Can I FORCE my AW to quit?

Old 12-14-2010, 12:14 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Re your children. This is not just about their emotional wellbeing. It is also about their physical safety.

What if she needed to go to the ER?
What if she was carrying one of them and fell down the stairs?
What if she decided she needed a little "snooze"?
What if she left the stove unattended?

She should not be caring for them unsupervised at that level of drinking. Please put childcare in place before you do anything else. Like, today. Because CPS will if anyone finds out that this is happening.

Then maybe read the stickies and figure out where your nearest Al-anon meeting takes place.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:19 PM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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Rhode, glad you're here. How old are your kids?

Perhaps you could arrange for daycare or after school care till you could get them after work. Then, at least her drinking wouldn't physically endanger them.

Once they're safe, you could relax a little and figure out your next move.

Please stick around, lots of wisdom and understanding here.

Other things I did was read "Codependent No More", it was suggested to me by the DA as he escorted me to the witness stand in our CPS hearing. I also attended Alanon meetings, as court ordered by a fierce CPS judge.

My wife couldn't quit, and we divorced and I was granted sole custody of our 5yo daughter. She's 9 now, and she's been affected. She's also smart, out going, does good in school, and by all out ward appearances, seems to be unscathed. But she's been affected.

Thanks and God bless us all,
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:49 PM
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Hi, Rhode, and welcome to SR. I'm so sorry for what brings you here, but am glad you're reaching out to ask questions and get support for yourself (and by extension your children.

Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
(BTW – at what age would they understand that mommy has a problem?)
DS was 3 when I left XAH. Did he completely understand the nature of alcoholism? No. (Do I? No.) DS though did know something was up, that something was not quite what it was supposed to be. He saw his daddy's walking become staggering, he heard the slurring in his words. He saw his daddy pass out. I never, never, never what to see his face like that again. He came running back to our room crying and scared and said that "Daddy is sick like Goldfish" (Our goldfish had gone belly-up not long before.)

XAH had been able to 'hold his liquor' and hide his drinking well for a while. His drink of choice, BTW, was vodka, beer if he wasn't hiding it. It's part of a stage of alcoholism - increased tolerance. But the day came when he was no longer to hide it. DS saw it at 3. Kids take in and know so much more than we give them credit for.

The book Under the Influence helped me understand how alcoholism affects a person and how it progresses. (There are excerpts in the Stickies.)

It’s hard to watch the other parent of our children spiral down. As Lillamy noted, each person has their rock bottom, and that applies to us as the loved one of an A as much as it does to the A. Related to XAH’s alcoholism, mine was finding a picture DS had taken with my digital camera of XAH in the tub where he’d fallen and looked like he should have been passed out hours before the picture was taken. That was it, I was ready to leave. I saved part of my paycheck in an account XAH couldn’t touch and then used it for a security deposit for an apartment. XAH’s bottom? I don’t know. I don’t believe he’s reached his yet. It has not been losing his job(s), losing his truck, or even losing his family…

Wishing you peace and strength.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:51 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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I wouldn't give her any money either, but it can be hard to put that boundary into practise.

Have you heard of the term "enabling"? That is behaviours that enable the alcoholic to continue to drink and not feel the consequences of their actions or behaviours that help them carry on with their active addiction, such as giving them money to buy alcohol.

I used to give my ex money too and then moan when he spent it on alcohol and got drunk. I hated him being drunk yet was facilitating it by buying the booze.

Other actions that could be enabling are making excuses for behaviour, lying for the alcoholic, financially supporting their addiction, putting them to bed when drunk, cleaning up vomit or pee, taking on their responsibilities because they're drunk or hung over...that kinda thing.

Basically she has no reason to stop because it's not got bad enough for her to want to. You earn all the money, pay for the booze and she stays home drinking.

Could you tell her if she wants cash for booze she'll have to earn it herself because you won't be paying for it any more?
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:54 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
And I can't just let her fall. She is the mother of our children.
Actually, by preventing her from "falling" or from reaching that all important bottom, you are denying her the dignity of finding recovery for herself. It is obvious you love this woman; doesn't she deserve that dignity?

