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Alcohol support

What to do!? DH drinking excessively

9 replies

mariamama123 · 17/02/2022 21:32

I believe my dear husband of 10 years has an addiction to alcohol. He drinks 2 bottles of red wine nearly every day, he rarely has a night off. On weekends and holidays he drinks more. He used to admit to drinking too much in the past, but recently he is saying he doesn’t want to change anything, that it’s his way of dealing with stress which is feels he has a lot in his life. The stress is due to a missed career opportunity 5 years ago and general dissatisfaction about living in the UK (cost of living, quality of life, size of the house) compared to the United States where he is from. We have 3 lovely children between the ages of 1 and 7, we both have good jobs paying us well, a house and we are very stable financially. He adores the kids and spends most of his time with the family outside of work…with a glass in his hand. I do enjoy wine as well but in much lower volumes and I never drink alone, which is something he does most nights. In fact i frequently find him drinking more when I’m not around, and I dread coming home to a very buzzed husband. Drinking nearly always makes him happy, he doesn’t get aggressive or anything like that. He’s much more willing to engage in interesting topics when he is buzzed.

This situation makes me really upset and puts a strain on our relationship. I’ve confronted him a number of times over the years and sometimes that resulted in a temporary reduction in drinking, but then he goes back to his habit. I am worried about the damage to his health, his continuing weight gain, about his addiction getting worse, about constant alcohol smell in bed, about spending the rest of my life being upset every night. I am not sure what to do! He is very involved with the kids and is a wonderful father, he is a great help around the house and dedicated to this family, he is kind, smart,and used to be a very positive ambitious person, but he’s lacking that spark now (due to a missed opportunity and living in the UK). He’s not really offering any steps to resolving these issues, he is just constantly depressed about it😏
I know that he won’t stop unless he decides to stop, but I have to try to change things!
My first plan is to ask for advice on the forum. Then I thought about writing my concerns down and letting him read it. Also considered and ultimatum of some sort. Then I thought about getting a therapist involved, but I’m not sure if they would help? GP? AA? Do you agree that he has a problem? How do I get him to see that? Please help!

OP posts:
Eviebea · 18/02/2022 08:52

This sounds like the behaviour of a functioning alcoholic. If he feels he can't go teetotal, the least he could do for the sake of your children and your marriage is drastically cut down on the amount he is drinking. I agree you should be worried and I'm sorry your going through this.

mdh2020 · 18/02/2022 09:05

You didn’t cause it
You can’t control it
You cant cure it

I keep this mantra close to my heart. Until he wants help there is nothing you can do. Alcoholics have to reach rock bottom before they seek help. And rock bottom is always lower down than you can imagine. DS was so frail she couldn’t walk to the car that took her into rehab. The NHS had refused to admit her to hospital again and she had fits if she didn’t have alcohol in her system. Until that point she was drinking 2 bottles of vodka a day and denying she had an issue.
You have to decide whether you want to stick it out or ask him to leave.
You could start with your GP. In our area the addiction service is run by a charity and your GP will know of this.
Giving up alcohol is hard and your DH will have to want to do it. I gave my DH an ultimatum - me or the booze. I’m not proud of it but it worked.

Elieza · 18/02/2022 09:16

Sadly, I agree wholeheartedly with MDH above.

You have to decide what you want. To stay with him and you and dc watch him slide slowly to decline and possibly death.
Or leave.

It’s an awful situation.

You can’t help him. You can control him. Anyone who has been with an alcoholic has tried everything. Begging, pleading, paying for private treatment, manipulation, motivational speeches, anger and bullying out of desperation, the lot.

None of it will work if he doesn’t want to stop and leave his crutch behind.

Could he go back to America if that’s what made him happy?

Nothingsfine · 18/02/2022 21:06

Agree with everything that's been said. You can only decide what you are willing to put up with. You can't change him or his drinking. There's no point issuing ultimatums as he might comply for a short while but the problem is he seems OK with his level of drinking so the cutting down or stopping won't last long.
Just something to think about for yourself, he might be a good dad etc now but if his drinking makes him ill then you and potentially your children will end up looking after him. He could develop cirrhosis of the liver which leads to serious complications and transplant/death. A transplant would only be an option if he stops drinking for 6 months. You may think I'm being dramatic but my ex is in his 40s and is in this exact position.
It's a very tough decision to make when you still love someone but have a long hard think about what you are willing to accept.

eztiger · 18/02/2022 21:21

There’s a lot of very good advice here already. I can only agree with them. I’ve been in your shoes and I struggled for a long time to admit to myself the size of the problem and I couldn’t change things. In the end it was only when I left and he hit absolute rock bottom that he found the determination to do something about it. Now he’s two years in recovery but unfortunately it was too late for our marriage. I struggle a lot with the guilt of walking away but I’m my heart I know he would never have recovered as long as I stayed.

