Al-Anon helps us deal with relapse

Published by at 4:47 pm under Common Concerns

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Philene, Marianne, and Mike are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members. Today we’re going to talk with people whose loved ones experienced a relapse during their recovery.

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99 comments on “Al-Anon helps us deal with relapse”

  1. Carolyn says:

    My husband was sober for 33 years and decided to start drinking again, a week ago. He said he doesn’t believe he was an alcoholic, and wants to drink like normal people.

    We have been married going on 40 years in June. I feel I should have left when I was still young enough to find a happy and healthy relationship. He is an old 75 and has been one of the laziest people I have ever known. He talks constantly, he angers easily and wears his belt just below his eyebrows, so he feels everything I say to him in a disagreement is hitting below the belt.

    He is what they refer to as “King Baby”–in AA and Al-Anon? I am 69 and very active in my life (everyone says I look like I’m in my late 40’s), but I feel it is way too late for me now.

    I should go back to Al-Anon, or at least start reading my “ODAT” again. Good luck, everyone.

  2. Amber says:

    My husband has been sober for 16 months and 14 days. Correction: He was sober for 16 months and 14 days. Three days ago, I found out he was cheating on me with a co-worker.

    He took two days off work so he could be with me and we could figure out how to work on our marriage. He went back to work for the first time today and was very attentive and called and texted me throughout the day to reassure me. He was supposed to get off work at 9. He never called me and when I finally got a hold of him an hour later, he was hanging out with one of his friends who is a big drinker and user as well. Once I heard who he was with, I knew it was a done deal.

    I knew he was going to fall off. I didn’t hear from him for a few hours and he finally picked up the phone after 11 tries and I heard it. The familiar slur. The certain laugh he has when he’s wasted. I asked him where he was, he told me he was at a friend’s. I asked him if he was drunk. He said, yes, then hung up.

    I could have gotten over the infidelity. Even after I found out he was cheating on me, he stayed here at home. I always told him that if he started drinking again, I would be done. We have three beautiful kids and I cannot and will not tolerate him drinking again.

    We’re meeting tomorrow morning to discuss what to say to our kids when we tell them that Daddy is moving out. I picture their faces when we tell them. I see their tears and it breaks my heart. Thank you, Al-Anon, for giving me strength and reminding me that I’m not alone.

  3. Jenny says:

    My husband relapsed yesterday. Again. He’s passed out right now, so I thought I would go online and Google what to do when your spouse keeps relapsing. This Al-Anon thread popped up. I feel so alone — everyone is tired of our story. So I just don’t talk about it anymore and push through my life. I’m hoping it will help to open up this way.

    I haven’t been to an Al-Anon meeting in a while. Been going to some open AA meetings to support him, which helps me to understand he — well, we, are not alone. I’m just at the end of my rope. At this point, I’m terrified he’s going to die.

    It’s been quite the ride since 2008 — 5 rehabs, 1 psych ward, guessing 50-60 hospital visits, 2 DUI’s, 1 DV, 5 lost jobs (got fired from the last one for blacking out at work, one before that the ambulance had to pick him up because he stole vodka, drank it in the bathroom and passed out on the job,) destroyed relationships.

    He’s messed up work for me, and I still take care of him. Beyond pathetic, when I actually read what I’m typing. But I’m his wife and as one psych, social worker said, “He’s the dying kind.” And I, unlike his mother and sister, can’t handle him dying if there was anything I could do. So I keep enabling him. I don’t give him money, I don’t give him alcohol. But I still take care of him.

    I know he doesn’t want to be like this, but to me it seems like he barely tries. He’s a very positive person, sober. And a genuinely happy one. I’m more negative and sarcastic. Which makes no sense, why he drinks when he’s so happy, sober. Everyone loves him and faults me for not being more understanding. But they don’t know the whole truth. I just don’t know what to do.

    He wrote himself doing Step One that once he starts he will need to go to the hospital to detox. And then what? Another rehab? He does great at rehab. He’s always the shining star, but then he comes out and can’t handle real life. He started drinking at age 14 and many times I feel like I’m dealing with a 14-year-old. We are 33. Not 14. His dad died from this disease. I don’t want my husband to die too.

