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WTF is he drinking again? He's been to rehab. Not again

(43 Posts)
Fleamog Sat 19-Sep-15 23:23:14

My DH was/is an alcoholic.We went through a terrible time a few years ago. I fought and fought to get him to rehab, planning to divorce him as he had changed so much through his drinking. So he went to rehab and a kind of miracle happened - when he had been dried out and had their therapy for a few months he turned back into the husband I had had for nearly 30 years. It was a fab time, 2nd honeymoon etc etc.This lasted a couple of years. We were happy again, so why the hell did he start secretly drinking again? Nearly 4 years later I know he is once again secretly drinking neat vodka at weekends. He doesn't know that I know. And I don't know what to do about it. Its been going on for a year or bit more. I have kept it to myself not knowing what to do about it. I am such a coward. Help - what should I do?

BCBG Sat 19-Sep-15 23:31:45

I'm so sorry, I have some experience of this, and it is HELL. There is no 'was' about it - your DH is an alcoholic and always will be. He will not stop until he hits his bottom, wherever that is. So you have to decide to stay or go. No one else can decide that for you who isn't involved. If you decide that you can't live with the stress, anxiety, constant checking, his deceit, mood swings and all the other shit that goes with it, then don't, and don't feel guilty for leaving.

magoria Sat 19-Sep-15 23:32:52

You can't help him.

Best to leave. Maybe that will give him the kick in the arse he needs to sort himself out. Maybe it will not be.


tribpot Sat 19-Sep-15 23:42:06

BCBG has it right: there is no 'was' about it - your DH is an alcoholic and always will be

The fact you don't know that makes me wonder to what extent he's really been in recovery these last few years. Has he admitted his alcoholism to other people in his life? Has he been attending meetings or checking in with his GP?

We were happy again, so why the hell did he start secretly drinking again?

You have to understand, the two parts of this sentence have nothing to do with each other. He did drink because you (plural) were unhappy. This isn't about you. Have you heard of the 3 Cs of addiction for loved ones?
- You did not cause it
- You cannot cure it
- You cannot control it

It's time for you to make good on your threat to leave him if he continued to drink. Get yourself to Al Anon, which supports the friends and family of alcoholics. They will help you to understand that the only thing you can change is your own situation.

I'm sorry he relapsed.

tribpot Sat 19-Sep-15 23:42:59

apologies, I meant to write he did NOT drink because you were unhappy.

Fleamog Sat 19-Sep-15 23:58:22

Its so difficult - we have been married for 35 years now, and after the terrible years of his alcoholism, then rehab, it all seemed to be OK. It is OK, in so many ways - he is back working, being a good dad to 3 sons, being a good husband nearly all of the time, apart from sneaking the bloody vodka down his neck at weekends. Everything we have has been done together, home, family friends, holidays. It seems nearly impossible to think about wrenching it all apart. I suppose that is why I haven't said anything when I found the empty bottles - it has paralysed me, with fear, disbelief, anger.

tribpot Sun 20-Sep-15 06:47:07

It seems nearly impossible to think about wrenching it all apart.

And yet effectively that is what he is doing.

It won't stop at secret weekend vodka, and even if it did, it will rule your lives - prevent holidays, require planning around, limit your choices.

Does he have a sponsor?

Squeegle Sun 20-Sep-15 07:18:56

I am really sorry. I have some experience of living with alcoholic DP- although not so long as you.

I think it's about sharing with him what you know. Have you noticed his behaviour changing? Presumably yes. You need to share this and tell him you're not willing to put yourself through this. You need to think about yourself. Maybe it is him who needs to leave, maybe it's you. But what you don't need is to watch this happening and for you to carry on on tenterhooks. It's your life!!
Hand the problem back to him, and you concentrate on you. It sounds harsh, but you're worrying about "why", is not going to change anything. Addictions are not logical. They're an insidious, impelling force which take significant efforts to push back.