Aquamarine1029 · 18/02/2022 21:27

Don't allow your children to grow up in a home with an alcoholic. It will damage every aspect of their lives, and it's doing so now. They are already aware of the dysfunction.

I would be telling him he has to go.

Soontobe60 · 18/02/2022 21:39

He’s drinking at least 140 units of alcohol a week, the recommended amount is 14 units a week. That equals around 700 calories per bottle, or 9576 calories a week ie 42 jam doughnuts. He is also spending a minimum of £100 a week. That’s £5200 in a year.
If he knows this, and still chooses to drink - although he probably isn’t technically choosing any more - he’s not the person you think he is, nor is he going to continue to be a good father.
For example, should you have an accident, he isn’t fit to look after your children, or drive you to hospital. I hope he doesn’t do the school run, because you can bet he’s over the limit.
I hope he acknowledges that he’s got a really big problem and tries to do something about it - you can’t do it for him I’m afraid.

PromisesMeanNothingSue · 19/02/2022 08:28

I’m going to give a differing approach here, as I think some of the info above is outdated and wrong.

Firstly, the drug and alcohol research and services field are moving away from the term ‘alcoholic’ - preferring to say ‘alcohol use/misuse disorder’ or ‘substance use/misuse disorder’. The reason for this is that alcoholic is a nebulous term that people tend to decide means ‘worse than me’ (like the old joke that an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor).
‘An alcoholic is someone who drinks in the morning… I don’t drink in the morning so I’m not an alcoholic.’
‘An alcoholic is someone who drinks all day and can’t hold down a job… I don’t drink in the day and still have a job, therefore I’m not an alcoholic.’ ‘An alcoholic has to drink every single day… I had a day off last week/month/year therefore…’ etc. etc. It’s a term that carries stigma and encourages denial.

I’m sure your DH would deny that he’s an alcoholic. It would be harder to deny that he has an alcohol use disorder, given that he is drinking in excess of 150 units per week - over ten times the recommended limit.

People who are drinking at unsafe levels don’t have to have a ‘rock bottom’ to stop - that is an AA myth. AA works for some people, and that’s great, but it certainly isn’t the only way (nor, arguably, even a very effective or helpful way). I do agree, though, that you didn’t cause it and you can’t control it - only he can acknowledge that he has an alcohol use disorder and that he wants to change that.

You can decide what you want to do about it, though; ie what you’re prepared to put up with. His resentment about the missed career opportunity and all the cost of living stuff sounds like typical heavy drinking thinking - it’s a depressant, but doesn’t feel like one because of the immediate and temporary relief it gives.

Does he read? Or listen to audiobooks? This book <a class="break-all" href="https://smile.[[//" rel="nofollow noindex" target="_blank">]] was my watershed moment; it’s balanced, factual, not patronising or over the top, and written by an expert. I listened to it on audiobook every night for months, until I was ready to make the leap. Then I did the 30 day free Annie Grace Alcohol Experiment, and during that month, committed to at least a year alcohol free (which I fully expect to be annually renewable).

Do you think he’d be willing to read or listen? Alcohol Explained by William Porter is a popular one, particularly for men, I think. There’s tons of ‘quit lit’ out there, and plenty of alternatives to AA, too (including Smart Recovery if he does decide he would benefit from the support of meetings).

You could try talking to him (or writing him a letter if talking to him about it isn’t fruitful) and telling him that you’re worried about how he is jeopardising his health and his marriage, and would he be willing to read/listen to a couple of books, at least? No labelling him an alcoholic - focus on the indisputable facts, which is that he’s drinking at a level which is damaging his body and brain, and putting his health (and therefore the health of your marriage and family) at risk.

If he’s not willing to do that, then I think it’s time to consider whether you want to stay with him (and subject your children to staying) as his alcohol use disorder worsens.

brightspice · 28/02/2022 16:17

I agree with @PromisesMeanNothingSue - you do not have to hit 'rock bottom' to make a change.

I work with people who over drink but who don't have a physical addiction - intelligent people who are very in control of their lives, hold down big jobs and so on, who don't have a major problem with alcohol but who just can't get a hold of this drinking thing.

For many of these people, drinking is quite simply habit - something they do automatically in reaction to triggers, in the same way we clean our teeth twice a day. I don't know if that's the case for your DH, but if so, it's totally possible to unpick the drinking habit.

You say he drinks because of stress about a missed career opportunity 5 years ago. So he's drinking to escape how bad he's feeling about the choice he made. Only he has the ability right now to change that. How he views that "missed career opportunity" sounds like one of the keys to this for him. We can change the past by changing our thoughts about what happened. I could say so much more, but that's where I'd start. I'd get him talking about that and realising that he has all the power to start changing now. It doesn't even need to involve drinking less to start with, but facing up to what happened, being willing to feel all the yucky emotions that will come up and deciding intentionally what to think and feel instead. Hope this helps.

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