  4. Charlie says:

    My partner did really well up until today. He went into a detox programme for 10 days and came out focused and determined to stay sober. We had a meal booked on Christmas Day in a pub, which he wouldn’t let me cancel. We went and he was great, and I was so proud. He drank juice and Beck’s Blue (non-alcoholic lager).

    He wanted to go out with friends on Boxing Day. All his friends meet at the pub every year on Boxing Day. As worried as I felt, off he went and came home stone-cold sober — a fantastic achievement! Life has been great. We communicate more, we don’t fight or argue, and I had really learned to start trusting him. It was nice that the anxious feeling of worry was starting to fade as he grew stronger.

    I called him from work today to make sure he was ok. He was off with the flu — for him to tell me he was drunk. I came home and talked to him to see if there was anything that triggered it, and there was. I think he was expecting me to be angry and start shouting and I never, until provoked into it.

    We have had the most terrible argument. I saw a glimmer of my life the way it was before Christmas, and all those horrible feelings came back. I just don’t want my life to go back to that. I thought this was the end of it all.

    I just feel like if something stresses or upsets him, he will always run for the bottle and shout at me rather than talk to me and let me help. So scared of what the future will bring and how life will be. I love this man with every part of my being.

  5. Mark says:

    We were married 35 years — I lived with the alcoholism for 15. Finally reached my limit 2 years ago and couldn’t stay. She is on death’s door today, due to liver disease.

  6. Jessica says:

    I have been with my boyfriend for a year and watched him go through two alcohol withdrawals. The last time I kicked him out and told him he couldn’t come back until he was sober. He quit cold turkey and got a job and I let him come back home. He was sober for three months and we were very happy. I quit drinking as well to support him.

    I recently found out he started drinking again and when I asked him about it he was honest but said he can occasionally drink and not become dependent, but he chooses not to because he doesn’t want to lose me or his family. But if that’s the truth why did he drink again? He has never gotten professional help and thinks it’s pointless but said he would go if I insisted. I don’t know what to do and I feel so drained emotionally.

  7. KLLY says:

    My husband is a veteran who suffers from PTSD. We both moved on from our chapter in the military and went back to school to finish our degrees. He has always been a drinker, but since he got out of the military he has been progressively worse with his drinking.

    He would lie and hide his drinking. He would go to the extent of throwing away cans of evidence in our neighbor’s trash. He got an aggravated DUI after he lied about where he was. I had to watch him get hauled off in handcuffs and I felt like I was watching our life and future slip away. Even after the DUI, he still chose to drink and finally after finding him passed out cold with our animals locked outside in the rain — I had enough. I gave him the ultimatum of seeking help and quitting drinking, or I had to leave because everything that was happening was directly affecting me emotionally and mentally.

    My husband quit drinking for just shy of 3 months. The first time he drank he smelled like a liquor bottle but denied drinking again and again, making me feel as though I was crazy for asking and being convinced he drank. Last night he came home, backed into the shelving in our garage and broke everything to pieces. He went to bed without saying a word, so I confronted him. I asked him if he drank and why. He admitted he did, and because he was stressed.

    I feel fear in the fact that everything that happens does affect me as much as him. He could have killed or hurt himself or someone one else, and every time I look at him I think of how he told me he didn’t drink, I don’t trust him, he didn’t drink, he didn’t drink. I want to leave, but feel stranded financially.

    Realistically, that is no excuse to me, but I have to be prepared to uproot my life because of him. I realize he may never make the decision to choose me and choose sobriety, to face his demons and want a better future. Maybe he wants all that, but doesn’t know how to get there. But all I feel is that I am manipulated by his brash reactions to my thinking he drank, and I feel like a bad wife for being the one person he fears the most and cannot even be honest with. I know that thought is irrational, but it’s how I feel — even after reading books, going to counseling, and attempting couples counseling.

  8. Maureen says:

    Thank you for this site and for all the comments. Addiction is such a powerful thing, and destroys so many. Sharing gives us all hope that we are not alone in this, that we do not have to isolate, that there are tools and wisdom in the Al-Anon program that help us break the chain of pain. It is certainly not easy to do, yet when I read these comments it is so obvious that the insanity we have in our lives with active addicts (or dry-drunk ones), is a horrible way to live.

