recovering alcoholics are so selfish?”

     So sad, given the entire program of Alcoholics Anonymous warns that untreated and unattended selfishness will kill us whether we are using or not.


     “Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles…  So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.62
     Selfishness and AA is actually an oxymoron, though you wouldn’t know it today. The 12 Steps and selfishness are actually incompatible, but sadly, mainstream AA today has little to do with showing alcoholics how to recover. This new age of easier, softer ways is infecting newcomers with a sort of watered-down breed of selfish AA, all too willing to ignore the original wisdom and magic of the removal of self. Recovering from addiction was about two things: God and service. And now? Admittedly, I have no idea because I just can’t sit in meetings anymore and see what we’ve done to the program.
     A recent commenter asserted confidently that recovering and recovered mean the same thing, that it’s just “SEMANTICS”. Lol. First, since the meaning of words is all we have to convey different ideas, the notion that they are the same thing is absurd. And this is sort of irrelevant, but semantics, as it were, is the branch of linguistics concerned with meaning (sense, reference, context, implication etc.), so the cliche’ “It’s just semantics” disproves the very point it’s trying to make on its face. It’s almost as bad as when people say, “I could care less”, which means the precise opposite of the sentiment they want to convey. If you could care less about something, then you care about it. “I couldn’t care less” is the proper phraseology. No offense.
     At any rate, the above search question is from some poor soul who is obviously suffering the presence of someone ‘in recovery’, and it is proof the two terms are totally different, among other reasons. Anyone who is truly okay is no longer a selfish shithead. And that is the difference between recovering and recovered. Recovered individuals have a completely different attitude than the recovering man-child who still sees himself or herself as a victim and sees everything and everyone as an extension of his or her self, i.e. a narcissist.
     Recovering alcoholics continue to be preoccupied with themselves – their comfort, their needs, their feelings. Yup, I know, it’s rough. Don’t worry, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no angel myself, but I do know how selfish I was and I know when I’m still being selfish because I write inventory, which is also an active effort to remove the selfishness. This is crucial because selfishness is one of the most destructive forms of spiritual poison that exist. I also try to take care of my family and give most of my free time to this shit when sure I’d rather be playing golf or whining about my life in some meeting. Kidding, relax.
     Remember, what we all do is creating the world we leave behind, so forget about just being your average sheep who has yet to wake up, being an active addict or a selfish recovering alcoholic sulking around and hanging on by a thread is unacceptable. And given those who are currently in power are doing one helluva job wrecking the country and the rest of the world, the future could use as much help as possible.

48 thoughts on “"Why Are Recovering Alcoholics So Selfish?"

  1. “Selfishness is one of the most destructive forms of spiritual poison that exist.”

    This is a very good phrase to remember. Excellent post, thank you. The selfishness of alcoholics/addicts is indeed sickening.

  2. Wow… you're 'recovered'? Semantically speaking, that's pretty impressive since I was under the impression that 'recovery' was a life long process!! If one's main purpose in AA is to stay sober and help another alcoholic, I hope you are kinder than this to members of the countless recovery troves!

  3. Thank you for being so honest. My fiance' is very selfish, even though he will be celebrating 15 years of Sobriety. The sad thing is, he does not see it, but I call him out on it. Everything is always about him, his needs, wants….im just sick of it.

  4. My dad and I just had a conversation about this in regards to my 50yr old brother ( who has now been sober 4yrs)…We're very glad that he's been able to achieve that, but have noticed that he's probably even more self-centered than he was when he was drinking…He's pretty much abdicated any responsibility to his children who are suffering with their own addictions…Which means he's basically passed the buck to any other family member they might go to…When my mother passed away he did very little in regards to helping settle her estate or pack up her house…He had AA meetings to attend…I understand on one level he has to stay focused on himself…To a point…But, in some ways he's just replaced the alcohol with meetings, church, and a new found love of guns and target shooting.

