Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What do I do? H has just admitted he has alcohol problem and needs help(30 Posts)
I've NC because of the sensitive nature, but please read and help with words of advice if you can...
It's not a new problem, been ongoing for years. He had a spell of counselling a few years ago at my insistence but has broadly maintained that he's doing nothing wrong and doesn't have a problem. He always felt that I was nagging him.
Over the weekend, something happened that has shocked him. He was away for the weekend, went missing for pretty much an entire night (midnight to 6am) and then finally returned to his friends at the hotel, covered in blood and having been picked up by a kind taxi driver miles away. He doesn't know what happened or where he'd been. It's frightened him enough that he realises he needs help. I asked why this is different to all the other times he's been too drunk, he says it's because he's messed himself up (the injuries) and it's starting to affect relationships/work etc. He's asked for my support.
I said I was concerned that I didn't 'feel' much about it - once upon a time I'd have been upset, angry, all the rest of it, but I don't feel much about this... I'm hoping it doesn't mean it's too late for us, because I honestly feel like we're meant to be together. He's my best friend and soul mate, I don't want to be without him, and the excessive drinking is the only real trouble in our relationship. Nonetheless, I feel relieved that he's admitted a problem and I said I'd support him.
I just feel really lost and uncertain... part of me is glad and relieved that he's admitted the problem, part of me just wants to cry like a baby for the emotional release, part of me wants to be heard and acknowledged about how it's all affected me over the years, part of me is cynical that it's all talk and we're going to be having the same discussion in a few months, part of me is scared (although I don't know what I'm scared of).
Sorry for rambling and thank you for reading. I just don't know what to do, and I'm not even sure what I'm asking for in this thread, just hoping for some words of advice or guidance from people who might have been through it.
He's made a GP appointment - is that a good or bad idea, will it stigmatise him? Would he be better going elsewhere? Can I be involved in one or two sessions to get across the impact on me, or is that not a good idea? I feel like I've not had a voice in any of this experience as he's dismissed everything I've said as 'nagging' and everything he's said/done as 'normal'. It's not normal though, bedwetting, getting lost and being unable to find your way home, getting yourself hurt, pushing me to the ground and/or putting hands round my neck, none of that is normal but it's all behaviour that happens with him if he drinks too much (never at any other time).
Sorry - rambling again. I'm not usually so incoherent. I'm lost, and worried.
Sorry you're going through this OP.
Some may recommend you to go to Al-Anon, it works well for some people in your situation.
The main thing for you to understand and remember is what they call the 3 C's. You can't control it, you can't cure it, and you didn't cause it.
Is he prepared to give up alcohol completely? That's something only he can decide to do, ultimatums in any form coming from you will probably be meaningless.
Posted too soon. You may find this forum interesting and helpful.
I've just read this and want you to have a response quickly, though I know that I'm not qualified to help at all and I think you need to find people who truly are, to help you through this. For what comes across very clearly is that you need proper help and as soon as possible.
Firstly, to protect you. Being knocked down and having hands around your neck is awful. This shouldn't happen and there is no excuse. You deserve to be safe. You need to make sure there are people who know about this happening and can tell you how to protect yourself. I have no advice here other than to say please, please contact someone - perhaps starting with your own gp, tomorrow, to get you the right advice for you, not just for him.
Going to the gp is a really good place to start for both of you. He won't be stigmatised for going (though how on earth that could be worse than the behaviour he has already shown I don't know) but could treat it as a starting point for getting proper help. Al Anon I believe could also be really useful for you. By all means get him to the gp and hope that he will try to change - but you should be your first priority in this situation. You deserve better than this.
Your post says your are feeling lost and afraid and scared. Your post also says you are in a relationship with someone who has decided to do something about their problem when they hurt themselves - but not after hurting you.
Please try to find a place where you can think about yourself and how you deserve safety and support and get this first. If you choose to help this man that is your choice. But do so only from a place of strength and safety when you know you truly want to. Your first priority, right now, is not him and his drink problem but you and your physical safety and your emotional health. His behaviour is stripping all of that away from you.
Please other MNers can you help with places this poster can go for practical and good support in this situation.
Look, I have not qualifications here and no experience of this but all I can say is please put yourself first in this. Nothing this person has done is your responsibility. His behaviour is not normal or excusable, it's dangerous. He may well want to change, but please put your effort into supporting and keeping yourself safe, over and above anything else.
Like the poster above, I'm not qualified to give you any advice except from bitter experience with multiple family members and if I were you I wouldn't pin my hopes on too much changing.