    It is possible to change, and that is up to each one of us. No one can change me, nor can I change someone else. I have made lots of changes, and much needed, and always more to learn and heal. I grew up with alcoholism, mental illness and violence in my childhood. When I found my own alcoholic at age 19, it was a familiar road. All my abandonment, insecurities were masked in a tough exterior that I could handle it all, and be overly super responsible, and had no idea who I was during that over-30-year marriage of use and relapses continually. Finally in my early 50’s I realized I could not do it anymore and left the marriage and proceeded to find out who I was.

    Al-Anon has been a very constant help in that, and wisdom from other sources as well. When I got into my next relationship after being alone for 3 years, I thought, “Ok, this guy really puts his program to use for quite some years already,” and I was lonely. 10 years later, he relapsed after being sober 14 years. It had been a rough, stressful almost 2 years of family issues, job issues, etc. before the relapse occurred, but I know he also stopped his committment to his sobriety on a daily basis and when stress after stress happens it is a very big danger zone for an addict.

    I denied what my gut was screaming at me, that he was using again. After 3 months I had definite proof and it blew me away. My own denial, manipulation, controling, obsession, came rushing back as well, and I hadn’t left my program behind, but dealing with active use again and all the lies involved in that, all the suspicions of where is he going and how long will he be gone, etc. came rushing back.

    Thank you for the above stories that remind us that even with long-term sobriety, once an addict, always an addict. It all can get back to the craziness so fast for both the addict and the co-dependent. I had set 4 boundaries before we moved in together. For all I know now, 3 have been violated by him the last 3-4 months. Now I need to make a decision to kick him out, but do it with compassion because addiction is so powerful, and I know that for the both of us.

    I can’t make that decision yet, though my gut is telling me that I spent enough of my life with addicts and to do it. So I let go of it, gave it to God, and told Him to take the wheel in this. I have always struggled with trust issues with people and God, and now it’s been violated once more. But I also know it is ok to admit I am not able to make that permanent decision right now, and though I can be very impatient, I am working on letting God work whatever He needs to do before this gets resolved. I need to trust my own gut, but I also need to understand that there is a spiritual battle taking place, and I want to let it play out in God’s timing, not mine.

    I am attending meetings, reading a lot of Al-Anon literature and other literature to help me get through this one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time. It is incredibly sad to read all the stories of how much unacceptable behavior we co-dependents accept. I don’t want that for myself. So I am attempting to trust God, have patience, guard my heart not to believe the lies, and yet know I can’t make him do anything.

    As someone mentioned, it can be very hard for long-term sobriety people who know it all in their head, but “Slick” is constantly trying to get them to use, and when they do, the battle is raging. All the shame, once again.

    I hated the stomach knots, the pounding heart, the mind racing, that came into me once again after all these years later, so I keep giving it back to God every time they start up. I need the tools, meditation, a lovely Al-Anon friend who has been through so much in her life that matches mine, who understands. Grateful, so grateful for that.

    We all share the common trials of addiction, but we are also each unique and need to find our own answers we can live with. And not only live, but find joy and happiness, whether the addict is using or not. That’s my responsibility to myself, I just need to wait for what to do next for my own life. It’s ok right now that I am not sure, I don’t always have to fix and find answers immediately as I always did before. It’s hard, but I need to do it differently than I did before.

    I have lots that I can look back on, that in the midst of hurt and pain I made many wrong decisions before. I need God to lead this time and for the rest of my life. I am a lifelong committed member of Al-Anon, through the good times to give back and not get complacent, and during the bad times to reach out for the help I so need. Love & Peace

  9. Sue says:

    I went to a meeting while my spouse was in rehab. I really didn’t feel welcomed, but wonder if I should try another. He is out and relapsed after 2 days. I am lost on what I do now.

  10. BC says:

    My husband is a drug addict and was in rehab for 24 days. When he came out, things were great. He attended meetings and we grew so much closer. I even attended one meeting a week with him. I truly believed that things were heading in the right direction.

    He was just over 60 days clean and then last week relapsed. I started noticing a different behavior and even confronted him. He also did not want to attend meetings anymore. He has excuses now and I feel he is not telling me the truth and he is emotionally abusing me once again, like in the past. I do not know how to get through to him. It seems as if he doesn’t want to listen to me and keeps on telling me that I am the main reason why he uses.