    My dad said while his changes are commendable in all honesty it doesn't seem to have made him a happier person…In fact just the opposite…So I guess you'd say we're happy he's found a way to quit drinking but a little sad that it seems to have taken something out of him and made him even more selfish than he already was.

    ( And we're not drinkers so it's not that we “miss” drinking with him).

  5. We all have our own path in recovery. As a drinking alcoholic I was indeed selfish. Over 20 years of sobriety I am less selfish but am a work in progress. By following the steps, helping others and passing it on I stay better. I can't speak for others. Loved ones of alcoholics have dealt with selfishness during years of their lives … I can't say what they should do or think. I just know that I am keeping my own sidewalk clean.

  6. Thank you for your post I searched the selfish addict and I found this and it gave me such great insight on the topic I am in recovery and I am trying to so desperately to continue on this path after so many failed attempts I now know the meaning of “pray without work is dead” thanx for your help believe it or not it certainly made me want to step back and take a closer look at me.

  7. Thank you for your post I searched the selfish addict and I found this and it gave me such great insight on the topic I am in recovery and I am trying to so desperately to continue on this path after so many failed attempts I now know the meaning of \”pray without work is dead\” thanx for your help believe it or not it certainly made me want to step back and take a closer look at me.

  8. All I know is my brother is a alcoholic and he blames everybody else for his relapses.He is the most selfish,messed up,POS,garbage when he drinks.I'd have had enough of the bastard.He's been in rehab so many times it's like a revolving door.He says he has lost the spark when it comes to Christ and his Christianity.Do us all a favor Bro.Get well or go all the way.So you have Peace and rest and you stop hurting your family.Hell on earth is having alcoholism run in your family line. It's all F^cked up.I'm planning to move and never come back or give my phone number# or Address.It's too much 2 long of destruction and hatred.F^ck all Alcoholics to the bone marrow!!!!!!!!!

  9. I am a recovering alcoholic. I completely agree with this article. I see many selfish sober people in meetings who have replaced alcohol with meetings. If they don't have a meeting they will relapse. Meetings are there to help us recover rather than a replacement of alcohol.

  10. I am a recovering alcoholic. I completely agree with this article. I see many selfish sober people in meetings who have replaced alcohol with meetings. If they don't have a meeting they will relapse. Meetings are there to help us recover rather than a replacement of alcohol.

  11. I agree with “Unknown” post of Oct 1, 2015. i have also recovered from alcoholism and see a lot selfish behavior in the meetings. i couldn't put my finger on it until i read the posts on this site. i am also a victim of a suicidal alcoholic spouse that was consumed by selfishness to the very end. Selfishness is the cause for the misery of the mind, alcoholism is just one of the symptoms. Suicide is one of the other symptoms.

  12. I too searched selfish addict and found this. Im always trying to get him to see the utter crap his selfishness puts me through. What came first, the addict, or the selfish narc?

  13. WOW! No matter how well a recovering addict does, getting well, working on them selves, helping other addicts, service work …Sometimes it's just not good enough in the families eyes. They will still find any thing to bitch about some will always still blame the addict for not being just like THEY WANT us to be so who's selfish? When invited to an open AA meeting or AA Birthday o even to their new home…GO…It does not matter if your an addict or not no one likes rejection it hurts …Sooooooo I just stopped asking

  14. I thought a recovering alcoholic would be a better spouse/father than an non-recovering alcoholic but I was wrong. Every relapse on his road to recovery was someone or somethings fault. Never takes responsibility for his own actions. Hasn't worked in years, hasn't gotten up in the morning at the same time as the kids and I, just wants to be babied for the rest of his life. I'm sick of walking on eggshells around him. Every morning I'm apparently stressing HIM out about getting out of bed. Every time I bring up money and how I can't keep supporting us by myself I'm stressing HIM out. And if I stress him out too much he will relapse or hurt himself in another way and it will be my fault. He should have been going to therapy or meeting for years but refused and now it's just too late.

