This patient support community is for loved ones of people who drink and are trying to quit for discussions relating to abuse, behavioral issues, caring for yourself, counseling, divorce and separation, enabling, guilt, and when to get medical help.
Hi everyone. This is my first time posting and I feel so lost and feel like I have nobody that understands me. I have been married for 12 years and have 2 children. My husband is an alcoholic and has finally admitted that. About 7 years ago he received his first OUI and last year he received his second. I have stood by him through it all but am at the end of my rope now. I am sick of making excuses for him, for covering up his behavior and of being scared of leaving the kids with him when I go to work at night. He is the son of a drunk (and I say that because my father in law will never admit he has a problem) and has several siblings that have drinking problems as well. The big problem that I have is that he comes from a culture where that is the norm. None of his family think he has a problem, yet they all live 3000 miles away in another country and don't see what he is doing to us, plus half of them have their own problems. My own family all moved out of state about 5 years ago which leaves me no support except one good friend who has her own issues to deal with. Plus my own family just call him a drunk and tell me I should leave him and move up with them, which I can't because I can't move my kids out of state without his permission, it is considered kidnapping, plus I do love him. My husband was court ordered into a 14 day intreatment program that all people who are found guilty of a second OUI must go to. I was praying that it would do him some good. He was released last Sunday and I thought I had a new husband. While he was there he quit smoking and said he was all done drinking and was an alcoholic as well and that he realized what he was doing and how it was affecting us. He said he was going to go to AA meetings and start going to church again and turn his life around. Well, for 6 days everything was great, however, no AA meetings. Yesterday he decided to go and hang out at the club he belongs to with his friends. They do alot of drinking at this club but he assured me that he would not be. I know that I can not be everywhere he goes (plus I had to work) and that he has to make his own choices and only he can keep the beer out of his hand. He called me at work after he got home and told me that he had two beers at the club and that he felt awful about it and he never should have done it. My heart dropped because I was so disappointed that he couldn't last a week out of rehab, yet I was encouraging and said that it happens and it was only 2 beers and that he was honest with me and admits his mistake and that we would go to an AA meeting together asap and get back on track. Then when I got home we had another talk but I couldn't sleep all night because I keep thinking that he wasn't going to be able to do it and that things were going to go right back to how they were because I have no faith in him. Then this morning the kids came up to me and said that daddy was drinking again (and they are 6 and 8 years old, they shouldn't have to be doing that). I said I knew and that he only had 2 beers. They said he only had 2 beers are the club (which they said he tried to refuse at first but the guys kept pushing him till he took one) but on the way home he made the guy who was driving him stop to pick up a six pack. When I asked him about that he said he did but was afraid I would get mad, and he told me that he gave most of the beers to his friends and only had 2 but the kids said he drank all 6. Today he is at a BBQ with all those guys again. I was begging him not to go, but he assured me he was not going to drink, but I just don't believe him. I don't think he is strong enough at this point to be around others who he has always drank with and not have a drink. I just don't know what to do. He said he is going to go the the AA meeting I found for him tomorrow night. I want to go to an Al Anon meeting but I looked them up and they have so few of them and I work to jobs and have kids to take care of. The only ones that are anywhere near me that are at times I am not working are times I have the kids and I don't think it is a good idea to bring them and I have nobody to watch them for me. I am so lost and alone and ashamed and scared and I just need some support, please and some advice.
Oh hun, you need Al-Anon in a large way. Get a babysitter if you have to, but go! It's only an hour out of your day and it could be the most important thing you've ever done for yourself.
Two weeks in rehab is nothing. That's just one problem with court-ordered rehab. Another one is that the alcoholic is there because someone else made him go - not because really believes he has a problem and needs help with it. He's obviously in the denial stage where he thinks he can control himself. My husband spent a lot of time in that stage, unsuccessfully of course. You can't trust an active alcoholic. They lie to themselves and consequently they lie to everyone else.