    I really do not know what to do anymore. We grew up together and he is a great husband and father when he is sober. I do not know how to deal with this. I do not deal well with fights. I go silent because it feels like he doesn’t listen. I do not know how to stand firm and help my husband when only he can make the choice to stay clean. And I don’t know how to protect me and my little girl from all the “addict behavior.”

  11. Anon in Midwest says:

    My husband is an alcoholic. He knows it. I asked him to stop drinking and get help. He has stopped drinking. It’s been over a month, but he has not gotten help. We’ve been here before. I find myself wondering how long it will last. When will he binge again?

    I am so tired. I am underperforming at work. All my energy goes into just functioning. And there are other stressors, of course. It’s not like life stops because you need a break.

    My husband is a good provider, a good person. He’s not abusive. I love him. He loves me. And I cannot stop thinking about leaving him.

  12. Charlie says:

    My partner and I went on holiday and 3 days after we got back he went to the hospital in terrible pain and was there for a week. He was told he had liver inflammation and not to drink anymore. He did really well for a month, but family stress and financial issues seem to have sent him back to drinking.

    I’m absolutely terrified I’m going to end up burying him. We have been together for 3 years and I have stood by him through every hospital visit, every relapse after many detoxes and I just don’t know what to do. I don’t understand how he can just not care about his health, the impact he’s having on himself and how much he’s hurting me. I love him so much. I really try my hardest to be supportive, but it makes me so angry and hurt that he does this to himself — because he’s an amazing person.

    I ask him to talk to me and lean on me, but he won’t. I just want him to get sober and be ok. Terrified he’s going to die, as I write this he’s sitting listening to music, drinking away like he hasn’t a care in the world. He needs to take this more seriously before it’s too late and I don’t know how to show him that. Every time I try and tell him this we argue and he calls me terrible names, says awful things and makes me feel worthless. This is really getting me down. I constantly worry.

  13. kandra says:

    My boyfriend relapsed again, the 3rd time in a month. He was 2 months sober and we made a pact — we weren’t drinking together, even though I drank one time a month at the most. I said I would leave, but keep staying. I don’t know what to do. He gets charged for drunk driving in one week. I don’t know if I should stay. I’m so lost.

  14. MB says:

    My best friend, whom I’ve known for over 20 years, admitted in May of 2014 that he had a problem and decided to stop drinking and get sober. He did it all cold turkey.

    He was sober just one day shy of 15 months when he relapsed. He had a few days of regret, but then got back into drinking heavily. I was messaged tonight by his neighbour asking for some advice as I’d known him longer. She informed me that he was drunk and became aggressive throwing empty bottles.

    He has the strength to continue with sobriety but it seems as if he chooses not to. I am at a loss and have no idea what to do anymore.

  15. ME says:

    I’ve been dealing with my alcoholic wife for many years now, after years of denial (both hers and mine). She was recently in rehab for 45 days, but relapsed just after the 90-day mark of sobriety. She had returned to work, only to find out she is being fired.

    It’s really too bad she waited that long to attempt to get clean. Of course, the bottle is what made her perform poorly at work. More importantly, I am so exhausted from dealing with the constant anxiety of not knowing where she is when I get off work every day.

    She’ll be fine one day, then a few days later she ignores my phone calls for hours, until she finally calls me back after getting trashed — it’s such a stressful mission, hunting down a moving target! Ugh! However, the extremely bad days are when I get calls from police officers, paramedics, restaurant managers, and emergency rooms.

    Her 5 relapses since coming home from rehab get her crying, “Please don’t leave me! I’m a loser! I hate myself,” etc. When sober she is the biggest sweetheart and has always been my best friend. I love her so much, but am always struggling with deciding how much longer I can live like this.

  16. Michele says:

    My husband was doing so well this year. He relapsed three times. All three times, he pulled himself together and got sober again within a few days. I really thought the horrible days of nonstop drinking were over. I actually believed it! No longer. He relapsed three weeks ago and his head has been in the bottle ever since. I no longer have hope that he will get sober and stay sober.

    I want him to move out, but he won’t. He’s staying back in the master suite, which has its own door and we are having no contact except through emails or text about strictly business type stuff kept to a minimum. I want no contact. His behavior is horrible when he’s drinking. He is very emotionally abusive! He curses me out, rages, screams over absolutely nothing and of course you have no idea when he will go off. I am afraid of him. Not physically. But I am afraid of his rages!

