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Long-term alcoholic husband

As I write this, my husband is staying at a friend's house following his latest relapse - one of many.

He is what I suppose you'd call 'high-functioning', having been able to hold down a successful career for many years in spite of being a problem drinker since he was a teenager. He is intelligent and a skilled liar/manipulator, which is perhaps why it took so long for us both to realise this was a serious problem.

Since accepting he was an alcoholic nearly 3 years ago, he's had two periods in residential rehab, and has been in AA ever since. He goes through regular periods of being 'stable' followed by relapse. When he's relapsed he's retreated from the people who are around to support him and several times has put himself in some very dangerous situations, causing serious concern for us, his family and friends. T

This latest period of sobriety was the longest he'd ever managed (8 months), but he relapsed after finding himself in the risky situation of needing to travel for work and being alone. He didn't tell anyone straight away to get help, lied about being OK to everyone and went on a binge for several days until he couldn't hide it anymore when he was due to return from his trip.

I've tried to support him as I know he is ill, but I'm exhausted by the constant disruption to our lives and worry caused, as well as being extremely upset by the regular deception which makes it hard to trust him in general.

I don't want to lose him and the life we've built together, but there is a lot of resentment and anger - especially as I've made many compromises in my life because of his issues, and he's had so much more support than I've had myself.

That's why I've searched out this support for myself. I don't expect anyone to have any easy answers for me, but I'd like to not feel alone any more facing these problems.

replying to directionless

I'm currently trying to support one of my sisters.

She too has a drink problem and can function easily under the influence. She has been doing this for years lying and manipulating.

Her husband had given her an ultimatum the drink or her family. She decided to accept his help and support and for four weeks she has been sober. She was feeling much better in herself too.

She has now relapsed. No trigger that I can see or get out of her. She decided to walk to the shop and get a bottle and she downed it all before her husband got home from work. After finding the empty bottle he told her to leave the family home. He cannot put up with the abuse and violence anymore.

He is devastated and angry and can no longer support her addiction.

My sister and myself have rallied round and are trying to support her. She says she wants help. It's hard as we too have had the abuse and violence for years.

A drink has not passed her lips for two days. She is living on her own at the moment and I'm making sure she makes time for herself as she has not done this for years. She has an appointment at Turning Point next week and I feel is a step in the right direction. We cannot do this by ourselves and I have convinced her she needs to speak to people in the same situation so she can realise what are the triggers and what makes her drink to access.

I wish you well, you are not alone.

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replying to directionless

Thank you so much for your reply Hox. I feel for you, your sister and her husband.

Through my experience with my husband, I've learned that recovery isn't a straight road. We've had times where things have been fine for a while, and then suddenly - they're not.

Sometimes I think it would be best to cut ties, but it's hard to do that having been together so long and holding on to the hope that he'll stay in recovery. He is now suggesting it might be best for us to separate, but I don't know if that's what he really wants.

I went to an al-anon meeting last week and it was helpful to meet other people who were in a similar situation to me, giving me the chance to hear their stories and share my own.

replying to directionless

I think my brother in law thought it would be a straight road. What with my sister doing so well for four weeks. It was a miracle in my eyes too. But being on here has made me realise that relapses can happen after seeing other peoples stories. It helps.

It's a hard decision to make separating, is he putting the ball in your court?

It's good that you have been helped going to the al-anon meeting hopefully it will give you insight and you won't have to separate. (Unless of course you decide you want to.)

I have asked her to go to an open meeting al-anon next week with my other sister and myself going for support. Hopefully then she can go on her own and feel comfortable. We do all need to talk to people in a similar situation and from your experience it looks like a positive move for us.

Keep strong.

1 reply

replying to directionless

Immediately after his recent relapse, he was quick to suggest we split, but I asked him to put any decisions on hold until both of us were able to reflect and think more clearly about things.

I've since told him I don't want us to separate and have suggested we try to work things out together, for example going to counselling/meetings together. He is thinking about it and I'm waiting for a response. I know he has to do what's right for him and his recovery, and I've told him I understand that.

replying to directionless

Too hasty a decision on his part. I hope you can work this out together I really do. Going to counselling and meetings together is a good idea and I hope he feels this too.

Hopefully my sister and her husband could do this eventually when she proves herself sober and the anger has subsided. You have given me something I can put to her to give her more motivation and look forward to a future back with her family.

replying to directionless

Hi, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in this really difficult situation. I have come to this forum for similar reasons to you. I don’t want to leave my partner because he is ill and he is trying to do something about it. My friends and family tell me to leave when I’m finding it difficult but that would put my partner in a very risky situation, as you probably understand. They really don’t understand. I also don’t want to split up my children’s family.

My partner of 7 years is in recovery for opioid (codeine) and alcohol abuse. I had never dealt with anything like this and never wanted to, it is a lonely and stressful situation to be in. He hasn’t had a drink since November and I know it’s been hard for him but it’s been a massive relief and life changing for me. (Feel selfish saying that)

Do you feel that it sometimes takes every bit of strength you have to support him? My stress levels and anxiety are terrible even though he is relatively stable. I also don’t really understand addiction, I’m still learning.

replying to directionless

Thank you for your messages. I do hope that in some small way I can help others feel less alone, as you have done for me. My husband is home again now after having been away and had time to reflect on things - he feels, as I do, that we are still worth fighting for.

Trainer28, you are right that it can sometimes take all of your strength and focus to support an alcoholic partner. And you're not sure if you did let people know this was happening, whether they would judge you or try to understand. It took me a very long time to open up to family and friends about this problem. Of course they were shocked and saddened by it, and didn't fully understand it - nor did I when I first came to realise that my husband was an alcoholic. When I look back, I was eaten up with stress and anxiety so much that I wasn't thinking straight myself, and did a lot of things that didn't help, or at least weren't going to change our situation.

Over time we've all been learning together about this awful illness, but still it's difficult for other people to truly understand and know how they would act unless you're living through it like we are. The things that have helped me the most are forums like this, and going to family support meetings, so I can learn more myself and find comfort in feeling I'm not alone.

I know what you mean when you say you feel selfish for being relieved about how long he's stayed sober - believe me I've been there too - but please don't feel that way. You can be pleased for him and for yourself, enjoying the changes his sobriety has no doubt brought you.

replying to directionless

Thank you so much for your reply. Everything you say runs true with me and that is both sad and comforting! Since I have told my friends and family he feels embarrassed about seeing them. They are so caring and feel sorry for him rather than judge him but he thinks everyone judges him, he also has crippling social anxiety which isn’t helped by not being able to sedate himself. I didn’t realise for a good while that he was sedating himself to be able to turn up to family situations. I told his parents ages ago that there was a problem but they didn’t know the severity of it until he started going to meetings and admitted it himself. His siblings still do not know that it’s got to the point it has. I don’t feel it’s my place to tell them and he won’t until he has to.

It sounds really helpful that you’ve been able to go to a family support group. I haven’t found any but I might contact his service this week and ask specifically where I could go.

I’m pleased that your husband is home and agreeing that you can try again. I wish you both all the best.

Do you sometimes feel like you wonder at what point you will snap and not be able to deal with it anymore? T

replying to directionless

Your partner sounds very similar to my husband in that social anxiety is a real factor in his alcoholism, as well as serious self-esteem issues stemming from his childhood.

I hope you do find some support for yourself - if it helps, I found my local group on the Al-Anon website here: https://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/

To answer your question - yes, sometimes I do wonder, but I can't dwell on that too much while I'm trying to focus on supporting him through recovery and having a 'normal' life. Sometimes easier said than done!

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