To be more specific, I think you need to address certain issues:
a) Childcare after school: either daycare or a mother's helper.
b) Finances: removing her access to the money you bring in, and perhaps purchasing certain services directly from the vendor instead of giving her money to do so (and to spent on booze).
c) Removing yourself and the children from her presence when she drinks

At this point, it would be a good idea to figure out your boundaries and start enforcing them.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:12 PM
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Welcome to the SR family!

Glad you found us and hope you will make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed.

I am sending you one of my favorite sticky (permanent) posts. It contains steps that have helped me and many others here while living with an addicted loved one:

Let us know how we can support you.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:36 PM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Rhode, the best thing I did for myself, my child & my AH was remove myself & our child. I felt helpless (and guilty) as things took a worse turn for my AH *until* he hit his bottom. He couldn't so long as I was enabling & controlling. My leaving was not only the best thing for me & our child but for him. He has been sober & in recovery for 9 months. I did a lot of what you did. I was the last enabler standing in my AH's way to his eventual path to recovery. Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is to release them. (I love the saying about "giving the addict his/her dignity" to follow his/her path, make their choices, etc. As long as I was enabling, controlling, treating him like a child, I was not giving him the dignity he so deserved (regardless of his active alcoholism & its devastating effect on us as a family).Now I feel I can be of support to my RAH (by letting him do his own recovery--though I do want to "butt" in sometimes. )

I so feel for you. You will find lots of wisdom from those who understand how you feel. Iam learning so much from everyone here.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:45 PM
  # 28 (permalink)  
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Hi Rhode-welcome to SR. It really is a fantastic place and I have learned so much here.

I am an ACoA and yes, it impacted me greatly. My mom was a 1/2 to full bottle a day scotch drinker--but never until after 5:00 so in her eyes she had no problem--sure. . .

I married 2 alcoholics and I have divorced 2 alcoholics. Until I came here I was a raging codependent. I really did not know what normal was. I would ask questions and people would pull things out of my post--and I would read it and suddenly a light bulb would go off and I would realize nope, that is not a normal reaction. We accept the unacceptable and try our hardest to control the chaos that is going on around us. It is like trying to catch running water in your hands-you can't. It just slips through.

It is hard when you have kids because you feel like if you leave you will be taking your children's mom (in my case dad) away. As people pointed out to me--he is still around. You are not taking them away. You are making them safe.

For me leaving was the only option. xah did occasionally admit he had a problem but he was unwilling to give up his first love-alcohol (well drugs too). My oldest son would cry and ask me why he would just not stop. Didn't he love them enough. Well, when you are an active alcoholic that always comes first. But since the divorce xah has gotten better around the kids. If he is drinking it is minimal (my oldest watches him like a hawk because he is hyper-vigilant). My life is pretty normal now. I am living peacefully with my children in my own house. I am working on my own codependency stuff. The kids live someplace that does not require them to tiptoe around.

Would I have chosen divorce. No. But nothing was changing and when I started to see some of the things I used to do as a child in my own kids it scared me. Also, we really were living in an unacceptable situation. Me and my kids deserve better. So do you and yours.

If no one has recommended it maybe hit the library and check out Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Although my situation was not as extreme as hers--I recognized myself and realized what I am. It is hard to think clearly when you are in the middle of a crazy situation and are codependent.

Have you found an AlAnon meeting? That may be helpful.

Keep posting. There are very wise and knowledgeable people here.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:46 PM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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you know I just reread that sticky pelican..once I did every single thing on that list all the time I felt better and my daughter sought recovery within 6 monts..I know there are no guarantees, but I know me getting out the way shortened her bottom..those are kinda the recovery 10 commandments!
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:35 PM
  # 30 (permalink)  
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I did too Keepinon. I may have even done a few extra for good measure.

I tried to undo some of them. I logistically found it very impractical to not enable to some extent and continue to not only live together but be legally married and attempt to parent together. I could not figure out how to detach and be married at the same. I ignored, looked the other way, and detached from him emotionally but my resentment and anger were reaching epic proportions so it was not real detachment. I can feel detachment now. Even looking back I don't know how I could have done it within the marriage. I did not come to al-anon or SR until I had hit my bottom though. Perhaps I would have been more successful had I found that personal recovery before things had gotten so far. Maybe it would have been possible if he had some sober time but he was an every day drinker.