    It’s demoralizing to have him in the house at all like this! And stressful, but it’s been stressful as hell for the last nine years since he started drinking. He has screwed the finances. What would help me enormously is to get him to leave and rent out rooms in my house. It would help with the house note, and I could use the company!

    I can’t stand being around this and I want out! Trying to get out in my financial situation is impossible. I am so trapped!

    I’m really worried about getting older and being able to afford to live! My husband was the main bread winner.

  17. Kevin says:

    My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years. She is in her first recovery program for alcoholics and everything I read from their spouses, friends, or family members always says they go back to drinking. We have 4 kids — one in college, one junior in high school, and the other two are in grade school.

    She has been drinking for 8 years that I know of. The only way I can tell that she had been drinking would be if she grabbed things to do something with it and just set it back down, or if she couldn’t walk straight. I had always asked her and she would deny it.

    Since she has been at rehab for the last 10 days, it has seemed impossible to get any housework done after coming home from work. I love her so much and it seems like I stay depressed all day long, wondering when I’m going to get to see or hear her voice again. Our kids miss her, but it doesn’t seem to be as bad as me. Any time I think of her it just sends me into tears like a big baby and I have to go into our bedroom so the kids don’t see me cry.

    It is really hard on me and makes me so mad when I start to tear up, but I can’t control the loneliness. Every time I find something to read about spouses going through similar problems I look for something that will give me hope.

  18. Anne says:

    I’m a recovering alcoholic, it will be two years in July. My husband is still a heavy drinker. I find it hard to be around him, and it makes me uncomfortable. I tell him all the time, but he still drinks a lot. I feel like a hypocrite for getting upset that he drinks since I’ve been an alcoholic forever, but I’m trying to move on and I feel like I can’t.

    He says he doesn’t drink a lot, but he slurs his words and it annoys me to talk to him. I don’t know what to do. I told him several times and finally said I’m just not going to talk to him when he’s drinking. But when I’m distant and don’t talk, he doesn’t know why and says he doesn’t deserve the attitude. I wonder if there is anyone else in a similar situation, and if it ever gets better.

  19. ASmith says:

    My wife is an alcoholic of 5 years. Total time sober in the last 5 years is no more than 2 months at a time.

    What awful comments here. Sad, sad, sad.

    Some alcoholics do quit, but the odds of them dying sober are pretty grim if you go looking them up. I think 10% of alcoholics die sober, or something like that.

    So, don’t give up hope, ya’ll. But you also need to be realistic. It’s a disease, so they really do have little control over it. If they come home trashed and go to bed or get trashed and go to bed it’s so much easier. But if they insist on “helping” with the kids while unable to walk (We have 5 kids: 9, 6, 5, 3, and 2), then often the spouse has no choice but to get the kids out of the situation.

    My kids all have memories of when she attacked me and I had to call in the “nation’s finest” [sic] to help get her to quit attacking me and to stay upstairs and go to sleep.

    We’re right on the cusp of moving out. I need a place to stay and a little cash to make it happen. I haven’t told my family that she’s still wasted all the time. But I will be telling them next time she drinks and causes a huge disturbance. I don’t mind being here for her while she kills herself, but she’s not going to mess with the kids any longer.

    Honestly what’s going to happen is she’ll get her license back (she’s on her 2nd DUI / 1st conviction) in 6 months she’s going to do it all over again–only this time probably killing someone in the process of driving. Or she’ll get a DUI with like 5 kids in the car and end up getting 5-10 years in jail (Alabama is not very friendly to DUI with kids cases, b/c of all the kids being killed by mommy-cocktail hours). 2nd DUIs here without injuring another person typically mean 6 months in jail from what I’ve heard about the local judge.

    I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s hope, but you have to be realistic too. Everyone’s drunk is different. Mine is 100% going to jail or dying when she gets her license back. I give her 60 days from when she gets her license before she ends up in jail again.

  20. Maria says:

    My hubs, after many years of heavy drinking, became sober almost a year ago. He is very strong and I’ve noticed him withdraw from meetings, etc. over the past three months (I can do it by myself/don’t “need” meetings).