You've spent a good deal of your married life rescuing your husband from himself. It's time to stop that and let the chips fall where they may. He has to feel the consequences of his drinking before he can decide to get help. Protect yourself as much as you can by controlling some of the finances. Get a separate checking account if necessary. Make sure you have sitters available for the kids if you don't trust him to watch them sober. Don't cover up for him or make excuses. He has to handle whatever problems he creates.
With help from Al-Anon and sponsor, you can learn how to live with an alcoholic. It won't change your husband but you can improve yourself. There are some things in life we simply can't change and loving or shaming or nagging an alcoholic into sobriety is one. Staying or leaving is entirely up to you and you need advice from an attorney on what your rights really are regarding any custody and relocation issues. I doubt judges look kindly on active alcoholics who have already been through the judicial system.
Knowledge is power. Talk to an attorney and get into Al-Anon - not necessarily in that order. :-)
Thanks for the support Jaybay. There is a meeting in my town tomorrow at 10am but I can't get anyone to watch the kids. It says that Children are welcome at this meeting but it is not listed as a babysitting meeting and I don;t know if they mean the kids would be in the room with us which I really don't want.
My husband had a breakdown in the car today when I picked him up. He is trying to quit smoking and drinking at the same time. He had two beers today and for the first time in 3 weeks he smoked a cigarette (he had two actually). I too quit smoking when he went into rehab because I knew it wouldn't be fair to him to smoke while he was trying to quit. I am afraid I jumped down his throat when he got in the car and I smelled him. He got so upset. He told me he is trying so hard and that I don't know what he is feeling. He said he wants to go to the doctor and get the drug they told him about in rehab that mad it so you would get sick to your stomach if you drank. He broke my heart when he broke down in tears as this is VERY unusual of him. He has admitted that he has a disease and that he can only handle it one day at a time. He asked if I would be mad if he stopped and got some O'Douls non alcoholic beer. I really don;t know if this was a good idea or not but I got it for him. I figured maybe if he could still feel like he could enjoy the taste without the effects maybe it would help him cope. Any ideas on that?
I really just feel so scared. I can't let him get back to the way he was.
I know you are scared right now, this whole thing is very scary. Your last comment really caught my eye......"I cant let him get back to the way he was". There is nothing that you can do to stop that if he choses to go back there. All you can do is make sure you dont get back to the way you were. That is why Alanon would be so good for you. I am a recovering alcoholic/addict and there is nothing that anyone can say or do to us that will change our mind until we are ready to change. Getting sober has to be our decision. All you can do is make sure you get healthy as the family members take the brunt of our addiction. Keep talking with us. sara
Thanks Sara. You are right, it is his choice and not mine. I deal constantly with my parents telling me that I let him drink and I don't do enough to stop it that it makes me feel even more like it is my fault. He said that he is going to go to AA tonight and I hope he does. I am thankfully that at least he knows he has a problem, but knowing and doing something about it are two totally different things. Since you are a recovering alcoholic, what do you think about him drinking O'Douls, is it a good or bad idea? And I do need to get to Al Anon, next week my kids are in camp so I will be able to go on Monday, I just hate waiting that long.
Give the church a call and find out directly from them about the childcare situation. Most church programs welcome any minor child whose parents are involved with some activity on the church campus. Also, that particular Al-Anon group may be geared towards ALL family members - not just adults. If so, please consider allowing the children to attend. You may be surprised just how much their dad's drinking affects them and how much they need to get off their minds. Just like you, the kids need some support and need to learn how to live with an alcoholic parent and how to protect themselves. Everyone needs a "safe" place to vent frustration.
The Al-Anon program is the same 12-step program used in AA and NA. The first step is to admit that we have no power over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable because of a family member or friend's drinking. We are not responsible for why they became alcoholics and we are not responsible for their recovery. We cannot and should not play DEA cop. It's up to the recovering alcoholic to learn how to live in a world where alcohol seems to be everywhere but is off-limits to them.
