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Just found out my boyfriend is an alcoholic, what do I do?

Old 03-03-2011, 09:59 PM
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Just found out my boyfriend is an alcoholic, what do I do?

Hi all,

I'm new to SR, and to essentially everything related to alcoholism (so please forgive if I do something wrong or say something stupid!). Two weeks ago, my boyfriend told me he was an alcoholic. We've been together for two and half years now. About half a year ago, we started dating long distance. At first it was about a month without seeing each other, then he moved closer so we saw each other once to three times a month, on weekends. It was right at the beginning of that month that he started drinking heavily (I know this for a fact because we lived together in college dorms before that and he was always with me). He'd drink maybe a fifth in two days, and it continued throughout our long distance for the past half year. Two weeks ago, when I reprimanded him about something small that he forgot to do, he came clean about his drinking.

He told me he came clean because the guilt of lying to me was killing him, and that he knew if he didn't get help alcohol would destroy his life. I've never dealt with anything alcoholism related in my entire life (no alcoholic parents, relatives, friends, anything), so I was completely shocked and lost. At the urge of a mutual friend, that same day he came clean to me, he went to see a counselor, and after two days of thinking things over, he decided to go into a 30-day residential recovery program, which he's been in for the past week and a half.

Since then, I've been spending a lot of time reading the SR forums, and I've learned a lot. On top of stuff directly related to recovering alcoholics, I've read a lot about SO's of alcoholics having to deal with codependency issues and trying to fix their lives that were significantly damaged by their AH's or ABF's, and it all sounds like just an awful, awful experience to go through.

So my question is this: putting his recovery, his success, and his future sobriety (however long it may be) all aside, should I just get out of this relationship while I can still save myself? I do love him, and I know that he loves me very much, and that he's doing everything he can to make this work, but at the same time, I've read so many stories involving failed relationships with alcoholics that it's really making me doubt whether I should invest more into this relationship with him.

Please help! Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:00 PM
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First off, WELCOME stars!

It is great that you are here and educating yourself.
I have two comments.
One is, his coming clean, going to a therapist and putting himself in treatment is NOT standard (IMHO). Most of our partners are lying, hiding, denying, minimizing, blaming, etc.
Second is, even if that is true and he is making a good faith effort, no one can say what you should do because you have to ask YOURSELF:
Is it okay with me that he lied to me or hid his alcoholism?
Is it okay with me to be partnered with an alcoholic that may deal with this all his life?

Only you can answer those.

welcome. stick around.

peace
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:26 AM
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Good response, FP. Welcome to SR, stars27.

I especially second question 2. It's a lifestyle commitment, and it may be a bumpy ride.

Keep reading, keep asking questions, but don't be afraid to make the best decision for you and your future, regardless of what your emotions are telling you to do.

Good for him for coming clean and seeking help. Maybe he got off the elevator at a higher floor. Maybe he hasn't. Only time will tell.

Al-Anon is also a good resource for working on your own behaviors toward the alcoholic in your life. Might consider checking out a meeting or two.

Good luck!
~T
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by stars27 View Post
So my question is this: putting his recovery, his success, and his future sobriety (however long it may be) all aside, should I just get out of this relationship while I can still save myself? I do love him, and I know that he loves me very much, and that he's doing everything he can to make this work, but at the same time, I've read so many stories involving failed relationships with alcoholics that it's really making me doubt whether I should invest more into this relationship with him.

Please help! Any advice would be appreciated!
I think you are a very smart women.

Dating is a time to find out about other people. If we find out we are not a good match, or if there is something about the other person that is not a good fit, for any reason, then it is the time to move on. It is not mean to the other person. It is simply being honest, fair, and true to ourselves and our truths.

If I could go back to the pre-married me I would tell myself to always make decisions that are in my own best interest and to follow through on them even when it is hard. That has honesty and integrity and you'll never go wrong with that. Committing to a relationship with anything less is not the foundation anyone wants. It isn't good for either party.

Dating is not committing. Dating is a fact finding mission and we continue to gather facts and these facts tell us it is time to move on, or continue to move forward until there is such a point that you *commit*. Even commitments are not forever but it is a different level so to speak. Deal breakers are things that people say "I will not go there". At the point you uncover a 'deal breaker' there is no point in moving forward any longer.