  15. I too experienced the same with an alcoholic who is now in recovery. I had to find my way back to normalcy by divorcing him and have been in therapy for six months. Addicts are self-absorbed and frankly, I hope I never meet another one again.

  16. Self absorbed, self involved and selfish to the core explains my recovering alcoholic brother to a tee! Twenty-five years sober and he's still not made any attempts to make amends, even after I pointed out the fact that he skipped a step or two from the 12 step program. HIS idea of making amends was to stop drinking, while conveniently forgetting about others he has harmed. I just recently had a conversation with him about this very topic, but he was extremely defensive in my attempts to reach him. What incited me into finally confronting him was the discovery that he also attends Al-Anon meetings in addition to his tri-weekly AA meetings. Of course I need to point out that neither one of our parents were alcoholics, nor any other close family member. He feeds off of attention, but sadly is devoid of any self awareness and he thrives off of being the constant victim. I need to remove myself from this dysfunctional relationship while there is still enough of me leftover. I'm out!

  17. I just got rid of my ex because of sefishness. He only loves and looks out for the one in the mirror looking back at him !! He is a 20 year recovering alcoholic. I attended alot of meetings with him and they are nothing but a pick up place.

  18. Yes! I was so happy my husband went to AA finally and truthfully I really DID do everything to support it. I even started Al-Anon. I did learn that they will become very self absorbed but I did not realize it would be that bad to the point that I almost don't matter. I was still blamed for any behavior of mine that might set him off to drinking again. I am a bit disappointed that AA doesn't touch much on what the spouse is going through and has gone through so that they can see things a bit more from our point of view. Al-Anon touches on both sides.

  19. I finally divorced my alcoholic husband who has been in recovery for three years. I honestly like him better when he was drunk. What happens in recovery is the true-self comes out.

  20. Wow!! I am in the exact same hell you are all in. Alcoholic ex wife. She does a 28 day rehab and now she thinks she has a PHD in sobriety. Tells whoever will listen that I am to blame for her drinking but fails to mention that she drank before we met and drank more for 4 years after the divorce. She doesn't want to hear a thing about the pain she put people through. She is always at meetings but doesn't share. Talks about rehab like it was summer camp. Absolutely pathetic. Its true. She was easier to deal with when she drank.

  21. Wow!! I am in the same hell you are all in. My ex wife just finished rehab. She acts like she has a PHD in sobriety. Blames me for her drinking. Fails to mention that she drank before we met and drank more for the 4 years after the divorce. Constantly goes to AA meetings and doesn't share. Honestly she was easier to deal with when she drank. The selfishness is so bad. God forbid you try to talk about the pain she caused me and out

  22. My recovering Alc partner or rather ex partner though we are still somewhat close has turned quite narcissistic in his ways since starting recovery 7 wks ago. He ended our relationship 2 days after quitting the drink and I know it was via withdrawal that he did that and staged it to rid me. He is selfish to the extreme, my feelings matter not a toss, he has even quite clearly told me this is about me and all about me and that if he thinks their is the slightest indication that I say something he won't like he will hang up the phone…….this came from nowhere…..i don't challenge him or ask how he feels about me yet I'm still 'put in my place' Its horrid being on the receiving end of someone like this. I'm now doing more for myself as eventually I shall just leave him to his own devices.

  23. If there are Al-Anon meetings in your area, I strongly encourage you to attend one. I received vital information about addicts that helped me in the long run. If you can afford therapy, please make an appointment up. Best of luck to you.

  24. Three things have helped me tremendously after my divorce.Al-Anon meetings, a therapist, and a psychiatrist who prescribed antidepressants. Remember, that grieving takes a long time to heal. Don't beat yourself up like I did. Best of luck..

  25. My ex girlfriend was a recovering alcoholic and our whole relationship involved around her \”issues\”. I felt that I was \”slotted\” into whatever time/space she had left having to deal with her internal issues constantly. Well if someone can only give only a small percentage of \”life energy\” to a relationship, that relationship is doomed. I had to break it off.

