What to do when husband relapses?

Old 08-29-2005, 06:47 AM
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What to do when husband relapses?

I feel so afraid, I feel like leaving right away, but isn't that very unsupportive?

My husband, for the first time, made it for almost three months (He has been heavily drinking for two years and was never able to stay sober for more than a week, until about three months ago) ...

But today, he started drinking again. All those terrible feelings have come back. Three months ago I felt so desparate and afraid I that left, and he stopped drinking, and I came back to him.

I feel so afraid once more, because he could become violent when he drinks. During his sobriety he was feeling so great and so thankful that he had stopped drinking... but does that mean anything at all?

It's like he really had made up his mind to stop drinking. But now that he has started again, does it mean the nightmare has to start all over again? Should I go right away? I don't want to go through it all over again. But what if it is just a slip and he actually needed my support?

Can you tell me how you deal with relapses of your loved ones? Please shed some light for me. A million million thanks....
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Old 08-29-2005, 06:56 AM
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LiLL - welcome - how do i deal with relapses? not very well i'm afraid, but better since i have taken advantage of al-anon and this forum. only you can know what your gut tells you, but your safety should be a priority. if he is not in a program such as AA for recovery then he's not likely to stay sober. read all you can here about the disease and come back and post often - we are a wonderful family of folks that have walked a similar path.

hugs - christie
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Old 08-29-2005, 06:57 AM
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First off, you can't use leaving him as a means to make him stop drinking. He has to stop because he wants to, not because he may lose something. He has to hit "HIS" bottom. You need to remember that his booze and where his next drink is coming from is most important to him, not you, not anything. Stop threatening with leaving.

If you feel leaving is the right thing to do to protect yourself from his violence, then do it for YOU, but in the long run it won't mean diddly to him. Your feelings mean nothing to him as long as he is an active alcoholic. I think him telling you how great he felt while not drinking was for your benefit only.

You need to do what is right for you, not for him. Doing what you did rarely works with an alcoholic.

He needs to get into AA or some sort of program to help him never to drink again. If he worked a program of some sort, he would have a better chance.

And YOU, need to also work Al Anon or some sort of program and get yourself well. Your relationship, at this point, is toxic.
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Old 08-29-2005, 07:01 AM
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Hi Lill!!

Are you getting any support for you? Have you given Al-anon a try?

Relapses are tough, and pretty much inevitable. But they don't have to mean the end of the world. Your husband is battling a very horrible and selfish disease, and as I'm sure you know, there's nothing you can do to control it or cure it for him. You mentioned supporting him, that's a good start... but remember that support means to love and accept him, and let him be responsible for himself AND his drinking problem.

I know when my husband relapses, it's a very nice reminder to me that I HAVE to keep taking care of me. I don't know how bad the drinking will get, but I know that I can't stop it, and I'm not going to get in the way of it anymore. So I focus back on me, and making sure that my needs are being met. For instance, for my husband, a relapse typically means a 3-4 day bender in which he draws insane amounts of money out of the checking account. So taking care of me means, making sure that I limit the amount of money that I (not US, just ME!) lose to the drinking. I have a seperate checking account that he doesn't have access to. It protects me from ever being flat out broke and not having money for food, gas, etc. Taking care of me also means making sure that I have hobbies to do just for me, friends to call on to support me. No more sitting at home on my pity pot feeling bad for the situation I'm in.

Hope some of this can help... you're not alone, we're always here to listen!
:-) Shannon
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Old 08-29-2005, 08:37 AM
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Thank you all for your kind words and support. It's true that I do have the hope that after I leave tomorrow, he will stop, like what happened last time. But even more, I'm doing it for myself. I remember that knife held next to my lap three months ago. He didn't hurt me with that knife, but at that moment I decided I'd had enough. I guess that was my bottom...

That's why I really want to leave. I wanted to leave right away this evening when I came home and saw him drunk, but when he saw me packing he became so mad. He locked the door and was rubbing his fist. So I dropped everything and shut up. I didn't want another violent episode... As much as i know how much he loves me, I know he can't control himself when he's drunk.

And I don't want to have to deal with such situation again tomorrow. I want to go away tomororw morning. But I'm feeling very guilty. Like, I have become such a cold person, leaving my husband behind as soon as he slips....
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Old 08-29-2005, 08:46 AM
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Like, I have become such a cold person, leaving my husband behind as soon as he slips....
Oh Honey, if he's threatening you with knives and fists... leaving is not being cold, it's being loving to YOU! Safety first, and his drinking is clearly not a safe environment. Do you have a place to go? What's your plan?

Hugs,
Shannon
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:06 AM
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Thanks Shannon... I guess I've made up my mind. I'm leaving tomorrow morning. I can always go to my parents' place, who live just one hour away.

