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Alcoholic Boyfriend, advice?? Support?? Help...

Old 08-04-2010, 09:00 PM
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Alcoholic Boyfriend, advice?? Support?? Help...

Hello, I am new here, this is my first post. My boyfriend is an alcoholic. He has gone through rehab and been in AA since last November. We have only been together for 2 months but we have gotten very close and shared a lot in that short amount of time so it seems like a much longer relationship. When I met him he was living in an SLE and was going to meetings frequently and it was hard but he seemed to be dealing with it. A couple of weeks into the relationship his time in the SLE ran out and so he moved back home.

Then he slipped for about 4 days and was drinking again. He is a harmless drunk but it is scary for me because I know that he can't stop once he gets started and I hate seeing him like that. He stopped after the 4 days because he ran out of money. Then everything was okay again until last week when he slipped again for a few days, again he stopped when he ran out of money.

I really care about him and I don't know the best way to help/support him. I know that he is having trouble maintaining his sobriety now that he is out of the structured SLE environment. He knows that drinking is never going to be a good idea for him but he is struggling right now. I want to be there for him. He is very honest with me and has not hidden it from me the two times he has started drinking again and I don't want to do anything that will make him start withdrawing from me or not being honest.

I'm having trouble finding the line between enabling and being supportive. He knows I am not okay with him drinking but once he has started up I have drank with him on occasion and stuck it out with him through the benders. I feel like I'm in way over my head with this stuff and advice and support from those who have been there would really be helpful. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:23 PM
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It's usually recommended to ANYONE in recovery that they avoid dating/getting into a new relationship for at least the first year of sobriety. That advice is given for good reason--not only are relationships famous for leading to relapse, but relapses are hell on relationships.

If this guy still needs the structure of a SLE to stay sober, he has no business dating anyone.

Drinking with him is a bad idea, either way.

There isn't much you can do to "support" him. Probably the most helpful thing you could do is to tell him to give you a call when he's been sober for a year. If he doesn't get serious about his recovery he isn't going to be any good to either of you.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:42 PM
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Welcome to the SR family!

Your ABF (Alcoholic Boy Friend) needs to make sobriety his priority. He needs to find new ways of coping with everyday life, rather than drowning out everyday life with a bottle. That is why it is recommended that alcoholics abstain from starting new relationships. The alcoholic needs to focus on recovery.

Having a drink with a recovering alcoholic is neither supportive or enabling. I my opinion, it is denial. Denial that the alcoholic can handle a drink. Denial that this is a progressive addiction. Denial of the fact that it gets worse.

I am known as Pelican and I am a recovering alcoholic. Pleased to meet you. I am also a recovering codependent and recovering ex of an alcoholic.

I had to learn to take better care of myself and stop trying to fix/rescue/help others do what they can do for themselves. Reading "Codependent No More" helped me begin my journey of recovery. I highly recommend that book.

Stick around and do some reading in the sticky (Permanent) posts at the top of this forum. Some of our stories are there and lots of wisdom!
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:45 PM
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Welcome to SR Bad Choices

2 months into a relationship with a RA who has relapsed, I would suggest that you go in with the heavy handed approach and say that you love him but will not tolerate him drinking. When he has maintained his sobriety for x no. of months, then to contact you again then, if you havent moved on. It will be hard for you, as you say you have gotton very close, but it will get much harder still, if you choose to stay in the relationship with a A/RA.

Please stay around and read, read, read. You will find very few of us talking about happy ever afters with alcoholics, whether recovering or not.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:48 PM
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Hi, Pelican,*OOPS* wrong name.. sorry! BadChoices.
I'm new, too. You've only been with your bf 2 months, and I respect that you've gotten really close really fast but trust me, it doesn't get better. I know this after 13 YEARS with my boyfriend.

2 months is a short enough time that you will be able to detach and get over him quickly. Best of luck to you!

Last edited by Ineverimagined; 08-04-2010 at 09:49 PM. Reason: Replied to wrong person's name!
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:03 AM
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Whoa... that definitely IS a lot to share in only two months.

You are right... you are in way over your head. If you want to be supportive, get in touch with an alcohol counselling facility, tell them what's going on, and let them take it from there. And then walk away.
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:54 AM
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Slips are for banana peels, not for drinking.

I can assure you, when I drank again after 4 years clean/sober, it was because I made the conscious choice to pick up that first drink.

Your boyfriend has made the conscious choice to start drinking again.

Alcoholism is a progressive, and often deadly disease.

It affects everyone within its reach.

He's made it clear what he wants to do...drink.

What do you want for your life?