I guarantee you that your husband is dealing with a whole lot of shame and guilt even though he may seem to have a cavalier attitude about his drinking. His tears illustrate that truth. He may have to fall down and break down many more times before he realizes just how sick he really is and takes steps to get well. Don't stand in the way of that process. It's the hardest thing you will ever do. If we try to prevent our alcoholic family members from feeling the pain of their own actions it only puts off the day that they will seek help. Do you remember that line about, "If you love something, set it free?" You will actually help your husband by setting him free to make his own mistakes and also to deal with the aftermath of his actions.
The reality of Al-Anon is quite different from what I imagined. I really figured that it was a bunch of people sitting around swapping war stories and griping about how awful their alcoholics treat them. While some of that is unavoidable, that is not the primary focus of the program. Those 12 steps apply to every area of life. Every triumph and every dissapointment and every hardship. It's so easy for sober family members to lay all our problems at our alcoholic's feet. "I'M not the sick one here! HE'S the problem, not me. If he'd just quit drinking life would be fine." Not true. Everyone in the family becomes just as sick as the alcoholic.
When we change our behavior because of an alcoholic, we have a problem. I'm sure you never imagined some of the things you've had to change about yourself and some of the things you've had to do because of your husband's drinking. Most of us learn how to lie. We lie to ourselves and everyone else in our lives by trying to cover up and clean up the damage caused by our alcoholics. The funny thing is that most everyone knows we're lying.
We only fool ourselves into thinking we have life under control. When the problems get too large to cover up, we isolate ourselves. We live in fear of the next drinking disaster. We fear to leave the house in case the next disaster phone call comes in while we're out. We feel guilty about enjoying life at all. We can only keep up the farce for so long.
The rehab facility my husband is attending tells us that about 15% of the US population are addicts and/or alcoholics. I wonder if that figure only includes people in a program or if it also includes estimate of up-and-coming substance abusers who have yet to admit they are addicts and alcoholics? 15% of the US population comes to over 52 million addicts and alcoholics in this country. How staggering is that little factoid? We are far from alone.
I know how terrified you are and how terrified you have been watching everything in your life get destroyed before your very eyes. You really can learn to gain back control over your life even if your husband continues drinking. It takes time and work for us to do that. The first step is getting plugged into a meeting. God knows I made every excuse in the world to avoid it. Now that I'm there, I guess I've turned into something of a groupie. LOL!
Thank you all for the advice and support. I am a bit disappointed because my husband decided not to go to AA tonight. He was up at 5 am for work, got home at 6pm after working outside all day in 100 degree weather and came in, took a shower, ate and fell into bed for the night by 7:30 (the meeting was at 8). I feel like I am making excuses for him which is not what I want to do. On the brighter side of it, he did not drink today, or smoke. First thing he did when he got home was put on a pot of coffee (He has been drinking ALOT of coffee).
He wants to go to see our doctor about possibly getting onto one of the medications that helps alcoholics by making them ill if they take a drink. Does anybody know anything about these? My doctor is great and would squeeze us in anytime during her office hours but the problem is his job. At the end of May/beginning of June my husband fractured his tailbone and missed a week of work. Then on June 26th he went into the court ordered treatment program for 2 weeks and missed more work. His bosses have been very understanding about giving him time in the past year for court appearances, this injury and the two week program. He is a mason which means that this is his busiest time of the year. He is also the best worker that they have (thus the reason they have been so willing to be flexible in this economy when they could hire anyone off the street) but now when he mentioned having to leave early one day in the next couple of weeks they were not so understanding. They have time frames that work must be done and are behind on the job because of his absences. I really want him to see the doctor because I also think it might benefit him to go on an antidepressant of some kind. I think I am going to try to go see the doctor tomorrow and see what she says.
