Live and Let Live!

This phrase can have several different meanings, especially for those of us who are alcoholics. When we were drinking, its most appropriate use was in trying to fob off our critics – leave us alone, we are not doing any harm.

Originally, before our drinking became a problem, perhaps we enjoyed a drink or two (or three) in the company of our friends and had a happy ‘live and let live’ party lifestyle. Then, because we were destined to become alcoholics and have the illness, our drinking got worse and we began to hide its full extent. We drank alone and often secretly. We had bottles hidden and sometimes more than one bottle ‘on the go’ at once. Felt we needed a drink in order to be able to function ‘normally’ – even though our drinking began to make us more anxious and stressed – the very opposite of what it did initially. We even became defensive and or argumentative trying to defend ourselves from our critics (usually the people who loved us and actually cared). Live and let live, we argued. We are doing no harm.

Devastating and Damaging Effects

But we were and eventually the drink came to have such a devastating and damaging effect on our lives that we found the courage and strength to stop – we knew it was killing us and we decided we wanted to live. Then ‘live and let live’ took on a new meaning.

People in recovery are not different to those people not in recovery. We still meet all types of people and some of them are ‘not our type’. Even in AA, a place where we have so much in common with everyone, there will be certain personalities which grate on us. We have to learn to tolerate these differences and not judge them. We need to understand other people as it is essential to our well being. Certainly no one who irritates us should lead us back to the bad old days of drinking. Nothing is worth that! Bear in mind, that if your fellows in AA are working their programme, they too will be trying to understand you rather than judge you.

Stick With the Winners

Stick with the winners – the people who seem to have a good solid recovery (preferably measured in years), who are working their programme and who are ‘your type’ of people. Walk away from anyone who you believe could either lead you back to drink or drive you back to it. Don’t ever let anyone get to you such that your resentment with them (and therefore indirectly that person) controls your life. Try to put yourself in their shoes in order to understand them better and to then let the resentment go.

If you are living a full and fulfilled life, you should not have so much time or mental space to be overly concerned about how others are living their lives.

‘Live and let live’!


The Haynes Clinic is a drug and alcohol rehab clinic offering detox and treatment for those suffering from addiction to alcohol, drugs and prescription medication. Call 01462 851414 for confidential help and advice.