I was also married to an active alcoholic/addict, and he's dead now. He was buried at the tender age of 47.

I'd also recommend the book "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie. Look for Alanon meetings in your area for there you will find face-to-face support from others affected by a loved one's alcoholism.

I hope you continue to post, and know that you are among friends.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:13 AM
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hi badchoices-


here in sr, we try to determine our boundaries with our alcoholic and stick to them.


for example you could choose a boundary that if he is drinking, you exit.

if his drinking is not okay with you, then it's probably not a good idea to drink with him and stick it out with him during his benders. this certainly would send him mixed signals, no?

i agree with the advice above that it would be best to re-establish your relationship with him once he has some more sober time under his belt. he's already relapsed twice in two months.

his recovery is his. if he can only stay sober in an sle, then perhaps he should return there?

also, just a warning, watch your "helpfulness" isn't enabling him to drink. for example, he stopped drinking when he ran out of money. i wouldn't give him any money. alcoholics can bleed you dry in many ways, including financially.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:16 AM
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It is a shame, he obviously needs help, but you need to safeguard yourself here or his problems are going to become your problems and the years will go on and on and you will wake up with a couple of kids, no money and an alcoholic next to you. You will have no nice things, no holidays, no nice surroundings if he continues with this pattern to drink until he runs out of money.

Do not drink with him to "see him through his benders" or those benders will become your benders and before you know it you will also be an alcoholic. It is better for him to live the way you live than for you to live the way he is.

Two months is not a long time and you should be able to get over this relationship easily. Do not feel guilty and scared that he might drink if he loses you, he lost you because he drank.

Maybe write him a long letter explaining how you feel and that you cannot condone his drinking as it is obvious he has a problem, tell him that you care but that he has to care for himself and not put that responsibility on to you, so until he can sort himself out you feel that you need to stop seeing him.
He then has a choice to make you his best friend or continue with the drinking.

If he chooses drink then let him go hun no use spoiling two lives.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:59 AM
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Hi Welcome to SR

As I read your post I was wondering what you're looking for here?

Are you trying to figure out how to help him?
Answer: you can't. You can't help him understand, care about, do anything about or stop his drinking and the effect it has on himself and all the people around him. I know, I tried for 15 years to do this with my A husband.

So, you can admit your powerlessness over alcohol. That's the first step in your own recovery.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:20 AM
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Hi BadChoices... to SR. This is a great place to be.

Let me post the 3 C's of addiction, in case you don't already know them:

You didn't CAUSE it.
You can't CURE it.
You can't CONTROL it.

I know you're in the beginning stages of a relationship, where everything is new and full of hope. It's exciting, breathtaking...and if you're doing it with a recovering alcoholic, it's dangerous. You'll forget your boundaries and let things slide, because you're still in that rather blind stage. I'm not judging you here. I did the same thing. It's what led to me to get together with and marry a alcoholic and sometime-cocaine user. Had I had SR or Al-Anon to guide me then, I don't know if I would have stayed with him.

If you care for this person, I'd recommend stepping WAAAAY back, giving him the space and time to deal with his recovery, and tell him you'll be around when he's been sober for a year. In the grand scheme of your life, a year is not much time.

If you and he are meant to be, then it'll happen. Give him the dignity of dealing with his recovery HIMSELF.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:11 AM
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Welcome BadChoices,

2 months with someone is a very short time, and I agree with the advice of the other posters. My neice who is currently living with her bf of one year has started to have issue with his drinking, and even after one year I am telling her that it may not be a pretty road and she is still young and she may want to move on.

My AH, who is currently struggling with a relapse, used to not drink when there was a constraint on him, like work the next day, or in your case, running out of money. Then even those boundaries get pushed, like missing a day here or there. If he continues to drink, then he will start finding a way after the money runs out.

My AH was sober 1 1/2 years then recently started again after starting to play softball and being unable to resist a cold beer after the game. He went to AA for only 6 months. But he is quickly able to see that his drinking is not under his control. He admitted to me that he feels anxiety when he's drinking and fears the drinks will run out. This week he went to some AA meetings.

Doesn't sound like your bf is ready yet. As I told my niece, please get informed so that you know what you are facing. My AH too was a peaceful drunk, but a drunk nonetheless. And I'm not sure you really want to start a relationship with this kind of start. And also beware that even if they may be sober, it's never over; they must work at this for the rest of their lives.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:22 AM
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HI,

I am glad you are here.

This man is toxic. Run far and fast from him.