You do have a bit of a gift in that you know for a fact, today while you are still dating, that your boyfriend is an alcoholic. You must make your own decision on if that fact is a deal breaker or not.

I would encourage Al-anon.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:23 AM
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I'll add my two cents which is this:

I think the fact that he felt so badly about his lying that he came clean, and that he wants so much to get help that he is the one pursuing rehab, therapy etc... is something very very unique around here.

My experience (and based on reading the AA Big Book, is I believe a common experience) is that alcoholics continue to lie, resist treatment, con themselves and everyone around them for a long time (some forever). Sometimes they find a desire to seek help, often those around them plead that they get help and it's a cycle...

If you want to continue the relationship, do so knowing that you are dating-- you aren't married and so if it gets to a point that it is not working for you, you can more easily walk away (not emotionally easier-- just pragmatically easier).

I'm learning the hard way that sobriety does not equal recovery. It may be that when he stops drinking, a lot of the same behaviors that went on when he was drinking (lying etc...) continue (or get worse). I've been attending al anon and I really, really wish someone had given me a heads up (so I am paying it fwd and trying to do so for you) that sobriety is not going to resolve the problems your boyfriend has. Alcoholism is a disease of the mind and one can stop drinking and still have a sick mind and still act like an alcoholic whether or not they ever touch another drop of alcohol.

I really do hope for you and your boyfriend that he is sincere and wants to recover and will do the work necessary for that to happen. It will be something he will need to work on every single day, consciously for the rest of his life...

Maybe while he is in rehab, you could find an al anon mtg around you and talk face to face with others as well as coming on here? I've found both to be helpful/supportive in different ways.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:27 AM
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So my question is this: putting his recovery, his success, and his future sobriety (however long it may be) all aside, should I just get out of this relationship while I can still save myself?
I would. That's really easy for me to say though, and only you know what you're willing to live with and what you aren't. I'm glad you're reading other stories here.. alcoholism if left untreated is a terminal disease. If treated, it will still require active recovery and vigilance on the part of the alcoholic. I know this because I am an alcoholic.. and I would run from me if I were a mere week and a half into a treatment program.

It may be the most loving gesture you can display, to get out of the way of his recovery. I'm not meaning that in a bad way, or being snarky, but if he truly wants to recover, he will need to be pretty darn focused on it, for at least a while.. because his life truly depends on it.

If he isn't successful this go'round in rehab, then what. Are you prepared for the roller coaster you've likely read about here? You can love him from a distance. Ask him to contact you when he's 6 months into his recovery to update you on all the great work he's done on himself. And then take care of YOU.

We do recover.. sometimes.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:52 AM
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"Just found out my boyfriend is an alcoholic, what do I do? "

I suggest trading him in a model with no alcohol issues. The alcoholic models are the subject of a manufacturers recall. Unfortunately, not all models have recieved the bulletin. Without the recall and subsequent fix, the alcoholic boyfriend contnues to:

Lie
Cheat
Drink
Act Badly in public and private
Cost a lot in legal fees and medical bills
Spend a lot on no one really knows what
Have trouble commiting
act as a poor example of a man and father figure

sometimes they get better on thier own. There is a product, similar to "Marvels Mystery Oil", used in cars. but no one knows where you can buy it or how to get it.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post

I would encourage Al-anon.
This. Completely. Al-Anon has really helped me and my relationship. (I chose to stay with my Recovering Alcoholic when he told me a few months into our relationship.)

One of the good things about this board is that the stories bring us together. Your story is similar to mine which is similar to someone else's, etc.
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:28 PM
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I agree with smacked (as I often do). It might be in both of your interests to kind of cool things off for awhile. Not that you can't see each other or spend time together, but maybe watch it in terms of the emotional intensity for awhile. Recovery is a HUGE commitment of time, energy, and emotion (I have been married to two alcoholics, one of whom has stayed sober for 31 years--he got sober after we had been together about as long as you have, and we got married a year after he got sober. I am also an alcoholic in recovery, myself, now--sober for two and a half years). It's easy to feel left out, to feel like recovery is more important than you are, etc.

I also think Al-Anon is a great idea. In addition, I recommend you educate yourself as much as possible. Go slow. Relationships with alcoholics in recovery can work, and there is no guarantee ANY relationship won't go bad at some point. Only you can decide your own tolerance for risk and whether you want to take the chance.
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