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should you ever drink with a problem drinker?

(39 Posts)
siucra Thu 16-May-13 21:37:12

My DH is a problem drinker. He stays up until three in the morning at least twice a week drinking and loves alcohol. It has caused HUGE problems for me - the hardest I have ever faced - and am now (finally!) learning how to detach. We have a gorgeous five year old DD.
I rarely drink with him these days. I don't enjoy it. He's not a fun person to be around when he drinks. He has an energy around alcohol that doesn't, shall we say, make me relaxed or comfortable. I am learning to stay clear when he's drinking.
Tomorrow we go on holiday to France for two weeks. He's all excited and went out for a couple of drinks yesterday and wanted to drink with me in the evening. I said no. He sulked. This evening, he persuaded me to buy a bottle of wine when I was coming home. I relented but said that I wouldn't open it until after 8pm. When I got home at 6pm, he was stinking of booze and our DD was eating pasta in front of the TV. I was furious. I can't speak to him or argue any more because it turns into such a horrible gloves-off row. I can't deal with it anymore.
He is drinking the wine on his own and I am now in bed.
So, my question is: do I have ANY wine with him in France? Much as I enjoy a glass or two, I would be happy to forgo it totally if it is not a good idea.
Any help you could give me would be much appreciated

notnagging Thu 16-May-13 21:41:06

He is an alcoholic. You need to get him to admit that before your dc gets older & knows what's going on.

PenelopePortrait Thu 16-May-13 21:43:50

Alcoholics like others to drink with them because it makes them feel better, it justifies their drinking. "Well she's/he's drinking so it must be alright" "look at him he drinks more than me, so I'm alright". He is clearly conscious of his drinking and wants to normalise it via you.

You should do what you want, if you want a drink have one, if you don't, don't. Be prepared to be blamed for ruining his holiday though. Because the alcoholics mantra is "it's always somebody else's fault".

siucra Thu 16-May-13 21:44:51

I know. But I can't get him to admit it. Thank you. I hear what you are saying.

Skinnywhippet Thu 16-May-13 21:50:25

It's irresponsible. Him, not you. I mean, say you stay up drinking with him to 2am what happens if there is a problem with your daughter. He is a parent to a young child and he is not accepting his responsibilities.

siucra Thu 16-May-13 21:50:50

I am really trying to detach - to let him do what he wants and not drag me into it. I do get blamed - a lot - but I am feeling less emotionally enmeshed in the situation which is helping me enormously.

PenelopePortrait Thu 16-May-13 21:51:40

Siucra it's not up to you to get him to admit it, he won't even be able to admit it to himself. You can only control your own actions in this situation, not his.

My advice would be to go to al anon meeting, have a look on their website, learn about the disease. Learn how to help yourself first and then things may begin to change. I am speaking from experience , my DH is a recovering alcoholic.

PenelopePortrait Thu 16-May-13 21:55:15

That's good siucra, detachment with love is good. He will be very frustrated if you are not 'reacting' like you used to do, that will spoil his plan, because believe me, alcoholics always plan their drinking, they plan the arguments, they are devious and manipulative.

Drink comes first, wives, children, responsibilities do not figure.

siucra Thu 16-May-13 21:55:50

Thanks Penelope. I have been educating myself and did go along to a meeting. Will continue with my detachment journey. I am sorry you have gone through this too. It's horrible, isn't it. Thanks for responding.

siucra Thu 16-May-13 22:00:24

Yes Skinny. I know! Imagine if we were both drinking! It's crazy. It's horrible to drink with a child in the house.

PenelopePortrait Thu 16-May-13 22:06:21

If it helps - when DH was drinking it didn't make a blind bit of difference whether I drank or not, by that I mean he didn't drink any more or less.

When he stopped drinking and was in early stages of recovery, I didn't drink at all.

Now I have a glass of wine when we got out for a meal and a couple of glasses on a weekend. He is well into recovery and works I that field now. He says that anyone having a drink does not make an alcoholic have a drink or one in recovery want one. Alcoholics do not drink like that.

siucra Thu 16-May-13 22:09:30

Thanks Penelope. I will just keep on detaching.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-May-13 06:48:24

I think all this 'detaching' is no good. He was pissed in charge of a five year-old.... you can't be happy with that. As an alcoholic he prioritises alcohol over you and your child. He'd rather have a blazing row than acknowledge he has a problem. He'd rather make your life miserable and have you dreading going on holiday than do something about it. What else is going to suffer before you act? His job? His driving licence? He has no incentive to change and meanwhile your life is going down the toilet.

So I think 'detaching' has failed and you need to 'engage'.... provide the incentive to change, tell him to go and not to come back until he's kicked the booze.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-13 06:59:34


I would have to agree with Cogito here.

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

Is this really what you want for your DD and yourself out of life; daily life with a drunkard is no life at all and your DD will learn damaging lessons from seeing this as well. Everyone tiptoes around the problem drinker and like many of these types of posts, its mainly about him. His primary relationship is with drink, everyone and everything else comes a dim and distant second.

I would also suggest you read "Codepedent No More" written by Melodie Beattie as co-dependency often features in these types of dysfunctional relationships.

The 3cs re alcoholism are ones you would do well to remember:-
You did not cause it
You cannot control it
You cannot cure it

You have a choice re this man, your child does not. You cannot help anyone who does not want to be helped.

