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Old 07-07-2017, 11:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Confused, and not sure whether to be worried


I last posted in here about a year ago. Long story short: at the time, my otherwise loyal, loving, kind and funny husband had been drinking increasingly problematically for about the previous 2 years. This was worrying for a number of reasons:
1. He's had bariatric surgery, and I have reason to believe the smaller size of his stomach has rapidly reduced his tolerance level - he gets visibly drunk considerably faster.
2. A historic illness has left him with mobility issues due to damaged nerve endings in his feet. In an intoxicated state he can therefore be very unsteady on his feet and prone to falling (and potential injury)
3. Historic issues with substance misuse, including a stay in rehab within the last decade.
4. Smokes, takes no exercise, the usual "future health prognosis" is not good-type stuff.
By last summer, social occasions of most kinds with him were fairly uncomfortable if not borderline unbearable. We had a series of arguments which came to a head with me telling him that the logical consequence of things carrying on as they had been was me getting out of the way for a while, i.e. a trial separation. He seemed to heed this message and signed up for AA meetings, a sponsor and seeing an alcohol counsellor once a week.

Although he is still attending counselling, over the last 10-12 months his contact with AA and the sponsor has slowly but surely dwindled to zero - in part because of what he claimed was irritation at the personalities of other people there, and things said. He was also beginning to express irritation at having to be abstinent on family birthdays, Christmas, New Years Eve etc. More recently, he began to mention naltrexone as a possible solution to the impasse. For those who don't know, it is a medication typically used to treat opiate addicts which blocks the high. With alcohol, it doesn't stop people feeling intoxicated and doesn't stop the symptoms which cloud rational judgement, but I think the idea is that without a buzz, more sensible consumption results.

Again, this worried me as it suggested he was looking for a pharmaceutical mechanism to resume his previous habits without addressing the underlying issues. About five weeks ago we went away for a short holiday and he took some and resumed having wine at night, without any dramas. Last weekend a very old friend of his came to stay the night and despite him telling the friend about the wonders of naltrexone, he pretty much appeared like the drunk of old... and became pretty obnoxious. At some point during this past week I heard a subtle hint of how he used to slur pretty much every night. And then last night, I discovered an empty bottle of vodka in his usual hiding place of days gone by. For the last year this was the situation I had feared as it was his previous nightly vodka mixer habit, often consumed alone straight after work, which convinced me he had a problem.

I know I am probably being over sensitive, and maybe catastrophising. He has a demanding job and I do sympathise with the default assumption by family and friends that all socialising is accompanied by alcohol, and how difficult it must be to stay abstinent in such a culture. However I really need some perspective and second opinion on the naltrexone thing. If it were just being taken daily to alleviate awkwardness at social occasions as and when we got invited, I could understand it. But then I wonder why he has reverted to exactly the pattern of consumption he had before, even if supposedly there's no longer a euphoric feeling available from it. He is also not being prescribed it by a doctor, he's ordering it online. I know he had mentioned it to his counsellor but I don't know if he's being open with her about the fact he's now drinking again.

I don't know if I should confront him about this sooner rather than later, as I don't want to make a delicate situation worse. I also know that I don't want resentment to build and build and for relations to deteriorate between us to the extent they did last time.

Anyone who has been there and done that, or who can comment impartially on this type of situation, I'd really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-08-2017, 12:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't have any great advice to give on the drug, but there is no magic pill to cure addiction. Sounds like the Sinclair Method (you can read up on this) is what he's trying out, but it doesn't seem to be working. Again, if it were just a matter of a pill I don't think you'd see the countless of lives destroyed by alcohol. You also hit the nail on the head with the underlying issues - no pill will address those if he isn't.

Only he can decide when and if he wants to get well. And no you are NOT being oversensitive - read your post back again to yourself and pretend a friend or family member wrote this to you - you'd probably not think they were being overly sensitive right?
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, the bottom line is he's drinking again. He's doing a few things to bolster his claim that he's "addressing" his alcohol problem, but the bottom line is he's drinking. It will get worse, unless his health takes him out, but you'd be surprised how long it can take, even with poor health, to drink oneself to death.

Up to you how long you want to stick around for this. Are you going to Al-Anon?
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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He's relapsed, he's back to spirits and hiding the bottles. Not much different from where you started.