He's physically abused you and that wasn't enough to admit he has a problem and I'm afraid there's no excuse for what he's done to you, drunk or not.
He's hurt himself so now he thinks he has a problem, once the cuts and bruises are gone he's likely to go straight back to minimising this and going back to drink. Only he can fix himself, if I were you I'd be focussing on myself. I believe Al Anon gives support to families of alcoholics and that might be a good start for you.
this is too little, too late for you isn't ?
you have nothing left to give, and who could blame you
all the other chances he had to stop abusing alcohol, and stop abusing you and now you are expected to be happy he has had his Damascene moment ?
not on your fucking nelly
all the other chances he had to stop abusing alcohol, and stop abusing you and now you are expected to be happy he has had his Damascene moment ?
That's how nearly all of them think, especially the ones with form for physical abuse when drunk. They usually find a way to blame their partner too.
I would find it hard to take that he decided to seek help after he was injured himself and not after he put his hands round your neck. I think you need to look after yourself and put yourself first here.
Alcohol is not the only problem in your relationship.
He needs to seek the help and do it. You need to look after yourself.
You do need to look after yourself.
But no, going to the GP will not stigmatise him. And his work colleagues will be relieved. He is being courageous at last and should be encouraged.
But you need to be safe. Yes, go to Al-anon.
I was in a relationship for nearly ten years with an alcoholic who refused to confront his drinking problem. He would put his hands round my throat too, he even tried to throw me off a balcony when we were on holiday together.
In the end I left the Bastard. As far as I know, he still drinks.
You have to look after yourself. Nobody matters more.
I regret spending so much of my one precious life with this man.
You may well be best placed to support his recovery by getting him to move out. You are under no obligation to put up with the mood swings and self-obsession of someone giving up an addiction, particularly as he has been violent to you in the past.
Make sure that you access some kind of support for you. When there is an alcoholic/addict in the family, everything often revolves around that person: it's often necessary to back off and concentrate on making the other family members safe and happy, while the addict gets professional support.
You need to consider, without concern for him, if this truely is a good relationship for you. Consider it for the true facts and without the excuses about his behaviour.
You say he only behave in an abusive manner and destructive way when he's drinking, but even when a person is intoxicated it is still them. Even if you feel this isn't true, do not deny to yourself that he dismisses and denies these actions when sober, and blames you and accuses you of nagging when he is are sober. The only concern of a persons' welfare, when sober, is his own. (When he wets the bed who deals with it?)
Most strongly of all I advise you not to even consider staying in this relationship unless he stops drinking completely and forever.
I second him moving out. That was what my mother had to do. After her becoming violent she had to leave, court ordered and a restraining order. But the promise of re-establishing contact once clean was genuinely always there.
We set her up a flat but she was then very much on her own in charge of her alcoholism and recovery. We were not there to enable, tidy her up, push her to appointments etc. it's sort of sink or swim. She did sink and never recovered.
She also used to suffer awful injuries and they didn't unfortunately make any difference to her recovery as you would hope they would.
If he stays with you, be aware things may get worse. If he fails to sort this out he will likely lose his friends and job. Once they've gone the alcohol takes s tighter grip and there is nothing stopping them from participating in sober life. Unfortunately you will be there only to enable him. If he is already violent watch out. It gets worse.
He needs to live elsewhere while he addresses his alcohol dependence and not come back until he's reliably sober, if at all. You're not safe with him are you? The next bender he goes on he could kill you. He is a very dangerous person to be around.
You've run up quite the tab when it comes to your emotional neglect within this relationship and your partners possible epiphany has, unsurprisingly, hardly made a dent in clearing that bill.
His epiphany hasnt included an acknowledgment, let alone an apology, for all that he's put you through and you're slowly beginning to realise that alcohol has been a mask that you've allowed this selfish man to hide behind, for far to long.
Hopefully, these feelings will be the catalyst for you to start addressing the problems, not 'problem', in your emotionally unbalanced relationship and that means shifting your focus from him to you.
In the immediate term, see your GP with your DP as well, to get him professional help. Depending on where you are and what services are available, he might get referred to an alcohol addiction programme or other treatment. Also does he have medical insurance and employee assistance through work?
If he genuinely wants help, he'll seize this chance.
Whether he takes the help or not, you have the chance yourself to figure out what you choose to do about the relationship. It must be terribly lonely and frightening for you and it would be completely understandable to walk away. You aren't responsible for his choices and you can't fix him.
His epiphany came when he injured himself?
Not when he knocked you to the floor and throttled you?
that says quite a lot.
