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Old 02-26-2011, 08:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to help closet alcoholic husband?

I found out last week that my darling husband of 24 years is a closet alcoholic. We drink socially and I've seen him have a beer or two while doing yardwork, but I didn't know he was drinking otherwise.

I knew something was wrong for the last two years, but couldn't figure it out. I thought depression, diabetes but couldn't get him to tell me or see a doctor. He got really sick and only after having a liver biopsy last week did I find out about his drinking problem and two days later that he has stage 4 liver cirrhosis has must have a liver transplant.

He's in denial but has agreed to see a counselor who specializes in addictions next week.

My question is, how can I help? We must speed up his recovery as his life is at stake. From what I understand, he will need to get out of denial quickly and into recovery in order to be listed on a transplant list. We have not yet met with the transplant social worker.

Should I press him to tell me everything about his drinking.? He gets angry and says he doesn't know when I've asked the past few days.

We have three young children. I can't bear the thought of losing my husband and my children's father. He's really a wonderful man.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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you do nothing...this is his doing...and now, his recovery?...would you engage in AL ANON? it will help you understand about the "disease"...I am sorry you are going through this....
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
same planet...different world
 
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Welcome to the forum.

I'm sorry for the reason you found us -
but am glad you've found us.

I hope you'll take the time to read the stickies at the top of the page.

You've got a lot on your plate right now
does the hospital offer a support group for spouses where you are?

SOmetimes that's a good place to start.
Support in real life is very important as well as online.

Again - welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You need to learn everything you can about alcoholism. Keep visiting here. This site can be a lifeline for you.

The truth is YOU can't speed up his recovery. He has to manage his own recovery. I think the best thing you can do is to start thinking and planning about how you'll take care of you and the kids as he moves through this process. Al Anon or other programs such as Smart Recovery can help you with this.

You can support him in the areas of nutrition or possibly by passing on information that you come across in your research.

I never discuss drinking with my AH. It's his problem and not mine.

I do occasionally pass him pertinent information (articles etc) as per our agreement. I leave them on his desk. He's free to read it or trash it as he pleases. I never ask him about them. This is really for me--not my AH. It's my way of assuring myself that I've done what I can to encourage him to stop drinking.

Interestingly enough this has helped "me" in a way I didn't expect. Since I don't discuss or interfere with with his drinking, his obnoxious and rude (verbally abusive) behavior toward me has dwindled. It hasn't completely stopped but I've not heard an unkind word from him since February 5. Poor old guy doesn't know I track this stuff.

I am so sorry this is all happening to you. I know your are frightened and worried. I wish you and your family well.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks to all for the advice.
Where do I find the "stickies at the top of the page" to read?
Sorry, I'm new to this on-line stuff.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The stickies are the permanent posts at the very top page of the forum. 'Classic Reading' is one. There is a lot of information, wisdom and experience there!
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Don't feel bad - I was the same way!

I don't speak 'computer' either
which just drives all my computer friends nuts.

Just go down to the bottom right of this page
there'll be a window thingy that says
"Friends and Family of alcohlics" and thing a button thingy
that says 'go'

that's the thing that will give you what's called
the 'forum view' ...
it shows all ther topic threads going on right now
and at the top
is 'frozen' titles.

they use those for references
some have links to organizations like AlAnon
some are really great quotes from stuff that's been said here.

those are 'stickies'.

Hope that helps.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As strange as it sounds..

...this is the correct answer. You do nothing around his drinking. The more you try and control this, the more he will resist. You did not cause his drinking, you cannot cure his alcoholism, and you can control neither.

What you can control is your own actions, and what will help you find your answers is to go find an Alanon meeting as soon as you possibly can. It is not AA, AA is for alcoholics, it is Alanon and it is for people who are affected by somebody else's drinking. Try at least six meetings, some different, before deciding if it is for you.

If you really want to learn how to find your answers, if you want to most effectively help your children though this, and if you want to give your husband his best chance at recovery you will do this. How to find a meeting in the US/Canada/Puerto Rico

If not, you will find excuses not to go, and you will do it your way, whatever your way is. When that way doesn't work Alanon will still be there for you.

Here's a gift somebody else gave to me in 2003:

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Originally Posted by fourmaggie View Post
you do nothing...this is his doing...and now, his recovery?...would you engage in AL ANON? it will help you understand about the "disease"...I am sorry you are going through this....
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Sorry to hear about your situation. It must be a HUGE shock--very few people are able to hide a drinking problem that severe for that long. Though some people are more susceptible to physical damage from the drinking sooner than others.

The one thing you might try is educating yourself about alcoholism. There are two books I recommend that you read: "Under the Influence" and the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous. I strongly suggest that you read both of them, and you will have a better idea of what it is you are dealing with.

