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How do I handle his family about his addiction?

Old 09-14-2010, 01:27 PM
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Question How do I handle his family about his addiction?

Thinking about our upcoming separation, I have thought about writing a letter to my AH's parents and sisters to explain why we are splitting up. I am not close with them, they live out of town and we don't talk weekly, etc. I want them to understand he has an addiction, although I bet the already think he might. They probably don't know about the marijuana though. I know I know, I am not responsible for this, but I do care about all of them and I want them to know how I feel. Is this a good idea?
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:41 PM
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Do it for yourself and nothing else. And don't expect anything in their reaction. It's hard to tell how people react to being told that "so and so" is an alcoholic and a drug addict.

Or, if you have doubts, do nothing. You can always tell them later
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:29 PM
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I have been in this situation before too. If it were me, I would think first about my reasons for wanting to tell them. Is my motivation for telling them because I am worried someone needs to know how severe his illness is since I will no longer be on the scene? Am I trying to be malicious? Do I want to tell them because I need to feel validated? Maybe I want them to take my side? Maybe I am afraid they are going to judge me? Or perhaps I want to tell them because I feel I owe them something? Is it because I feel guilty for ending the marriage?

Do you know which it is for you?
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:43 PM
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When my sister in law tried to tell us how bad my brothers drinking had become we (as a family) went into total complete denial.
We had no idea how bad things were and at the time none of us were prepared to take her too seriously. I'm ashamed to say that now in a way, and I say in a way because I understand more about denial and alcoholism now than I did back then.
We all knew my sister in law hit the wine every day after she'd picked my nephew up from school, and we knew my brother called in the pub for 'one' most nights.
We all thought she was a bigger drinker than him. (At the time we were right as it turns out)
Anyway, she got ill with cancer and had to let outsiders into the most personal areas of her life, the ones that had been kept secret up till then, and I suppose she'd really had enough too, she was getting no support from my brother, had a son to look after and basically knew she was dying.
So she told us how it was.
At the time I didn't hear it, because I didn't want to.
My parents still blame her for my brothers alcoholism. He never drank at home until he lived with her.
That's because he lived with them until he moved in with her, and he was in the pub every night until he did.
I knew before she died that my sister in law was right, and what she said was the truth, it doesn't really matter now that she drank too. She tried her best to let us know that my brother was sick too, and we didn't listen.
I don't know that we could have done any more if we had listened back then. It doesn't make a difference at all.
I wish I could go back and thank her for at least trying to tell us.
What I will say is I do think she went about it the wrong way as far as my parents are concerned, because everything she said came across to them as an accusation against my brother.
But until she tried to tell us, none of us ever thought there was anything amiss, because they'd both kept their secret so well.

It's a different scenario from yours Jackthedog, but it's from the point of view of a sister of an alcoholic.
I know now some of the things my sister in law, and their son, went through because they lived with my brothers addiction. I understand why she did some of the things she did, like not socialising with our family.
If she was still around I would tell her I understood some of it, and thank her for trying to tell me, and also I would apologise for not listening at the time and hope she understood too.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:10 PM
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I do want them to understand what has been going on and I think they would know that I am sincere and I am not malicious, they have always liked me and we have always had a good relationship. You are right though, it is like I want them to know so they can take care of him. But also so understand my side of the situation because as I have learned he will deny it was any of his addiction that was the issue.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:19 PM
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It's not yours to handle. Actually, it's none of your business how his family handles his issues. Not trying to be smart, just sayin... This has nothing to do with perceived impressions of who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. Besides, blood is thicker than water in every case. I'd just let them draw their own conclusions.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:21 PM
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When I left my active AH, I left to take better care of myself and my children. I told my sister my reasons and a few close friends. (my parents are deceased)

I did not tell my in-laws. I did not share with them prior to my leaving about the addiction, the financial disasters, the physical illness, the anger, or the disrespect. I did not feel it was right to share all this with them when I left.

I gave them (through my X) my new address and phone number so that they could stay in touch with their grand daughter. They have arranged a visit with their grand daughter since our divorce.

My X kept a lot of things secret from his parents. He did not have an open, honest relationship with them for the 16 years that I knew him, therefore, I did not believe it was my place to enlighten them.

As I learned in my recovery, what other people think of me (and my reasons for divorcing) are none of my business. I know why and that's enough for me.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:22 PM
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I wouldn't do it. He is an adult, and, his relationship with them is his territory, his business.

Having said that, you need to do what will give you the most closure.
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:48 PM
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Being the partner of an alcoholic, I have found, is difficult in a lot of ways because of all the secrets and the lies. It actually has made me crazy to take part in keeping secrets from the family members of the alcoholic. Some family will understand when u tell them, and some will not. Likely if they do, they are already in recovery. I have discussed alcoholism and addiction with family of my old ABFs. It is entirely up to you whether or not you tell AH's family the truth. You must follow your own conscience and your own heart. Understand, though, that you may not get the reaction you expect.

I personally informed my alcoholic and addicted XBF's family of his problems, because I felt it was my duty to let someone know how sick he is. Nobody died over my telling them, nobody got upset at me or harrassed me or anything. Trust your instincts and follow your heart I always say. It has never failed me.