And no, there are no guarantee's. I think a person begins to set boundaries and quit enabling to save themselves - not their A. It isn't a punishment, or a tactic, geared at the alcoholic. It is a way to bring peace, sanity, emotional safety, and security into our own lives.

PS: I do think you personally know that - I'm probably just triggered a little bit because my xah has not found recovery and I do still pray that he will. Not for 'us', but for himself and for the kids.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:59 PM
  # 31 (permalink)  
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Another good book: The Dilemma of an Alcoholic Marriage. I'm reading it now.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:50 PM
  # 32 (permalink)  
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I think a person begins to set boundaries and quit enabling to save themselves - not their A
That's right Thumper. I only began to learn how to set boundaries because I was going to die if I didn't. I had let go of AH by then.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:55 PM
  # 33 (permalink)  
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Sorry you are in the situation you are in.

I have no good advice. But I offer you a warm welcome. There are many people here who are dealing with similar issues. I hope you figure out a solution to your problem. I say your problem because your wife is doing exactly what she wants to do and is perfectly content to stay that way. Her drinking is not a problem for her. It's only going to become a problem if someone tries to force her to stop before she's ready.

You are stuck deciding what kind of environment you are going to bring your children up in. That sucks. But since you are the only sober parent, that's what you have to do.

Unfortunately, nothing you do will stop your wife from drinking so that's kind of null and void right there. AND by the way, none of this is your fault. You didn't cause it. You can't control it and you can't cure it. That's all on her.

Do the best you can with the kids. I recommend an afterschool care program so she's not home alone with them... drunks can do stupid and reckless things around their children. Even if they don't mean to hurt them, accidents happen. ESPECIALLY when you are intoxicated.

Alanon would be very very helpful for you.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:38 PM
  # 34 (permalink)  
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After I read your thread I felt compelled to post my thoughts. One of the worst things about alcoholism is that the alcohol abuser must admit that they have a problem and be willing to undergo treatment. Very rarely will forced attempts work to stop a person who is not ready to address their drinking problem.

There are few things as frustrating as trying to understand the mind of an alcoholic or drug addict. Yet although the behaviors of addiction are confusing and sometimes even contradictory, any measure of true understanding into the mind-set of the using addict or alcoholic can help loved ones to make a difference in encouraging change.

You may find this framework of 6 "Stages of Change" helpful as well, as you struggle to better understand where your loved one who abuses drugs or alcohol may be coming from. It's important to remember that the stages of change are dynamic (people MOVE through the stages) and they are also cyclical. People move along the continuum of change, and often after coming to the last stage, revert back to the first stage (Relapse).

1. Precontemplation
The addict or alcoholic is not thinking about reducing or stopping their substance abuse. They may not realize they have a problem, they may think that they are unable to change or they may not want to change their behaviors.

2. Contemplation
During this second stage, the addict or alcoholic becomes aware of the problem, and begins some preliminary thought about modifying their behaviors. People in this stage may linger here for years or even decades, caught between wanting to stop and wanting to keep using.

3. Preparation
A firm decision is made to stop or reduce substance use. People in the preparation stage may experiment with different ways to cut-down use on their own, and they may also investigate different more formal treatment options. People in the preparation stage are still using, but hope to stop shortly.

4. Action
During this fourth stage, the person begins a course of action to change their behaviors.

5. Maintenance
If the action stage results in a successful change in substance use behaviors, the next stage of change is maintenance. During this stage, the person must strive to stay sober, avoid triggers to use and will usually need to make significant lifestyle changes. The maintenance phase is a long term phase.

6. Relapse
Most people who cycle through the stages of change will relapse back to substance use at least once. This is quite normal. Most people will return to either the contemplation or even pre contemplation stages after a relapse. Relapse is seen as a normal part of the conceptual framework, and is viewed as a learning opportunity. People learn by failure what strategies did not work to help them stay sober.

