Two people talking about what's inside the mind of alcoholics

Inside the Mind of an Alcoholic

You may sometimes wonder what goes on inside the mind of an alcoholic if someone close to you has an addiction. It can be easy to blame them for the addiction, but it is essential to take the time to understand what is happening in the mind of an alcoholic. Once you familiarize yourself with the nature of addiction to alcohol and the mind’s reaction, you can separate the disease from the person and learn how to respond with love and support.  

If someone in your life would benefit from alcohol rehab, Promises Brazos Valley can help. Contact our team at 979.426.0086. We offer a full range of treatment options, including family counseling to help heal your relationship as your loved one works to overcome alcohol use disorder (AUD).  

What Goes on Inside the Mind of an Alcoholic  

Alcohol interacts with brain neurotransmitters responsible for positive mood. Neurotransmitters like dopamine induce pleasurable feelings that make people want to continue drinking.  

Distorted Priorities  

If you have ever felt betrayed by your loved one because they have chosen alcohol over spending time with you, then you have witnessed how alcohol addiction can distort one’s priorities. Other pleasurable activities are no match for alcohol’s powerful effects on the brain’s reward system in a person with AUD. So when the person you care about is deficient in feel-good hormones due to addiction, they will often choose alcohol over everything else.  


When a person struggles with AUD, the last thing they want to hear from others is that they have a problem. If you comment about how much your loved one drinks or how often they drink, they might respond with anger and defensiveness. They may try to hide their consumption or make it seem like you overreact because they do not want to quit drinking. For many people with AUD, getting sober would mean facing emotions they have been trying to bury.  


Denial often goes hand in hand with defensiveness. Even if you define moderate drinking—up to one drink per day for women and two per day for men—a person who drinks excessively may deny that there is anything wrong. They may insist that they practice moderation because they do not feel drunk.  

If someone is a functional alcoholic, they might argue that their drinking has not interfered with their life, so it must not be problematic. If a person with AUD does not want to change their relationship with alcohol, they will be unwilling to admit they have a problem, no matter how much evidence you provide.  

How to Support a Loved One Struggling with AUD  

Having a loved one with AUD can be challenging. While you want to be supportive, you also want to avoid enabling the addiction. Here are a few tips on how to help a loved one addicted to alcohol:  

  • Speak with them when they are not drinking.  
  • Express your concern for their well-being without placing blame.  
  • Ask how they are doing, and take the time to listen without interruption.  
  • Encourage them to talk to a professional, whether a doctor, therapist, or addiction treatment provider.   
  • Research local treatment options and offer to call for them or go with them to their appointment.  

Try to remain calm and supportive, even if your loved one refuses to get treatment. Prepare yourself for the possibility that they may need to hit rock bottom before that happens. In this case, you should create healthy boundaries for what you will not tolerate. For example, if the person behaves embarrassingly when drinking in social situations, you can tell them you will leave the event without them— then follow through and be consistent.  

Find Alcohol Rehab in Texas at Promises Brazos Valley  

If someone you love struggles with AUD, you may become frustrated with how the addiction has hurt your relationship. But now that you are aware of how alcohol and the mind work, you are better able to support your loved one and guide them toward recovery. Contact us at 979.426.0086 for advice on helping someone with AUD or to help them enroll in treatment. 

Scroll to Top