Agree with the others - Al anon may be of value to you - you need some support in RL. Good luck . Please don't ignore it; it won't go away. flowers

CleverPlansAndSecretTricks Sun 20-Sep-15 07:30:48

I'm sorry, my mum is in the same position. It's not as easy as "leave" is it? You lives are so completely entwined after such a long marriage. Is there anywhere you could send him for a bit to give you a break and give him a bit of a shock? Is his mum still alive? Or do you have an adult child you would like to stay with for a couple of weeks? Definitely tell him you have noticed and you are devastated and ask him what he is planning to do about it.

Fleamog Sun 20-Sep-15 09:44:25

Thanks everyone, I have been living with this knowledge for quite some time so it is a real relief to admit it to "someone". I know it is fear that is keeping me shtum, and the fact that for 90% of the time all is well, so splitting up doesn't seem the answer.
Thanks Squeegle and CleverPlans - there is so much more to it, it isn't straightforward. It isn't clean cut. We have been and continue to be a good couple, good friends with each other. Just this nasty snake in the nest. At the moment, it doesn't feel a deal breaker, its not that bad, and seems to be stable (he doesn't drink at all during the week). But it isn't right.
And so round in circles I go......

PotteringAlong Sun 20-Sep-15 09:47:22

He will drink during the week, you just haven't found it.

He will drive you and your children in the car when he's drunk.

Coconutty Sun 20-Sep-15 09:49:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-15 09:51:32

He is still an alcoholic and has been throughout. Whose idea was it for him to go to rehab; yours mainly?. If he went at your instigation then it was more likely due to fail anyway.

Unless he wants to help his own self properly there is nothing you can do to help him. What you are doing now is just prolonging your own agonies and what you have tried has not worked.

Alcoholism as well thrives on secrecy. Time for you to start opening up properly. Did you ever talk to Al-anon?.

You have also played many roles in this relationship, not least of those enabler, provoker and co-dependent. You still play out those roles even now.

You have been married a long time but do not let yourself get trapped by the "sunken costs" fallacy that can get played out in bad relationships; that simply causes you to make and continue to make poor relationship decisions.

Read "the 3 act play that is alcoholism"; that is where you and your alcoholic H are now. You will not change your roles unless you yourself want to enact a proper sea change for your own self.

I feel for your 3 sons most of all frankly because they have seen and heard far more than you as their mother perhaps care to realise as well.

tribpot Sun 20-Sep-15 09:59:04

Has he been trying to manage it on his own since he left rehab? I take it he doesn't have a sponsor? Has he ever admitted the extent of the problem to anyone else?

Squeegle Sun 20-Sep-15 10:16:15

I couldn't agree more with the "alcoholism thrives on secrecy" thing. In my case I didn't want it to be true, if I kept quiet about it it wasn't true.
The biggest load off my shoulders was when I started admitting the real situation to others, not everyone, but selected others.
It really helped me gain a much more balanced perspective. I urge you to share in RL. Whether with your sons, your friends, Al anon. That's your choice, but I suspect you need some RL support in this. Whatever you do don't look for your DH to be able to support you. That won't be helpful for either of you - there is too much at stake for either of you to be emotionally balanced.

Joysmum Sun 20-Sep-15 11:42:18

And don't forget he's not just keeping his problem a secret from you, he's probably not facing up to the realities himself so it's not a problem to him. The lies are as much to protect himself from the truth as it is you.

Unless he can face up to his problems and learn to turn to others to help him through when tempted, he's always going to return to the drink.

