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How much alcohol is too much? Am I being unreasonable?

(8 Posts)
Meelion Wed 22-Jun-11 00:29:34

My long-term DP has had issues with alcohol and cocaine in the past. The alcohol problem started about a year after we met and the cocaine use was in his 20s, well before we met (he told me about it) and the cocaine has stopped completely now.

Firstly he was drinking a bit more than usual.
Then he lost his job and he was drinking a lot (10 cans beer a day, every day , starting early afternoon). I tried everything Al-Anon, ultimatums etc etc and still he would not stop and it was a horrible time for us. The only reason I did not leave at that time was that I was pregnant with our 2nd DC and it was a high risk pregnancy health-wise.
Things resolved when DC 2 was about 6 months and he got a nightshift job as a lorry driver. So obviously he couldn't drink at night before work or in the morning obviously. And afternoon would still be too close to work time.

DC2 is now 3 so for the last 2.5 years he has hardly drank alcohol at all. Except very recently he has switched to dayshift and I am noticing over the past month it has been creeping up again. Because he has nights free again he has started to have 1 or 2 beers most nights a week, more on weekends.

I have not reacted well to this. Really down about it and worried. He just says I'm over-reacting and being controlling and he maintains he was not an alcoholic before, just 'drank too much' but I remember the effect it had on our family and how agitated and anxious he got if he couldn't drink for some reason (no money and I wouldn't lend him, or we absolutely had to go somewhere which wasn't acceptable to drink - it was a nightmare). He seems to have 'forgotten' this and now I'm apparently just a control freak for having a go at him as he says most people have a beer or two to relax and "It was only 1 on Friday. 4 on Sat, 1 on Sun, and 1 Tuesday"

I have a sick feeling of dread in my stomach. The past 2 years he has been the most loving and kind partner and doting dad, and I keep thinking this could all go down the pan.
Have tried explaining in every way, tried the kind caring worried side, have tried shouting, being tough, detachment (but that way makes me feel so bad and angry as if i'm allowing him to choose drink over our family).

He is tonight staying at his mothers because I was having a go at him for saying he was going to pub after work. He says I'm treating him like an alcoholic and judging him when he isn't yet one (I think "not yet") , I think he is flouncing to his mothers to try and teach me a lesson and get me to shut up about this issue in a way. He says not, it's because he doesn't want a fight.

What do you guys think? When does alcohol become a problem? and is there a case where the partner of a problem drinker is actually pre-judging and out of order for their reactions and interrogation?

{very sorry for mammoth post - didn't want to drip feed!}

MavisEnderby Wed 22-Jun-11 00:52:33

I think 1-2 beeer nightly is not a problem.If it was a lot more would be an issue.sounds like he has grown up in some ways.But i totally get why you are worried given his past but i think you need to cut him some slack if he has cut down and can maintain 1-2 beers if anymore would be worried

garlicnutter Wed 22-Jun-11 00:53:00

I think the main problem here is that you want to control his drinking. You've good reasons for wanting to, by the sound of it, but you won't be able to do it.

FWIW, I am an alcoholic who drinks. I manage my drinking, have to keep an eye on myself, and of course there are far more reasons to stop altogether than to do what I'm doing. Even though I had the smallest problem among my rehab group and in AA, I could NOT have done it without the treatment (and engaging with the treatment). I was absolutely fine with not drinking, but then I'd just have a little drink and it would shoot back up to quite a lot.

The plain facts are: You didn't cause it; you can't control it; you can't cure it. You may as well back right off and leave him to his own judgement. Either he'll sort it or he'll get worse: you cannot influence this.

As this is affecting your own life and emotional balance, you might find it very helpful to visit Al-Anon. Just like AA, you need to keep an open mind and bear with it for a while. The support you can find is amazing.

LauLauLemon Wed 22-Jun-11 01:22:41

1-2 beers doesn't sound like a problem but if he has had a history of alcohol abuse as you say he has then it could easily spiral in to a problem if he doesn't keep tabs on it.

I agree with those who say you can't control his drinking; you've proved that with the past ultimatums.

Have you tried talking yo him and telling him although 1-2 beers isn't a problem you're worried it might amount to one? Explain your feelings without being or seeming controlling and make it clear you're just worried about the man you love.

wineisfine Wed 22-Jun-11 01:38:49

It's not really about the amount though, is it. SOME PEOPLE can drink a couple of beers a night every night, no big deal. It doesn't sound like your DP is one of those people, though.

If it's causing you pain/upset, which it is, then it's a problem even discounting the fact that it sounds like your DP has had major substance abuse issues in the past. 'Most people' haven't got that history. Your relationship nearly ended over alcohol and his attitudes. Of course you are terrified.

His defensiveness is a bad sign, in my experience (I have been in a similar situation).

Alcohol is ALREADY a problem for your P - because it upsets you! If he can't see that's a problem in itself and want to work constructively to fix it, then he's choosing the drink over his family already, isn't he. So how can you 'relax'?

I suggest couples counselling, which might help him take some responsibility. FWIW I think he gave up the chance to be treated like 'most people' with his previous behaviour. And of course he's conveniently forgotton the worst of it, he was probably off his face - you don't have that luxury.

Look after your own mental health. A sick feeling of dread every time he drinks is not healthy.

You can't control it, you didn't cause it, you can't cure it. How much he drinks is up to him, not you or anyone else. However, what you can do is decide, right now, how much you will put up with. If he wants to drink sometimes, and his sometime drinking doesn't involve spending the family money that can't be afforded, or him being rude, unkind or aggressive when he's drunk, you might be prepared to accept that, though accepting doesn't mean rolling over or enabling - his hangovers are not an excuse for letting other people down. If he becomes obnoxious or violent when he's pissed then his drinking is out of control and has crossed the line, and for you to say that you will leave him unless he stops is not remotely unreasonable. It may not 'work' in terms of stopping him drinking, but if you leave a violent obnoxious drunk then it works for you and the children and that matters.

Meelion Wed 22-Jun-11 18:11:42

Thank you for all your replies smile

I have tried talking to him and he is giving reassurances he will never let it happen again. Yet he is still maintaining he just drank too much to escape a hard situation but was always in control of it (I don't believe the 'always in control of it' part - he was not - many times he tried to quit but couldn't).

Alcohol is ALREADY a problem for your P - because it upsets you! If he can't see that's a problem in itself and want to work constructively to fix it, then he's choosing the drink over his family already, isn't he. So how can you 'relax'?

^ this exactly. If he really can control it properly then why when he knows full well how the fear and dread is killing me, is he intent on drinking? even a little?

May try couples counselling, but I doubt he would go and tbh, even though am having counselling myself right now, I'd feel uncomfortable talking about intimate things in front of a stranger. I will propose it though.

I know you are all right - I can't control it. I'm so tired of worrying myself sick about it. The only thing I can do is keep an eye on it and if it increases then perhaps insist on counselling/treatment for drink problem or instigate a split until if/when he gets help and is sober for a good length of time. That is all I can really do.

and SGB, you are straight to the point and right as usual. Thanks for the practical advice. He is pretty much forbidding me to nag him into oblivion about drinking (he says it's because he can't take anymore of my judging him as an alcoholic when he's not but I think it's defensiveness) but if he did any of those things I'd be out the door.

Meelion Wed 22-Jun-11 18:48:06

why is he intent on drinking? even a little? < that should read

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