Thoughts on alcoholism


#1

I don't want to go into too much detail because it doesn't matter a whole lot. It's all pretty typical, really. My husband has been an alcoholic for most of our marriage. Up until the last few years he was, what people refer to as a "functional alcoholic" - held a job, primarily self-medicated with alcohol, kept himself comfortably numb but did so without getting drunk or being out of line. A few years ago he got really sick and was sober for a while. Since then it's been a lot of ups and downs, ons and offs, etc. Now though, when he starts, his personality changes immediately and he becomes argumentative, surly, and just says and does a lot of dumb things. He will also go through a lot of money, fast. ($100 in less than a week). We live pay check to pay check and have 7 children so there just isn't room for spending money on alcohol.

In spring he almost drank to death and went into a treatment program. He did really well but didn't keep up with it when he got out. For a while we were meeting with his counselor as a couple but he won't go at all anymore. While we were still meeting with him though, I had told him that if he continues to drink I would take control of all the money. He didn't like that but I said it had to be that way. So, when he started again, I opened a new bank acct, transferred money from our joint acct into it, and that was that. He's mad, but he's sober and I told him I'd rather have him mad at me for the rest of our lives so long as he's sober and alive. Sadly, every time he gets even a little money, he immediately buys alcohol with it. I buy him gas cards, get his cigarettes, pick up whatever he needs from the store - and I willingly do that because I feel like it's too big a risk to give him cash.

Tonight he had money because he gets a small disability check each month from the Army. Initially, I was going to wait and see what he did with it, give him a chance to make good. I knew immediately though that he had been drinking - not much but something. I took the rest of the money out of his pocket. He knows I have it but hasn't confronted me. He's mad though and is currently sleeping on the couch.

It's one of those moments when I wish there was a real life "Easy" button, or a way to get a specific answer from God to say what the right thing is. I know I've hurt him, damaged trust (again), and made him mad. Yet, I feel like I have an obligation to protect him and our kids from his alcoholism. Like I said, I'd rather have him mad and alive, yk? I'm sitting here trying to decide if I should be the bigger person and say, "I'm sorry, let's try to figure this out," knowing that he won't discuss it, wont' meet with his counselor, and will likely just blow the $100 before the week is up leaving us to suffer with his ugly attitude. Or say, "I'm sorry," but stick to my guns and tell him that things will change when we start to meet with the counselor again.

There's obviously a lot more to our story but I'll just assure any reader that I'm fine. No, I don't go to alanon though I've considered it. I have a fantastic support system and the kids and I stay very busy with our lives. We are active at out church, the kids have lessons, we have friends. We live. Keith has, very sadly, chosen to wall himself up in his selfishness and perceived pain and separate himself from all that would help him. There's nothing I can do to change him or his choices. I love him and always will, and I feel dreadfully sorry for him about how he has chosen to lead his life because he misses out on so much, but they were his choices. If he wants something different out of life, he needs to take the steps to change.

Any thoughts on the whole money thing is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Deo Juvante, Jen


#2

I think writing that all out helped me clarify things to myself. I opted to say I was sorry but suggest that we get back to meeting with the counselor and keep the money. I think I just needed to think it all out a little. Also, I wanted to make sure I had the right motivation. I’m doing this for him and for the kids - not for me, not for revenge or to be controlling (even though he never did wish me happy birthday today! lol). I really hate doing it but I feel like he has left me with little other choice.

So, I’ll still take BTDT advice if anyone has any. I’ll also take all the prayers anyone has to offer!!! Thanks so much!!!

Deo Juvante, Jen


#3

Reading this I dont feel like you have to be sorry. Your intentions are good, I feel. Although, I guess it was stealing. I’m sad you are going through this… I’m in the same boat as you. My husband has a problem and recently admitted it. Does he get help? for the first few weeks after he “gets caught”, but then something always comes up. I"m so sick of the lies and deceit!!!