You wrote "The second option would mean that I would take away her bank card – so she will not have the ready cash to buy the booze. I would bring a breathalyzer home and monitor her. If she fails the test I would impose a “punishment” (for example – demand that she then and there do some unpleasant chore around the house). I would provide an activity schedule for her to do every day, and call home several times a day to make sure she does what I asked her to do (e.g. for example – spend a solid couple hours on the internet to look for work, or spend sober quality time with the children). Now here is where I’d like your comments – obviously, my demands would be controlling and unreasonable under normal circumstances. But given the current situation – would I be out of line taking control of her life? Would it likely to succeed?"

The simple answer to your question is......NO! This option would, in my opinion, by a guarantee to the doom and failure of your marriage! She already is NOT listening to your concerns about her excessive drinking, why do you think this plan would work?! You are setting yourself up as her caregiver......enabler! It would ultimately wear you down and everything else around you would suffer and subsequently fail!

You really haven't stated if there is still love between you and your wife. What you did write was "The thought process that led me to this idea centered around the fact that I would be doing something good for HER by being hard on her. That by my being forgiving –I wasn’t doing her any favor. I don’t want to tell her “Get out!” because it will go to the core of her fears of abandonment. I want to give her a sense that I’m here for her if she tries to quit." You have become enmeshed with her alcoholism. You need to learn how to detach with love!

You are ONLY responsible for yourself and your children! Your wife needs to get into recovery! It sounds like she has a lot of reasons to want to get into recovery!

This is only my personal opinion. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Peace and Love,

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Old 12-15-2010, 04:44 AM
  # 35 (permalink)  
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Welcome to SR Rhode, I see lots of folks have chimed in and I'm once again overwhelmed by this caring community.

I was once in your shoes and know exactly how you feel. It's a powerless and frustrating feeling but there are answers. Education about addiction and getting support is the key. I followed the 10 Ways Family Members Can Help steps to the letter as though my own sanity depended on it.

I remember when I was in your same situation, my MIL and I were planning an intervention with professional help. Just several days prior to the planned intervention date Mel decided on her own to check into rehab. I'm betting your wife is well aware that she's in big trouble.

As others have mentioned, when I was confused or unsure of what to do I always put my childrens priorities first, and that helped me make some tough decisions.
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:16 AM
  # 36 (permalink)  
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Your childrens' safety must come first. Drinking as she does she cannot be fully responsible for childcare, no matter how 'together' she may seem. It's only a matter of time before something bad happens.

My teenage daughter begged me to stop drinking but I only lied more and hid it from her (not very well tho). She finally told me that if I didn't quit she would go live with her dad - that scared me.

If she has no job and no money of her own then cutting her off financially would force her to face her problem. As to "letting her fall", she's going to fall eventually, and if she's still responsible for your kids it might have very bad consequences for them. I'd say let her fall. I know you love her but this is her addiction and she must want to get better, and she won't as long as you're enabling her to keep on drinking.

I wish you the best with your situation but hope you can get the kids out of this mess before it gets worse.
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:16 AM
  # 37 (permalink)  
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Our situations were/are the same exactly...

Except not only have I been exactly where you are as described in your post, but instead of asking if I can force my wife to stop drinking I actually was dumb enough to try and do it.

Read the sticky posts and you can see the things I tried, read the books about living with alcoholics and you can see the things I tried, read the things to never, ever do regarding alcoholism and I probably did it.

Nothing changed my wife's behavior for more than a day or two. Nothing I did. Nothing. And I tried for ten years. Then I left her on her own other than a car, mobile phone and insurance on the car. I didn't even pay her rent.

The amount of collateral damage taken by my daughter during that time has resulted in a 15 year old who thinks she isn't worthy of love, does drugs, became sexually active at 13, and does not engage in school despite her high level of intelligence, and she is attracted only to other kids who are as ****ed up as she is. They surround themselves with each other and support one another's dumb a$$ decisions. At this moment, she is suspended from school yet again.

This is what is in store for you and your kids if you try and control her drinking, if you choose to continue exposing your innocent children to her, and if you fail to give her the diginity of facing her life and her alcohlism on her own. All on her own.