    Last night I found his iced tea spiked and an empty booze bottle or two in the shop. I feel quite trapped in ways with three kids and not wanting to raise hell over this. I thought and prayed and this morning told him to get into a program if he wanted any support from me, or he needed to leave.

    It’s awful trying to “let go” and allow whatever is to happen to happen. Slips and relapses happen, but trust was disintegrated once more as the alcohol and hiding it became the focus again (an addict).

    I will keep leaving it to God and try my best to watch out for me & the kids. I’m grateful that he has been sober, but so sad also. I feel a little dead inside. I tried to enjoy Mother’s Day anyways.

  21. MA says:

    My partner and I have been together for almost 20 years (off and on: I’ve taken a few sabbaticals during the rough spots) and now, after coming home, she is drinking again. Betrayal, sadness: it’s all there, depressingly familiar. The weird part is the denial.

    You ask someone if they’ve been drinking and they deny it every time–even while tripping over their own feet, saying, “Oh, no.” The scary part is that she’s been driving around intoxicated and if she gets a DWI, she will go to jail this time. I can’t even contemplate the very likely possibilities of her destroying someone’s life while she is behind the wheel. She is so compassionate, yet so blind to understanding how her actions affect others in this regard.

  22. kate says:

    My best friend wanted to stop drinking, so one day she just stopped. She went into withdrawal and suffered DT’s, ending up in intensive care for 2 weeks. After all of this, she is now drinking again. Not just a little here and there, but downing a bottle of vodka at a time.

    I can’t take much more of this. I love her and want to support her–she has no one else. She’s been through so much and she began drinking to forget. Now she just drinks because she can’t/won’t stop. I don’t know what to do. If she carries on like this, she’ll lose everything–me, her job, her home.

  23. annie says:

    I have been on and off with the father of my children for 8 years now. The last two years have been the worst–we’ve probably only lived 6 months together total in the last 2 years.

    I feel like the only ones suffering are my children. He’s back again, saying he wants to get sober and be there for his family but within 2 days off sobriety we start to talk about options and everything that has happened and we find ourselves in a fight.

    I feel like I cannot say how I feel or even state that the sky is blue without him getting offensive. Now he has gone out alone for the day and i’m afraid he’s going to drink. I don’t know what I can do

  24. Kate says:

    My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We have two beautiful sons: 9 and 5. My husband has been an alcoholic since we began dating, and probably much before that.

    Over the past 5 years his drinking has escalated to the point where it was frightening. He would skip work, drink during the day, I even found him drinking in the shower once.

    On January 20th, I came home from work before picking our children up at school and found him “asleep.” I packed him a bag and took him to his father’s house. He was connected the next day with his step-father, an 8-year-sober AA. He has been shown the program, and was attending daily meetings for about two weeks. He even connected with a man who offered to be his sponsor.

    During our separation, which was only about 2 and a half weeks, the children and I were shattered from his absence, though we did fall into a good routine. Free of drama and worry. My husband and I did not speak during this time and he had no contact with the children. We communicated through my father-in-law (the AA member.)

    After seeing what appeared to be a commitment to the program, I allowed him to come home. He had been staying in a hotel and it was becoming very expensive. We missed him dearly and were eager for “Daddy” to come home. Our agreement was that he would remain sober and attend meetings to do this. After a week of attending daily meetings, he stopped going abruptly (after his first long meeting with his sponsor). He had a number of reasons why he felt the program was “not for him.” I told him that it was his choice to make and that how he managed to remain sober was not for me to decide.

    Yesterday afternoon, the children and I returned home and my husband had obviously been drinking. I shuttled them off to television and other distractions and confronted him with as much love as I could muster and, not surprisingly, he denied that he had been drinking.

    I cancelled our family dinner and gave the children a treat of cereal in front of TV for dinner and proceeded to go about my evening routine with the boys, making it clear to him that he should stay downstairs.

    We have not talked about this as of this moment. I am filled with fear and anxiety right now because I do not know where he is, if he is at work or not, drinking or not. I do know that he called his step-father this morning and asked if he would meet him at a meeting tonight.

    I called his step-father to let him know that I believe my husband was drinking last night.

