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Just discovered DH has a problem with alchohol

(28 Posts)
Dingobingo Thu 09-May-13 14:03:42

I've namechanged. I discovered this week that DH has a problem with alchohol. I think it would be classed as "alcohol abuse", not alcoholic. He hides his drinking from me, hiding beer cans behind the sofa etc. He has in the past agreed to stop drinking to help him lose weight, but I didn't realise it was the big problem that it clearly is. I feel so stupid. He only drinks in the late evening, he says around 4-5 beers a night, although not every night, probably 5 nights a week. He never appears noticeably drunk - this is presumably because he has built up a tolerance. He never drinks during the day apart from at social occasions, and then only 2-3 beers or a glass of wine.

I thought we were happy and had a fairly good relationship, everything seems fine. He's doing well at work, he enjoys his job. He seems happy, I thought we were happy. Yesterday night I went to take a sip from his orange squash and found it had vodka in - he was drinking it in squash to hide it from me. This is how the whole thing has come out. He told me this has been going on for years. He's very sorry and upset about the situation and he recognises there's a problem. He said he wants to stop drinking and claims he can do it without external help. He's asked me to take away his wallet so he has no access to money and therefore can't buy alchohol. I've done this, but clearly that's not a long term solution.

This is bad right? I feel totally lost and can see our lives falling apart. We have two young DC. I love him and he's a great husband and father. On the surface everything seems fine. On the face of it, four beers a night doesn't seem that bad to me, but it's the deception and the inability to stop, and the huge waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere. I don't know how this can turn out alright but am absolutely devastated to think that it might not. Please help.

CashmereHoodlum Thu 09-May-13 14:10:41

It isn't the amount of alcohol that makes an alcoholic, it is the dependence.

You probably will not like this at all but you need to read it.

Your life really is falling apart now. He is dragging you and your children down with him.

"Alcohol abuse" and "alcoholism" are interchangeable really. You do not have to call him an alcoholic if you do not want to but he is displaying all the behaviours of an alcoholic or someone with a long term drink problem that may or may not predate your relationship.

What he is asking you is not going to work out for either of you; he will find a way to obtain alcohol from somewhere else and for him to suggest he can give up without any external help is naïve at best and perhaps telling you too what you want to hear.

He has to want to seek help for his own self and without you playing any role at all in that part of the process.

He is functioning work wise at present although that could be at risk longer term. He could lose his job due to drink, its not beyond the realms of possibility here.

Does he drive to work?. How do you feel being in a car with him?

The 3cs of alcoholism:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

Is this really the relationship role model you want to show your children, life with an alcoholic for a parent won't do them any favours at all and they could end up with a whole host of emotional problems as a result.
They won't thank you if you were to stay with him for the longhaul.

Can you really call a man actually a great H and father if he is drinking to excess 5 nights out of 7 (he is drunk most of the week or is in
perpetual comedown from alcohol).

I would talk to Al-anon as they could be helpful to you.

What about you in all this, where do you see yourself in a year's time?

Dingobingo Thu 09-May-13 14:18:03

Ok I was taking my stance on what it is from websites I have read that say alcoholism is physical dependence on alcohol. He clearly has a problem with alcohol dependence because he says he wants to stop drinking but can't. But he's not physically dependence ie shakes etc, and doesn't drink every night.

However I'm not sure the classification matters particularly does it, it needs to stop regardless.

Dingobingo Thu 09-May-13 14:19:06

sorry have cross posted. can't reply now as youngest DC waking up so I will come back later this evening.

But only he can stop drinking; you cannot make him stop drinking. He has to want to stop drinking for his own self, not you or the children or anyone else actually.

How has he actually shown you that he wants to stop drinking apart from you taking his wallet off him?. He has told you erroneously that he can do this without any external help, that alone to me says that he is not really serious about recovery.

CashmereHoodlum Thu 09-May-13 14:22:55

No, the classification doesn't matter unless you are using it to minimize the problem.

Thing is, he is only sorry and upset now that you have found out. By telling you he wants to stop he is telling you what you want to hear, but if he really wanted to stop he would have done something before you accidentally found out.

