To think my husband is a borderline alcoholic

(57 Posts)
birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 21:02:25

I have issues with DH drinking, as he cant just have a social drink, he has to drink himself unconcious, not every night and it doesnt affect work, and he doesnt drink during the day usually, but enough to really piss me off.

well we went to a family party yesterday in a posh hotel. We walked there with our 3 kids, and stopped at 2 pubs on the wave for a "flyer" I was paranoid how much he would drink before we even landed as a couple of drinks and you can tell, he starts to slur slightly and his behavour changes. Anyway he only had a pint and a half and was fine when we got to the venue.

first round there however, and we both order gin and tonic, he a double, he flew into a rage after he had handed me mine and then said I had picked the wrong one up and it was the double and I had put too much tonic in and it was ruined. I honestly couldnt see the problem but he was almost panicking that he didnt have the double. He calmed down after a minute, but then spent huge amounts of time away from the table ordering wine for the meal, he got me a glass of red, and himself a bottle of white. They poured his white and then put the bottle in an ice bucket, at the other end of the table from us and he was panicking again, saying it was his bloody wine and they had no right to put it anywhere other than next to his glass. Honestly it was embarrassing. I think he has a problem, he disagrees and says I am controlling and a nag.
what does anyone else think please?

happyAvocado Mon 06-May-13 21:04:35

does he drink every day?
can he go without drink for a week or two?

moondog Mon 06-May-13 21:04:59

Full blown more like.

Earlybird Mon 06-May-13 21:05:09

Based on what you've written, he has a problem.

Most alcoholics think they don't have a problem, fwiw.

Has he always been this way, or has it changed recently?

doesn't sound good birdinatent

but in my experience, you won't change him if he doesn't want to

the big question is - how/what are you going to change?

hearthwitch Mon 06-May-13 21:06:38

It sounds like he has a problem and needs to get help. if he is drinking himself unconcious and rowing with you over which drink is his then yes.

birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 21:08:38

he has always "liked a drink" but I think it has got worse over time.
The trouble is I like to drink too, but 2 glasses of wine and I'm happy, he cant seem to enjoy it unless he get smashed. Its making me so tense and unhappy, we cant enjoy a drink at home without it turning into a full blown session.

AnyFucker Mon 06-May-13 21:09:45

borderline ?


he insisted on having a pub crawl with your 3 kids in tow ?

oh dear

get yourself along to Al Anon, love and start disengaging from his problems

thenightsky Mon 06-May-13 21:11:22

He sounds exactly like my friends DH, who is a raging alcoholic and has dropped out of treatment so many times now we've all given up hope sad

The way he panics if separated from his double and his bottle summed it up for me.

cory Mon 06-May-13 21:13:34

It's not just the drinking, is it? The panic is a bad, bad sign.

Bobyan Mon 06-May-13 21:15:19

I bet he is drinking everyday...

birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 21:15:46

oh god, what can I do? He doesnt want to even talk about it, just gets angry with me if I try and bring it up. We went to the doctors a few months ago when things were really bad, and I tried telling her, she told me to stop buying wine!! as if he cant go and buy his own! she just said he was a bit of a binge drinker, while I was crying in the surgery saying I couldnt take it anymore.

CoalDustWoman Mon 06-May-13 21:15:57

I wouldn't be so sure that he doesn't drink during the day. Stopping at 2 pubs seems like topping up to me.

Al anon for sure. There is a forum for friends and families of alcoholics on the Sober Recovery website that has some good sticky posts.

I'm so sorry. It's grim.

Bowlersarm Mon 06-May-13 21:16:29

I like a drink, but he sounds way over the top. I don't think it's normal not to be able to share because it's 'his' allocated amount.

He needs to see it as a problem though, to do anything about it.

ImagineJL Mon 06-May-13 21:16:53

He's an alcoholic, no question about it. I'm a GP and I see a lot of alcoholism. He won't address it until he's ready, but as AF said you need to contact Al Anon so you can get some information and plan what you want to do. As well as upsetting you, he's affecting your kids. Awful situation for you.

birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 21:17:38

I dont think he is drinking everyday, cos I can tell quite quickly when he has had a drink. He is an all or nothing kind of bloke, and he could be breathalised at work so wont drink before he goes on shift etc.