#4

Alcoholism is a terrible disease. My heart goes out to the sufferers and families that have to go through it. God bless you.

You are right by not enabling him. Allowing him access to the family funds is enabling. It’s a hard road. He will be resentful. It won’t fix the problem. You have to take care of your children, yourself, and your husband. All nine of you are depending upon prudent money management.

My impression from your post is that your husband has not admitted to himself that he needs help. If that’s the case, I doubt that counseling or A.A. will help. It takes prayer and pain. His pain and usually the prayers of others. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. I went to my first A.A. meeting while my parents were on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. They were praying for me. It helped. I have been sober for 22 years.


#5

Oh, I wish you the best with this.:console:

My DH died within the last year from alcoholism. The pattern sounds very much identical to your DH’s. He would always hand me his paycheck and ask me to put his gas money into his checking account, so it always appeared very controlled by me. The difference with mine was he had a business credit card I did not know about until after he had been in the hospital for 3 weeks that he was putting personal charges on - $2,000 of “liquid lunch” :eek: for the month immediately before he was admitted to the hospital, where he ultimately died.

He also tried to hide bottles in his jacket and car. My oldest son now has his father’s vehicle, and he was doing a thorough cleaning of it over Christmas. Found shotglasses and little airline bottles. So please be vigilant and aware.:hug1:

So, I am with you on this.


#6

im_wildrose,

i dont have time right now to tell any of my experience with this. but i have it (not with my husband, he’s not an addict)

but you asked about the money. you cant make husband STOP drinking but you can reduce the damage it has on your family. you’re checking your motives against vengeance and controlling and trying to act out of responsible concern for your family.

in al-anon, it’s called ‘detaching with love.’ it’s hard to learn, harder to practice. you’re making good choices in navigating around his alcoholism.


#7

there is only one response for the family of an alcholic, functional or not, and that is al-anon. get your kids who are still at home into the organization for children of alcoholics, they will need it if you don’t want to perpetuate this into the next generation. You are probably 7 kids to late taking charge of the money but to it today. No discussion, no debate. You need al-anon to work you through this if you are still in denial, as you are as long as you allow him this level of control.


#8

Here is the link to AlAnon and Alateen. al-anon.alateen.org/ It's not about figuring out how to control him, it's about keeping yourself sane. I know you said you have a fantastic support system and church, but it's not the same as sharing and listening in a room of people who are in your situation.

Is there a reason why you are reluctant to go or have you just not gotten around to it yet? I assure you, you don't even have to speak, you can just listen. There are great people there.

Even if you can't bring yourself to go to that first meeting yet, you could read the site and even order some literature. I notice they have a new book out (yay!) with a sample chapter posted online. al-anon.alateen.org/pdf/B-24_step1Web.pdf

My father was an alcoholic (got into recovery when he was in his early 50s) and it had a lifelong effect on me but I found serenity in AlAnon. At first I was afraid to go to meetings, so I just read the books. When I did go to the meetings, I wished I'd gone earlier!

P.S. I know you said you were looking for advice about the money aspect, but it's not about the money, it's about the disease. The money is a symptom. Alcoholism is a family disease and you will find healing (for yourself) in AlAnon.


#9

There has been alcoholism in my birth family, and it's extremely hard to live with. Evidently you have found a way to do it. Not really satisfactory, but it seems better than most situations in which an adult is an alcoholic.

I am extremely surprised your husband goes along with the money arrangement, and wonder just a bit whether he has some alternative source of liquor money.

Alcoholism is like a "third party" in a marriage. The alcoholic is responsible, yes, but alcoholism drives the alcoholic more than the alcoholic chooses the alcoholism, and it has its own "personality". I don't think there is any cure at all other than the final (and very painful) decision that the alcoholic will never drink again. Not one little sip on New Year's. Not a piece of rum-soaked cake. Not veal scallopini alla marsala. Not cough syrup laced with alcohol. Nothing at all. Not ever. When the alcoholic is sober, those precautions seem needless. Nevertheless, he/she needs to simply adopt the conviction that, whether it always seems to make sense or not, he/she will never, ever taste alcohol again. And the recovering alcoholic will always feel there is a hole in his/her life without alcohol, because "me drinking" has become a part of the personality he perceives that he has. That's why recovering alcoholics never say they're "cured"; only "recovering".

