Why are alcoholics so selfish?

why are alcoholics selfish

If you are living with or care for someone who drinks too much, you have probably experienced their selfish behaviour. It is hard for someone who has not experienced alcoholism themselves to understand why this is so.

The changes in priorities

The first thing to understand is that the most important thing to an alcoholic is alcohol. They still love their families and care about their friends. But this goes alongside their alcoholism and when their need for alcohol is an absolute top priority. Only when they have fulfilled that need can they consider anything else. So that will make them seem selfish – that their need for alcohol comes first. This is no reflection on the other people they care about. The alcoholic has an all consuming driving need for alcohol and needs it both physically and mentally. The thought of not having it readily available is frightening for them.

“Blackout” and being unreliable

However alcoholics can come across as selfish not just in their need for alcohol but also in how inconsiderate and thoughtless they seem to be. A characteristic of the alcoholic is that they are unreliable and forgetful. This is a by product of the effects of the alcohol. Alcoholics often cannot remember conversations and promises made. This is due to so called ‘blackout’. Some people think that blackout involves unconsciousness but this is not so. An alcoholic in blackout can seem perfectly ‘normal’ in that the alcoholic appears to be functioning and can hold a conversation.

However the next day or even later the same day they will have no recollection of what they did or said. So they will not fulfil their commitments (as they do not remember making them). And it can make the people they were talking to feel that they are not important and were not even being heard. It is very frustrating for those on the receiving end of this experience.

Why it is hard to keep the promises

An alcoholic can also seem selfish because their drinking directly affects their ability to keep ‘appointments’. They will promise to meet people somewhere or be home at a certain time. But they then find the lure of the pub and alcohol supply as a stronger draw. ‘Just one more’ before leaving the pub becomes several more. And before they know it they have missed that meeting or failed to arrive home. Leading to disappointment, let down, upset and anger.

Other selfish traits of the alcoholic are their seeming to want to hog all the attention when they are ‘socialising’. They can be very talkative, ‘the life and soul’ – to the detriment of allowing others space to shine. They can be boringly repetitive and can also be extremely indiscreet. This can result in their need for attention and being considered important over riding their understanding that the information they hold is sensitive. You may have told them something in confidence, but after a drink or several they are no longer able to keep that confidence.

So yes – alcoholics can appear to be and indeed are – selfish. However, once sober and no longer wanting to drink they can be absolutely lovely people. And because they will want to make up to you for their previous selfishness, they can be the most loving, giving and generous people out there. Click this link to learn more about alcoholics.

For confidential advice with your addiction contact The Haynes Clinic at 01462 851414