Good luck.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:45 PM
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I've recently told my ex's parents more about the extent of his illness. This was well after our break-up and actually following a subsequent break-up for him. He was living by himself for practically the first time in his adult life, isolating, relapsing and having suicidal thoughts. I told his parents in the hopes that they would check in on him more and giving them a heads up as to what they might find. So far it seems like this was a good decision as everyone concerned (myself, the x, his parents) seem at a minimum ok with the fact that I told them. When he was checked in to a hospital after cutting himself about a month ago, I contacted his parents and let them know. I told both him and them that I was doing so more for my well-being than his. I really appreciated the feeling that I didn't have to have such a loyalty to him that it meant the burden of carrying his secrets by myself the way I did when we were spouses.

So yeah, being able to tell on him to his mommy and daddy has helped me. Meanwhile, I don't think it's been unhelpful to any of them.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:09 AM
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I had the opposite when my AHGF family was told, the blame for her drinking was put on my shoulders, they now don't like me.
Nevermind she was an AH before we met, I think she may have twisted things to make it my fault and get more sympathy from her family.
She's in recovery now and still contacts me but I won't be with her until she's much further down her recovery road and she rebuilds bridges she destroyed.

My advice based on experiance is say nothing, let them find out for themselves.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:42 AM
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When me and my ex split,I didn't tell his family why. I told my ex that if his family asked that I wouldn't lie, so he knew where he stood and where I stood. They never asked...but they found out anyway; he went back to his parents.

Every situation and person is obviously different though, so my advice would be...Know your reasons, consider the possible consequences (for yourself and others) and remind yourself that you have to live with whatever you choose.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:52 AM
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My AH's mother had been suggesting I leave for a long while. She went so far as to offer to help me afford to stay in that area.

She's an Alanoner

I miss her
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:06 AM
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well, there are many ways to look at this, and it goes down to motives. You have a relationship with your in-laws. You may have met them because of AH, and blood is thicker than water, but that does not deny the reality of a relationship you have pursued and built with them, I don't think that wanting to talk to them is necessarily about their relationship with him, very few marriages exist in isolation from their wider families. Many spouses seperating for whatever reason DO explain their motives to their in-laws, because these are people that they are fond of and have built relationships with. I imagine their are a wide range of experiences regarding the outcome, and time may help you decide whether in your circumstance it is worth doing.

I haven't discussed my motivation with my in-laws, they are aware of the problem, although not the extent or the behaviour that went alongside it. They ask, and I am uncomfortable discussing it because any answer I give, (completely truthful from the hip, sugar-coated, evasive) ends up with some sort of drama which I can't be bothered with.

You may have a different relationship with your in-laws, I am very fond of mine and want to continue to support our children having a relationship with them, but I won't discuss x as it never turns out well.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:27 AM
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I wonder about this, too. My AW often talks to her mother on the phone while drunk, and I can't imagine how her mom doesn't notice. I really don't think she knows, or maybe she thinks it's some of the medicine AW takes. If she suspected, I think she'd ask me about it. AW's sister is extremely religious, and would be mortified by her drinking.

If we ever divorce, It may become necessary to tell them, because I'm sure I'll be portrayed as the villain. But then, maybe it would be better just to leave it alone. They'll eventually figure it out when AW ends up in the hospital from an alcohol related illness.
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TeM View Post
I wonder about this, too. My AW often talks to her mother on the phone while drunk, and I can't imagine how her mom doesn't notice. I really don't think she knows, or maybe she thinks it's some of the medicine AW takes. If she suspected, I think she'd ask me about it. AW's sister is extremely religious, and would be mortified by her drinking.
I used to nod off on the phone and drool into the reciever. I'd wake up and they'd still be talking about Aunty Jan's athritis. Isn't just addicts who suffer deniel.
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:54 PM
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I sent an email to his three sisters this morning, stating the facts of his behavior, not judging, and wrote it with love. I heard from two sisters, the youngest and the middle one, both were very supportive and one said she was crying. I asked them not to say anything to their brother simply because I did not want him to get angrier. They both mentioned something about knocking sense into him. They have no clue about alcoholism, maybe the older sister does, but I haven't heard from her yet. Their parents divorced right before I married their son, about 15 years ago. Mom drinks, so does dad, mom more than dad. I did feel better after writing them, a relief the secret was out, I was proud of how I worded it, but felt bad I made one cry. The older sister and my AH are close, so she may not be so supportive, she drinks too. At least I feel by writing the letter that I am accepting this relationship with my AH for what it is, but I still cried. I thought all day what I would say if he found out and confronted me. I am going to say, I did it for me, because I needed to, or maybe I should just tell him it is non of his business......He went out to a friends tonight to watch the football game, here we go again. He has been gone for 5 hours already. Time to pray again.
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:06 PM
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My in-laws know about his drinking. My M-i-l talked with me for over an hour the other day. She know he is an alcoholic and she said how I put up with it for all these years. She also talked with my AH about getting help, etc.

My sister-in-law is very supportive of me and out kids. Of course it's her brother but what he is doing is unacceptable.

yes I have told them but they knew already. I'm glad I have their support.
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