Welcome to Medhelp ;i'm glad that you found the forum, in the nick of time it appears, before something happens that there is no 'fix' for.. You have taken the first logical step in reaching out to others who have traveled the path your on for advice. This is the whole premise of Alcoholic Anonymous and Alanon, so by you reaching out here, you are modeling the type of behavior to your wife and kids that they need to see from you as one of the heads of the household. Your kids and in laws are looking to you for a plan, and you've come to the right place to get started by getting answers to your questions. I'll do my best to help as much as I can.
First of all , i will qualify by saying that I am both an addict and living with an addict, so i have dealt with the disease of substance abuse from two different perspectives and my journey might be helpful. . My drinking and drug use lasted from 13 to 39, or 26 years (a lifetime for some) before i was able to gain my footing and become 'clean and sober' back in '99. I've had plenty of time to think long and hard my relapses and what sabotaged me, and why it took so long for me to 'THRIVE IN SOBRIETY',
I'll talk about my living with an addict first. I met my current husband in '98 after his wife had driven him to a police station and dropped him off after one of his weekend benders He had been drinking heavy on the weekends for most of the 11 years they had been together, and for whatever the reason, as husband and wife they sabotaged each other instead of accessing programming and working together to save their marriage. When in early recovery and throughout recovery it is essential that the addict not have to come home to their spouse drinking. From what i can gather, my husband's ex not only had no interest in becoming active in the family portion of the rehab he went to, but also did not want to quit going out as they had grown accustom to , and having drinks. It was expected that he quit, but I believe that she drew the line at not drinking around him. This was the case with his entire family so it's been impossible for him to do more than call a couple of times a year. Strange that a family cannot respect and support a person in sobriety, but that is the fact of it in mny cases. There are two schools of thought, one being that it's imperative that there be no alcohol consumed in front of the alcoholic, no alcohol in the home, OR that it is unreasonable to expect other people without a problem to go without drinking to support recovery. The fact is, it is vitally important for the addict who is quitting to do so with clean and sober support systems in place. Many are not able to make the sacrifice it takes to truly support a loved one that is reaching for sobriety, and therefore they become a trigger to the one quitting.
THE FIRST THING TO DECIDE IS IF YOU ARE ABLE TO SUPPORT AN ADDICT IN RECOVERY AND DO WHAT IT TAKES BY NOT DRINKING IN FRONT OF THEM. You've said that you are used to being sober at parties and events, and you love your wife silly, so i think that qualifies as a positive for you.
You are also are asking the right questions, the most important being ' HOW DO I NOT ENABLER HER BEHAVIOR AND GET HER THE HELP I THINK SHE NEEDS. This IS A COMPOUND AND COMPLEX QUESTION. Breaking it down in to two parts.the first being .. HOW DO I NOT ENABLE HER ??? You may have heard Alcoholism being referred to as a "family disease" in that everyone in the family is being directly affected each and every time an addict uses their doc (drug of choice) or any mind altering drugs (as the results of misuse are almost always the case). You made mention of possibly attending Alanon when your wife and daughters have a girls weekend shortly, so you've heard of Alanon for the family of addicts. " In Al-Anon/Alateen, members do not give direction or advice to other members. Instead, they share their personal experiences and stories, and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest”—that is, to determine for themselves what lesson they could apply to their own lives.
The best place to learn how Al-Anon/Alateen works is at a meeting in your local community. Personal contact is an important element in the healing process." Alanon is to Loved Ones Of Alcoholics , as Alcoholics Anonymous is to the Alcoholic. If you want your spouse to attend the group that is provided for her to obtain long term sobriety, it makes sense that the loved ones show that they are open to attending the meetings that are provided for them to heal and move forward in life. If a Loved one is not willing to attend an try to make the Alanon meetings work, then it will be harder for the alcoholic / addict to trust in their loved ones and feel that they are worthy of their trust. Just like the loved ones would be put off if the alcoholic would not go to any lengths to achieve and maintain sobriety, and alochoic/ addict can be put off by their loved ones not showing commitment on their part. Further, it is imperative to have the kind of experience strength and knowledge that you can access at at Alanon meetings, It' is priceless to hear the stories and see that you are clearly not alone after so much time has passed feeling that you are. It would be doing your girls a great service to suggest to them to go with you to Alanon or Alateen, as well as yoru mI|L and \SIL . To let them all know that you are working on an INTERVENTION PLAN and that it would be powerful if all of your wife's family and friends were associated and educated with the inner workings of Alanon.
Second part of your question asks HOW DO I NOT ENABLE MY SPOUSE.?
1.Prepare for an INTERVENTION by watching the show INTERVENTION.
2. It is suggested that the head of the Intervention discuss and use an Addictions Therapist to plan for an INTERVENTION., however, any Intervention is better than no Intervention if the planning stages are meticulously drawn.
2. Become aware of how you've enabled your loved one.
3. Discuss within the family and friends of loved ones (anyone that should be at an "Intervention" how each of the loved ones have enabled the active user.
4.. Discuss what changes should take place.
5.. Stick to the new plan.
6. Loved ones get involved on line or in person at ALANON OR ALATEEN
SO THAT YOU AND THE ADDICT KNOW YOU ARE FULLY PARTICIPATING. (lead by example)
7. go to an "open" speaker meeting of AA and purchase the Big Book and 12 step book at least, try to read it and become familiar with the content and then give these publications as gifts to your loved one. All in the Intervention can sign the book as a way of acknowledgement and support of the beginning of the journey an addict must take.
i.e. How to Break the Cycle of Addiction..