Think carefully about that before you make any decisions about what to do.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 09-May-13 14:25:25

I helped my oh by getting him to see he needed help. He agreed to stop drinking at home entirely and we made a joint decision not to have alcohol in the home. He also decided to ditch a hard drinking crowd (his sole decision). This worked to resolve the problem.

Dingobingo Thu 09-May-13 15:13:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

He has developed a very high level of tolerance to alcohol so you don't really see the usual slurring of words, staggering around and such like. (Bet you a crisp five pound note that his short term memory is worse now than it used to be). He is indeed affected by his excessive alcohol intake but hides it well, well for now anyway. He's hiding alcohol physically at home, what does that behaviour tell you about him?. You're finding it around the back of the sofa, what would you say to another woman in your shoes?.

So he takes the train to work. Would you in any event want to get in a car the next day with him?.

You are already seeing its effects on him at home, he is now coming up to bed later and that alone will impact on your own relationship with him given time. He is drinking every weeknight and is staying downstairs longer.

How has he responded to your pleas to give up?. They can all do the talk but actions speak far, far louder than words. Hopefully too a poster like Snorbs will see this and post; his words are very good.

You have to face up to the real possibility that he will continue to drink and to go onto lose everything and everyone around him as a result. It is not your fault he is alcoholic, you did not cause that. You cannot make him stop drinking, he has to want to stop for his own self.

His primary relationship is with drink and has been so for many years. He is not in any event going to find it easy to be in recovery and there is no real indication here he even wants to start any sort of recovery.

Alcohol is indeed a cruel mistress.

DIYapprentice Thu 09-May-13 15:52:17

Emotional dependence on alcohol is probably worse than physical dependence. Physical dependence - go through withdrawal, and you're done. Emotional dependence - will be there a long, long, long time, if not forever.

My (not so 'D') Sis is like this - her DC are completely and utterly screwed up now.

Him saying he can give it up without external help is just him not admitting to the severity of this. This is a BIG problem, and he needs to face that. Unless he gets outside help, he will never beat this. Unless he gets outside help, he isn't even truly facing up to his addiction.

notarose Thu 09-May-13 15:58:58

I have NCed to give you this answer, but just wanted to give you the perspective of an ex-alcoholic. Like your DH, I knew I had a problem but didn't know how to deal with it. I thought I would die as an alcoholic, that there was no hope for me at all. I had a good job and a good life, but I could feel it all slipping away. Most people didn't realise quite how much I drank - I was very good at hiding it. i would normally drink at least a bottle of wine a night, and rarely had slurred speech or was obviously drunk. But it was ruining my life, and I knew I was dependent.

My DH knew there was a problem and tried to help me for years. I asked him for help and was desperate to change, but didn't think I could live without alcohol. We talked it through, we talked about ways to cut down, control drinking etc. The thing that worked for me was reading this book by Allen Carr. Just read some of the reviews on Amazon (mine is in there too). You might have heard of people who used this method to give up smoking. I can't comment on that, but for me, this book really helped me think through all the reasons I was dependent on alcohol and to let all that go. The nub of its argument is this: what does alcohol really do for you? Does it actually make you happier, more confident, more interesting, better able to cope, etc? Obviously, the answer is no. That might seem obvious to someone who is not dependent on alcohol but it is not so easy to believe if you'r trapped in the hell of addiction.

Crucially, this argument does not repeat the narrative of 'once an addict, always an addict', which I had always believed was true. I know this is what AA teaches and that approach definitely works for some people, but for me it just made me think, 'what the hell, I'm going to die an alcoholic in the gutter, I'm a weak human being and I can't function without drinking, I might as well drink ..' and everything just continued.

I haven't touched a drop for 6 years! Not coincidentally, I think, my career has gone from strength to strength and, most importantly, my relationship with DH has got better and better and better. We are much more equal now, and have just reached a milestone where I have been sober for more of our relationship than I was (a secret) drunk. For about a year after I stopped drinking I used to wake up and burst into tears of joy because it was such a relief to be free, and to not be hungover, and to be able to appreciate the beauty of the world! I never thought I could give up drinking, so actually managing to do it was a huge confidence boost as well.

