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How much alcohol is too much for you or your partner?

(91 Posts)
merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 21:28:32

I am unbelievably fed up of this subject but the issue of how much is too much drink is dominating my life again. Just thought I'd see if anyone would be kind enough to post a reply so that I have a sense of how much variation there might be in peoples' views.

Two pieces of info would help.
1. Do you take any notice of "recommended units" when deciding how much to drink? Whether yes or no for yourself, does it affect how you react to your dp's drinking? If not, at what point do you feel your dp has had "too much", and find it winds you up?
2. Do you or your dp ever drink (and if so, how would you know when you've reached thelimit)when you are looking after your child(ren)? Or only when they are in bed?

My dp drinks 3 times the recommended amount on a weekly basis, with no day off. Something has to change or else I am going to split up with him, as I simply cannot live with it any more. Sometimes I feel like I have gone mad, and that my standards are unreasonable - I do take note of recommended amounts, but am not sure how much use they are when trying to convince someone that they drink too much. For my dp those limits look miniscule.

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 21:35:33

Frankly if they look miniscule to him he's an alcoholic. And actually if he's drinking 3 times the recommended amount weekly with no day off, he's an alcoholic.

Sorry to be so blunt, but there it is.

I don't take any notice of units, but that's because I know I don't drink anywhere near enough to get to the limit.

Very rarely drink while looking after the kids, unless it's a social event at which they're present.

acnebride Fri 01-Apr-05 21:40:47

best wishes merrygoround.

Yes i take notice of recommended limits and always have but am a rules-keeping kinda person. I'd say we both drink between about 6 and 8 units per week. Too tired to drink more IYSWIM.

Yes, both of us would have a drink while ds is awake but not more than a glass of wine (2 units?)

I have been with someone who drank a fair bit and I used to drink much more because if I didn't, he just finished it all himself. I found it v stressful because i felt his health was my responsibility - IT WASN'T - and also because I had general formless worries about possible behaviour when drunk, whether my mum could hear on the phone he'd been drinking, whether he was just going to boringly go to sleep yet again etc etc. Actually his behaviour was OK. Is your Dh's behaviour OK? ultimately he is an adult but his drinking clearly affects you.

I'm not one for quick splits but you already know, as they say, that something has to change. Whether or not he sticks to a limit is clearly something he is never going to take an interest in. What he should know is how you feel about it; this is legitimate; it is valid; it is your life.

this is probably loads of rubbish but thinking of you.

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 21:42:06

Merrygoround - I've never really taken any notice of the recommended units as it is merely a vague guideline and tolerance differs from person to person.
I started a thread the other day abotu the reasons behind people drinking as I found that in RL and on MN there are a lot of people who drink most evenings (as I do) to relax.

Try not to look at the amount of units he's drinking and more the fact that he's drinking every night.... that is obviously upsetting and worrying you and's a problem he needs to look at. Does he get drunk every night? Does he ever go more than a couple of days without a drink? Do you think he could stop drinking without real help?

Is his behaviour bad when he's 'drunk'?

Lastly.... why does he drink? Is there a reason behind it. And what is his excuse for not cutting down.

Sorry, loads of questions!!!!!

merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 21:42:33

Thanks Caligula - being blunt is fine, believe me nothing I haven't already thought. Still curious about the recommended units issue and how others react to it.

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 21:45:21

Oops... meant to add, yes DH and I do drink in the house when the children are asleep. Like right now! But not excessively. In saying that, I know I'll drink a whole bottle of wine tonight, but I also know I won't be really drunk and incapable of looking after the children. I know my limits iyswim.

velcrobott Fri 01-Apr-05 21:52:44

I do not drink more than 2 glasses of wine/night (and I do not drink every night). I do pay attention to recommended doses because besides the "drunk" issue it also affects your health in more subtle ways.
I think 1 bottle of wine is a lot for 1 woman.... you would not be able to drive as your reflex are affected and whilst you may not feel drunk your judgement is altered.

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 21:53:07

I agree with Toothache that it is just averages and shouldn't be taken as gospel - it's just a rough guideline. But drinking 3 times the recommended amount is quite definitely too much and if it's upsetting the person you're living with, then it's also too much, whether it's within recommended guidelines or not.

Useful AA definition (not an exact quote because I can't remember it, but very similar): An Alcoholic is someone who prioritises drinking to the detriment of either family, work, finances or relationships (or a combination thereof).

Your DH is prioritising drinking at the expense of his relationship with you. That makes it a problem. If he refuses to recognise it as a problem, that's part of the could go round in circles with this one! (And people frequently do.)

kama Fri 01-Apr-05 21:53:08

Message withdrawn

merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 21:56:21

Oh thanks Acnebride, what a lovely post, I really identified with your comments (especially about drinking around your mother!). And toothache, thanks too. I followed your thread searching all the time to find out if people drank while around their children, but it wasn't clear.

Dp has many good qualities, and I guess it depends on who I compare him with. His stock answer to why he drinks is "I like a pint" - his dad is a big drinker and drinking is very much part of his background.

We split last year over his behaviour - in the pub every day for hours - but what finally made me ask him to leave was that he didn't seem to care how much it was hurting me. Things improved, we had counselling but sadly our counsellor became ill so we are still waiting (since last October) for someone to take over. That should be soon.

I don't want to go on about the details of our life, at least not right now, suffice to say that recently his drinking went over the top and took me to breaking point. Even he was disturbed by it. He talks about cutting down, which is why I wonder about using units as a guide - my gut feeling says that they are a little meaningless in a situation like this. What I mean is that it is not exactly his health that worries me (although that issue is there), rather that it has become like a red rag to a bull every time I hear the ring pull on a can. If he drank double the recommended units I think I would be able to live with it, although not if he drank them in a big binge of course.

