What do I do about my husband's drinking problem?


#1

I think my husband has a drinking problem. A couple nights ago we were at a party at his brother’s apartment, and he had a lot to drink. On the way home he ended up throwing up at the Metro station. Our 4-year-old daughter was with us too! He said he was “so embarrassed” and that he didn’t even realize how much he had had to drink. So at least he realizes it’s a problem, but I am very concerned that he has so little self-control. He has gotten drunk before but this is the first time our daughter witnessed it. I’m not sure she really knew what was going on, though.

My husband takes medication for depression and has self-esteem problems. He says he often drinks because he feels socially awkward. I tried to get him to see a counselor but he says counselors never do anything for him. (He has been to counselors before about depression and low self-esteem.) He told me that I’m supposed to be the person who helps him and that by just telling him to see a counselor I’m “removing myself from the situation.” I don’t understand what this means. I thought trying to get him to see a counselor is helping him. What should I do?


#2

If, in fact, your husband does have a drinking problem, then by that you have a problem, too, because of the marriage bond.

Leveraging that, if counseling is necessary, there may be a counselor that you could see together… not a marriage counselor per se, but someone that could get your husband the help you think he needs while having you “in the picture” – thus taking care of the objection your husband has to you “removing yourself from the situation.” (Not that I really think you are trying to do that!)

I can’t give you that name of any such counselor, but perhaps your parish or diocese could help you to find someone who could help out.

Regards,
Joe


#3

Maybe instead of going to see a counselor he should go to Confession. Drunkeness, intemperance is a serious sin. He can’t tell you that you are the one who is supposed to absolve him of his sins. He needs to go to Confession as a start. Chemical dependency to deal with depression, as with the use of all drugs, has side effects. Your trying to have him get help and being accused of not being the help is a drunk’s logic. If he says he wants you to tell him how to deal with his drinking problem, tell him to stop drinking completely, never touch another drop.

You could also tell him you will not go with him to family and social engagements unless he agrees to not drink there.

AA really works. If he wants help from you in addition to telling him not to drink, tell him to go to an AA meeting. Tell him you will go with him. There are also meetings for family. All family members of drunks risk becoming enablers. You need to learn about that so you can avoid it.

You did not say if he drinks at home. If he drinks too much only at social engagements then the excuse that he has some kind of social anxiety may have some merit, not that it excuses getting drunk. But if he also drinks in the privacy of his home then the excuse does not hold up.

If there is a social anxiety then that needs to be fixed. If it can not be fixed there are three choices. Stay away from social gatherings, go to social gatherings and get drunk, or go to the gatherings and stay sober and face the fear with a sober mind.


#4

everything grandfather wrote is right on.

) He told me that I’m supposed to be the person who helps him and that by just telling him to see a counselor I’m “removing myself from the situation.”

he doesn’t want your help. he wants to shift blame/ garner approval/ initiate you into the enabler’s club. as a long time sober alcoholic. this type of manipulation is familiar to me. his thinking isn’t necessarily malicious, but it is diseased, self-centered alcoholic thinking

al anon will help you to become very clear with the limits to the power you have over your husband’s drinking.

you could spend a lot of years-- a lifetime even-- reacting to, battling with and navigating around your husband’s drinking. i hope you don’t.


#5

He does not drink by himself, only in social situations.

Should I tell him he should go to confession? I know he feels really bad about what happened but I’m not sure if confession has occured to him.


#6

Sounds to me that he’s taking a pretty sane approach to what could become a far worse problem, and is ready to get help to prevent the more serious nature of its progression. Definitely encourage that!

Your priest and a counselor will likely be an immense help, and there are plenty of ways to help reduce social anxiety now, both cognitive/trad therapy, and quite mild medications to help switch mindset (often just temporary once he’s adjusted to the new set of feelings and confidence).

Good for your whole family for recognizing this and getting in gear before real disease sets in! Best Wishes to you all! :slight_smile:


#7

Well he asked you to help him so in that spirit of offering help suggest that he go to confession. When is the last time he has been?

When I have lost my patience with something, am struggling with someone at work, or exhibiting any signs of being out of sorts my wife suggests that maybe I should go to confession. What a great idea for a sinful man like me!

My guess is that drinking is not the only thing that is disordered. We are fallen creatures. We all need this sacramental healing. It works. You might consider it for yourself also.

Grace can solve many problems.


