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Is leaving my alcoholic partner the answer?

Hi everyone, looking for some advice as I'm feeling increasingly hopeless as the days go on and I feel like I'm stuck in a situation which is never going to end.

I've been with my partner for nearly 10 years. He's always enjoyed drinking and seemingly had a high tolerance for it, but over the past few years we've had multiple arguments when I've believed he's been drinking too much. He's always dismissed it and said that I'm being over the top.

He's suffered with depression and anxiety for a long time now, probably his entire life, but has never sought proper help with it. He doesn't like the idea of taking medication and believes that the anxiety and depression can be cured by sorting out certain elements of his life (job, etc.).

In May last year, he went through a major depressive period and started drinking more and more. Some horrific things were revealed about his past and long story short he ended up in hospital and going through detox in June. He didn't drink for six months but said in December that he wanted to start drinking again and believed that it wouldn't be a problem for him and he'd never drink dangerously again.

However, since December his job has become increasingly more stressful and he's been feeling like his life isn't going anywhere so he's started drinking more and more again. 3 weeks ago, his anxiety peaked and he didn't feel able to work and he's been off sick ever since. Over this time, his drinking has increased more, despite him trying to reduce the amount he's having each day. I've threatened to leave on multiple occasions during this time as it feels like he's not even trying and is giving in every time he wants a drink. I never follow through on my threats though because I worry that if I leave then he'll end up taking his own life or drinking himself to death.

On Saturday I had to call an ambulance because he'd drunk so much that his was floppy and incoherent and I was worried that there was something seriously wrong with him. He was taken to hospital and stayed there overnight, got given some Librium, but couldn't stay in hospital because the thought of being in there scares him with the germs and Covid.

He planned to taper again, slowly reducing the amount he was having. I didn't want to get close to him again and trust that things would change this time, because I knew that it would make it more difficult if he messed up and I wanted to leave. So that brings us to today, where the amount that he's had has increased from yesterday and he's unable to get through the day without drinking more.

I don't know what to do. Apart from the drinking, he's a wonderful person. But I feel like a mug for staying when it feels like he's not trying and is giving into temptation every time he feels like he needs another drink. If I leave then I feel like he'll just think 'screw it' and drink loads, then be back in a worse position than he's in at the moment. Would leaving him work? Would it give him the wake up call to change? Am I a fool for staying with him? He wants to change but just doesn't seem capable of it.

Sorry that this has become a massive ramble. I just feel like I'm all out of ideas and it's harming me now too. I feel like I'm just sitting back and letting him get on with it, but what else can I do to help him?

replying to GFB91

Hi there,

Thanks for your post and sharing your experience. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and I can really relate to what you’re going through right now. I am in a very similar position with my partner, and I want to leave but I can’t seem to bring myself to say the words out loud.

My partner has become somewhat dependent on alcohol to cope with anxiety, depression and self loathing I think. He’s not fully dependent but my concern is that’s the way it’s going when I see his drinking behaviour. He’s currently in a position where he’s unemployed and we’ve had to apply for some benefits to help us out (I still work full time from home) my monthly pay gives us about £200 spare each month which needs to go on food for us and his 2 boys who are with us for half the week, but still whenever he gets the chance, he buys cans. He no longer drinks them in the house, instead choosing to walk around the local park and then come back hours later drunk. In October he wrote off my car, tonight he fell asleep having left bread cooking in the oven. Luckily it’s electric and turned itself off. I’ve caught him peeing in the back garden when he’s come back from his walks, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and he’s fast asleep sat on the toilet.

I’ve never had to call him an ambulance luckily, and that must be so scary for you. I don’t want to get to that point.

I’ve asked, begged, cried, screamed and shouted for him to get some help and support. I’ve sent him information, I’ve even called the alcohol service to ask them what the process is and written it down step by step for him to try and make it seem not so scary.

I did a post on here recently asking people, is this addiction a choice or an illness and how should I treat it, how should I act, because that’s a big thing I struggle with. The feedback I’ve had has been amazing and so so helpful (this forum is great) but I personally feel at a point where I want to leave.

I hear what you’re saying about the fear that your partner may be worse if you leave or may harm himself, this is a big fear for me too. I sometimes feel terrible that I’m thinking of leaving when he is at rock bottom, what would that make me? Is this just me being selfish? Being unfair and not being supportive? I think where I’m at right now is trying to build up the strength to know firstly, that his decisions and choices and behaviour are NOT my responsibility. He is a grown man, he’s been through a lot in life but he knows there is help and support out there. I have offered my support for months and months now, I have been understanding, sympathetic, I’ve tried ‘leaving him to it’ as you’ve said, I’ve tried sitting down and having an adult conversation about it, I’ve sent him emails instead of talking to see if that helps him open up a bit more. But now, we’re 6 months down the line and he’s crashed my car and nearly burnt the house down, yet still feels unable to ask for any kind of support or help, from me or anyone else. I don’t know how far he would let it get before he does get help, but I don’t feel like I deserve to have to deal with that.