Your husband has obviously not come to that point.

While alcoholism is a physical phenomenon, there are often psychological underpinnings to it; if nothing other than the mental gyrations it takes to remain as an alcoholic. It would be nice if he would seek out such help (and it can be long-term and hard to deal with). Sometimes involuntary commitments can be the catalyst, but mostly the alcoholic has to want to not be an alcoholic.

One brighter note; the children of alcoholics usually do not become alcoholics. Alcoholism, though, does have a way of "skipping generations"; a fact that tends to support an inheritable vulnerability to it that the first generation which witnesses its effects, escapes by avoidance.

You are an extraordinary courageous person. I'll pray for your family.


#10

I should add this, perhaps.

Just because one treatment session doesn’t work, it does not mean none ever will. A person in my family went through three, and only the third one stuck for life.


#11

Thank you for the responses so far. I wanted to respond to a couple of things.

I know it might be hard to see from the little bit that I wrote, but truly I am not controlled by my husband. I choose to get him the gas cards and cigarettes because I don’t want him to have any excuses to ask for cash. I try to treat Keith with Christian love and kindness as best as humanly possible. Inside, he is really a hurt little boy who throws temper tantrums. He rants and raves and threatens to close our joint account, take me off of it, quit working, etc. but, at the end of the day, he doesn’t do anything. He goes to work, comes home, sits on the computer, goes to bed. He doesn’t try to tell me what I can or can’t do or control our comings and goings. The kids and I have very active lives. I am co-president of my Altar Society Circle, we are active in our homeschooling group, I participate in Confraternity of Christian Mothers at our parish, plus I work part time driving school bus in the morning and have the kids involved in Tae Kwon Do and gymnastics. Our eldest child is 17 and is bound for college in fall. She already knows where she wants to go for graduate school! Of the 4 middle ones who are 11, 10, 9, and 8, three do Tae Kwon Do three hours a week and the fourth does gymnastics at the pre-competitive level 5 hours a week. Fortunately, all four go at the same time!! The youngest two are 3 and 22 months so they are busy just being toddlers.

All that probably addresses the question about Al-Anon too, I suspect. I’ve meant to go, I have a list of local meetings, I just don’t make the time for it. And yes, I’m aware that I’m not making the time for it. I went once and it was ok. I can’t even begin to imagine what else they could do for me at present though. Perhaps that sounds egotistical of me. I will admit that I’m a little resentful that I have to take time out of something else I would rather be doing to go to a meeting because he is the alcoholic. Also, we have nothing here for kids through Al-Anon. Our kids have been seeing counselors at our local Rape and Abuse Crisis Center though because the four middle kids were violated by a neighbor - but that’s another story altogether. But whatever my reasons, if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m probably not going to go to Al-Anon anytime soon. I consider myself a strong person who leans on God wholly and completely. He is my Strength and Salvation, my soul’s True Spouse. It is He who I live to please - not my husband, not my kids, not my friends. We are blessed with three priests at our parish, all of whom I have talked to at one time or another and have given me wonderful guidance and support.

Finally, I realize now I was just having doubts last night, and we all know where those come from! I still am a little today but mostly I feel confirmed in having done the right thing. I say a Rosary every night for him and spent some very deliberate time in prayer this morning. Keith is very angry but, oh well. That is his problem, not mine. He doesn’t know or understand right now what is good for him. Honestly, I am overall thankful for his alcoholism. This experience has brought me much closer to God than I think I ever could have been before. I’ve been able to see and feel God moving in our lives in so many ways over the years. God is truly a living, moving force in my soul.

