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Pretty sure my husband is an alcoholic

Old 02-15-2011, 06:48 AM
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Pretty sure my husband is an alcoholic

Here's my story - My husband has always drank. When we were first married, he might drink a couple of beers after work a few nights a week. That amount increased and became more frenquent. We moved for my job and he had trouble finding work. His drinking became very heavy, to the point he was finishing off a case of beer in one evening. He checked himself into a mental health facility for depression/anxiety where they told him the drinking was self medication. He stayed sober for a year. Once he weaned himself off the medication, the drinking returned very slowly.

Now he drinks in the evenings, almost every night. He drinks by himself, maybe 8 beers or mixes drinks; whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin, etc. When I confronted him about his stash of liquor and beer, he said that maybe he had a problem, quit for a few days, but went back to it. Confronted again, I was accused of spying on him and he now locks up the alcohol (I can still get to it to see what he's up to, he just doesn't know it).

He doesn't drink during the day, but it's almost a nightly occurrence. He doesn't drink and drive, but will drink heavily in social situations when he is not driving. He takes a pint of whiskey with him on trips so he can drink. When on vacation, he became almost unbearable by 5th night of no alcohol and drank 9 beers that night.

To me all these signs point to alcoholism, but he doesn't see it that way. I don't know what to do to help him or where I should be going to get him help. I know you can't force an alcoholic to get help, but I am getting to my wits end with this. He brings home very little income right now and I am supporting us. It drives me crazy to be scrimping by and the money I give him for gas, etc gets spent on beer and liquor.

I live in a very rural area where everyone gossips. While I know AA and Alanon meetings are supposed to be private, I hesitate going because I feel it would get around that I went.

Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:06 AM
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You can go to Alanon. I'm also in a rural area but they are anonymous. Everyone there is dealing with the same thing. No one is going to be shocked and no one is going to judge.

Definitely go.

There are a lot of really great stickies at the top of this forum. Take some time and read them.

Trust your instincts/inner voice/gut feelings.

Welcome to SR. I found/find so much support and information here. Keep reading and keep posting!
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:20 AM
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Welcome, Lizzie99. If there's one thing that seems to be common amongst family members of alcoholics I've met, including myself, its the lost of trust in oneself and their instincts. Someone on this forum has a tagline that says something to the effect of "Validation is for the truth we already know" or something like that.

Your post sounds familiar because I, too, had the same questions. It didn't take long for me to figure out I had the answers already, I just couldn't embrace the truth because of what it meant for me, my family, and the road we are now on. I think acknowledging it was the hardest first step, the second hardest has been accepting the lack of power I have over it.

That first meeting is scary. I still hesitate in the parking lot of new meetings, but I am making myself go. Why? Because it really helps. I live in a relatively small city where there is more anonymity but still, seems that any place can be a small town. And you know what? No one at Al-Anon judges me, asks me what I do for a living, or even what my last name is. It's not about that at all (amazingly!).

My heart goes out to you - its a bumpy road. Read the "stickies" here, read some books about alcoholism, and see if you can get to a place of comfort (or desperation) to go to an Al-Anon meeting. The more you learn about this, the more empowered you will feel and the better position you will be in to make good decisions.

You are not alone. Take good care.
~T
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:44 AM
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One more thing about alanon and small towns. All those people there get it. I did not know the other people in al-anon outside of the meeting and you know what - when they saw me in the store or something they smiled and nodded like any other shopper and didn't even acknowledge that we saw each other every week. Now - I didn't go out for coffee with them afterwards or anything. I'm sure if we had a relationship outside al-anon they would be friendly but see my point? They take the anonymous part seriously because it is meant to be a safe place.

Support is scarce in a small town. Gossip is a real issue and it makes it hard sometimes but I've found that al-anon is a safe haven from all that and so don't rule it out. People show up at al-anon meetings if they have friend or family with alcoholism. That is a wide brush. I was part of a small group and one woman was the widow of an alcoholic, one had a child that was not living with her, a few had spouses, and I don't even know about the others. A couple times people just showed up and no one 'knew' them they were just needing a meeting and away from their home group. We didn't know anything about them. You don't have to say anything about who the alcoholic in your life is. You don't actually have to say anything at all. I went to 3 or 4 meetings before I uttered a word other then my share of the reading. You have time to get comfortable before sharing.