It’s still very hard for me as I am sure it is for you, to accept that I want to leave. It makes me feel sick and so guilty but I am just trying to build up strength everyday, and trying to remember that he is an adult, he can make his own choices and decisions to get help, and remembering that I also deserve to be happy and have a partner who can be there for me as much as I am for him, I deserve to have a fulfilled life and I genuinely cannot remember the last time I enjoyed something or felt happy.

I just got on a roll there, sorry for the long post! Basically I just wanted to say I hear you, you’re not alone, it’s really tough. Always just be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can but it’s also ok to want to put yourself first x

replying to GFB91

You need to start thinking about yourself. You will never be able to get him to control his drinking. But you deserve a life without this stress. When an addict says they want to change they are forgetting they are an addict- so they don't necessarily have the will to change, even if they have the intention. What I have realised is that- the sober person of that addict is the problem- because they still want to be the addict. So we need to understand that they will most likely never recover- now think about if that is the life for you.

replying to GFB91

Hi GFB91 and Holcat.

I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear both your stories. My problems are very different from yours, I have a son who is a drug addict, and get loads of support on another thread.

I was the daughter of a lifelong functioning alcoholic, and it was our family’s dark secret. It’s a terrible thing for anyone to live with. My dad had a stroke at the age of 78 having downed a mixture of beer and whiskey. He never wanted a drink after that and was never confronted with what he had put our family through.

My advice is that if you can find the strength go now. It probably is their best chance of facing up to their addiction. You could waste years of your life on this and there is no guarantee things will change. If they change then that’s amazing and you can be there to support them. The thing that happened in our family is that it diminished everyone. My mum to this day is in her own world and I became drawn to men I thought I could fix.

Holkat- you are having to look after step-children, with all of this going on. He is very lucky to have you but he’s sick and needs to get help so that he can be a decent father and partner.

The other thing is to talk to friends and relatives that you trust. Don’t let it be a secret, it will help if others know what you are dealing with and if your partners know that family/friends know about it.

Sorry if my advice sounds simplistic, I find my own problems with my son very difficult right now and it’s helped me to think about someone else, it’s always harder when you’re on the inside so please talk to other people.

I really wish you both all the best, and that if you decide to leave, you get the support you need.

replying to GFB91

Just wanted to check back in and thank everyone for their comments - it's good, although also horrible, to know that there are others in the same position. It's bring comfort to know that I'm not alone. My partner has managed to reduce down somewhat but is still drinking every day. He's made contact with an alcohol addiction service but insists he can get better on his own. I won't believe that until I see it though... I feel like I've heard it all before.

replying to GFB91

I'm trying to post replies to everyone's posts but it's not letting me for some reason! Maybe my post is too long?

I'm so sorry to hear what you've all been through and are going through...

replying to GFB91

I can see your last 2 posts here 🙂

I’d also like to say thanks for all of the comments and support. It is terribly sad what people go through every day, but as you say it’s also really supportive to read about peoples experiences and take some comfort from knowing we’re not alone.

This forum has shown me how unbelievably strong people are, to live through such adversity in seeing our loved ones in pain and struggling, whilst them struggling ourselves with our own emotions and feelings, fears and frustrations.

Reading peoples stories and supportive comments really does give me a little bit of strength each day and makes me so grateful I found this forum ❤️

replying to GFB91

It is helping me too, to read that I am not alone. I feel that I am getting stronger every day since I told him he can't come home until he is clean(he walked out on me to go for another binge)- that was 6 months ago- it was painful but I had to watch and listen to him spiraling and I had to resist- he was suicidal and weakened himself- I was running over to the hotel every night with home cooked meals- now I find out that even though he told me he had no energy to even go to the shop to get food, he was going to get a bottle of vodka every day. I know he has already relapsed since he was recently in rehab for 6 weeks. I just know the signs. Gaslighting makes you doubt yourself- but since I have had time on my own I am now healing and getting stronger. I am 50 now- but starting to feel confident that I will be able to move on. I am writing things in a journal. I would recommend it- it gets it out of your head and also reassures you about the lies and truth.

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