#8

If he is taking anti-depressants and drinking he is playing with fire. Believe me, I know. He may not be an alcoholic right now, but AD’s are responsible for increasing the effect of alcohol by a huge amount. Takes less to get drunk, and makes the road to alcoholism shorter. My DH had a drinking problem long before he was diagnosed with depression, BPD and PTSD. With this diagnosis came the prescribing of AD’s (effexor). Unfortunately after 4 months of being sober, he decided to begin drinking again. He spiraled downhill so fast it was truly terrifying. Drinking while taking AD’s also negates any good he may be getting from them. I would strongly encourage you to get some sort of counseling whether it is from an actual counselor or from your priest. If your DH won’t go, you need to go.

I’m not one to advocate Al Anon. My experience was not a good one. I suggest you try going to a meeting (I did) and determine that for yourself. I have certainly gained great benefit from regular spiritual direction visits to my priest.

Definitely keep the lines of communication open NOW. Don’t let things fall down and fail before you start talking. I like the idea of encouraging joint counseling with a counselor or priest. Another poster stated he is passing blame by telling you it’s your responsibility. The only person responsible for a drinker/alcoholic’s drinking or choosing to stop is the drinker/alcoholic.

You need to be sure to take care of yourself no matter WHAT the outcome. I can’t stress this strong enoug**h. You need to be sure you have peace in your life as much as is possible if your worries become more evident or clear.

I will be praying for you. I invite you to visit the St. Monica Thread. There are many of us there who can offer support and suggestions. It is a sticky and there are thousands of posts. It would take you a while to read through all of them, so you may want to jump in on the last 5 to 10 pages to read. Introduce yourself and ask questions, vent and share. You will be welcomed with open arms.:hug1:


#9

Best advice yet! Get in touch with people who have been in your shoes. Learning from their experience is way better than learning from the school of hard knocks.


#10

sdeco:

I am a recovering alcoholic who just this month celebrated 24 years of continuous sobriety. I am also bi-polar and have been on various medications for 19 years; what works best for me is a combination of Lithium and Effexor XR. I have been taking these particular drugs in tandem for over 15 years after four years of absolutely disastrous, dangerous and debilitating trials with nearly 20 other drugs or drug combinations which did not suit my brain chemistry.

When anyone says active drinking together with the taking of medications for depression is a volatile combination, they are absolutely correct. You say your husband is taking medication to treat depression. My question is: where is he getting the medication? Any drug that will adequately treat depression must be prescribed by an M.D. - and the M.D. needs to have consultations with the patient and routine appointments with laboratory work done at regular intervals to determine if the drugs are within a therapeutic range for the patient. If your husband has not seen a doctor, preferably a psychiatrist, about his depression, then I am guessing he is not being adequately treated.

If he is an alcoholic, of course he is depressed! That is the nature of the beast, and it is a circuitous line of thinking that will draw him down into a vortex from which he will not escape without treatment. Alcoholism is progressive, chronic and fatal. If his drinking cannot be described as “social drinking” then he is drinking with deliberate purpose: to change the way he feels. He is also addicted to a substance (booze) that he is allergic to. The ingestion of alcohol sets up a craving phenomenon in the alcoholic, and once that first drink is in the body, he or she is compelled to follow it with another and another and another. It will take more tomorrow to get the same deadening effect than it takes today.

The liver can only process about an ounce to an ounce and a half of alcohol per hour. If the alcoholic drinks six drinks in an hour, his liver is working overtime to process the toxins and has no time left over to metabolize anything else put into the body. The liver does not regenerate. After a time, cirrhosis begins to develop.

If your husband drinks “only in social situations” now, and he continues to use alcohol to ease anxiety, develop comaraderie, experience spontaneity, it won’t be long before he understands the true power of alcohol and he will begin to drink at home, he’ll drink alone, he may drink at work, he may drink in his car. Please don’t underestimate the lure of alcohol: it is cunning, baffling and powerful.

Confession is a good tool. Al Anon is a good tool for some folks. My mother dealt with my father’s alcoholism by going to Al Anon once a week for seventeen years. She found solidarity there and made lifelong friendships, as well as unearthed coping tools to keep her family together in the face of this crippling disease.

I disagree with grandfather when he says, “Drunkeness, intemperance is a serious sin.” Alcohol is a disease of the body, mind and spirit for which there is no cure. The suggestion to confess drunken episodes is a good one to try to stay on an even spiritual keel, but the alcoholic who suffers needs the help of those who have walked in his shoes and can share with him their sprints and falls on the road to recovery. The most difficult thing he will have to overcome is the self - “self-will run riot”, as they refer to it in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. One wonderful aspect of the AA experience is that there are no dues or fees - it is absolutely free.

You can contact Al Anon in your town and get some literature to begin your journey. You cannot fix your husband. Only he can fix himself with the love and grace of God and the support of his fellow alcoholics. There is no organization like it in this world. It has been around since 1935 and millions of sufferers have found their way back to God and to the lives they have wanted to live before booze got in the way.