It's hard to stop drinking. He gave it a good try because the alternative was you leaving, but the motivation faded over time. Without the inner desire to be sober for his own sake, for his health and mental well-being, he's always going to be white-knuckling. It's so hard to understand why after many tries something just clicks and sobriety becomes essential, but obviously he's not there yet.

You aren't over-reacting. He's fully relapsed. Where does that leave you?
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hello Quarry,

I am sorry to hear all that you have been through. It sounds to me like he simply is not done, and that you have been living on pins and needles this whole time wondering what is next. Frankly, I don't know if I could live with that sort of stress every day.

Just FYI, the Sinclair Method is considered to be very dangerous by the administrators of this board. Typically, any discussions promoting that method are removed promptly.

That aside, we aren't here to talk about what your husband can or cannot/should or should not do. We are here to support you. It seems clear that you are profoundly affected by your husband's drinking and drinking-related behaviors. Many members have found great face-to-face support in Al-Anon. You could seek individual counseling with someone experienced in addiction issues, as well. It would be a support to you and might give you a view 'from the outside' that could help bring you clarity.

I'm sorry to say that your husband may never change his ways. Is that something that is OK with you? Is that something you can live with? You are the only one who can make that decision. But as someone whose stepson still drinks and now uses heroin, it is possible to have peace whether or not a loved one is active in their addiction. For me, it is peace--from a distance.

Take good care! Keep posting--it helps
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Old 07-08-2017, 08:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by URTheQuarry View Post
I don't know if I should confront him about this sooner rather than later, as I don't want to make a delicate situation worse. I also know that I don't want resentment to build and build and for relations to deteriorate between us to the extent they did last time.

Anyone who has been there and done that, or who can comment impartially on this type of situation, I'd really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks in advance.
I think that you have every right to "discuss" what you are seeing, express your concerns, and let him know all of this is making you feel. Also, it might help to ask him about his approach, what his goals are, and how he thinks he's doing with it.

I found talking with my husband works best when Im non-confrontational, and express an interest in what hes doing, along with asking questions, and inserting what I see, think or feel.

In my opinion, its always better to address problem drinking sooner rather than later, because it tends to be progressive in nature. The longer it goes unchecked, the more difficult it is to treat.
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Old 07-09-2017, 11:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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On Al-Anon, I did in fact seek out a local group when I first became aware that he might have a drinking problem, so this would've been three years ago now. Although I found the group very welcoming, at the time it seemed like there were a number of disincentives to going back regularly. First was feeling conspicuous in terms of the stories I heard while in the room - I wasn't yet being stolen from, verbally or physically abused, or about to file divorce papers. Secondly was how to communicate at home the fact that I was going - at the time, it seemed difficult to articulate without it seeming like a provocation. But maybe the most salient factor was the most mundane one; it didn't seem proportionate to continue to be going to Alanon during the ten or so months when he was in fact abstinent. Everything was fine as long as everything was fine, so to speak. In the interim I've also built up other interests of my own in the evenings which I'd feel would be important to maintain in order to guard against feelings of codependency arising.

Of course, I could very well have got this completely backwards, and it might well be that my need to get clarity and perspective from Alanon with regard to my own future vastly outweighs any awkwardness or inconvenience I might otherwise feel about going to the meetings. I suspect it would greatly enhance my bargaining position with my husband potentially returning to AA if I committed to going to Alanon in parallel, but again I don't know if I'm looking at this in a completely flawed way...
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, I'm going to make a plug for Al-Anon, with a couple of caveats.
It's a good fellowship, and you will find lots of support there.
Every meeting has its own vibe, so maybe look around to different meetings to find your fit with like-minded people.
Al-Anon is there to help people troubled by a loved one's drinking or behavior, even if they are at the moment abstinent.
You do not have have to share with your spouse that you are going.
It is for you, not for him.
Your going to Al-Anon may or may not encourage your spouse to go to AA.
Honestly, I wouldn't count on it, as it sounds from your original post that your husband, while aware he has a problem with alcohol, is not quite ready to give it up.
Accepting that one has a drinking problem, and an effective way to solve it would be to completely abstain from consuming, is a hard thing to do.
Many of us struggled for years to moderate our drinking, with no success.
When we finally accepted that abstinence is key to living a productive life in recovery, the way became a lot clearer.
You can't control anyone else's behavior. You can only control your response to it.
Good luck. We are here when you need us.
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Old 07-10-2017, 07:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You mentioned that he's not being prescribed naltrexone by a doctor but is ordering it online. It's possible that he's not getting real naltrexone.
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Old 07-10-2017, 09:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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On Al-Anon, I did in fact seek out a local group when I first became aware that he might have a drinking problem, so this would've been three years ago now. Although I found the group very welcoming, at the time it seemed like there were a number of disincentives to going back regularly. First was feeling conspicuous in terms of the stories I heard while in the room - I wasn't yet being stolen from, verbally or physically abused, or about to file divorce papers. Secondly was how to communicate at home the fact that I was going - at the time, it seemed difficult to articulate without it seeming like a provocation. But maybe the most salient factor was the most mundane one; it didn't seem proportionate to continue to be going to Alanon during the ten or so months when he was in fact abstinent. Everything was fine as long as everything was fine, so to speak. In the interim I've also built up other interests of my own in the evenings which I'd feel would be important to maintain in order to guard against feelings of codependency arising.

