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how to help my alcoholic partner recover. Please help me

(21 Posts)
debilicious Sat 06-Jun-09 13:49:06


I have name changed because I am embarrassed about this situation.

I have been with my parter for 4 years - during which time we have lived together for extended periods, but also apart as we are from different countries and presently both have commitments in our homes.

Basically, since we met he has had a problem with alcohol. I guess it's not the behaviour I imaged for an alcoholic, but he definitely has a problem. He doesn't feel the need to drink every day, but when he does drink - he always wants to be the last person to leave the party, he always drinks 2-3 times more than he should. He's wet the bed more times than I care to count.

Finally, he accepts that it is out of control - and wants to address it. But how?! Where do we start?

I love him and want to stay with him - and don't blame him for the things he has done, because I think he really suffers from an illness. It is so hard on me though. Especially because we are apart at the moment - I am developing some sort of nervous tick - I never know when I phone him if he will be able to form sentences

He has recently tried to stop drinking completely - but on several occasions resorted to smoking marijuana in social settings instead, because he says he finds it so hard not to drink. He is a musician so 2-3 times a week he is required to be in a bar / club situation until 1-2 AM.

Can he get help from his GP? Possibly an NHS referral to a psychologist? Are there any medications that can help make excessive drinking impossible? Baring in mind money is an issue for us at the moment - not that I don't value this, but we just don't have much money to put towards anything. That in mind, what is the first step to take? What have other people found useful?

I would be so appreciative of any advice.


prettyfly1 Sat 06-Jun-09 14:03:13

aa is free. If he cant stop himself drinking he is an alchoholic. I know this as both my parents are recovered alchoholics. AA will help.

debilicious Sat 06-Jun-09 14:08:02

When I looked into AA it seems like they say that they only support people to stop drinking completely.

While that I know is an option, I would like for him to learn skills to enjoy alcohol socially, at acceptable levels.

Can AA offer that sort of support do you think?

CherryChoc Sat 06-Jun-09 14:22:26

It can't hurt to see his GP and ask for a referral. My DP was prescribed tablets in the past which he could not drink on, because he would be violently sick if he had any alcohol (even mouthwash etc!)

I think TBH if he's got to the point of addiction, it has to be all or nothing. He won't be able to drink socially - he has to stop completely. I've heard the same from people who have recovered from drug addiction, they say they are slightly jealous in a way of friends they know who can have the occasional spliff/line of coke/pill/whatever on the occasional weekend, because they can't enjoy it like that any more - the addiction has completely ruined it for them. I think it's something to do with actual changes in the part of the brain which responds to the substance the person has been addicted to.

I'm going to be honest and say I think if he's going to change and beat this addiction, it's not going to be as simple as you are perhaps thinking. He might well have to change or take a break from his career. Although he will need your support, it might be easier for both of you if you temporarily separate while he sorts himself out (with an agreement not to see other people if you wish) - do you have children? Because I'd say he definitely needs to move out while he recovers if you do. (If you don't, good on you both for sorting this out before children are involved ) I think you both know that transferring the addiction onto drugs is not helpful in the long run.

HTH, I know it's not what you want to hear. Good Luck.

prettyfly1 Sat 06-Jun-09 16:05:01

I am about to be very brutal with you. If your partner has an addiction he will NEVER be able to have another drink again. There will always be a button in his brain that one drink will push and noone can turn off again until he burns himself out and I have to say anyone he repeatedly gets themselves to the point of pissing themselves when drunk IS an alchoholic.

prettyfly1 Sat 06-Jun-09 16:07:01

Oh and for a long time YOU will not be able to drink around him. My mum can have a glass of wine now but we are five years down the road - she could NEVER EVER have cider or brandy in the house though as these are my dads triggers. I think you need to get some real ideas about how tough it is supporting a recovering addict before you push him into the process. I am sorry to sound harsh as I appreciate you want to help him but having been there you need the truth to be of any help at all.

secretsquirrel1 Sat 06-Jun-09 16:34:32

The support thread for addicts part 2 is where it's all happening for the partners of addicts....alcohol, drugs

Come and join us! smile

secretsquirrel1 Sat 06-Jun-09 16:37:04

oops, should have read as 'the support thread for the partners of addicts'

Sory sorry sorry!

noddyholder Sat 06-Jun-09 16:49:00

Prettyfly is right .My dp has been in recovery for about 17 yrs and it is not something you can control.That is the very essence of it.If he could just drink socially he would be and you wouldn't be trying to manage it.addicts are powerless over whatever their addiction is that is the problem.

noddyholder Sat 06-Jun-09 16:51:51

I still drink though and we have alcohol in the house and parties etc but dp is very far down the road.

teenyweenytadpole Sat 06-Jun-09 18:04:10

Ho your DP sounds a lot like my DH. I just read this book and it was very helpful, if a little depressing. Basically it says that alcoholism is a disease and it is physiological not psychological. So counselling will not really help. My local GP has a visiting drug and alcohol adviser - if yours does would they be worth a visit, for you if not for him? I am planning to see mine. I also echo the comments about not being able to drink socially. I am not drinking around my DH at the moment, and it's hard when it's Friday night and you fancy that G&T - but a necessary step, I think.

debilicious Sun 07-Jun-09 00:38:50

Thank you all. We will make an appointment with our GP asap.

