Small steps vs. big ones?

Old 07-25-2014, 06:33 PM
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Small steps vs. big ones?

Wasn't sure whether to post this in the F&F of Alcoholics forum, so I guess I'll just cross-post? My husband is a recovering heroin addict, but since we met & got married, our biggest problems have always been caused by his approach to alcohol.

I'll try to keep this background as brief as possible: My husband freely admits that during periods of his life-namely when he was still using also, or when he wasn't, but also wasn't actively in treatment-he would get "falling down drunk" regularly. Three years ago, he finally sought permanent help & has been on a Suboxone & counseling program ever since. I know, I know-Suboxone is a "Bandaid", but we really can't turn our noses up at the only thing that's kept him clean, employed, & healthy since age 20-something.

Anyway, his upbringing was SO toxic as to still be a barrier for him. His mother is, without going into too much details, judgmental, dramatic, gossipy, pushy & cray-cray. She tells anyone who will listen that his father "was an alcoholic" & she "raised the kids alone"; she's the type whose philosophy is that never drinking, ever, at all, is the only way. She's even gone so far as to tell me that my husband "wasn't drinking at all" when we met, & now he is, because of me.

Newsflash, lady: he's just really good at hiding it. How do I know this? Because when we were dating, he had entire 12-packs of beer in his room, & his room was a pigsty (he was living with his parents at the time), because it prevented her from going in there.

I also know this because, over the course of our year-long marriage, I've had to confront him about finding his hidden stashes more than once. He doesn't hide all of his booze, mind you-just the hard alcohol (as other people here have said, why is it always crappy vodka?!).

Maybe I'm naive...or overconfident...or? But to me, the problem is NOT that he can't handle his liquor. Not at all. The problem is that he's been conditioned to believe that he can't, & therefore, he thinks that he has to be sneaky or hide things, because otherwise, I'll judge him, corner him, & start harping on him about how "he can't handle his alcohol", "look what happened with your father", etc.

I do not believe that he's an alcoholic. On the contrary, I think he's perfectly fine having a drink after work, or a couple of beers while fishing, or whatever. (This may sound completely contradictory given that HE has said he used to get falling down drunk.) He doesn't get "falling down drunk", & I've asked him many a time whether he believes he has a problem (the answer is no), or if he really thinks his dad was an alcoholic (again, no).

Is this a completely ridiculous way to look at it? Should I, too, be telling him he can't drink at all, that he has a "family history" & a personal history that say he shouldn't? I feel like I should be supporting him in a way that his family hasn't (especially his mother), & that that means trusting him with adult decisions like whether or not to buy a six-pack or have a drink after work, not shaming him into hiding things again. We have finally just gotten to the point where he will store his liquor for mixing drinks in the freezer, instead of hiding it under the bathroom sink or something...

Maybe I'm going at this all wrong? Maybe I'm trusting him TOO much because of how far he's come & how well he responds to the conversational, "this is a discussion" type approach, compared to how poorly he responds to direct confrontation & my getting angry at him?

I keep telling him that I am proud of him, that he has come so far & is being so proactive about his treatment, going to his appts., counseling, etc; I tell him that it is not the drinking that bothers me, but the fact that he feels he needs to hide it, because that means that he doesn't trust me enough, & that he must feel that I too am going to judge him & make him feel ashamed. I tell him that if something WERE wrong, I wouldn't be able to help him or listen to him if he continued to hide things, & that we're a team, & it hurts me to think that he really must believe that I'll just get mad at him.

What should I consider progress? For example-the other night, out of sheer curiosity, I went through various places in the house that could be hidey-holes, & pulled out a bunch of empty bottles that he's had hidden over the course of the year. When he got home from work, I sat him down & asked him to explain it to me; we had a productive, long talk that ended on a good note-he apologized for having been secretive, & he agreed to make some extra counseling appointments & be more open with me.

The next night, he bought himself some juice & vodka. It went straight in the fridge/freezer, where I could plainly see it.

Should I consider that progress? Or am I just fooling myself here?

Sorry it's so long...
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Old 07-25-2014, 06:50 PM
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I don't know. But there is something in the fact he hides it. Something is not right here. Someone will come along with advice. Glad you're here.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:23 PM
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I agree with Raider. In my experience, the "hidden" stashes are the ones that were forgotten, most of what was drunk got spirited out of the house in the trash, in a coat, duffle bag or whatever. You are assuming that what you found is what he drank. That may be the case, but this alcoholic was fond of pleading guilty to a lesser charge: accepting guilt for what is found and allowing the accuser to think that the case is closed when in fact, I had drank more, done worse than I admitted to, etc.

