My feed

to access all these features

Mumsnet doesn't verify the qualifications of users. If you have medical concerns, please consult a healthcare professional.

Alcohol support

The Elephant in the Room

11 replies

alice2022 · 19/03/2022 00:19

We are a retired couple, but my partner is unfortunately a heavy drinker. Rule of thumb: he can get through either a litre bottle of vodka, or Tia Maria, or a bottle and a half of wine in the space of 24 hours. He usually has a splash of coke with the Tia Maria, or coke or lemonade with the vodka. Also, I notice (on the days he doesn't drive) from the dropped level in the bottle, that he has a 'tot' in the mornings (probably when I'm showering). He assumes I don't notice! All I can think is, he uses alcohol as a 'security blanket'! Also, I have to feel sorry for him as he 'can't help himself' - as alcoholism is a kind of illness.

The second glass of vodka is the real 'killer' - when he starts to stagger around and slur his speech, & I'm so afraid he will fall over & hit his head! He really becomes a Jekyll & Hyde character! (Although never violent towards me.) Not so bad with the Tia Maria or wine! So I live in fear of him opening that vodka bottle - well, any bottle! Often driven to secret tears when he does! But it is making me so unhappy & distrustful of him!

I have limited mobility, so I can't just leave, get in a car and drive away! Or even get a bus. I do rely on him to drive me around. I am stuck with it, it seems!

What is it about older, retired men & 'liqueurs'? I know a friend of a friend who can consume half a bottle of Cointreau in an afternoon! Is it pure boredom? & all those lockdowns didn't help!

Whilst I'll never turn my partner teetootal (he used to run a pub many years ago - so alcohol has always been a large part of his life), I just wanted to encourage him to cut down as I do worry about the effect on his health - where I fear a 'time bomb' (he is in his 70's) at some point (further compounded by his smoking). But bringing up the serious issue of his heavy drinking, has become a bit like the 'Elephant in the Room'! I don't want to sound like the Nanny State!

Can anyone advise me how to open such a conversation? In other words: 'Help!' I just want the man I fell in love with, to 'come back' to me!

OP posts:
BankersBonus · 19/03/2022 07:30

Your partner isn’t a heavy drinker.

Your partner is an alcoholic.

If he is starting to slur & stagger after his second glass of vodka they must be pretty hefty shots. You cannot change an alcoholic, they have to want to change themselves so, honestly, there really isn’t any advice to open the conversation, you just need to have a frank discussion about how worried you are. I have several alcoholics in my family and my FIL sounds very much like your partner.

You have to decide if you want to spend the rest of your life with Jekyll & Hyde or if you would be happier on your own. Staying with someone because they drive you around isn’t a good enough reason to stay if they make you so unhappy, and you are walking on eggshells, the rest of the time.

AA does have support for family members

I hope your partner sees the light Flowers

GeneLovesJezebel · 19/03/2022 07:32

It’s not boredom, or any other excuse they may come up with, it’s alcoholism.

TheOriginalChatelaine · 19/03/2022 07:59

Hello alice2022 You must be in constant torment watching & anticipating this pattern of drinking. Although the Elephant in the room is there the conversation must be broached. I would be telling him how it makes you feel, how concerned you are about his health. With long term drinking he will be in denial but there is the possibility that he is in torment & wants to change. No one drinking to that level can feel great & happy. There will be a key with which to unlock all this so I would start testing. Explain how worried you are about his health, he must know the risks but his sub conscious mind pushes it away. The recognition needs to be a conscious one & its a painful & frightening step. He may be drinking due to unresolved issues that have gone unacknowledged. The book by William Porter called Alcohol Explained is useful & comprehensive & is also available on Audible. So I would get this out in the air at the beginning of his drinking day. Just say it simply, sympathetically & non judgementally, then leave him to digest it which will likely involve him ruminating with a bottle. You will need to be prepared to leave him alone to do this. He may become angry & need space. I wouldn't over egg it but just plant the seed & see what develops & go from there. If it turns out he wants to quit he should probably seek medical advice although there is a lot of information on the Internet on how to go about it. Many people find it difficult to tell their GP, they think they are alone when in fact the opposite is true. Knowing that can be comforting & give them confidence to admit they want to change. I'm on another thread called Alcohol Explained, Day One. It was started by *OnedayIwillflyaway^ Of course traffic will increase here too. You probably know that when he is driving he will still be over the limit & I expect that worries you too. The lockdowns have enabled so many people to drink at home. It's a deep rut but there are strategies out there to make lasting changes. Just know that you are not alone.

alice2022 · 19/03/2022 18:38

Thank you all so much for your honest replies. I am very grateful - as I really didn't know what to do! It's a difficult situation as I don't want to be on my own again (I lost a partner to cancer several years ago, and was left on my own to cope with my mobility problem.) but, yes, living constantly on edge with a 'Jekyll & Hyde', & walking on eggshells, isn't a life. But - so is loneliness!