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 21:18:07

sad not borderline, no...
Get yourself to Al anon. It doesn't have to be this way, but he definitely has to realise it himself.

ImagineJL Mon 06-May-13 21:18:59

Also I doubt he starts to slur after a couple of drinks. I suspect that's the first drinks of the day that you've seen. There will have been other drinks during the day that have been secret, hence why he appears to be slurring so quickly.

CoalDustWoman Mon 06-May-13 21:19:41

And when he was away from the table, i bet he was getting another one in at the bar.

He's a classic.

AnyFucker Mon 06-May-13 21:19:55

alcoholics don't necessarily drink every day, so don't explain this away on that basis

his drinking is affecting his family life and relationships

ergo, he has a problem with drink

if he won't admit it...then even more so

it's not your problem though

it is his

PenelopePortrait Mon 06-May-13 21:23:48

bird he is an alcoholic. That is his problem. You need to start looking after yourself. He won't want to talk about it and he will get angry, that will be another excuse to have a drink. You cannot reason with an alcoholic. They cannot control their drinking, not for you, not for your DC's, not for anyone or anything. Stop trying.

anyfucker is correct. Get your self to Alanon and learn how to help yourself. Do not join in with his game anymore. There is no way for YOU to help him.

You didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it.

PenelopePortrait Mon 06-May-13 21:26:39

bird my DH held down a responsible job for 30 years, he was a functioning alcoholic. He eventually stopped functioning and hit rock bottom. But not until I stopped joining in, enabling him, arguing, pleading, crying, trying to control his drinking (what an idiot).

When I started to get better, so did he.

Doinmummy Mon 06-May-13 21:26:54

Yes he is an alcoholic I'm afraid. I agree, get help for yourself. You cannot help him. sad

HollyBerryBush Mon 06-May-13 21:28:45

My brother is a dry alcoholic, been dry for 20 years.

Alcoholism isn't as clear cut as a 'need', daily or other wise. Within the AA fraternity they define themselves differently according to need.

Eg my brother wasn't a daily drinker, or even a weekly drinker, he was a payday drinker, resulting in 3 day black out benders until it was gone.

His then partner will tell you she is not an alcoholic but a drunk - and just so you know (coz I don't know the difference either) a drunk is not an alcoholic (might be a bit of denial there) it's someone who cant control it when they start to drink but aren't reliant on it.

Their friend is a top up drinker. Gets absolutely plastered after leaving work at 4, totally shit faced by 8, in bed, gets up does a days work (half cut with what's still in his system), but gets the need for a drink by 2pm, counts the hours until he can top up at 4 again.

Alcoholics do not all have to be carrying round flasks and putting sherry on their cornflakes or constantly swigging

True marker of an alcoholic - watch the relief when they have that first drink - then you know someone who has a crutch to lean on.

God, my XP was like that. Alcohol was a fucking nuisance. He became paranoid, awkward and violent and had to drink until he passed out. I am ashamed to say I was relieved every time he passed out because I knew his binge was over.
Family members tried to intervene and help, but he took not the slightest bit of notice. He was a living nightmare.
His drinking got as it was every night, and he ended up getting banned from driving (third time) so I ended up carting him round everywhere with a baby. He used to send me out to all night off licences for more booze and I'm ashamed further to say that I enabled his drinking by doing this, but if I hadnt He would have kicked off with me.
He assaulted me 3 times that I reported to the Police, and many slaps, kicks and punches in between.
He actually beat me up when I was 7 months pregnant and kicked off on the Maternity Ward because he had drunk a bottle of vodka beforehand.
I will never ever forgive him for what he has done.
When I booted his sorry drunken arse out of our house he was a mess, all apologies and false promises.
And yes youv guessed it, hes still on the ale sad
Its our little boy I feel sorry for.

OP, I'm not making your DH out like my X, but from what youv said he needs help. Its awful whn you know theyre going to end up smashed sad

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Mon 06-May-13 21:29:18

*his drinking is affecting his family life and relationships

ergo, he has a problem with drink*

Yep, that gets it said.