But I also start to wonder, what if it goes on forever like this. What if he relapses every a few months. Does it mean that I have to flee every a few months? Or should I learn to accept the drinking him and learn to live with him?
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:10 AM
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Hi Lill,

Nobody can tell you to leave or to stay. However, I would get tired of back and forth every three months. Its been my experience that your presence there or lack thereof has nothing to do with whether or not he relapses. So, if I was you, I would have to do what made ME the happiest bc you can only control your decisions and actions!
Best to you and keep coming back, SR really helps!
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LiLL
But I also start to wonder, what if it goes on forever like this. What if he relapses every a few months. Does it mean that I have to flee every a few months? Or should I learn to accept the drinking him and learn to live with him?
Hi LiLL,

Welcome to SR!!

The question above is something that you have to answer yourself. Do you want to leave every few months or accept the drinking and learn to live with him?

I don't think we can (or should feel like we must) accept the drinking and learn to live with that. Especially, when he's violent. Honey, why would you WANT to? Nobody deserves that. You weren't put here on Earth for someone to take their misery out on you and pull you down. You have every right to live a good life just like anyone else and lemme tell you, there is a good life out there, if you choose it.

Long time ago, I had a bf that would, every three months to the day....go on a bender. He'd be gone and no one could find him for weeks. Then, when he was done, he'd go back home and go back to his "normal" routine of working and living. His family would go through hell every time he'd binge. They didn't know where he was, was he alive, when was he coming home?

YOU are not the answer for his sobriety. It's within him. He has to make the decision on that himself. You leaving, like ASpouse said, is not gonna make him stop long term. You are not the reason why he chooses to drink. So, regardless if you're there in the home with him or not......if he wants to drink, he's gonna. The sooner you realize that, the better it is for you. It seems like you're blaming yourself for his relapse. PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!
It's not you, no matter what he says.

If you are in physical danger, leave the home and don't let him know where you are. Leave when he's not there. Protect yourself.

Go to Alanon, read books like "Codepency No More" by Melodie Beattie and keep posting here for support. These are great people on here. We've been there and then some. You're not alone.


((hugs))
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:37 AM
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thank you all again. I will keep learning to take good care of myself. Good night now (almost midnight over here). Tomrrow will be a difficult day, but at least I know it will be a better day than today.
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:45 AM
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Sorry you have to work with a violent person. Leaving is not being cold to him, it is taking care of yourself. When he drinks he puts you in harms way and that is not fair to you.

Relapses are hard to take, they can really try your patience. I was reading something recently that said to think of relapses like any chronic disease. Diabetics have times when their disease gets out of control and so do alcoholics. But if he's violent, you don't have to accept it.

I wish you peace and serenity. Please keep coming back. We are here for you.
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:50 AM
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But I also start to wonder, what if it goes on forever like this. What if he relapses every a few months. Does it mean that I have to flee every a few months? Or should I learn to accept the drinking him and learn to live with him?
Take a deep breath and do something that may seem next to impossible... relax. All of those questions are very big, loaded questions, that believe it or not, you don't have to answer today. Just focus on today. You know your husband is relapsing. You know that means he may get violent. So you need to take care of yourself, and as you have identified, that means leaving. It doesn't have to mean rushing out to get a seperation, or a divorce, but like you said, maybe go and stay at your parents' for a day or two, or a week. Get yourself to a safe place, and then take it easy on yourself. There's a reason why we practice "steps" and that we take them one at time.... because it's the ONLY way to handle alcoholism, bit by bit.

Just for today, find yourself a save place to go, and then be kind and gentle to yourself. You've suffered enough emotionally, no need to put yourself through any unnecessary beatings.

Hugs,
Shannon
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Old 08-30-2005, 07:25 PM
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I wouldn't have been saying this a few months ago, but can you think of this as a "slip" instead of a relapse? My AH has been seeing an addiction counselor and she shared with me that sometimes my reaction will determine how long his slip/relapse will last. Last time my AH slipped I got very upset at first, and normally that would have lasted for DAYS and WEEKS. But within 24 hours I had a grip on my own emotions, and told him I was proud of how well he had been doing, etc.
He got out of his "slip" almost immediately. Not that I had power or control over it, but I do think our reaction can help.
Good luck!
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:32 AM
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^^ Wraybear our addiction counsellor also drew a distinction between lapse and relapse, she also said a lapse does not undo everything previously that was good, especially if he seeks action to prevent it going further straight away.

BUT - I wouldn't stay with threats of violence, I just wouldn't - regardless of any distinction between lapse and relapse.
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Old 08-31-2005, 04:36 AM
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Welcome back, LiLL, but I'm sorry that it is under these circumstances.

There is a difference between a slip and a relapse. However, I think that many people try and convince themselves and everyone around that they have "slipped" when in actual fact they were never really in recovery in the first place. Most alcoholics can white-knuckle it for weeks or even months. Was hubby getting any help for his alcoholism?

That said, I think threats of violence are beyond the pale. Do whatever you need to keep yourself safe. You are not a cold person for wanting to protect yourself and don't let anyone try and convince you otherwise.

If you are intent on saving your marriage, I would always suggest leaving for as long as it takes for the alcoholic to get, and stay, in recovery. Might be months, might be years. If your husband has a pattern of stopping and starting, then it would be sensible to see that this pattern has been broken before you go back.

Take care and let us know how you're getting on.
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