I am eternally grateful to my DH for sticking by me, because I was pretty selfish and hid a lot from him. But I think he would agree that we have both benefitted hugely from my recovery. There is hope, it can get better, and your DH will be able to do it with your support. Alcohol is indeed a cruel mistress, but it can be overcome. Good luck to you and your DH.

Snorbs Thu 09-May-13 16:20:10

He has told me before he will stop, and has not done so. I don't have a lot of good options here. Tell him to leave, without even giving him a chance?

So you have given him chances in the past and he has continued drinking. How many chances does he get? I'm not saying you should leave him right now. But I do think you need to consider what would be your line-in-the-sand. How bad would it have to get before you did consider leaving?

The hiding of his drinking is worrying. Not least because how much, when and what you think he's drinking may be very different to what he's actually drinking. More importantly, though, it means that for a long time he's known he's had a problem but his manner of dealing with it was through deception and lies rather than tackling it. That kind of behaviour is corrosive to relationships.

Whether he can stop by himself or not is something that only time will tell. It is clear, however, that his previous attempts to stop by himself have all failed so it remains to be seen if this time will be magically different.

But enough about him. He's going to do whatever he's going to do. I think it's important that you don't wittingly or unwittingly set yourself up in the role of the booze police. If he's going to resume drinking then sooner or later it will become obvious.

In the meantime, try to resist the urge to snoop around hunting for empties. It will only drive you mad and even if you do find evidence he's likely to come up with some bullshit excuse or other.

Try also not to monitor his alcohol consumption in situations where he may try to have a drink under the excuse of it being expected (eg, when meeting with friends, joining in with a toast etc). It will only cause a pointless argument. Instead, if his drinking makes you uncomfortable then take the opportunity to leave the room and go and do something fun instead.

You cannot stop him drinking if that's what he really wants to do. You have neither the legal nor moral right to insist that someone lives their life the way you think they should. But you can choose not to be in the audience for such behaviour.

pebblepots Thu 09-May-13 18:49:28

This sounds just like my dh sad apart from he doesn't think it's a problem

Sausagedog27 Thu 09-May-13 19:29:02

I am the daughter of an alcoholic. My mum begged my dad to stop, tried it all etc. I used to do the same as a teen- pour it all away etc.

I think you need to give him a chance to stop (if you dont you will always be asking 'what if') but you need to think about your actions if he won't. Please think about your children and do not enable him- his drinking is not your responsibility to manage (wallet hidden etc). I hate to say it but my mum stayed and enabled it. I have little respect for her either. Obviously it is early days for you yet, but don't let it carry on for the sake of your children.

Are you really sure he only drinks in the evening? If he is hiding it in squash, that suggests a big problem. Can you really be 100% sure?

Please also do not think this is your fault- you can't do anything. The only thing you can do it protect your children.

Good luck xx

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 09-May-13 20:02:53

I asked my oh whether he realised his drinking was excessive for our age group. He had to agree it was well beyond the average and also that it was the max number of alcohol units per week set out in the health limits. Also discussed the fact that drinking a fair bit alone is not the norm.

I got him to see he was drinking in the evening to relax and that he turned to drink if there was anything stressing him out. He was emotionally dependent. I think it had been going on for several years. We also discussed how it would set terrible patterns for our future dc (this was pre dc).

EarthtoMajorTom Thu 09-May-13 20:16:40

Don't try the wallet business - it's not your addiction. It's not fair on you. He needs to deal with it on his own. Addicts often try that stuff - 'you give something up and I'll give something up', 'you need to help me do this' etc etc. All deflection away from them.
Get to Al-Anon! Go to a few meetings and just listen to how other people deal with alcoholics in their lives. They won't tell you how to stop him drinking because you can't do that, but you'll understand more about addiction and how you can live the rest of your life better for you (with or without the alcoholic being present).
Good luck.

elsabel Thu 09-May-13 21:05:39

I am so sorry for what youre going through. I cant offer any better advice than what youve already been given by people here, but agree that you should go to al-anon for sure. And your husband should go to AA when he is ready.