Fleamog Sun 20-Sep-15 12:33:20

Thanks - I will look up the "3 act play on alcoholism"
We have been through such a lot with the alcoholism, and truly believed it was sorted. Can I just say that services for alcoholics are appallingly bad in my area, he asked for help so many times, but was let down really badly. It isn't me just making excuses - when it was eventually sorted and he got into rehab, I used my last bit of energy to complain - against NHS, social services and alcohol services, and all 14 of my complaints were "founded" and new policies written.
So he went off to rehab for 6 months, discharged had services to support him in next town. We were really happy as a couple, cos the funny, clever kind person was back. He found a job he actually liked, and slowly we got back to normal - with no alcohol. It was really hard, but we did it for a good couple of years.
So it is hugely upsetting to see the hidden vodka bottles again. And yes - how the hell does he think I don't know? We are playing out some stupid dance where I pretend I don't know he is drinking and he pretends I can't tell, and life goes on. Can it just keep on like this? Actually even as I wrote that I realise it can't. But acting on it is so scary, I feel paralysed fearful of blowing the whistle.
I wish al anon was some use - I tried it before and it was terrible. I think that just because it is there people think it is great, but it is a lot of weirdness, higher beings, mumbo jumbo quasi religious/cult nonsense. It was a relief to find that other people had the same experience. When you are at rock bottom and go for help to the accepted providers of that help and you feel like you have failed at that, life is pretty shitty bleak I can tell you.
It has really helped reading your responses, even the ones that say - leave him now. There are other ways of thing about it. Hell there are ACTUAL ways of thinking about it rather than drifting helplessly.
If I could see positive options I guess I would have done something - I am probably thinking that confronting it will make the sky fall down - yeah, that scary. sad

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-15 15:44:03

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-15 15:47:08

OP - Give Al-anon another chance. You need to talk to them, I am wondering if you actually got in touch with AA previously instead (they talk about higher powers etc).

Al-anon is completely separate from AA and is specifically for family members or anyone affected by another person's drinking.

Hard as the following may well be for you to read OP, you need to read this as well. This is you now:-

The wife is the first person who joins the alcoholic on the Merry-Go-Round. If she absorbs injustices, suffers deprivation, endures repeated embarrassments, accepts broken promises, is outwitted or undermined in every effort to cope with the drinking situation and is beaten down by the constant expression of hostility directed toward her, her own reaction is hostility, bitterness, anxiety and rage. Playing the role in this way makes the wife sick. She is not a sick woman who made her husband become an alcoholic but a woman who becomes part of an illness by living with it. She is put in a role which forces her to become the Provoker. She is caught between the advancing illness of alcoholism and the wall of ignorance, shame and embarassment inflicted upon her by society. This crushes her; she needs information and counseling, not because she caused her husband's illness, but because she is being destroyed by it.

Another reason why the wife needs help in the plan of recovery is that if she changes her role and begins to act in a new way she will discover she is standing alone. Others - friends, relations, business associates - will treat her as an actor who is deserting a play when there is no substitute to take her part. This is especially true if the wife separates from her husband, whether by choice or necessity.

Some wives can change their roles by having talks with a counselor who has basic knowledge of alcoholism, or by attending group meetings in a local alcoholism clinic or mental health clinic. Others gain insight and security by taking part in the Al-Anon Family Group meetings. Having new friends who understand her new role, because they have lived through similar pain and agony, is very important for the wife at this time. Relatives and friends may tell her how wrong she is in trying to play a new role; she needs people who understand and can give moral support in her search for answers to the problems of alcoholism.

The basic mistake made by women who seek help for their husbands'
alcoholism si that they want to be told what they can do to stop the drinking, not realizing that it may take a long time to learn a new role in the alcoholic marriage. Long periods of regular weekly conferences or group meetings are often necessary before a wife begins to change her feelings and learns to act in a new, constructive way. If others in the play do not learn new roles, the wife may need to remain in the group for a period of 2-3 years before her feelings and emotions will permit a change in role.

The wife should seek help for herself to recover from her own fears, anxieties, resentments and other destructive forces at work in an alcoholic marriage. As she is able to change, this may change the drinking pattern of her husband, and in many causes such a change leads to the alcoholic's recovery. Few husbands can stand a drastic change in their wives without making basic changes in their own lives, but this desirable change cannot be guaranteed. Many wives seek some form of help and then drop out of a program when the problems of an alcoholic marriage are not solved in a short time.