Him putting his hands round your throat was due to him being an abuser. Don't blame it on the booze. Throttling you is a very serious issue, and if reported to the police is taken extremely seriously.
I would contact Women's Aid if I were you and start looking after yourself away from him and his very many issues. I know you deserve way better than anything he can ever offer you.
Don't get your hopes up. I feel you are about to be sucked back in, having achieved a level of detachment because he was actively drinking. It is way, way too early for you to be doing anything other than maintaining your detachment to see how he fares.
Yes, going to see his GP is the right thing to do. Not that this is up to you, it's his choice and his responsibility. The GP should run blood tests to assess the state of his liver and overall health and should then recommend that he stops drinking for a prolonged period (in my case my GP suggested a year, that was over 4 years ago).
If he then goes into some kind of treatment programme there should be the chance for you to express how his drinking has affected you. But his initial focus will be on getting through the days without alcohol and for his health, if not the health of your relationship, it's vital that he puts his all into that.
Has he had a drink since that night? Has he indicated he is willing to stop drinking completely?
I think you need to make clear to him that any programme of recovery has to be led by him - your 'support' is not a prime mover in him sorting himself out. This isn't about you picking up the pieces for him. You might want to read this book - I read the companion one for problem drinkers and it really, really helped me.
If I had to guess, though, once he gets over the shock of what happened he will start to make excuses as he always has done before. The fact that there have never been any lasting consequences from his drinking (I take it you didn't report him to the police?) hasn't helped.
I would get yourself to Al Anon. Your focus needs to be on you, and you will find people there who want to talk about you, not just about your drinker. I suspect you have given far too much emotional energy to his drinking problem over the years, at the expense of your own happiness. As he starts his journey, you can start yours too.
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. The tears came while I was reading the messages.
Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the recovery forum, support groups and the book.
He's been to the GP today to get the ball rolling. I have started to read the recovery forum and will be looking into Al anon.
I have a lot to think about. Nobody IRL knows even as much as I've posted here, it's been a massive relief to tell even this little bit and get pointed in the right direction. Thank you doesn't seem enough, but I don't know what else to say, so - thank you for being my signpost and lifeline for these first steps into something unknown for me. (Sorry - too gushy?!?!)
He isn't your soul mate or your best friend though you know.
If he was he just wouldn't treat you the way he does.
I think it is telling that him being injured is what has caused this epiphany. It certainly indicates that he believes he shouldn't be hurt and the fact he has never had the epiphany before means he believes that he can hurt you - yes even when he is sober he believes that he should not be hurt and that he can hurt you.
He has to fix himself on his own but I really think you also need to take some time away from him to fix yourself. Dont fall into traps of thinking you can't leave now he is getting help or that you've put too much in to give up.
A man who puts his hands around your neck is very dangerous to you indeed - dv specialists treat it as an indicator that a man is capable of killing his partner and if you think about it you know that the reason for this is because putting your hands round someone's neck can kill them...
You and he both need to be honest with people in your real life. This is a very important first step on the road. Addiction thrives on secrecy. I hope you can confide in friends and family and start to say out loud all the things you have been keeping hidden.
I'm so sorry you've gone through this. Your DH should go to AA. But even if he does get sober and makes amends, it doesn't mean you have to stay with him. You've given him years of your life and you don't owe him any more of your time.
I'm glad there's been some kind of a breakthrough. Sometimes it takes something quite bad for that to happen, and perhaps you already know that.
There is no reason why anyone but his GP should ever know about this. They will be able to offer help, support, even medication to get him straight.
I think your role, sadly, for now is probably to support, support, support in whatever way you can. That might be developing space for him to do other activities than drinking (exercise, maybe)? It might be being a cheering-squad.
There will be a time in future when you will need to discuss the negative impact this has had on your family and marriage, but doing everything at once you risk overwhelming him. I would suggest that once his recovery is underway, some couples counselling might be helpful. He needs to do some listening to the way that this has affected you, in an environment where that will not lead to either a catastrophic drop in self-worth and a recommencement of drinking or an argument/denial.
I cannot emphasize this enough: treating this consecutively is not putting him 'first' and you 'second'. It's just a matter of practicality: someone in the depths of addiction is unlikely to be able to handle a crisis on all fronts! Sorting out the physical dependency in terms of behaviour, then the underlying emotional reasons for it (and accepting guilt and blame as part of that) is sound therapeutic sense. But he absolutely must deal with the impact of this on you and your life together in time.
You sound strong as a couple, and close. As an individual, you sound pretty sorted out. You can do this!
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.