I also suggest that you make the books available to him to pick up and read when he is ready. I wouldn't nag him about reading them, but you could tell him you found a couple of books that taught you a lot about alcoholism and that they might be helpful to him, too. Then leave it alone. Let him make his own conclusions and decide what HE is going to do about HIS problem.

For yourself, I second the suggestion that you get to some Al-Anon meetings. This is a scary situation for you, and one you didn't see coming. The others at the meeting will be a great source of strength for you as you navigate these strange waters.

Welcome, and hugs,
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
Sorry to hear about your situation. It must be a HUGE shock--very few people are able to hide a drinking problem that severe for that long. Though some people are more susceptible to physical damage from the drinking sooner than others.

The one thing you might try is educating yourself about alcoholism. There are two books I recommend that you read: "Under the Influence" and the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous. I strongly suggest that you read both of them, and you will have a better idea of what it is you are dealing with.

I also suggest that you make the books available to him to pick up and read when he is ready. I wouldn't nag him about reading them, but you could tell him you found a couple of books that taught you a lot about alcoholism and that they might be helpful to him, too. Then leave it alone. Let him make his own conclusions and decide what HE is going to do about HIS problem.

For yourself, I second the suggestion that you get to some Al-Anon meetings. This is a scary situation for you, and one you didn't see coming. The others at the meeting will be a great source of strength for you as you navigate these strange waters.

Welcome, and hugs,
Thanks LexieCat; some of the hardest advice to hear but the most effective. I came to this forum looking for ways to "help" and had to relearn what that meant. This site, along with reading everything I could get my hands on, and weekly Al-Anon meetings have changed my life in short order. And probably my A's, as well.

Welcome, and take good care!
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks, I found the stickies and will do some more reading. Since this just all "came out" a little over a week ago, I've seen a counselor. My husband is going to see the same counselor this week. The counselor does specialize in addiction counseling. Since my husband's liver transplant will probably happen quickly because of how sick (MELD 26) he is, this counselor will have to do for now at least.

He's never been abusive, a good father and husband, his superiors love him, he's worked for the same company for 24 yers. I think he didn't start drinking heavily until about two years ago which is when his mood changed. I thought he was depressed and stressed about his job.

He got Hepatitis in July and I made him go to the doctor. I have all of his medical records and his liver tests. The doctor didn't diagnose the Hepatitis (or alcoholism) and he thus continued to drink and I kept giving him Tylenol. His liver couldn't take the deadly combination of Hepatitis, alcohol, and Tylenol. So from July to January his liver failed quickly and severely. I didn't know what was going on and he didn't want to go back to the doctor because he had just been there and the doctor said he was fine. I finally had to tell him I was leaving and taking the kids if he didn't go back to the doctor. His eyes were yellow and he was fatigued and losing weight. Well he did go then, but it was too late. It's Stage 4 cirrhosis and he was never given a warning by his doctor. He quit drinking about a week before he went back to the doctor because he was feeling so bad.

I know now that amonia was buiding up in his brain because his liver wasn't working properly. He couldn't think clearly which is why I had such a hard time getting him to go to the doctor.

I just want to put that info out there for those who might have friends and family who think they have it all under control. It spiraled out of control fast and he will die without a transplant and might die with one.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Who diagnosed the hepatitis in July, if it wasn't his doctor? Or are they simply projecting back and saying that must have been the problem back in July?

I had a partner (whom I later married--it only lasted a few months) who almost died of liver failure. They were certain he would need a transplant, but the biopsy showed only early cirrhosis in his case. Sadly, he went back to drinking.

I'm sorry to hear you already have the biopsy results.

One other suggestion. I gather he isn't in the hospital at the moment? Is he physically capable of making it to an AA meeting? If not, but he is willing to consider AA, you can then call the local AA Intergroup office, who could send a couple of guys out to talk to him at home.

Again, though, he has to be on board with it. They won't come out if he isn't willing to listen.

Just a thought.

My first husband (now sober 31 years) went to AA after a co-worker gave me the AA "Big Book" and I passed it along to him.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=wanttohelphim;2878655]Should I press him to tell me everything about his drinking.? He gets angry and says he doesn't know when I've asked the past few days.
QUOTE]

The fact that he gets angry and doesn't want to discuss his drinking, even though he has drank himself to an inch of his life, means that he is in denial.

I watched my wife get the yellow eyes, the hepatitis, cirhosis, and almost die from falling down the stairs. She always gets angry when I want to talk about her drinking. She did 2 years sober and now she's drinking again, more than ever. It is very, very frustrating.

Keep reading these threads here at SR. Many of us have been dealing with alcoholic spouses for decades. I suggest going to Al-Anon, learn what detachment means, continue to seek help for yourself (counseling is a good idea), and of course pray.

Blessings...
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