The thing is: my partner is always very attentive towards me, concerned for my welfare, & supportive; always asking me how I am, & giving me encouragement with my walking & exercises - he's such a conundrum! Yet, if I ask how he is etc. - typical 'bloke-ish' attitude: he becomes defensive & dismissive, & brushes it off. So, yes, I'll have to handle any drink- related 'dialogue' with him very sensitively. But, I'm sure if he knew his drinking was making me unhappy, & that I worry desperately for his health, he would want to do something about it.

Also, he has reassured me in the past that if he is due to drive the next day, he will stop drinking at least 14 hours before the time he planned to actually get behind the wheel - which, admittedly, he does do. I've wanted to trust him & assumed he knows what he's doing! But I must admit - in my naivety - I never thought he could still be over the limit, the next day! So, maybe that is something else I can mention (tactfully) to him.

We both watch enough TV dramas that often depict how alcoholics can destroy relationships & family life, you'd have thought alarm bells would ring for him! So yes, he is very much in denial! I suppose he is what is termed a functioning alcoholic - as he never seems to suffer with hangovers! And he must have developed a hardened intolerance to alcohol too, in order to take literally tumblers of the stuff! I worry for his liver; it must be cast iron!! I'm just so afraid he will fall over one day, & hit his head! Then I won't be able to pick him up - short of calling the paramedics!

I dread our next shopping trip when again, he will stock up on all his copious amount of bottles (but he's spending his money, not mine, thank goodness), & the whole cycle starts again! Often, the checkout person will remark: 'Oh, are you having a party? Can I come?' It can be quite embarrassing!

But I love him, & so want to help him. I just don't understand why he NEEDS to do it! We don't have family, or financial, worries. And I myself don't know of any underlying issues with him. I often feel I've failed in being his calming influence - that he needs to turn to alcohol. But you think you know someone, but do you really know that person?

Thank you all again for the replies. It is a great comfort to know I am not alone!

OP posts:
alexdgr8 · 19/03/2022 18:46

i think you should discuss this with your GP.
i am a bit concerned for your welfare.
have you had a care needs assessment.
could you pay for a professional careworker, or might you be eligible for help from social services.
i think you need support from health/welfare.
you are minimising the risks from your situation.
don't be isolated. reach out for help. share the problem.
good luck.

Candleabra · 19/03/2022 18:54

Sounds awful. As above - please reach out for support, you don’t have to live like this. You’re not responsible for your partner or their drinking.

alice2022 · 20/03/2022 13:40

Thank you all for your kind support. X

OP posts:
Polyanthus2 · 25/03/2022 06:46

Can you definitely not drive? or learn to drive?
My neighbour (younger than you) has recently been put on the full disability benefits and is getting a mobility car (nice little electric automatic).
My Mum past her test at 60.
I'm not mentioning the drinking as only he can fix that.

alice2022 · 26/03/2022 11:07

Hi Polyanthus2, many thanks for your very helpful reply.

OP posts:
Usou · 26/03/2022 11:22

Everything @BankersBonus says.

That level of drinking (and smoking) in his 70s will kill him, and a health check would probably reveal some major issues such as liver damage. Get in touch with Al Anon.

The only redeeming feature is that he's pleasant and helpful, although that may change. People do get sober around that age, although he needs to be aware he has a problem - which is usually fairly obvious drinking at that level.

Usou (27 year sober alcoholic)

Polyanthus2 · 26/03/2022 18:12

My DF stopped drinking at 70. I think he couldn't be bothered to walk the couple of miles into town to get his whisky.
Gobsmacking for me after putting up with a childhood of angry outbursts and nastiness - and then he just decides to stop without an apology or explanation.
So your DH might stop of his own accord.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.