To avoid injury to the children, the wife must seek help outside the circle of family and friends. When she plays the role of Provoker the children are placed between a sick father and a sick mother. The wife who seeks and finds help early enough can prevent much of the harm which is being passed on to the children through her reaction to her husband. If she seeks and finds help, it will protect the children in many ways and may open the the door to her husband's recovery. The rate of recovery increases greatly when the wife seeks help for herself and continues to use this help.

The Moral Issue is also important. No one has a right to play God and demand that the alcoholic stop drinking. The reverse is also true. the alcoholic can only continue to act like a little god, telling everyone what to do, while doing as he pleases, if a supporting cast continues to play this role. The wife has every moral right and responsiblity to refuse to act as if her husband were God Almighty whose ever wish and commandment she must obey. As a rule, she cannot tell her husband anything for he refuses to hear it. Her only effective means of telling him what she means is to learn to free herself from his attempt to control and dictate what she is to do. This independence may be exercised in silence; it need not be expressed in words. Just as the real message to the wife is what the husband does and not what he says, she must learn to convey her message by acting in a new way.

Two things that may interfere with success is a long-range program for his wife. First, the husband's attitude toward the new role may range from disapproval to direct threats or violence. Second, responsibilities in the home, especially if there are young children, make it difficult for the wife to get away to go to group meetings, counseling or therapy during the day. At night, few alcoholic husbands will baby-sit or pay for this service while the wife attends meetings of Al-Anon or other therapy. Nor should they be trusted with this responsiblity while drinking.

If the couple married at an average age, during the pre-alcoholic stage of his illness, the wife ist he first person who joins him on the Merry-Go-Round when alcoholism appears. Many years later the Enabler and the Victim start their roles. If recovery from alcoholism is to be initiated before the illness becomes acute, the wife must initiate the recovery program. Most persons today, often including the helping professionals, are unwilling to accept alcoholism as an illness until it reaches the addictive stage of chronic alcoholism. Thus the wife will find herself in a position of a pioneer in the search for help. If her minister condemns drunkenness, she is ashamed to turn to him. If her doctor fails to recognize the existence of alcoholism in the early stages, medical help and counsel for her are cut off. If conditions become unbearable and she consults a lawyer, he may talk in terms of separation or divorce as the only service he can offer. This increases her sense of failure as a wife, or terrifies her with the prospect of the anxiety and grief she would have, if she took such action. So most wives stay on the Merry-Go-Round or get back on soon after trying to stop it or get off.

Until there are drastic changes in our cultural and social attitudes toward drinking and alcoholism, the family member who wishes to initiate a program of recovery from alcoholism must understand this can be a long and difficult process. However, if the wife or other family member is willing to enter a weekly program of educaiton, therapy, Al-Anon, or counseling, and work at it for a period of six months, changes usually occur, not only in her life but often in the life and action of the alcoholic. A wife cannot make a change unless she believes it to be the right and moral choice, so she must understand the nature of alcoholism. She must also have the courage to stand against her husband's opposition to her own program of recovery. A wife cannot be expected to do what is beyond her emotional or financial capacity. However, by remaining in a program of her own, she may be able to solve problems which at first seemed to difficult.

There is no easy way to stop the merry-go-round, for it can be more painful to stop it than to keep it going. It is impossible to spell out definite rules which apply to all members of the play. Each case is different, but the framework of the play remains much the same.

The family member is able to see the Merry-Go-Round of the alcoholic, but often fails to see that she is the one who helps to keep it going. The hardest part of stopping the repeated cycleis the fear that the alcoholic won't make it without such help. But what she unknowingly considers help is the very thing that permits him to continue to use alcohol as the cure-all for his problems.

If a friend is call upon for help, this should be used as an opportunity to lead the alcoholic and the family into a planned program of recovery.

A professional who has alcoholics or their family members as clients or patients should learn how to cope with alcoholism. Specific literature is available through local, state, and national programs on alcoholism. Short, intensive workshops are also available for professionals who are willing to spend time and effort to acquire basic knowledge of alcoholism.