    I know that my contract with my husband said that if he drank he would need to leave. But I am really, really, really struggling with this because it is not just about me and my anger. Our boys’ hearts will break if Daddy has to leave again. My heart will break. I do not know where to draw the line between compassion and love for this man, and my own boundaries. I do not know what to do or where to turn or who to talk to. I do not have an Al-Anon sponsor, as I have only been to three meetings.

    I’ve been filling a notebook with boundaries, but it’s all too much to process. The idea of him leaving makes me physically ill. The idea of finding him drunk at home this afternoon also makes me physically ill. I have heard so many times that this would be a messy process, but I don’t think that I was ready to accept what that means. I don’t know if I ever will be able to calmly navigate the twists and turns, keeping a stable home environment for our boys.

  25. Leo A. says:

    My best friend has been sober these last 2 weeks after drinking almost every day for 7 months. Tonight she relapsed. I felt she was being distant in a text and I knew something was up. She lied about what she was doing and when I asked her why she wasn’t being herself, she admitted that she was drinking. And now she just wants me to leave her alone and said we can talk about it tomorrow.

    I don’t feel angry at all. I feel really sad. I know she wants to get better, but I understand that recovery is an up & down road. Especially this early in her recovery. All I can do is show her love & compassion. I pray to God that He protects me and that He gives me the strength & the courage I need to be there for her. I know what alcohol can do. I battle the same demon. I hope that tomorrow she’s able to forgive herself and start again. I pray that she doesn’t go into another downward spiral.

    Tonight is difficult, but tomorrow is a new day. And by God’s Grace, I will wake up with a heart full of love and ready to help.

  26. Dawn says:

    My boyfriend of 5 months just relapsed Friday after our first sexual encounter since finding out about his addiction and rehab.

    When we first met, he was the most amazing person I had ever met. He made me feel like a diamond. He treated me like the world. 3 months after we started seeing each other, he asked me to take him to the ER one day. On the way is when he told me about his addiction.

    At first I was scared and afraid. But I stood by him because I was in love with him. I met his parents and his children. We all became close and were fighting along side him.

    When he came home, things changed rapidly. He quit talking to me several times. Hurt me with being non communicative. When I finally got him to talk to me Thursday, I found out he had quit taking his medicines. I went to his house for a long talk. We had sex for the first time in 2 months.

    The next day he wasn’t feeling well. Today I went to his house to help with his children, since he got his meds and started them again. His mom came to tell me that they had found alcohol in his vehicle. I was hurt and broken. But the moment I sat on his bed and looked at him he told me that he had drank Friday.

    I don’t know what to do. I’m too stubborn to leave. He means everything to me. And if fighting this disease is part of him, well, I will fight with him.

  27. Anon says:

    My boyfriend was sober for a year. Recently he started smoking weed and drinking again. The last time he relapsed, he overdosed on heroin. So far it has been okay, but I am so scared that it will get worse and I will have to leave him. The fear is distressing. I know I will be okay without him, but he has been the love of my life and I do not want to lose him.

  28. kath says:

    I want to say, “But for the grace of God,” but can’t.

    I have been involved with an addict for 6 years and I have lost everything. I now feel I have joined in the addiction. Six Christmases of it now and I feel like I am falling apart when I had worked so hard at being well.

    I’m at a loss, don’t know how to cope with the damages or help anyone anymore. I just want him to go, then I have no one left. My dad was an alcoholic. I started early on, but I always stop. He doesn’t stop until the grog and the money is gone. I am surprised he survives each time.

    I feel used up and sick, my zest for life is gone with the Christmas binge, yet again. I feel surrounded by people with demons, who blame me. I am sick of my own behaviour and weaknesses, sick of allowing the behaviour of others to affect me and then ruin my health.

    Sorry for being so depressing, but that’s my vent.

  29. nick says:

    My wife to-be, Sue, who’s had a relapse on alcohol, has been through hell and back, but I’ve stuck with her even though she has relapsed again, putting us in an impossible situation. We have no money, just 3 days before Christmas. The last 8 days Sue has been so rude, nasty and horrible from drinking, but I still love her so dearly and will continue to try and help her and support her, because I love her.

  30. Emily says:

    First off, let me say how helpful it is to read everyone’s comments. There is a young man I’ve been seeing since mid November. At first, there didn’t seem like anything was wrong with him; the more time I spent with him, though, it became apparent that he had a drinking problem.