Thank you again so much for your thoughts and especially your prayers. Keith has been meeting with one of our priests the last 3-4 weeks who has been doing deliverance prayers with him and it seems like there has been a change. Nothing monumental, but little things I notice. Incidentally, Keith and I have been married almost 18 years. He’s 52, I’m 38. I’ve accepted the fact that he will likely die of this disease one way or another but I figure I have a moral obligation to do what I can for as long as I can, until it is detrimental to our mental or physical states to do otherwise. So far, the kids seem ok. We talk about it a lot and take one day at a time. Thanks again, so much!

Deo Juvante, Jen


#12

Oh, I was you a short time ago.

Do you allow him to drive your children anywhere?
I never allowed my boys to ride with my DH for several years. Yes, it meant much more driving for me, but at least I knew they would not be riding with a drunk driver.


#13

I can't add any advice on top of what you are already doing.

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Oh! I just thought of something. Have you had your house blessed? If you have recently had a blessing from a priest, keep blessing the house - yourself. Also, use this prayer, Prayer against Malefice (From the Greek Ritual) catholic-forum.com/churches/cathteach/exorcist_prayers.htm

God bless you.


#14

So sorry for your situation. I will pray for you and your family. I would reccomend al-anon also with one caveat…find a meeting with healthy people. Not all are equal some meetings people focus on the problem and some the solution. It is good just to have people to bounce these ideas off. I am on the fence about al-ateen in my expierence its a bunch of kids comparing notes on how to get away with things.I would watch like a hawk who your kids hang out with if thats what they choose!
I am coming up on 17 years sober myself. AA itself is a tremendouse program, but like anything else people can twist things to suit themselves and have different motives for being there. In the end it does work for people who are sincere in thier desire to get better seem to \find the right people.
Praying for you


#15

Alcoholism is a family disease. It affects everyone in the family, sometimes for generations, even if it seems to skip a generation. Certainly everyone in the same generation as the alcoholic. Al-Anon would be a source of support for you. Alateen would be a source of support for your kids. It lets you know that you are not alone, that there is hope even if the alcoholic is still drinking, it gives you CHOICES that you may not be able to see without support. Do you really have friends that you can talk to about your struggles? Or do they not really understand…because they can’t? It is not important that your husband be in recovery for you to attend Al-Anon meetings. I recommend that you give it a chance, and try to open your mind and just listen. You will hear your story told by a lot of other people and it will give you solace in a way that nothing else will. The way you have said “I am strong” makes me think that you are really trying to hold up the world, which is what a lot of us do when our spouses have an addiction.

I think I’ve recommended Al-Anon to you before, and you said the same thing. Well I hope you can do it. But I still think you’d do it better with more support from people who truly understand.


#16

Could you show me a statistic to prove that statement? I have never heard that and in fact I know a lot of families whose kids saw alcoholism growing up and who are also addicts or alcoholics. It’s not based on seeing the evils of alcoholism, it’s genetic. Many kids of alcoholics hate themselves because they hated their alcoholic parent yet find themselves reenacting the same scenes in their own lives.


#17

Because alcoholism is a genetic disorder which also depends upon environmental factors, alcoholism can skip generations. As far as usually skipping generations, that is not true.


#18

It seems it can go both ways. Some grow up and refuse to take a drink and others become alcoholics.

My dad was an alcoholic. Not only did I suffer mental abuse, I was an easy target for predators. I came from an unstable family so I wasn’t protected. So not only was a molested when I was young, I was also taken advantage of as a teenager. I turned to alcohol to survive my childhood. Started drinking at 12. Was having regular blackout at 15. Quit drinking at 17. I also turned to drugs to numb the pain. Cocaine, hash, acid, pot, speed, crank. I use to pray that my mom would divorce my dad.

I managed to marry a good man and have 4 great kids. My family looks perfect. But emotional I am a mess. Severely depressed, suicidal and managed to pick up a new addiction.