Sorry to ramble, have been struggling with this so long. Searched some websites today and found a quiz on the alcohol concern one - which put him in the highest risk category. But I don't want to use health as the reason when the true reason is that I am just plain bored and occasionally disgusted by the drinking.

merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 21:58:58

thanks for other posts too, whoever said about going round in circles is SO RIGHT!! It helps to hear the views of others.

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 22:01:08

Velcrobott - Lucky I don't have a driving licence eh?

Within my group of friends drinking a bottle of wine is quite normal. Like Kama says when you're a student you just don't care that much about the future! My friends and I would have a bottle of wine each BEFORE going out to save money at the pub.

The point is it's effecting your relationship. DH and I both enjoy a good drink 3 nights a week (him 4-6 cans of lager, me a bottle of wine).

Incidentally what is the recommended weekly limit for women?? Didn't it go up recently? I must drink between 20 and 30 units a week (if a bottle of wine has 8 units???).

velcrobott Fri 01-Apr-05 22:02:21

That does not make it healthy Toothache !
It's very much enshrined in the British culture... very sad me thinks!

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 22:02:30

Merrygoround, it might help you to speak to someone (in confidence) with lots of knowledge about living with drink. Here's a link to {al-anon , the organisation which supports people who live with problem drinkers. They have a helpline.

velcrobott Fri 01-Apr-05 22:03:04

14 units a week for a woman

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 22:03:54

Recommended units went up a while ago, 21 a week for women and 28 for men. (Used to be 14 for women and 21 for men - hopelessly over-optimistic!)

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 22:04:04

That's a good question:

How many of you..... WITHOUT CHECKING NOW..... can say what the recommended weekly amount is for men and women??

I thought it was 21 and 14 respectively, be I'm sure the womens one went up to 21? Dunno about the mens though.

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 22:07:07

Velcorbott - I eat healthy food to be healthy.... I try to keep active to be healthy..... I stopped smoking to be healthy..... I drink to have fun and get drunk! and perhaps a bit .

Merrygoround - in my circle of friends, like I mentioned, we were all heavy drinkers. Only a couple of us have had children and we all drink of an evening when the kids are asleep, but you've GOT to know when to stop.

merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 22:13:08

Caligula thanks for the info on new units. That is interesting. I have always felt that for dp reaching 21 units was almost unthinkable, 28 looks a bit more hopeful!! I actually went to al anon meetings last year when we were living apart and found it very helpful. In the end our couple counselling took precedence, as we decided to work on things together. I am still pinning some hopes on going back to counselling, but need to deal with my current feelings until it starts again. I have always had a problem with the term "alcoholic", as it sends me into negativity and him into defensiveness. Talking about drink dependency, or simply drinking "too much" is more helpful I find personally. Of course I may be in denial and colluding with him I know.

Toothache your post about you and your dp's actual drink consumption cheered me up. Sometimes I think nobody drinks anything like my dp and I feel a bit alone.

I think for me that the biggest single thing dp could do to help would be to have a day off per week. I'm sorry to say he has probably only had 3 days off in 9 years - and those were because he was asleep and missed the pub opening hours! But if he compensates by binging then that is not OK.

velcrobott Fri 01-Apr-05 22:14:14

WHO recommends : 2 of these per day for a woman (with 1 day of week of nothing)
25 cl beer, 10 cl wine
In the UK we say 3 of these..... so we have said 1 more drink a day compared to other countries ? why???

Toothache I have read your thread before and I really empathise.... and I am not having a go but I do think you should explore why you can't stop at 2 or 3 glasses? Why do you need to finish the bottle?

velcrobott Fri 01-Apr-05 22:23:30

Looking at the British Heart Foundation website : 27% of men and 17% of women in Britain consume more than the weekly recommended levels of alcohol, that is 21 units a week for men and 14 units a week for women.

Toothache Fri 01-Apr-05 22:23:47

Velcrobott - I find that 2 or 3 glasses at night actually hinders sleep, I lie awake for ages.... but if I drink the full bottle I sleep better! Not an excuse though.

What are recommended amounts in France? They drink with every meal do they not? And are not so strict about drinking in pregnancy.

I'd say binge drinking is very British, but many other cultures have alcohol as a day to day thing.

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 22:27:40

'cos we're big boozers!

I think quite often the WHO's guidelines are out of sync (not just on booze, on other stuff too) with national country guidelines. I think this is just one of those instances.

These guidelines are meant to be guidance for safe drinking (ie, unlikely to cause long term damage to internal organs). It was just pretty obvious that it was simply not true that if the average man drinks 25 units a week he's going to damage himself, and so no-one took any notice of the guidelines at all. I think the government's logic was that if the guidelines were more realistic, people would take more notice of them.

I'm not sure if that works in RL though.

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 22:30:07

Lots of literature, web sites, etc., are out of date and still use the old guidelines. In the case of the BHF, it may well be because they don't agree with the re-jigging of them (but I don't know that, it's just a - possibly wrong - assumption).

merrygoround Fri 01-Apr-05 22:31:07

A last message as I am fit to drop. A sincere thank you to those who posted tonight. It has really helped to have some outside feedback. Dp has asked me to write down what I can live with in terms of the quantity he drinks, and I'm now going to take pen and paper to bed and try to put something down. (He's not saying he'll comply, but perhaps the issue of compromising to make me feel better has started to mean something to him).

At the end of the day the biggest problem is that we have different values, so compromise is the only answer apart from splitting up. And that would only be the last resort as we do have some good things going for us as a family.

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