Pan Mon 06-May-13 21:31:02

PP and AF are exactly right. Don't even think about trying to 'reason', or listen to 'promises' if he ever makes them. Look what he does rather than what he says. Draw your boundaries nice and thick and high and don't compromise them whatsoever. Your dcs won't thank you for it in the future.

Link for Al Anon for the people who have loved ones with problems with alcohol. You'll need it.

Fairenuff Mon 06-May-13 21:33:48

He calmed down after a minute, but then spent huge amounts of time away from the table ordering wine for the meal

He was probably drinking during this time. Secret drinking is one of the signs of alcoholic/problem drinking behaviour. As is getting anxious that he won't get enough (the mix up over drinks, wine at other end of table).

Summerblaze Mon 06-May-13 21:35:23

My friends DH is like this. He drinks most days although can go without if necessary but when he does drink he can't stop and he gets verbally nasty when he has had a few. He buys it when my friend tells him not to and hides it in his garage, can't go out without having a couple first, is embarrassing and loud when out, the list goes on and on. She was constantly paranoid around him and drink and dreaded going out with him. He went to see a drink counsellor who confirmed that he had issues with drink and friend has tried to help him monitor his drink at the counsellors request. He then decided he didn't have a problem and wasn't going back to the counsellor. About a month ago she gave him a choice, me and 3 dc or the drink. He chose the drink and she is now in the process of a divorce.

He won't change until he is ready but it is too late for him and his family.

AnyFucker Mon 06-May-13 21:39:09

summer, your friend made the classic mistake of thinking she could manage his problem

she could not, and neither can OP

Summer I gave my xp that choice, and he chose booze, as he said I was trying to control him, and "nanny" him.
I also dreaded going anywhere with xp as he was incredibly jealous when in drink and would start fights. I cringe to look back blush shock

Ginformation Mon 06-May-13 21:42:51

OP, you have my sympathies.

Another option as well as AA is to contact your local Community Alcohol Team.

He has to want to get help, you cannot force him but you can help hold a mirror up to him. Help him see the benefit of change and make your feelings clear about the situation. Do not enable his drinking. It will be excpetionally hard, he may have relied on you to keep things together and if you stop making things easier for him he may start to realise what he has become.

He should see his GP, he probably needs a blood test, and maybe B vitamin and thiamine tablets to protect his nerves/brain from alcohol damage. But of course, you cannot force him.

AF yes, I thought I could manage too, I fantasised that he would find work and pack it all in. To no avail sad

AnyFucker Mon 06-May-13 21:43:35


trianglesaregood Mon 06-May-13 21:58:06

I agree with what others have said, he's probably drinking much more than you think. Addicts are very good at covering their tracks. It's such an awful situation for you, ( and him I imagine, when sober) but you can't make him change. Do go to Al Anon if you can. Have you told him how you feel? He probably won't listen or want to hear but he's hurting you and your children and needs to know this so he can make his own decisions about whether to continue drinking or get help. You need to get support for yourself.

sarahseashell Mon 06-May-13 22:02:40

it doesn't sound 'borderline'
Al-anon can help you and provide support for you

birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 22:55:53

have just tried to talk to him about it.....he's stormed off to bed.....he hasn't had a drink tonight

AnyFucker Mon 06-May-13 22:59:42

well, he would, wouldn't he ?

I am sorry, love

Time for you to get real here...he isn't going to

Pan Mon 06-May-13 23:05:40

He will be massively irritated, for a few possible reasons, I think. 1. he knows he has a problem and doesn't like being challenged 2. he is tired and irritable after previous drinking 3. alcohol is a depressant and if he's been drinking to this level a lot he will have trouble being even-handed.4. He is missing a drink and wants a drink, and sees responsibilities, and you, as a barrier?

Overall tho' it is really difficult for you, isn't it? And the dcs will be seeing him behave in ways they shouldn't.

Chandelierforagirl Mon 06-May-13 23:10:41

Don't be so tolerant op, he drinks too much. He might not stop, so as others have said, what are you going to do?

birdinatent Mon 06-May-13 23:14:56

go to bed and cry quietly sad

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 06-May-13 23:25:40

He is an alcoholic.
My mum spent years saying my dad 'liked a drink'. He was/still is a high functioning alcoholic.
You don't have to put up with this - he needs to get help.