I also talked to my uncle today who is an alcoholic who has been sober for 31 years. He wants to sit down and talk to my hubby to offer his support. I asked the hubby about this and he said "we'll see" and I dropped it as I don't want to push him. This uncle's daughter, my favorite cousin also said she would attend an Al Anon meeting with me so we are going to try to go on Monday morning.
Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow night. I have to work my night job which makes me nervous as he will be home without my supervision. Although I know he is an adult and will do as he pleases whether I am there or not, he is more likely to slip when I am not there. I hate having to feel this way when I go to work. I know I wont come home to find him drunk, but I am afraid to find him drinking at all.
I am feeling very encouraged the last week. My husband hasn't had a drink, and on Saturday afternoon when he usually goes to his pigeon racing club where the men all drink all day he decided to skip because he said it would be too much of a temptation. I was very proud of him as this is a hobby that he has (racing pigeons) that he really enjoys. I am going to go to my first Al-Anon meeting in about 45 minutes and I am looking forward to it.
I must say however, I have another issue dealing with my husbands problem that is really bothering me. He has a second offense OUI which he has been convicted of and we are dealing with. He has done everything required of him thus far. He did the 14 day intreatment rehab program and came out a changed man, he has passes every random breathalizer test he was called for. He has surrendered his drivers license and according to his parole officer, is doing better than most of the people he is in charge of. However, now he has started the Aftercare program that he must complete after the 14 day intreatment. This program in my opinion is causing his more stress than good. He was looking forward to starting it because he figured it would aid him in his struggle to stay dry. Well, after his first class he said he never wanted a drink to bad in his life (he didn't have one thankfully). They are trying to force him sober, which as I have been learning, he is the only one that can make that decision. Every Wednesday for 26 weeks he is required to report to these meetings, which are 45 minutes away from us and not reachable by public transportation (which I can't understand because most of the people in the program have had their license taken away). He is allowed to miss only 2 classes in this time frame and if he is 10 minutes late it is considered an absence. One of the requirements of his probation is that he has a job. Well, he has a job, and his employers have been very supportive, but he has already missed a lot of work because of this case and just missed two whole weeks for the treatment program. He now has to leave work early once a week to make it in time to these programs. His bosses are not happy about this. He asked what would happen if the court called him from his random once monthly breathilizer test on the day of the meeting and they told him he would have to decide what was more important. For goodness sake, they are both court ordered and if he misses the random test it is a parole violation not the mention the place he does that test is about an hour away from the Wednesday night program. He was also told that he would randomly be tested for drugs and alcohol and if he flunked he would be kicked out of the program and could possibly go to jail. Well, he isn't drinking, but he does on occasion smoke a small amount of pot, under the car of his doctor for a back problem. He was told he didn't care what the doctor said, not to mention that where we live pot isn't even illegal. He said it wasn't pot that he was arrested for and had nothing to do with his drinking problem. I even talked to his doctor after this and she was very angry they would say that to him and put additional stress on him that he didn't need while struggling with his drinking. Well, on top of it all, he also is required to attend 2 AA meetings a week which he must get signed off on. He was attending one meeting a week on his own. However, I work 5 nights a week, he is currently working 6 to seven days a week. His only time to go is at night. One of my nights off I take him to the Wednesday program, the other night I have off he is going to AA, however the other nights he has the kids when I am at work. The only other option we have is the meeting in town on Sunday mornings, but it is at the same time we attend church, and right now church is really helping him. I am so frustrated. I feel like they are forcing him sober, which is just making him angry and causing stress. I am afraid the stress is going to cause him to take a drink. Any ideas out there on how to deal with this. Thank you all for listening. Off to Al-Anon now.
Does he have a sponsor yet that can help him get to meetings? Most states do have this requirement and I have witnessed a lot of AA members coming in late and not getting their paperwork signed because of it.
Something will work out definitely have faith, but yes it might mean that he has to ask someone from the program for help. Keep us posted I know this is frustrating.
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