Of course, I could very well have got this completely backwards, and it might well be that my need to get clarity and perspective from Alanon with regard to my own future vastly outweighs any awkwardness or inconvenience I might otherwise feel about going to the meetings. I suspect it would greatly enhance my bargaining position with my husband potentially returning to AA if I committed to going to Alanon in parallel, but again I don't know if I'm looking at this in a completely flawed way...
I would only go to Alanon if you enjoy going, or find it helpful to you. I would also stick with the outside activities that you enjoy. Its a great way to meet people, develop your own personal identity, and hopefully relax or have fun. Possibly you might even find an activity for couples that didnt involve drinking, and see if he would try it with you.

I agree with what Sasha wrote about the meds.. Who knows what hes really getting online, if its true strength, or expired? I always think its best to go the route of using a doctor. If he can be open about his plan, and do it under guidance then all is well in my book. I always tell my husband if what you want to do isnt working well, then just be open to knowing the plan may need to be tweaked, or you may need to try something else. If you have a Dr/therapist involved then they can help you make those determinations. So far he's been on board with this thankfully.
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Old 07-10-2017, 10:35 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I also can't say with my hand on my heart that I didn't know the nature of his problems when I decided to marry him - and that I therefore didn't know what I was getting myself into. I'm also conflicted about the appropriateness of setting an ultimatum. I know that I can't change him, and that any change has to come from him and him alone. But I also feel as if an ultimatum from me might be the only thing left which impresses upon him the seriousness of the situation; or the importance of getting his health in order.
The above was posted by you on August 1, 2016, doesn’t appear that much has changed in this past year it's only progressed.

Did you ever give that ultimatum?
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and it might well be that my need to get clarity and perspective from Alanon with regard to my own future vastly outweighs any awkwardness or inconvenience I might otherwise feel about going to the meetings. I suspect it would greatly enhance my bargaining position with my husband potentially returning to AA if I committed to going to Alanon in parallel, but again I don't know if I'm looking at this in a completely flawed way...
Bargaining position? Bargains and ultimatums just don’t work for the long hall.

I think it all comes down to, is this the way you want to live your life? It’s been a year and nothing at all has changed except now he wants to add more to the mix (prescribed Naltrexone).

You going to al-anon is about you having a real desire to change YOUR life, not his. And him going to AA would be his desire to change his life and this past year doesn’t look like either one of you truly had that deep desire.

Do you really think confronting him softly or head on is going to change anything? I think you need to get some boundaries in place first and more importantly a direction you wish to head in. The direction of him not drinking/drugging has already been traveled, so now what? What's going to be different this time?
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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so he's returned to drinking AND added ordering scrips online through sketchy websites.
he became disinterested in 100% sobriety. he is adding to his arsenal of usage over time.
same stuff, different season, different year. it doesn't sound like he was really THAT committed to sobriety from the get go, and has really just resumed old behaviors.

you are not overreacting. but you may believe you can somehow insert some level of control here that does not exist.
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Old 07-10-2017, 03:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Your husband is an addict and is choosing to drink. He doesn't seem to have a problem with all his medical issues, like you do. I understand that you love him, but love does not cure alcoholism.

I would keep hitting alanon meetings, try open AA meetings and read all over this forum. One day either you or he will understand that this disease is progressive and only gets worse. I wasted 34 years of my life praying my axh would figure that out, it never happened for me. I have been free now for 2 1/2 years. It was the best thing I have ever done, for me.

Hugs my friend, there is nothing worse then watching someone you love slowly kill themselves.
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