....... While enabling can be a serious problem for everyone involved with addiction, it is completely possible to break the enabling cycle so the addict can heal in productive, meaningful ways. Darlene Lancer gives the following suggestions to help someone stop enabling:
Leave messes as they are – Leave the addict to clean up the messes she makes while intoxicated
Weigh your options for short-term and long-term pain – Will helping the addict one more time cause more pain in the long run?
Get back autonomy – When possible, you should not allow the addict to put you in situations which may endanger yourself or others
Follow through with plans – Even if the addict refuses to participate in a planned activity, you should go through with it without her
In other words, take action now against enabling behaviors.
THE WAY I SEE IT, AN INTERVENTION STATING THAT YOU WILL NO LONGER SUPPORT YOUR WIFE WHILE SHE IS USING, THAT A REHAB IS AVAILABLE TO HER IMMEDIATELY AND IF SHE DOES NOT TAKE YOU UP ON IT, YOU WILL BE FORCED TO A) TAKE THE CAR AWAY AND IF NOT, CALL THE POLICE AND HAVE THEM ARREST HER FOR DRUNK DRIVING.
You have to let your wife know, with the support of your family, that the family as a group will not enable and allow her to drive drunk.It is a well known fact that alcoholics cannot just up and quit drinking. They must be detoxed which can be dangerous outside of a detox unit at the hospital and then attend rehab or ongoing aa meetings. The family must insist on the same parameters as those having the benefit of treatment. |That being drug testing randomly , (by family if not in treatment|) and regular appointments with an Addictions' Therapist that will delve into an addicts past and present life an uncover anything that might trigger the addict into relapse. As well Relapse Prevention (the Addictions Therapist Meetings).
There is much to be done. You've said you've been together though ups and owns, good an bad, this is one of those times. My husband and myself got clean and sober 16 years ago. and other than a set back where my husband relapsed and had to go to an inhouse 90 day Relapse Prevention Rehab, we're both clean and sober today. All's well that ends well. You're on your way to success!!! and i'm proud of you, as well as pretty sure your wife is a lucky girl to have you by her side.
I'm here anytime you need to talk.
i just realized that if you copied and pasted the entire post, you may not have 2 daughters a MIL and SIL involved, or drinking and driving etc. so many of this may or may not apply|? hopefully it will of some use in your situation specifically,,
I cannot elabotrate on NightHawk61s' advice to You - I do not have Her insight nor can I articulate in the way She has - I have UTMOST admiration and respect for this Woman !! - Her journey!! and Her triumph!! and I am hardput to believe anyone could contribute more here to assist You than has She.
She has given You MUCH advice as regards Her own personal knowledge/experience - it doesn't get more valuable than that.
I do want to say that You definitely are enabling Your Wife by feeling You are unable to "muster up the courage to confront Her everytime this happens".
It is not "COURAGE" You need - it is an UNDERSTANDING of Your own role in the choices YOU are making. You are CHOOSING not to address this situation with Her. You must acknowledge that to YourSelf before You will be able to seek change. You cannot control Her but You do have control over the CHOICES You make. Again I agree with NightHawk61 regarding AlAnon and Intervention - start there !!
Regards and GoodLuck
Thanks for this post. My big worry is that my daughter, 21, is defending her mother's drinking as a right and a choice. In my language they say: when you go to steal while carrying a child, you are training her.
Like Blufalcon, my wife's drinking drives me crazy. All the time. Yet she has done so many good things for me and my family. I cant stop loving her. I can't imagine life without her. I am sad and confused.
thank you TTInKK, xo
I also agree wholeheartedly with what TTInKK has said about your understanding fully what your role must be to help your spouse. You need to help yourself and learn how to be what you need to be to help your wife, and that is done by action on your part. outside of the marriage. By your committing to going and learning how not to enable your wife at Alanon, and by finding and talking to an Addictions Therapist, (that you can use to deal with each and every instance that you would normally walk away from, but no longer do. and in an Intervention when YOU'RE ready)>
Thankfully you have a MIL that is trying to help, but the most important factor at home for your wife remains your responsibility to provide. You are now her Immediate Family. And just as it would be your responsibility to care for your wife and arrange for treatment, should she had been diagnosed with cancer rather than alcoholism, just as you would your daughter or son, it |IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find your loved one treatment for the diagnosis of alcoholism.
I'm an alcoholic. and i can tell you, your wife is not enjoying being an alcoholic. Your wife will enjoy being sober. There is a bridge in between the two, and it is time that you start crossing that bridge , so that your dear wife can be free of this life sucking disease.
PLEASE, get to a meeting of Alanon. Find a good Addictions Therapist. Show your wife that you care enough to do so. Show her that the consequence of her drinking are outweighing any benefit, Let her know it's her time to make a change.... do you like The Cars? remember this song?
Who's gonna tell you when
It's too late
Who's gonna tell you things
Aren't so great
You can't go on
Thinking nothing's wrong
People that enable addicts are not loving them, they are simply afraid to do anything else. In fact, there are many people that enable addicts because they thrive on being the caretaker. There are always reasons why an addict is enabled, and it is not always pretty. Be smarter and braver than that for your spouse. Addicts are weakened by their substance abuse. They make a lot of noise because their greedy addiction is using their voice to do so. It is not your wife speaking. Your wife does not want to harm the marriage, she married you right ? . it is in her weakened state that she is unable to see clearly and know enough to help herself. It takes an outside force to get an addict to see that .... NO, ALL IS NOT WELL AND THERE MUST BE A CHANGE.
We're with you every step of the way. Please consider the action that is proposed and keep us updated, because we really do care !!!!