  26. My bf has been sober 14 months. I feel I am a fill in between everything else in his life. He probably doesnt realize he is being selfish because he doesnt exhibit self awareness. It has been challenging to say the least. He doesnt work his program hard enough.He gets angry when confronted most times. May have to let go and take care of me

  27. I know this is 2 years on, just found this but can I just say, reading this has made me feel so much better! My partner of 16 years is 4 months in recovery after putting me through years of help and is is just as selfish as he was before. He has really taken AA on which has been amazing but what hurts is there seems to be no focus on the family. He loves telling me how much help he is getting and about his new social life. It's great, I dont drink myself but still left on my own. Over the years I ended up isolating myself and thout him being sober could mean a new life for us both, but not so. I absolutely see no point to me in his life at all. Your comments are correct we should just fuck them all and leave them to recovery.

  28. My partner is in recovery 4 months after a relapse from 2 years recovery. I too wish they would look at the effect their addition/being in recovery has on families. I support him 100% never argue with him, never discuss if I have a problem in 16 years. He was evil when drunk and hungover. There is so much I have never dealt with and oddly I keep crying for no reason this last 2 weeks. I am a very strong person but feels like this is slipping away from me. Bit scared by this but can do nothing but talk to a wall. My experiences have not been goo but they still dont address this when sober just bang on about how we all need to be extra careful with their feelings. I am just so angry and upset.

  29. Matt, I feel for you, the lies my partner of 16 years told to me and about when drunk were horrific. He went to prison for 3 months for attacking and even though he is in recovery still says he didn't do anything! This was not what I was expecting. I thought he would acknowledge what happened in detail and ar least apologise. This supposed to be one of the steps but he has never acknowledged anything he did, just gives the line. Sorry for the hurt I may have caused!

  30. My partner is just the same. How the hell do the rest of deal lifespan issues. It's not just selfishness that is always there, it's the emotional immaturity. I dont know how much more I am able to handle. I agreed to support him but now I think he is just taking the piss

  31. My ex-husband is a recovering alcoholic. What he left me is anxiety, depression, and the need for extensive therapy. I am strong willed woman, but strong people are not exempt from drug addiction. I'm forever grateful to God for pulling me out of my marriage mentally and physically. It's taken a very long time. Focus on YOUR recovery like I did. Let go of the hate because it will consume you. God Bless.

  32. I couldn't agree with you more on the emotional immaturity and selfishness. My relationship has just ended with a recovering alcoholic a year in recovery and I realised it was all about him. He ended it as soon as there was a bump in the road and the inability to communicate emotions and feelings. There was no remorse or apology for the hurt caused after we had a miscarriage and that was it relationship over. I was always so supportive and never judged his past however when I needed him most it became all about him.

  33. PART 1: WOW! Isn't this the ugly truth? I read this blog entry and it just resonated SO much. My now ex is a self-absorbed, absent-minded, mindless, beyond selfish person. We had been together 3 months short of 7 years before he broke it off. The writing was on the wall since the start. At the beginning, I suppose I didn't mind the \”distance.\” I don't think I was emotionally available to be in a relationship. But I plunged. I think at some point through the years, I grew to want more. I yearned to be listened. To feel important to my partner. To feel like I mattered. Instead, I felt like an inconvenience. An obstacle. I figured \”this is the way things are.\” He's not beating me. He doesn't force me to do anything to compromise my morals/values/life. He provided me with everything I asked for. Never said no to me. I believe it's because he didn't want to bother or even think about anything besides himself, so he always says YES. Looking back, I see he was “PASSIVELY” EMOTIONALLY AWFUL to me. He didn't beat me, or yell at me, but he, he made me feel like I didn't matter. I don't feel like a victim. I allowed this into my life, and fought to keep it, voluntarily. I invited it, and worked to keep it. But he is not a good person. The abandonment I felt from him through the years, a partner should never feel. The discomfort of feeling one is in the way, a partner should never feel. His actions spoke… Every day. I was in his way. I was an obstacle. A burden. Many times I requested we backed up and live in separate homes, and keep dating each other. Together, but not under the same roof. He never agreed to that. I'll never understand that. He wanted me in the house, but didn't want to bother with me.