Cross addiction is really common - if you are not fully familiar with it, please google and read the articles on it. You might be correct that your husband is not an alcoholic, but are you willing to bet his life and your future on it?
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:33 PM
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He is an addict, isn’t he. It tends to be that simple.

Is drinking a problem, well does it matter, really? The fact that he is drinking with a known drug problem isn’t healthy and can be a real dangerous road to walk.

Somewhere I have this feeling that denial is running the show.

I don’t find sub to be a band aid, but I also don’t find it healthy to drink while using it. Contraindication whatever number … do not use alcohol while taking suboxone.

The crappy upbringing …
Well see in recovery you tend to learn that when you become an adult you have to accept the past, heal from it and move on. It isn’t healthy at all to sit in that madness. After a while as an adult you have to accept that your past is over now … that you are not tied to your parents and an adult in you own right and very much in control of what you need from this life, of setting boundaries and of not allowing toxic people to run you.

Progress is change …

Using is not change, using it a crutch in most cases. Hell sometimes it is all you tend to know. And that can be very scary because you have to find the courage to change something that is so imbedded within you.

Progress is where you are more self aware, where you work on the things that haunt, where your thinking changes, where you catch behaviors that are unhealthy within you and do something about it. Progress is doing … progress doesn't contain excuses. Progress while painful slow for some, it always just doing not talking about or planning about …

Progress is being open to any help possible. Progress is seeking out new ways to be healthy all the way around.

Is what he did progress, by putting it in the open …

Well not hiding things is way better than hiding but you knew he was drinking, so not sure what if anything is different.

And no offense you can’t tell him what to do at all. He is the only one that controls his life. His choices no matter how you assign them can and will be a learning experience. What you do have control over is the quality of your own life. Make it the best possible cause you only get one ride.
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Old 07-26-2014, 05:17 AM
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I won't put this nearly as eloquently as IncitingSilence, just above, but also, frankly, your post does have some red flags in it. I am familiar (oh how terribly familiar) with finding bottles stashed all over my house, and my first reaction was - can that really be okay, to be drinking to that level, while also using suboxone? Even if it's still all right, from a medical standpoint, to drink a fair amount of alcohol whilst using suboxone, it is worrisome because, as you know, alcohol lessens inhibitions to the point that your husband may not be quite as vigilant about not picking up H again. (Maybe I am biased, but it also sounds to me as if you've found... kind of a lot of bottles. I don't drink alcohol, myself, and I don't know how much people go through, but it still sounded like a fair amount).

I guess I am also wondering, your issue, if I can re-articulate it, is that you don't believe your husband really IS an alcoholic, but that for whatever reason his mother, who isn't mentally stable, has convinced him that he is, and so he hides evidence of his drinking because he has a lot of guilt and shame around drinking. And again, not to put a judgment on anything about this situation but, why is it even important whether he drinks or he doesn't? Is the best of all possible worlds that he learns to drink without shame? Why would that be something good?

My experience with people who are addicted to drugs (admittedly a fairly small sample) is that they tend to go "all in" with whatever they're taking. My AS, for instance, can switch from painkillers, to benzo's, to adderall, to alcohol, and back, without blinking an eye. Maybe your husband's addiction is completely compartmentalized and he could take anything else on a "normal" and "rational" basis. You've been married a year, so a lot of this is still to unfold. But, I still don't see what the upside of alcohol use would be.

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Old 07-26-2014, 04:12 PM
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"normal" or non-problem/alcoholics do not HIDE their stash. neither the full ones OR the empties. the FACT is he preserves and protects his alcohol and even after being confronted about being secretive and the many many bottles hidden about immediately goes out the NEXT day and buys MORE alcohol screams that this IS a person with a problem with alcohol.

it is STRONGLY recommended that recovering addicts abstain from ALL drugs, including alcohol. because even alcohol feeds the addiction beast. only complete 100% sobriety puts addiction into full remission.

now he has "permission" to drink openly. i'd lay $20 bucks that he will STILL keep a stash somewhere. so that he can appear to drink "normally" by what is observed. if alcohol wasn't important to him, he'd QUIT. he wouldn't HAVE booze in the house. there is no PROGRESS from taking the bottle out from the under the sink and putting it in the freezer. that's just switching deck chairs on the Titanic.
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Old 07-26-2014, 05:07 PM
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Sounds like you are taking a lot of personal responsibility for his alcohol issues. There is also a lot of justifying on your part, the stuff about his mom, etc.
Are you getting any kind of therapy or support to deal with this situation? Maybe try an Alanon meeting. Also check out the friends and family of alcoholics forum. The stickies at the top of the page have some really helpful info about alcohol abuse and the relationship dynamics that develop when one partner is an addict or alcoholic.
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