Good luck op flowers

AThingInYourLife Thu 09-May-13 21:39:47

If his problem us that he drinks 4 or 5 cans of beer most nights, how is it that you caught him drinking vodka in squash?

I think he's still lying to you about the extent of his drinking.

PenelopePortrait Thu 09-May-13 21:54:53

The wallet business is classis alcoholic behaviour. He's already planned that in case you found out. Don't ever underestimate the deviousness and manipulation of an alcoholic. They plan their drinking and try to make it look like everyone else's.

My DH used to say "take all my money Pen and just give me £5, I'll just I'll just get a couple of cans and they'll last me all night". In sobriety he's confessed that he had cans hidden in neighbours gardens, behind the water tank - everywhere.

My advice - go to al-anon, get yourself better and stop joining in his game.

tribpot Thu 09-May-13 21:55:03

He said he wants to stop drinking and claims he can do it without external help. He's asked me to take away his wallet so he has no access to money and therefore can't buy alcohol.

So he does want external help. He wants to make this your problem. If he can't trust himself not to buy booze if he has access to cash he has a serious problem.

He needs to go and see his GP and ask for a blood workup. This may show he is still within the normal range but it may not. His GP may want to have a feel of his liver or send him for an ultrasound. He should have this done. If he's serious.

I quite agree with AThingInYourLife - your post is jarring in its doublethink; you have bought into the myth of the extent of his drinking problem (just beer, just at night) and are ignoring the evidence in front of you.

I normally recommend this book for family members. You need to spend some time arming yourself with information, and preparing yourself for the possibility of cutting yourself off from him. Hopefully it won't come to that but he may need to know you're prepared to go through with a separation. Good luck.

latenightcakes Thu 09-May-13 22:27:44

My DH is a heavy drinker, quite possibly an alcoholic, although I can't bring myself to use that term. He manages to hold down a responsible job, but drinks 5 out of 7 nights and it is usually a bottle of wine in an evening, at weekends more, albeit with lots of water(!). I hoped he might reduce once we had our first child last year, but this hasn't happened. I try not to worry about it, and rarely make a comment or discuss it as all that happens is he admits that he drinks too much and nothing else. He has always suffered with insomnia and I think he uses the wine to help him get to sleep, but of course - wakes later in the night anyway. I'm not sure how to tackle this elephant in the room.

Dingobingo Thu 09-May-13 22:30:50

I reported my latest post as I thought it contained possibly identifying information if anyone knows me in RL, and the thread was showing up on Most Active.

It's a bit weird posting now as DH has read this thread, although I don't know how far. He knows I go on MN so it was a fair guess of his that I would write about this, before anyone suggests that he's stalking me online. I think it might be a good thing that he has seen how I feel and what other people's reactions to the drinking are. I don't know whether he will continue to read or not.

To answer some questions: When he said he could do it without any external help, he meant without AA. He is extremely uncomfortable in that sort of large group situation and is very suspicious of its religious overtones - to be honest, so am I a little bit. Last night after we had talked he went online and bought some kind of "stop drinking" CD to listen to. Since reading this thread he's also ordered the book suggested by Notarose.

I am giving him a chance to stop. This is not one of a long line of chances. The other times when he said he would stop, were not situations where I had asked due to concern about alcoholism because I was not previously aware, it was more of a general "drinking is a waste of money and bad for your weight" type conversation. So from my point of view, this is the chance. Those other times have, however, shown that he's addicted and needs to do something different now.

Re the vodka in squash - we had a small amount left in the house from another occasion. He had run out of beer that particular evening, so he drank the vodka. It's possible he's lying about the extent of his drinking, of course it's possible, it's always possible for a person to lie, but there's no way of me knowing either way is there.

I am tentatively hopeful that everything that's happened over the past couple of days have made him aware of the extent of the problem and given him a real boot to sort it out. He knows he is at risk of losing me and the DC if this continues. I feel all I can do at this point is give him a chance. Yes, some people will repeatedly destroy all their chances and continue to drink, but I'm not going to assume that and just give up on our relationship. Some people, as some posters have acknowledged, are able to recover, stop drinking and get through this. I have tentative optimism that he will be one of the second group, but I know I need to be aware of warning flags that this isn't happening. I have some "lines in the sand" in my mind.