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 07:48:28

I was told, by a lovely alcoholic friend of mine, the following - if social services get a sniff that he is drinking as you describe while in charge of a 5 year old, they may either forcibly remove him or your child. For me (and I left a drinker) the fact he cannot be sober around his young child is more of a priority. Do not let your attempts at detachment, prevent you focusing on your child's well being. Good luck. And go back to Al Anon, learn boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. From what you describe in your scene in the OP, he has got away scott free with his behaviour and your child and you are suffering. Personally, I would go on my holiday with my child and leave the drunk behind, but I am not in your situation.

ilovewoody Fri 17-May-13 08:10:41

Op, my father is an alcoholic and growing up with someone like that has had a huge impact on my life.
I married an alcoholic too and feel that was not a coincidence.
I love my mother dearly but still struggle with the fact that she has stayed with my father all these years despite the terrible things he has done to us all.
Please consider the long term impact of his behaviour on you all. What happens now can have very long reaching effects on the rest of your life while he does whatever he likes without a moments thought for his family. Unless he gives up drinking your life will not gt any better, only worse.
Good luck x

tribpot Fri 17-May-13 08:12:47

Please don't think that whether you drink wine in France or not has any bearing on his behaviour. The 3cs are critical here; you seem to think that you can help things by not drinking. You can't. But I would seriously question the wisdom of going on holiday with an alcoholic to wine country.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 17-May-13 08:24:58

How on earth do you 'detach', and live with someone and co-parent with them?

How does that even work?

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 08:28:35

Al anon speak, it is 'detaching with love' the idea is that you stop trying to control and get involved in what they do emotionally, but you do this by putting up strong boundaries too. It is easy to become very enmeshed with an alcoholic and suddenly everything becomes about them, and detaching is learning to live with them without damaging yourself.

It is not for everyone. But I have met people it has worked for. But it definitely didn't take all their stress away, just some of the madness of the situation.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 17-May-13 08:37:05

But it's not a long-term plan though, is it?

They can't co-parent a child until the child leaves home, with one parent an active alcoholic, and the other living a parallel life.

That's just too awful for words, for the child.

GeordieCherry Fri 17-May-13 08:46:25

Detachment with love can & does work. I say that from experience. Keep going back to Al-Anon, maybe get in more than one meeting before France

I echo that whatever you do re: your drinking some wine on holiday it will make no odds about his drinking

Good luck, living with a problem drinker is shit thanks

JollyGolightly Fri 17-May-13 08:49:33

My mum is an alcoholic. She stopped drinking when my ds1 was a baby, her own decision, reached after many failed attempts to control her drinking. I had "detached" ( didn't know about al-anon at the time), by making it clear that I would not be leaving the baby in her care, ever, and nor would I be visiting her or attending events when she was likely to be drinking. This meant that I was not going to be drinking with her, by default. At the time that was the extent of what I could control in the situation, I stated my case, then left it alone.

Your situation is more complicated, it's harder to withdraw when you live with the drinker and it's not overstating the case to say that your daughter is at risk. Your.H is an alcoholic but he doesn't think he is, and it won't improve by itself. I wouldn't go on holiday with him if I was feeling as you are, and I'd be prioritising the safety of the child which means he can't be alone with her if he can't be trusted not to drink, which he can't. And if you're not comfortable with sharing a holiday with him, how can it be ok to go on sharing a home?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-May-13 08:52:44

'Detachment with love' hmm may work for some but all I'm taking from the OP's description is that he blithely carries on drinking with no intention of changing and she has the life sucked out of her as she desperately tries to ignore it & carry on as normal. Something is very wrong with this picture and I think the OP has been badly advised

Snorbs Fri 17-May-13 09:18:34

I largely stopped drinking at all when I was with my alcoholic ex. It didn't make the slightest difference to how much she drank but I found it a bit easier to deal with her drunken aggression when I was sober.

When I went to Al-Anon I met some people who have successfully managed to "detach with love". But they were older people with grown-up DCs and non-aggressive alcoholics. I never managed to achieve it before my relationship fell apart anyway.

One of the things that such detachment hinges on is to not be reliant on the alcoholic for pretty much anything. That way it doesn't matter if they're drunk or sober - you just carry on doing what you were going to do anyway and if they're too pissed to join in then that's their loss.

Quite how such detachment could work when you have a small child is harder for me to envisage. I think you'd have to effectively exclude the alcoholic from any solo child care at all. That's the safest option for your child after all.

One final thing. If your DH is picking up your DD from nursery or school while stinking of booze it may well have been noticed. If he is noticeably drunk then the school/nursery may feel obliged to alert Social Services. Which may mean at some point you sitting down with a Social Worker trying to explain to them why you willingly left your child with someone you knew has an alcohol problem.

I've been in that position. "Uncomfortable" doesn't even begin to describe it. My DCs ended up on the At-Risk register for nine months due to my ex's alcohol problems.

One of the things our Social Worker said to me to help me see the wood for the trees was this: "If you had booked a baby sitter, gone out and come back to find the baby sitter drunk in charge of your kids, would you use that baby sitter again?"

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 09:20:37

I agree Cogito. Living with an alcoholic does literally suck the life out of you. The people I have met in RL that tried the detachment thing, made me realise it was 100% not for me. They were all in long term counselling because of the stress of doing this (even after years), and looked like shadows of their selves, ghosts. The ones it worked 'best' for did not have children. I just can't get that image out of my head of these grey looking people, such emotionally complicated lives. It scared the living daylights out of me.

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