Pan Mon 06-May-13 23:36:05

Don't go to bed to cry quietly, though it's totally understandable. Get support tomorrow, call Al Anon, talk to friends/family about the stress ( and a different GP), and be resilient. Do make plans to 'protect' yourself and have those boundaries and decisions stuck to.

auntmargaret Mon 06-May-13 23:44:52

Oh, you poor soul. It's him, not you. Can you LTB?

mummymeister Mon 06-May-13 23:53:37

please Op re read all the posts on this thread and don't be hard on yourself. it is his problem he needs to sort it but you need to sort yourself out. make a plan tonight of places to go to tomorrow for some help and support. very worried that this is having such an effect on you and you feel so hopeless at the moment. others are better at giving practical support so why not pm them.

PenelopePortrait Tue 07-May-13 07:49:17

bird 'talking to him' reasonably or otherwise, will not make him see 'sense'. Alcoholism is a disease, he is I'll. you can't talk someone out of having an illness. You wouldn't talk someone out of Bi-polar would you? YOU can't help him until you have helped yourself.

It is impossible for anyone to understand how an alcoholic feels, only other alcoholics. That's why AA works for them (if they want it to) and why Sl-anon works for us.

By trying to talk to him you just give him a reason to have a drink. Please believe me.

Fairenuff Tue 07-May-13 08:20:34

This could go one of three ways:

1) You talk to him again and again until he agrees that he has a problem and decides to do something about this. This could take years and years and, in fact, he may never agree. Even if he does, he might not be able to stop and you will be back at square one. This could continue for the rest of your life.

2) You talk to him again and he promises to try to change. He will at first suggest that he 'cuts back' the amount he drinks. His secret drinking will become more prevalent and his open drinking will gradually creep back up to previous levels. You will be back at square one - see above.

3) You tell him that he can make his own choices but if he continues to drink like this you will choose a better life for yourself and the children. You will no longer tolerate his drinking, make excuses for it or cover up after it. You will tell family and friends how difficult it is and seek support for yourself from them and organisations like al anon.

Option 3 is the only one guaranteed to effect change.

Snorbs Tue 07-May-13 09:29:45

Deep down he suspects he's got a drink problem. But he doesn't want to admit it to himself because if he did then the only sensible thing to do would be to stop. And he doesn't want to stop. So he lies to himself that it's ok, he can control it, and if he might be drinking a bit too much at the moment it's because of external stressors and it will all settle down once people stop getting on his case about it.

It's all lies he's telling himself to allow him to justify to himself that it's ok to not stop drinking. But that sense of denial is so strong that anything you do to shine a light on it makes him painfully uncomfortable, hence the shouting and storming off. He doesn't want to think about it because to do so would require him to face up to the lies.

But that's all his business. The important thing from your point of view is that, right now, he doesn't want to stop drinking. As a wide and possibly overly broad generalisation, an alcoholic will only stop drinking when the fear of what their drinking will cost them outweighs the fear of a sober life.

His fear of how dull, empty and joyless his life would be without alcohol are very powerful. It will also be being fed by a unhealthily large serving of "Who does she think she is to tell me what to do?" Those feelings are being driven by the power of the addiction and, for some, they're insurmountable and so they never stop and they die an alcoholic's death.

By contrast so far his drinking hasn't cost him anything more than some hefty hangovers and the disapproval of his wife. The cost/benefit analysis is heavily in favour of him continuing to drink.

He doesn't believe you'd leave him over this and, frankly, your behaviour so far supports that view. You got him to go to counselling under the banner of you not being able to continue living like that yet his drinking has continued and you are still choosing to live like that. Empty threats are counter-productive as they just reinforce the belief that while you might be telling him that his behaviour is unacceptable your actions are saying that opposite.

You want him to stop drinking. He doesn't. He knows that his drinking upsets you and damages your relationship but he's willing to continue risking your relationship provided he continues being able to drink. It's that simple.

Ask yourself this question: If you said to him "It's me or the booze" which way do you honestly think he would go? If you think he would choose the booze, what does that say about your marriage?