My point, kids of alcoholics that do not get help have many emotional problems. Make sure that you are protecting your kids and get them help.


#19

Maybe these Do’s and Don’ts from Al-Anon would be helpful: Controlling and trying to manipulate an alcoholic to make sure he doesn’t drink WILL NOT WORK. He will steal the alcohol if he has to, or do other thing to get it. Alcoholism is a PROGRESSIVE disease, and every time the alcoholic stops and then starts, things seem to get rapidly worse, unless he gets into a full recovery program.

It sounds as though the OP’s husband has never tried AA. I still recommend Al-Anon.

Al-Anon Do’s and Don’ts

DO

Do learn the facts about alcoholism.
Do talk to someone who understands alcoholism.
Do go to Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, or to an alcoholism center.
Do develop an attitude to match the facts.
Do take a personal inventory of yourself.
Do maintain a healthy emotional atmosphere in your home.
Do encourage new interests and activities.
Do pass your knowledge of alcoholism on to others.
Do seek spiritual help.
Do get a sponsor.

DON’T

Don’t preach or lecture.
Don’t argue with a drunk alcoholic.
Don’t have a “holier than thou” attitude.
Don’t use the “If you loved me…” appeal.
Don’t make threats you won’t carry out.
Don’t hide liquor or pour it out.
Don’t resent the method of recovery.
Don’t expect immediate contented sobriety.
Don’t try to protect an alcoholic against alcohol.
Don’t be discouraged by the mistakes you make.


#20

I just have to chime in on alcoholism being genetic. I definitely have to say, yes, we see that here as well, as well is in many other people I know who have been affected by alcoholism. Keith’s mom was an alcoholic and of his three grown children from his first marriage, two have had problems since their teens with drugs and alcohol. We tried to help at various times but, without having custody, there was little we could do. It’s a very sad situation. I am concerned about our kids and that’s why we talk a lot about alcohol and how it affects people and how they are at higher risk of becoming alcoholics because of the family history. I’ve told them they really need to just never have a drink - EVER - and I’ll keep telling them that. I hope and pray that it helps to see their dad and see front and center what alcohol does to a person - does to a whole family.

I have to say too that, we are so very blessed that we have a fantastic church community where our kids have a lot of really good role models of how a “normal” family functions. I say “normal” because we all know that every family has their issues. For some it’s alcohol but for others it’s work, or trouble with extended family, or arguments/disagreements over church teachings. That’s something I’ve learned over the years. I used to keep quiet about Keith’s alcoholism. I felt that it wasn’t right to spread our “dirty laundry” around and didn’t want people to feel sorry for us either. But then one day I was out for coffee with a group of ladies in our homeschool group. One of the ladies I hadn’t seen for a while shared how she had separated from her husband. She went on to painfully share how she had been struggling silently with his alcoholism and, reading between the lines, you could tell she felt like she was the only one who ever suffered with this. I sat there and felt so ashamed. My pride and embarrassment lead - in part - to this woman suffering silently, feeling ashamed, and thinking that we were all going on about in our perfect marriages while there was something wrong with her because she couldn’t work things out with her husband. Obviously there were a lot of issues at work with this woman but I vowed right then and there that if I could ever help someone in some way, I would, even if it meant going outside that “comfort zone”. I listen closely now to the whispering of the Holy Spirit and, when I’m talking with someone and the conversation goes in that direction, share openly that Keith is an alcoholic. I continue to be amazed every time when people then start to share with me how they have dealt with alcoholism in their life too. Almost everyone I’ve talked to has a parent, a sibling, a spouse, someone in their lives who was an alcoholic. It’s so sad that this is such a prevalent problem.

Anyway, I thank you all again for the input and prayer. It’s always good to know that there are people praying. And I’m very greedy that way - I’ll take all the prayer we can get!!! ;o)

Deo Juvante, Jen


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