Take care of you,dear.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:28 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. I know that starting a relationship in these conditions is not ideal but it happened. I'm not going to leave him, I don't see how that is going to help anything. I know that drinking with him is not a good idea ever but if he is going to do it anyway or already is, what am I supposed to do??

To the person who said they were not sure what I wanted: I was expecting to find supportive people in similar situations who could commiserate about how hard it is and who would offer tips about what has been helpful for them. It seems like everyone who responded is really looking at things in black and white instead of shades of grey, this is real life it doesn't always go by the book.

Telling me that he is toxic and to run far and fast is not helpful and is, in my opinion, rude. He has a disease not the plague. He is fighting it but struggling and I am trying to support him as best as I know how, obviously on my own.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:03 PM
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Well, not to be harsh, but you really can't have it both ways. You can't come and ask for advice and then say we are being rude or unsupportive when we give you our best advice. Please remember you are in a forum full of people who have dealt with exactly what you are dealing with, so it's not like we're just being flippant with our responses.

It is always your choice whether you stay or leave. If you choose to stay, there are going to be times when you are unhappy with your situation. Alcoholism is progressive. It never gets better if the person does not stop drinking. I hope he quits, I really do. But there is a good chance that he won't. If you want to stick with him through that, then do so. But don't ever say we didn't warn you. Good luck.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:13 PM
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I know that drinking with him is not a good idea ever but if he is going to do it anyway or already is, what am I supposed to do??
What do you want to hear? When you drink with an alcoholic, you are condoning his drinking. You are telling him that you accept it. So keep your eyes open - If he can't get sober and stay sober, his alcoholism will soon progress. Instead of relapsing once a month, it will be every weekend... and then it will progress to every day...

What are you going to do if that happens? When will enough be enough? It's always good to have firm boundaries in place about the kind of behavior you accept in your life.

I understand your frustration and the thinking that nothing is black and white when it comes to alcoholics and relationships. Most of us thought that our situation was unique when we came here - that our alcoholic/addict significant other could beat it - if we stuck by them and helped them. They just needed a little support and they would get better.

But, the truth is difficult to accept. You cannot help an alcoholic get better. The best you can do is to get out of his way and give him time get better on his own. People here aren't going to lie to you about their experiences with alcoholic boyfriends, children, husbands... Drinking IS toxic to an alcoholic. and it IS toxic to the family members that surround him.

Would you advise your best friend to stay in a relationship with an active alcoholic who can't stay sober, and blows all his money on booze once he starts drinking?

I hope things work out the way you want them too, and I also hope you prepare yourself for when they don't. Just remember - you didn't cause his alcoholism, you can't control his alcoholism, and you cannot cure his alcoholism. It's not your problem to own. When he's ready to quit, he'll quit. But right now, he's on a slippery slope. And you are choosing to have a front row seat to his disaster.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:21 PM
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I'm not going to leave him, I don't see how that is going to help anything.

It will help you. You are responsible for making decisions that are in your best interest. No one else can do it.

How is staying with an alcoholic the best thing for you?

The thing is - staying isn't going to help him either. It just isn't. It is not going to make any difference at all to his drinking. LexieCat pointed out that if he was really serious about recovery, he'd step away from the relationship himself.

I would encourage you to read some of the stickies at the top of the forum. They are chucked full of insight.

You asked what you are supposed to do. I suggest that you find an al-anon meeting. The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.

Stick around, there are a lot of wise souls here. I have learned so much from reading here.

FWIW I married a harmless drunk. I learned some things over the years. I can give you tips on how to hide your money, your child's allowance, your checkbook, how to clean up bodily fluids, how to avoid social gatherings, how to detach and not talk to the man you share a life with, how to sneak to bed to avoid him, how to lie to friends and relatives, how to perfect the art of nodding and ignoring, how to cry in the shower, how to pretend there isn't someone passed out in your recliner most nights, how to decline invites from neighbors, how to smile with your mouth and not your eyes, how to 'help' someone until the enabling became so complete we both hated both of us. I can show you what that looks like after a few years. A broken, depressed, exhausted, emotionally dead, rigid, lifeless, controlling, confused, shell of a woman so filled with resentment and rage she could no longer function. I doubt those are the kinds of tips you were hoping to hear but that is what living with a harmless drunk for 16 years is like. I won't start with what it has done to four innocent children.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
I'm not going to leave him, I don't see how that is going to help anything.
Well, in my case, leaving him helped me to have a better life. Whether it helped him or not, who knows? I stayed nearly 20 years and had two children with him. All that staying and supporting and hoping and wishing did nothing to help him. And it nearly destroyed me.