AnyFucker Tue 07-May-13 10:50:24

Glad to see snorbs on this thread.

Earlybird Tue 07-May-13 19:21:11

Snorbs - wonderfully put. Thank you for taking the time to spell it out in such clear terms.

OP - painful as it is, you'd be wise to listen and act. Ignoring these words will, in the longterm, be more painful. I promise you that.

TweedWasSoLastYear Tue 07-May-13 19:44:57

You could try to work why hes drinking , what drives his desire to get plastered.?
Going on a beer march on the way to a nice hotel , ands topping en route for a warm up isnt normal.
I guess when you do go out in the evening he drives there and you drive back, or its a Taxi both ways.
I think you need to stop drinking as well OP. It will make it slightly more arkward if he's the only one having a drink .

It will get worse as he gets older , and the kids will notice alot more. All the random sudden mood swings . The daft behaviour , disappearing acts , stumbling / falling down in the street.

Then there are the financial implications, plus the health ones. It might be OK now , but alcohol abuse has a serious long term impact especially in binge drinkers .

Al anon will help . Trying to help him to stop will also help . Having no booze in the house, or alot of quality soft drinks. Even low alcohol beers , sometimes its the sitting down and cracking a beer open after work is a habit . If what follows on becomes a problem then it is an addiction.

One of the worst addictions of all . Legal , accessable and cheap.

Good role model for your 3 kids as well. Make it harder when they want to go the park or camping and would like some cider to take , as most teenagers seem to do . If there is an abundance of alcohol in the house they will probably help themselves to it.

PenelopePortrait Tue 07-May-13 19:59:31

tweed "you could try to work out why he's drinking" WTF? Have you not read any of the posts above?

Your post is spectacularly unhelpful. Do you have any experience of living with alcoholism?

TweedWasSoLastYear Tue 07-May-13 20:08:41

Yes, thanks
Ruined birthdays , ruined holidays , amazing rows, ruined family weddings . The uncontrolled rage and instant spiralling decent into arguements, with absolutely no provocation . The deceit , the lies , broken promises.
Seen the illness , the inside of an ICU , the crem ... do i need to go on .

TweedWasSoLastYear Tue 07-May-13 20:34:39

Plus all the wasted years
Totally ruined Xmas break , destroyed xmas dinner , having no life that didnt revolve around booze, days out suddenly cut short because there was a potential for getting drunk, hundreds, possibly thousands of dinners ruined because the pub was preferable to a nice sunday roast
stealing to fund the drinking
not being able to afford a car , but still spending hundreds a month on booze.

sorry i skip read all the replies . will try harder next time, if I can be bothered.

PenelopePortrait Tue 07-May-13 20:43:30

Your post shows little understanding of how an alcoholic functions.
Telling OP to stop drinking -because it might make it more akward is nonsense. Another persons drinking does not affect how an alcoholic drinks.

Asking her to find out what drives his desire to get plastered?? I am astounded that someone who has lived with active alcoholism and sought the help of Al-anon holds the views that you appear to do.

AnyFucker Tue 07-May-13 21:06:43

I agree with PP

Spending long periods of time trying to understand why a person drinks to excess is really just enabling by another name, I am afraid

the only thing to "understand" is the point at which your family is being damaged by the choices of one of it's members, and act accordingly

Fairenuff Wed 08-May-13 08:23:51

Your post shows little understanding of how an alcoholic functions

Sorry, Tweed but I would agree with this. All the years spent trying find out why he drank, trying to help him stop by having no alcohol in the house, putting up with his behaviour and trying to make amends to everyone else, including children were to no avail. You said it yourself, they were wasted.

No-one can make an alcoholic stop drinking. The only choice you have is to enable the drinking by tolerating it or leave. The drinker is extremely unlikely to stop if you keep tolerating it.

Tolerating means ignoring it, enabling it by buying alcohol, driving them because they are over the limit, cleaning up after them if they make a mess, minimising or trying to hide their drinking to friends and family, compensating to children, making demands and not following through, having repeated discussions which go no-where, accepting promise after promise, threatening to leave and not doing it. All of these actions will encourage the drinker to keep drinking because there is no real reason for them not to.

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