The town I live in now is so small it doesn't even have al-anon meetings but if it did, I'd be there.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:58 AM
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My meeting generically uses the word "qualifier" to identify the alcoholic.
Many of us identify who the "qualifier" is with relation to us, but not everybody.
You don't have to share anything you don't feel comfortable sharing.
You don't even have to share at all, if you don't want to.

The great thing about Al-Anon is that EVERYONE is in a similar situation. EVERYONE understands, and because they appreciate the "Anonymous" part, they are sure to keep it themselves.

I live in the city, and I've run into people from my Al-Anon groups elsewhere, as well.
We'll nod, or smile, or give a hug or a friendly "How are you doing?" - but nobody mentions alcoholism, or Al-Anon.
One woman said "I'll see you tomorrow!" the day before my favorite meeting, and that is as close as we have come to acknowledging that we both attend the same meeting.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:04 AM
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Hi Lizzie,

I'm sorry you are experiencing this, and I'm glad you've taken this first step to making your life better.

You are correct he is an alcoholic. It is crystal clear. There is no question of it, and he's not qualified to argue with you about it. You know this. Stop questioning yourself. And, regardless, his drinking is a problem for you, so it's almost irrelevant if he is or isn't (but he is).

You see, there is no way to rationally discuss alcoholism with an alcoholic who is drunk, who is not in recovery, or both-- it can't be done. And, if you decide to talk to the other people around the alcoholic, they are often alcoholics or enablers themselves, or in denial.

But, you didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. You just have to let it go and seek recovery for yourself. Being on this board is a good start.

As for your fear it will get around? I'll ask you three questions:

1. Why are you afraid of people knowing the truth? If they did know, you would not have to lie and cover for him anymore. How is that bad?
2. Who do you know that goes to Al-Anon? If you don't know anybody than you know they are following the principle of anonymity and you'll be safe there.
3. Do you want to feel better and be happier? If so, get over your fears and go to an Al-Anon meeting.

Lizzie, I'm not telling you what to do here, and I'm trying to be nurturing, but please think really hard around the questions I've asked you, what your answers are to them, and what, if anything, you are going to do to improve your life.

Take care, take what you want, and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

P.s. You may think other people don't know he's an alcoholic, but you'd be surprised. Especially if your community is as gossipy as you say. Why lie? Why pretend? Isn't it wearing you out?

Originally Posted by Lizzie99 View Post
Here's my story - My husband has always drank. When we were first married, he might drink a couple of beers after work a few nights a week. That amount increased and became more frenquent. We moved for my job and he had trouble finding work. His drinking became very heavy, to the point he was finishing off a case of beer in one evening. He checked himself into a mental health facility for depression/anxiety where they told him the drinking was self medication. He stayed sober for a year. Once he weaned himself off the medication, the drinking returned very slowly.

Now he drinks in the evenings, almost every night. He drinks by himself, maybe 8 beers or mixes drinks; whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin, etc. When I confronted him about his stash of liquor and beer, he said that maybe he had a problem, quit for a few days, but went back to it. Confronted again, I was accused of spying on him and he now locks up the alcohol (I can still get to it to see what he's up to, he just doesn't know it).

He doesn't drink during the day, but it's almost a nightly occurrence. He doesn't drink and drive, but will drink heavily in social situations when he is not driving. He takes a pint of whiskey with him on trips so he can drink. When on vacation, he became almost unbearable by 5th night of no alcohol and drank 9 beers that night.

To me all these signs point to alcoholism, but he doesn't see it that way. I don't know what to do to help him or where I should be going to get him help. I know you can't force an alcoholic to get help, but I am getting to my wits end with this. He brings home very little income right now and I am supporting us. It drives me crazy to be scrimping by and the money I give him for gas, etc gets spent on beer and liquor.

I live in a very rural area where everyone gossips. While I know AA and Alanon meetings are supposed to be private, I hesitate going because I feel it would get around that I went.

Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:07 AM
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Hi Lizzie!

Welcome to SR!

I hope that you will stick around. Keep reading, keep posting. There are many wonderful people here who can share their Experience, Strength, and Hope (ES&H) with you.

I understand your concerns about attending an Al-Anon meeting in a small town, but as others here have said, everyone in the meeting is in the same position and completely understands what you are experiencing. The wonderful thing about Al-Anon is that we learn we can be happy regardless of whether or not the A is drinking!

Hugs and prayers, HG
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:19 AM
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Normal drinkers do not lock up thier alcohol to protect their 'stash'. Sounds to me he may be an alcoholic. He needs to see how drinking is negatively affecting his life, and that his drinking is not normal, and it will only get worse, if he does not ask for help, and accept the help. Admitting you are sick can be the hardest thing to do.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:19 AM
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Welcome!!!

I would try a meeting. Nothing like face to face support.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:30 AM
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Welcome, glad you have found SR

I have found it helpful to read and learn as much as possible about alcoholism while taking care of myself first and foremost.

I agree with all of the previous posts here: You know what you know, don't doubt yourself. It is impossible to reason with an active alcoholic, it will destroy your sanity.

Read and post; so much wisdom and support here. And definitely go to that meeting, you will feel so much better. You are not alone.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:09 AM
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Hi. I live in a small town too.......(population 1587 to be exact ) I felt the same way about the meetings. But I went anyway. I was quite surprised, actually, that I didn't know anyone there the first week. The 2nd week, an accquaintance was there. It was actually a relief to see someone I sort of knew. Word hasn't gotten around that I go. Quite honestly, at this point, I don't care who knows that I go. I have been going for maybe 6 weeks now? It is truly amazing. Even the first night, with only 2 women there twice my age, and I didn't speak at all..........I felt better afterward. Every week is like that and now I wouldn't give it up for the world! I hope you go!
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:32 AM
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Pl do not gets wrong . It may be a good idea to read original menus riot of the bog book yourself first if you have not come across already , it will be good idea to got local meetings as all otherwmers have suggested but reading this book will make it easy for you to understand the sickness of your husband . Once you have read it , you can get this book come across him Ccedently and see if he reads it for curiosity . I am alcoholic and my wife's actions are exactly as suggested in this book and with open discussions ingot us . We are trying to heal this sickness ofine that is alcoholism , God bless you and your husband , Bingen
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:38 AM
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Hi Lizzie, your AH sounda lot like mine. Started out gradually, then increased with stress due to self medicating.

I've known he was an A for yrs but tolerated things well. Then slowly his personality started changing and I was to blame for all his misery. My 18 yr marriage seemed to be a sham.

My AH is high functioning and has a prestigous public job, so going to Alanon or even telling my friends what was happening in my life was not possible. If people knew his livelihood would be ruined and therefore my livelihood would be too since I worked for him.

It got to the point where I felt so bad that I didn't CARE if anyone else knew. I needed to get the burden off my shoulders. It was such a reilef!!! I told a couple of very trusting friends and went to Alanon. They have been my lifeline. I live in a town of 4000. I knew one person at alanon from my church. He told me he knew 3 people from his 1st meeting. He was there because his son drank. He'd only actually seen him drunk twice. Funny thing was, everyone in the room already knew his son drank! He really had nothing to hide.

My point is, your sanity/emotional health is more important than covering for him.

Be good to yourself,
Chelle
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:31 PM
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Hi and to SR.

In your shoes I would...

a) go to al-anon, small town be damned. You NEED the support, and it's not like it's your job to protect your AH (alcoholic hubby)'s reputation or shelter him from the consequences of his own actions.

b) protect the family money by not giving him access to your bank account. If he wants to drink himself silly, he can go earn some cash.

I hope you keep coming back here to read and post.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:23 PM
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Welcome! This board has been a real life-saver for many of us! Please do try to go to a meeting ~ the face-to-face is invaluable and validating. Yes, in a small town, everyone already knows he's an alcoholic. Try to reach some calm boundaries, and really define what that means to you logistically. For example, when I started dealing with my responses to ABF's drinking, I decided that I would no longer hand alcohol to anyone. Tense, awkward... you bet. But he's the only one who ever noticed, and that was almost 2 years ago.
Keep checking in!