The information is there for you not only from me, but from hundreds of others, in this forum and at Al-Anon meetings. You can do it our way, or you can continue to do it your way which got you where you are today.

I feel for you and I wish the best for you and your family.

Take what you want and leave the rest.


Here's the PS. After two years on her own my wife began to find recovery. Life conspired for us to be together again so we are. There are, however, no guarantees. You will see on this board and in Al-Anon meetings all different kinds of outcomes, some good some bad, but you will almost always see that those of us that live our lives according to these principles are more happy now than we were before.
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:25 AM
  # 38 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by nodaybut2day View Post
Actually, by preventing her from "falling" or from reaching that all important bottom, you are denying her the dignity of finding recovery for herself. It is obvious you love this woman; doesn't she deserve that dignity?
To Rhode: Welcome to SR!! You are in the right place, my friend! Just keep reading and posting. My experience was a lot different from yours, I was not married to my A, and we did not have children. While I don't have specific experiences to reference, I will say that you are doing the right thing by starting to research alcoholism. Knowledge is power, and it will help you find your truth. I wish you peace and serenity.

To noday- this is a beautiful statement. And, it is helping me not feel guilty about breaking up with the ABF. Thank you!!
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:04 AM
  # 39 (permalink)  
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I've been reading, and re-reading this original post for the past two days. Over and over. I wanted to wait until my head wasn't screaming something that would likely get pulled by the powers greater than I, until I could think about what I was reading clearly and with compassion, and not with offense or "are you ******* kidding me"-tude. I come at this stuff from a few 'sides'. I am an addict/alcholic in recovery, and I have loved many people who are the same. I have worked on codependency issues, and grew up raised by alcoholics. So, that being said.. I have to form my thoughts carefully, depending on which 'board' I respond to.

And I waited long enough for Cyranoak to express many of the thoughts I was thinking, in a much better way than I could put them on the screen, so thank you.

To the orginal poster, my only two thoughts are this (in addition to the wonderful support and guidance you've already been offered);

You must protect your children. An active alcoholic is in no way shape or form a responsible caregiver. If you brought your kids to a day care, and the provider was drunk, would you leave them? Are you aware that since you KNOW your wife is drunk when she provides their care, you are in danger of being charged with NEGLIGENCE if anything were to happen to them, God forbid? You are their voice. They are being exposed to addiction, during years of their lives where the foundation for how they approach life, is set. You MUST protect them.

Secondly.. You do not have the right to control another adult who is competent to make her own decisions. She can sit around and drink 15 bottles of vodka a day, that is her choice. She could sit and drink that way forever and ever. Period. What YOU decide is what is ok to live with and expose your children to. Don't want to live with a drunk? Don't. Don't want to expose your children to an intoxicated and dangerous caregiver? Take action. Don't want to enable her drinking? Don't provide any resources that make her ABLE to continue this behavior. Providing her the money to get drunk, the home to get drunk in, the children to 'care' for without responsibility or safety, the security of a soft place to land every night that she passes out.. enables her to continue this.

That's just my opinion, take it or leave it.. but you came, you asked, we answered from our experience.
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:32 AM
  # 40 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
Catloveme suggested
"If she wants to drink, she should provide herself the money, transportation, location, (reliable) childcare and other things she "needs" to drink, apart from your home and children. If she is not able to provide herself these things, to continue drinking, you need not take it on as your problem, with the exception of keeping the children safe."

How would you do it technically? Separate our bank accounts? She has no separate income - so I'd have to give her money ....
This is not correct.

She is an adult, able to earn her own income, if she needs income. That she CHOOSES not to be employed, and to drink to wile away time is her CHOICE.

That she able to CONTINUE to do this, by buying alcohol to abuse using family money, is YOUR CHOICE.

Setting a boundary that no family money will be used toward alcohol, and what you WILL do if it is, is a start. She is free to make her choices, then. And you are free to follow up with the consequences of your boundary being breached, if need be.

Boundaries are what we define as acceptable circumstances for ourself, and what we are then willing to do if they are breached, to protect and maintain ourself and our environments. They give the alcoholic the choice what they want to do, but ALSO give them the responsibility for the consequences of their choices.

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