  34. PART 2: A thought comes to mind. At the very beginning, I remember him not liking to stay in my Apt. He's a creature of habit. He has a very rigid morning schedule (by his design). When I stayed in his apt, there was no issue. I can stay anywhere. He's not wired that way. Makes me think there's a connection with this, and him wanting me under the same roof as him. ZERO EFFORT. ZERO SACRIFICES. I'm where he wants me to be. Within the comfort of his 4 walls. We lived together in his bachelor apt for a few months before I gave up my apt to get an apt together. And even then, I was the one that had to stay with him, in his apt, and had to take different means of transportation to get to work. I was flexible w changing my life for an \”us,\” even when I wasn't sure I wanted an \”us\”. But I felt that I was the only one compromising. Moving to the town he wanted. He's the one that rented the apt w/o me seeing it. It was what he wanted all the time when it came to this type of stuff. I write this and I'm still puzzled. Why did I allow someone else to mistreat me this way, and make me feel like I was an unwanted old piece of furniture in the middle of a room? The writing was on the wall. In hindsight, it was screaming at me. Sometimes, we just don't want to SEE. I grew to resent him, and that made me an awful person as well. I am glad I \”stumbled\” on this blog entry. Between what you wrote, and some of the comments, I can see it wasn't just… ME. We live and learn from the experiences we live as we grow older. One thing I can take from this is, I will stay away from recovery people (romantically) from this moment forward. There is no way I'll be able to handle this type of treatment again. I am glad you, the author, were able to see beyond the AA world of Recovery, and were able to tweak it to make you a better person. God bless you and your loved ones! And thank you for this gift you put out in the world! It touched me.

  35. Topsea Crets, I literally lost myself during my marriage to an alcoholic. Yes, drug addicts are master manipulators and extremely selfish. When my ex-husband went through sobriety, his behavior turned him into an angry man. He spoke to me harshly and couldn't stand the site of me. It's taken me over three years to find myself through therapy, and antidepressants (helped tremendously). Remember that \”We are never alone, Jesus is with us\”..

  36. This is probably the thread I needed to read more than anything.The angry aggressive self pitying victim drunk, is now the angry self pitying victim in recovery. The co dependence issues I have need addressing, but for the benefit of my future relationships, not to hang onto this horrible person who I have thrown so much deep, supportive, selfless love into. I could never understand how he could do the same thing over and over, and expect something different to happen, it seemed I was doing the same thing. Loving, supporting, fixing, and hoping for a change. I genuinely believe that unless recovery deals with the deep pain, the broken child who never grew up, then attending rehab, not drinking, sitting in meetings but still burning inside, then the person will never be healed. AA commits you to accepting there is no healing, no cure, they allow addicts to shift their reliance onto the meetings. Thats plausible to get off drinking, but surely there is a step further than that? If you give up smoking by vaping, then stay vaping for ever, you are better for not smoking, but you have merely replaced one crutch with another. I feel a bit like this about AA.Its a fantastic start, but its a set of rules and guidelines, carved in stone it seems nearly 100 years ago, and people wont allow any growth and development from what is a great starting platform, into something more permanent and something that gives you your life back. I may be wrong, but thats where I am at the moment.Thanks for this page, I feel im not as mad as I thought I was!!!

  37. My GF of 6 years is 26 years sober. Everything is about her, her needs, her spirituality, her recovery, her feelings. The selfishness continues throughout every facet of our lives as I am expected to provide and do so without gratitude. I also operate in our daily lives walking on egg shells. I rarely say the right thing. Almost everything I ask or say is met with rebuttal. I believe the selfishness of an alcoholic is a personality trait that contributes (among other factors) to uncontrolled drinking and addiction. I think the unselfish person is not driven to drink and does not become an addict.

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