So, maybe you can understand how someone like me would say two months is nothing. You deserve better and if you get out now, maybe you will find it. Odds are, if you stay, it will get worse. Much worse.

L
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:32 PM
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Hi there
I was the person who asked what you were looking for. I"m glad you answered honestly, because I don't know many folks here who are still at the stage of commiserating about how awful it is, how hard it is to love an alcoholic. Some of the newer folks are, but they usually sort out whether or not they want to be happy or held hostage by an alcoholic.

Can I ask how old you are? I have sisters that I love and I get the feeling you're maybe under the age of 35? 25? The amount of time you've been with this person is in reality very short, but you're already ready to defend him to the death. Looks like he's got your "he needs me" buttons pushed.

How about taking care of yourself? Have you much practice at that in your lifetime? Or are you primarily a very caring, loving person who cares for others?

I think there's a codie test up there too. That might help.

I can relate to feeling like folks here are very black and white. I hope you can hear us when we say that if you choose to stay with an active alcoholic, your life will be just that- commiserating with others about how hard it is and trying to strategize and fix those problems. We're a bit harsh because we're trying to help you prevent a life of pain, but that's up to you to believe or not. If you're here looking for ways to prevent it, that's what we've got.

We're just telling you , in no uncertian terms, that you can't fix an alcoholic. Or help him. I bet it is discouraging to get these kinds of responses and I'm sorry if it appears we are uncaring.

I hope you stick around and at least read some of the stickies at the top, they will offer you some solace.

and please listen to kind, dear Thumper. She has some of your answers:
FWIW I married a harmless drunk. I learned some things over the years. I can give you tips on how to hide your money, your child's allowance, your checkbook, how to clean up bodily fluids, how to avoid social gatherings, how to detach and not talk to the man you share a life with, how to sneak to bed to avoid him, how to lie to friends and relatives, how to perfect the art of nodding and ignoring, how to cry in the shower, how to pretend there isn't someone passed out in your recliner most nights, how to decline invites from neighbors, how to smile with your mouth and not your eyes, how to 'help' someone until the enabling became so complete we both hated both of us. I can show you what that looks like after a few years. A broken, depressed, exhausted, emotionally dead, rigid, lifeless, controlling, confused, shell of a woman so filled with resentment and rage she could no longer function. I doubt those are the kinds of tips you were hoping to hear but that is what living with a harmless drunk for 16 years is like. I won't start with what it has done to four innocent children.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
I know that starting a relationship in these conditions is not ideal but it happened.
Sure it happened. Heck, it happened to me. That occurrence is in the past. Just because "it happened" doesn't mean you have to continue with the relationship the way it is.

Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
I'm not going to leave him, I don't see how that is going to help anything.
You don't have to END it. You can however put it on hold until he's been in recovery for a long while. You can support him, from a distance, but expect that he'll try to rope you into more...Like I said, if it's meant to be, then it'll happen. There's no rush right?

Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
I know that drinking with him is not a good idea ever but if he is going to do it anyway or already is, what am I supposed to do??
Well, as it stands right now you can:
a) Do nothing. Keep going as you are. See where it leads you. I'm sad to say that you may well end up like I did, dating, then living with and then married to an alcoholic...I'm just now getting free of him. I really thought I could help him.
b) Decide what your boundaries are and enforce them (as in, "I will not be around you if you drink" or "I refuse to come rescue you when you are drunk").
c) Leave the relationship

Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
I was expecting to find supportive people in similar situations who could commiserate about how hard it is and who would offer tips about what has been helpful for them. It seems like everyone who responded is really looking at things in black and white instead of shades of grey, this is real life it doesn't always go by the book.
The people who responded to your cry for "Help" are all people who are currently in or have been involved with/married to/family with an alcoholic, for several years. Read the stories on the board; we're all there with you or have been at some point in our lives. Perhaps you took their responses as unsupportive because what you read wasn't exactly what you were hoping to hear.

Also, they most likely responded to you in the hopes of sparing you the hardship and tears they've been through for several years. I know my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of "oh good, she's only been with him for 2 months, perhaps she'll walk away more easily". It's all well intentioned...

Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
He has a disease not the plague. He is fighting it but struggling and I am trying to support him as best as I know how, obviously on my own.
Yes he has a disease, but every time he takes a drink, every time he relapses, he's making a choice. No one is there, with a gun to his temple, saying "Drink it down boy!". If you are there with him, providing him with a "soft place to land", whether it be in the form of cash to help him out, picking him up at some bar when he's drunk, listening to his drunken calls, or whatever, you're preventing him from reaching his all important bottom.

Like I said, he deserves the DIGNITY of finding recovery for himself.
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