If a wife thinks her husband has a drinking problem or drinks too much too often, she should seek help and counsel immediately, evaluating the situation in order to find the programs best suited to her needs. Regardless of the kind of help the wife chooses, she should not stop after a few conferences or meetings, for changes do not occur overnight. Regular attendance should be continued, for many wifes learn it takes a long to secure the real benefit from such a program. In our present society, the wife has one basic choice - to seek help for herself or permit the illness of alcohlism to destroy her and other members of her family.

Al-Anon is the most widespread group resource for the family today, just as AA for the alcoholic. Each has several thousand groups throughout the country. Many communities also have Alcoholism Information Centers, Mental Health Centers and professional persons who have learned to give wise and helpful counsel to the family.

To repeat, the wife can find a source of help for herself. This is the only way to break the merry-go-round of denial. Once help is found, she must continue to use whatever help is available and build her own program of recovery, perferably within an established group. Starting a recovery program may can greater suffering, conflict and confusion, but in the long run this is far less painful than helping the alcoholic continue to drink by remaining a member of the support cast of the play which keeps the Merry-Go-Round turning.

Fleamog Sun 20-Sep-15 16:04:21

Wow - that is a lot to take in. I am really going to read it closely, on a quick scan, there are some very interesting things about the roles people play - especially the wife - especially me.
The only thing that puts me right off is the al anon - yes it was that I went to - I tried several at the time. I could try another now, a few years later I suppose, or I could think about counselling.
An amazing amount of food for thought - thank you - I will report back after I have considered it all
Thank you to anyone who has replied and might still reply. This is the first time I have ever posted like this, and I can't tell you how good it feels that people care

Squeegle Sun 20-Sep-15 18:42:19

I second the sober recovery friends and family forum. It was a great support to me. It basically helped me to wake up to what I was sleepwalking through.

tribpot Sun 20-Sep-15 18:53:35

We have been through such a lot with the alcoholism, and truly believed it was sorted.

It doesn't get sorted. It's an ongoing situation - there's no 'recovered', only recovery.

The reason I keep asking if he has ever admitted the problem to anyone else is because being willing to admit the problem is an essential part of the acceptance that you are an addict and will always be one. This cannot be something you hide behind closed doors, because it will always thrive there.

Relapses can happen to any of us - look at Philip Seymour Hoffman. He had been sober for 23 years before he went off the rails. Twenty three years. Nothing can truly guard against it but a willingness to accept that recovery is an active process is so important.

cozietoesie Sun 20-Sep-15 19:03:21


I think you should be considering how much you really know about this man even though you've been married for 35 years.

You say that you found out when you found the 'hidden' vodka bottles. How do you know when he actually started drinking heavily in the first place - or started again after the rehab? (He could have been a functioning alcoholic for many many years and could well have lasted sober for virtually no time at all after the rehab.)

It's just that necking neat vodka on the QT is not the action of someone who was only just returning to booze - it implies a high basic tolerance of the substance if discovering the bottles was the only way you knew about it. Like another poster, I would be pretty certain, also, that he's drinking during the week.

Does he drive a car or do anything that might, at some point, require a sobriety or a blood test? If so, things could come crashing down any time regardless of his covering up.

Whatsforsupper Sun 20-Sep-15 21:15:24

Yea, well AA/NA has a success rate of less then 5% of all those attending meetings. The evidence has shown as many people get clean and sober without intervention as attending 12 step.

Sadly, most addicts tend too lie, not all most do.

Relapse is part and parcel of all models of recovery there is nothing stopping him getting sober again.

Some these posts suggest you need to get into a 12 step co-dependency group if you don't you've no hope.

12 step including Al anon is not for everyone!

Whatsforsupper Sun 20-Sep-15 21:20:38

This is one of the most well written articles I've seen produced around addiction. Yes, its about addiction, NA came about as an off shoot of AA remove the heroin add in alcohol it gives a well rounded view on how 12 step became the treatment model on offer.

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