If you want to PM me, please do. I support you in your efforts to stabilize your family. God bless you and guide you, and your husband, in these unmanageable and frightening times.

marietta


#11

How often is he drinking to drunkeness? It seems most posts have already jumped to the conclusion that he is an alcoholic. Drinking too much once doesn’t indicate the disease, but could be more a matter of poor judgement. I know far more alcoholics who never drink to making themselves sick, yet many non-alcoholics who don’t know their limits, and have one or two too many in a social situation.

Assuming this was an isolated incident, express to him how his behavior made you feel, how it made him appear to his daughter, and that itself may be the wake up call he needs to control himself.

Regardless, do pursue the counseling for both of you. While his remark trying to push the guilt on you is a common ploy of abusive/alcoholic patterns, there may be some truth to it as well. As spouses, we should view our partner’s self image as an extension of our own, and work together to help each other with it.


#12

sdeco:

A slight amendment to my previous post: When I wrote, “Alcohol is a disease of the body, mind and spirit for which there is no cure,” what I intended to write was, “Alcoholism is a disease of the body, mind and spirit for which there is no cure.”

marietta


#13

teme:

I don’t see where any poster here has “jumped to the conclusion” that this woman’s husband is an alcoholic. But I will say that the casual, or social, drinker, does not have problems of this type. One or two and s/he is good to go. Someone who drinks to the point that he vomits, whether in front of his family or in the alley or in his office, appears to have at the very least a problem with alcohol. I’d like to know what you think sdeco can do, as his wife, to try to help him to overcome this problem?

marietta


#14

I may have read more into specific posts than was intended, so thanks for the call-out. You are right, drinking to vomitting is a problem. Like all sins and mistakes, we grow by what we learn from the mistake.

If he has a problem with alcohol, specifically not knowing his limits, DW can and should express her displeasure clearly and directly. For some, merely knowing how his behavior made DW feel is conversation enough. But, if he only drinks socially, and therefore doesn’t know his limits, the couple can try a few things to help him identify and control his limits

[LIST]
*]Agree on a limit of 1 drink per hour, or less…
*]Check in with each other every 30 minutes for a “sobriety check” - you can usually tell when your spouse has had too much before anyone else
*]Have “drinking dates” at home, where both experiment in a safe environment with types of alcohol or drinks
*]Just don’t drink socially
[/LIST]


#15

There are two possibilities, maybe three. A person is an alcoholic. A person is not an alcoholic. A person has a drinking problem and is on the way to becoming an alcoholic.

Assume that the first possiblilty is true. What should a wife do.

Change the situation. The gun is loaded. The gun is not loaded. The gun might be loaded. How should we find out which is true? Maybe we should experiment with the gun by putting it to your head and pulling the trugger. If it is not loaded we will find out quickly.

If a person “MIGHT” be an alcoholic, but is depressed and on medication which makes alcohol more of a loaded gun, and doctors say do not take and drink, you are suggesting to do some experimenting.

What about playing it safe? How about trying this? If you are not an alcoholic then it should be easy for you to stop drinking. In order to find the answer, swear off the bottle for six months. What is the risk? You drank until you got smashed and puked in fron of your child. This could be a sign of serious danger, so lets swear off and talk to the doctor who is treating you for depression and see what he advises about social drinking.

The wife is over her head and the poster is advising her to do some drinking experiments with her husband. This is playing with fire. The man is on meds. He is diagnosed as suffering depression and you are advising a wife to do some experimenting. Good grief!


#16

Well, it seems to me that the OP has already identified her husband’s drinking as a problem, just by the title of the thread. He may be an alcoholic, or he may be, not for us to decide, but the fact that she sees the drinking as a problem is a clue to get some sort of help.

I recommend Al-anon only because I attended for many years and it was extremely helpful for ME and for the family situation. In fact, it probably saved my life and my marriage, because in my case, the drinking was intolerable, and I was turning into a crazy woman. It really doesn’t matter if the OP’s husband is really an alcoholic, the drinking has become a problem for her, and she needs to get some help for her own sake.

But that is only my own humble opinion, since she asked.:slight_smile:


#17

Just to let you know, I agree with everything grandfather said and think you ought to listen to him on this one.


#18

I don’t have time to read all of the other responses, just wanted to advise you on a few things:

  1. If he’s on antidepressants, who is prescribing them? Alcohol interferes with ADs, you are NOT supposed to drink when taking them, at all. You should contact his doctor, this is a serious risk for worsening his depression, even suicide.

  2. You need to get yourself to Al-Anon. Even if he isn’t an alcoholic, the fact that alcohol is causing problems in your marriage is enough to warrant your seeking help.