- Sylvie
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Lizzie99 View Post


Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Well, you don't say how long you've been married and I can't infer how old a man he is. And you don't mention children.

My experience sound just like yours. It didn't start off to bad. But 22 years later it was up to 15 bottles of wine a week. Probably spent close 100K on alcohol over this time period. No money in savings. Our 2 kids spent their young adult life dealing with a drunk, delusion, mean, nasty, unpredictable mother.

So my advice is it leave him now. The collective wisdom on this board indicates almost ZERO chance of recovery. However it could happen. You could try the "me or the bottle" choice. And he will mostly likely say "you", but will actually choose to drink. They seem unable to choose to stop until they hit rock bottom. For some that bottom is the mere threat of loosing a spouse and a marriage. That is rare. For others it is losing everything, up to nearly losing their life. Some actually do lose their life. I suspect his actual drinking and addiction is far worse than you think. They are very adept it hiding it, rationalizing it, and shifting the spot light away from themselves and on to you.

Have you noticed?

I can tell you from my experience, that no one offered me a glimpse of what was ahead 20 years ago when I started to realize there's a problem. Had a single credible source told me what the next 2 decades had in store for me, I would have left her that night. If the collective wisdom of this board would have been available to me I would have been far better armed and able to make a better decision.
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:43 PM
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I never like to hear someone advise another person to "leave him now" (unless, of course, there is abuse involved or it's not a serious, committed relationship). People need to make those decisions for themselves, in their own time. Alcoholics are sick people. That doesn't justify how they behave at times, but for myself, I could not bring myself to leave until/unless I had satisfied myself that he truly was not ready to quit drinking and I needed to leave for my own well-being. If I had left sooner, just because people told me I should, I think I would have suffered from feelings of guilt and regret.

And some people DO recover. I happen to know a lot who have. So I think zrx's estimate of his chances as "almost ZERO" is unnecessarily pessimistic. Which, in my mind, is just as unlikely to result in a happy outcome as unrealistic optimism.

I suggest getting to some Al-Anon meetings, and also learning what you can about alcoholism. Those two steps will help you get started with getting your own feelings straight about how you can make good decisions for yourself, regardless whether he recovers or not. He may decide to get well or he may not be ready. When the time comes, you want to be able to make an informed decision about what's best for YOU.
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Lizzie99 View Post
I am getting to my wits end with this. He brings home very little income right now and I am supporting us. It drives me crazy to be scrimping by and the money I give him for gas, etc gets spent on beer and liquor.
Others have given you excellent advice. The only thing I have to add is this. Do not give up your financial independence! Start yourself a cash stash or savings that you keep to yourself.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:11 PM
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Agree totally with Lexicat. YOU have to make the choice. I simply responded with direct advice as it was asked for straight forward.

"Almost Zero" is subjective", no doubt. From my vantage point and experience it is accurate. But I am one man. Others odds prediction are no doubt different and certainly some will be more optimistic.

And to be perfectly clear, I have not left mine. I did not listen to the little voice many years ago. Now, 20+ years later, I see some hope, and a very, very small chance she might finally kick this thing. So in effect, I have not yet done what I preach.

I do however wish someone would have been as direct and forthright with me as I am with those seeking answers here.

It matters not one fraction of a tiny bit what I, as a faceless name on the internet, think you should do.

best to you, no matter the path you take.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:54 PM
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I live in a small town too and early on was completely paralyzed at the thought of attending a meeting here. So I drove over to the next towns over...and I went there. Seriously, you do what you need to do. I attended more than one group and settled on one for a while. Now a few years later I have attended meetings in my own town. But I have also got past the hiding it phase. I understand your feelings completely, been there, done that.

On another note, I separated my finances from my AH several years ago - when I was going crazy with worry over finances and bills, etc. After I split it all, I felt a huge relief. If the electric got cut off, it was his bill, his worry. I also saved my credit rating.

Hugs to you.
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