I'll talk to him about going to the GP as well.

tribpot Thu 09-May-13 23:16:46

There are other services out there if he doesn't want to try AA. But he - and you - need to make this problem real, not just a secret between you both. It's the only way of ensuring there's no going back from this point. And that, I think, is the problem - he's leaving the option open of returning to drinking.

I think it will be very difficult for him to accept his drinking is harmful if his bloods come back within normal ranges. But he will at least have started a dialogue with his GP.

Alcoholism thrives on secrecy; I can understand why you reported your posts but I do not think that this actually helps you at all.

How many people in your circle btw know about his drink problem, not many I daresay. Some of them may have their doubts re your H but have chosen for their own reasons not to say anything directly to you.

Your H has been drinking for many years and I cannot actually see him stopping at all let alone anytime soon because he's already making you responsible for his drink problem. It just deflects away from him, I would argue that he is not at all serious about wanting to properly address his problems re alcohol. Sorry to write that but not writing that does you a huge disservice.

You are giving him another chance to stop. That makes you feel better because you then think you are doing something. That's all very well but alcoholism does not work like that; he has to also want to stop for his own self without any input at all from you in that process. You by thinking that as well are as caught up in his alcoholism as he is. He will not give up drinking for you or anyone else, he has to want to do it for him and him alone.

I would rather concentrate instead on you now rather than him because a lot of your posts are mainly about him, it is ever thus in these types of situations.

I would talk to Al-anon in the first instance and at the very least read their literature. You could so easily be falling into the enabler trap and he's pushing you already into some enabling behaviour e.g making you take his wallet. I would also read up on co-dependency as there are often elements of this unhealthy state within such relationships.

Draw your own line in the sand here and think also very carefully about what alcoholism is actually doing to your children. It is affecting them, they see how unhappy you are and you cannot fully protect them from the realities of his excessive drinking. They as well as yourself should be your primary concern now, not he with you all tiptoeing around the alcoholic.

notarose Fri 10-May-13 08:29:51

Good luck Dingo.

FWIW, everyone's posts about alcoholism ruining people's lives are true but don't have to be the only truth.

My father was (& still is) what we all euphemistically call a heavy drinker. And a secret one.

I drank just like him. I had a serious problem for nearly two decades. I'm ashamed of some of the things I did. But I no longer drink. I'm no longer ashamed. It's by no means inevitable that your DH will continue to get worse, or continue with his habit. I did not join AA. I did not admit to all my friends and family and colleagues that I was an alcoholic. I admitted it to myself and my DH, and will now happily talk about it to anyone who asks. But I had a good job and a busy social life and your DH does too - there there is no reason for all of that to unravel simply because you are dealing with the problem (quite the opposite).

(My father still drinks. I have tried talking to him but as you can imagine, we don't have a good relationship. I would urge you to address this problem with your DH before your children become teenagers. My father never did anything abusive, he hid his drinking or thought he did, but of course we all knew, and children copy their parents' examples)

I couldn't have done what I did without the help and support of my DH. Please do look out for yourself - it sounds like you are clear about that anyway. But don't forget that if your DH wants to get better then he can and that you can help him. There is hope.

Dingobingo Fri 10-May-13 08:59:23

Thank you Notarose. You have done fantastically well to stop drinking. I've seen a US study that shows 35% of alcoholics have fully recovered. I know that means that 65% haven't, but I'm willing to go for those odds at the moment.

I do appreciate everyone else's responses as well, I am not just ignoring it because I don't like what you say. There's an al-anon group near me and I'm going to give them a ring.

Notarose

There are crucial differences however between you and that of the OPs husband; you knew you had a dependency problem - and importantly admitted that to your own self. You took responsibility for your alcohol problem rather than just simply laying all that at your DHs door and letting him solely carry you. Those factors were the key to your recovery.

I sincerely hope that OPs H does manage to stop drinking but I do think that things at home for OP will over time become far worse and not least her children who do pick up on all this to boot.

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