  3. I’d talk with your priest as well for counseling.

He may be an alcoholic, he may not. But if he is on ADs, and has depression, he needs to be in counseling himself. Depression cannot be successfully treated by medication alone - it takes meds, therapy, and exercise plus stress reduction.

Hang in there - I’ll pray for you.


#19

sdeco, the two comments above are lies. They are also controlling. I believe it’s important that you see this as soon as possible. Even if he manages to get help for the drinking, the “hook” of control will be very hard to extract if you don’t pull it out now.

My father was an alcoholic, and I have been involved with a few others. It’s a heartbreaking trail.

A person who is out of control, or who is afraid of being out of control, seeks to control others. And most control is not overt – it’s covert, and can appear as intimacy, when it’s the complete opposite.

For example, by the words above, he is defining you. He is telling you what your “job” is (to help him), but worse, he is telling you what is in your mind and heart (that you are removing yourself from the situation). EVEN IF this is true, the LIE is that he has the ability to know these things. He is not God. Only God can see into your mind and heart. Not even a husband can just walk into your mind or heart, take a little look around, evaluate what’s there, then make a report. He has to ASK you what’s on your mind or in your heart. Or LISTEN to you tell him what’s in your mind and heart. It’s called communication. It’s called relating.

It’s also why one of Satan’s names is “The Accuser”, because accusations are based on a presumed ability to know another person’s interior, and that’s an ability only God has. Telling a person what they think, how they feel, what their motivations, purposes, or intentions are also kills relationships – because relating means to exchange information, from one separate person to another separate person. So if he’s claiming to see into your heart or mind, then you’ve just been transformed into an extension of him, and there’s no relating.

In other words, what he said is nonsense. But it’s so slippery because you think you still ARE relating, when he has stopped. And the minute you start trying to clarify what is really in your mind and heart… you’re bitten the hook. You end up still trying to relate, but he’s “off somewhere” without you. And it will go on, and on, and on, and on…

If I have any wisdom to offer, it’s to continue to reject the hook of control. You cannot help him if he keeps hooking you into “false relating.”

Also, if he can’t control you, it may speed his realization that he needs help. It will also save you from building up a lot of resentments, so you’ll be more effective in the help you do offer.

Don’t explain why what he’s saying isn’t true – just train yourself to react to the truth that words like that are nonsense. A plain “what?” or “what did you say?” (as if you don’t get it, because it’s nonsense) often works. You may have to repeat this several times until he hears YOU. If that doesn’t work, gentle rebuffs like “cut it out”, or “stop that”, are also often useful.

Beyond that, any counselor familiar with alcohol problems will suggest AA and Al-Anon. So I would suggest you start by reading the AA Big Book. It’s cheap and available from any local AA or Al-Anon group (always in your phone book). The story of Bill W, who was a very bad alcoholic, was near death but then had what some people think is a divine awakening is an amazing story. The Big Book was put together by the first group of alcholics who gathered to share experience, strength, and hope with each other, and to stay sober one day at a time. It has a chapter in there called “For the Wives”, and another one called “For Families” (if I recall). There’s also a very good movie (on DVD) you might consider watching, called “My Name is Bill W,” starring James Woods.

AA itself is non-denominational, but there are several priests and nuns who have come out as alcoholics, who practice the 12 steps, and who often share at meetings, gatherings, conventions, etc. So you can also find people (informally) in the AA/Al-Anon world who are specifically Catholic.

Meetings are frequent and everywhere, and everyone is welcome. There’s no need to feel shy, everybody’s just a real person. There’s no cost, they only pass the hat, and you can put in a dollar or two, or nothing, whatever you feel like. Meetings are excellent to attend. They often have “beginners meetings” also, and there’s usually a 24-hour help line if you need someone with this kind of experience to talk to.

One thing the Big Book says though is that an alcoholic will only recover if they can be completely honest. Again, don’t let him entertain the lie that he’s on the same level as God and can know your interior – it does him no favors, and will hurt you also in the end if you don’t deflect that now.

I wish you all the best!
God bless.


#20

You know my husband had a bit of a drinking problem for a while there… it wasn’t for social shyness reasons, it was more stress relief but he was starting to drink quite a lot and was being really grouchy when he wasn’t drinking.

It was a little scary for me to watch and not much I said would help, in fact my comments made things worse. The most amazing thing that helped him though was our local doctor. His kidneys started hurting and the doctor scared him right off the stuff and gave him some very good help.

Perhaps think about taking him to a doctor to check on his health and ask him for advice and places to go for support. Talk to him about his health and his kidneys, too much alcohol every day WILL kill him.

All the best… I hope that it goes well for you both.


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