If anything, it is so helpful to feel I'm not alone in dealing with this.

Ozziegirly Sun 07-Jun-09 02:21:12

Hi there, my Dh is a recovering alcoholic. I think it is the dream of a lot of addicts to be able to change their drinking to a "social" level, but I think mainly it's wishful thinking.

But don't despair, Dh has been helped hugely, life changingly by AA and our life is so much better without alcohol. I didn't think it would be, I thought it would be boring, but it's quite the opposite. When I think of the nights of worry if he was out without me, or even when he was in, passed out on the sofa snoring - that was boring.

Dh now is enthusiastic about things, has a couple of new hobbies, is generally much more "involved" with life - and it's only been 3 months or so for him, so early days.

Ginga66 Mon 08-Jun-09 00:21:34

Alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholics cannot control their drinking and it is absolute rubbish to try to. There must be abstinence as one drink triggers an allergic reaction and a craving and obsession that leads to uncontrollable drinking. Aquarius, psychology, psychiatry all a complete waste of time for a true alcoholic. Those things great for heavy drinkers. Your man needs to get to AA. It will save his life.

MIFLAW Mon 08-Jun-09 00:30:58

Have answered you on other thread.

Had to come back on the "you can never drink around him."

This is, in my case, toss. I totally avoided situations where drink was served or consumed for a while after I stopped. Perhaps for a few months. Then, very gradually, it became more and more okay for others to drink near me, as long - and this was key - I felt able to leave the situation and/or seek support if I started feeling vulnerable.

I cannot guarantee that your DH will be like me - but nor can anyone else guarantee he won't. Certainly don't let that stop him trying AA unless and until he has a better idea. Alcoholism takes lives and AA saves them.

"I would like for him to learn skills to enjoy alcohol socially, at acceptable levels." Presumably, if he's over 25 and a typical British male, he's had 10 years or more to learn these very skills. If he hasn't managed it yet, do you not think perhaps it might be a sign he's just not the type to learn them?

whoisasking Mon 08-Jun-09 14:04:45

Just quickly, as no one else has mentioned it yet, Al-Anon are great at giving support to the loved ones of alcoholics.

MIFLAW Mon 08-Jun-09 14:49:28

What I've heard from "our side of the fence" definitely bears that out, whoisasking.

llareggub Mon 08-Jun-09 14:58:38

Another vote for AA. My DH has been sober for over 2 years now and couldn't have done it without AA. Forget about your wish to have him drink socially. For an alcoholic, it is just the excuse needed to carry on drinking. Your DH cannot drink socially.

There isn't a typical alcoholic either, so don't be lulled into a false sense of security.

I found mn a massive source of support when DH was at his worst. I hope you find it too. Thinking of you.

MIFLAW Mon 08-Jun-09 15:48:44

AA "support" anyone who has a problem with drinking - there are no rules, no fees, and no obligations.

However, it is made up exclusively of ex-problem drinkers. The only way we have found to be happy is total abstention and dealing with the consequences of that one day at a time.

This analogy might seem flippant but here goes - I'm sure Kwik-Fit don't judge people who choose to get around on horseback, but if you want riding lessons they're not the people to see.

magnummum Mon 08-Jun-09 19:05:15

I'd second what other posters have written. My mum is an alcoholic and has been in and out of recovery for most of my life. Stints in rehab have provided brief periods of sobriety but it is only regular AA meetings and work with her AA sponsor that really help her (which she admits). I think it is widely accepted that for the majority of alcoholics social drinking is not an option. I will also be brutal and add that getting them to stop drinking is usually the tip of the iceberg as it is an illness which really plays havoc with their thinking/relationships too.

You would find great support in AlAnon even if your DP decides AA is not for him.

serajen Wed 10-Jun-09 12:28:27

As an alcoholic, I echo the sentiments expressed here, controlled/social drinking is not an option for us, we can't do normal as other folks can when it comes to alcohol, probably can only start to recover when we accept that fact.

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