    My boyfriend has been in and out of rehab facilities since high school, for drug and alcohol addiction. He is very intelligent when he is sober and not drinking. But when he’s drunk, he turns into someone that I don’t recognize. He gets very sloppy and will go crazy! Every time we go out, he either has to stop at Walgreen’s or the gas station for booze. He stops at least 3 times a day! I know that I’ve needed to have a conversation with him about his drinking, but I can’t gather the courage to do it without the worry of making him angry. I just wouldn’t know how he would react.

    I am still very young (21 years old), and my boyfriend is 27. We are both in college, by the way. I care about him very much and I’m very concerned for him. There have been a few incidents where he has gotten drunk that have made me very uncomfortable.

    The first time was the last day of school. It started off as a wonderful day together. He and I went back to his parents’ house after school and ordered pizza, watched a movie and my boyfriend made some popcorn. Afterwards, he took me kayaking, and that was really peaceful and serene. Later that night, though, we went back to his house that his parents got for him. He stopped to get some booze on the way there.

    Later that night, one of his friends stopped by unexpectedly. My boyfriend invited him to hang, and his friend brought even more booze over. My mom wanted me home by midnight, but my boyfriend got too drunk to take me home. So I got stuck with him the whole night. I started off sleeping next to him, but the stench of alcohol was coming out of his pores to the point where I couldn’t stand it and slept on the couch.

    The second incident happened this past Monday. My boyfriend and I went to a holiday party at the restaurant he works at. It went from 6-9, and he had been drinking since 12 that day. And so he shows up to the party drunk just to get more drunk, acting like a fool in front of his coworkers and his manager. He made someone spill their beer on me and he was hanging all over people.

    I had never been so humiliated in my life. His manager took him aside and told him that something is wrong with him and he should get help. I got scared and upset to the point where I was crying in front of people I didn’t know and one of his coworkers had to give me a ride home. Then my boyfriend noticed I was missing, and he was convinced I’d been kidnapped. Everyone was telling him that I got a ride home, but he didn’t seem to care. All he could think about was getting to me or having me back.

    Then my boyfriend threatened to kill himself, and some people he works with took him to get help at a crisis center. So, he is in rehab now and I’m a little relieved. He is going to be there for about a week. When my boyfriend gets out, he is supposed to continue with rehab and counseling.

    I would like to believe that this is his last relapse and that he will stay sober for good. I really care about him, and I know he thinks the world of me. His mom has said how special I am to him, and he talks about me constantly at work. I’m really hoping he can make the change, but we’ll see.

  31. Michelle says:

    My husband and I will be married 20 years on December 31, 2014.
    We lost our house and jobs in 2012. Lived here and there for over a year and now I am staying with my mom, along with our 6 dogs. And he is in a program at the VA for homeless veterans and is being treated for all his addictions.

    He has been in their program for almost 3 months now. I have noticed that the calls and the texts began to get fewer and fewer and I confronted him about it and how it hurts my heart, and he always comes up with an excuse. Well, tonight he told me that I needed to read an article about “behaviors” and that he was not wanting to argue with me, and that I was the trigger object and he wanted to focus on himself.

    He has changed so much, I really feel as though the system has brainwashed him in believing he was better off without me. Oh yeah, they approved him and two other veterans to rent an apartment together, but he doesn’t want me to find homes for the animals so I can come be with him. You would think the VA would want me to participate in meetings or something? Well, anyway, I’m just so sad and I feel as though he has abandoned his family, which is me.

  32. Alex says:

    I am 22 years old. My whole life my father never appeared to me to be an alcoholic. At times he was a problem drinker, having a few too many at family gatherings. When I went away to college, he began to hate his career more and more. He and my mother also started having marital trust issues.

    The last two years I was in college, he was drinking and hiding it. Drinking on the job, which got him fired a few months before my graduation. Then the summer I moved home it was the worst. Fired from another job for drinking, driving drunk, the works. Finally after a day of disappearing and drunk texting my mother and me, taunting us about where he might be, we had police find him passed out in a local bar. He was taken to a hospital for a night, then into a weeklong hospital rehab.

    He promised things would change, but we demanded a strong in-patient facility. After a couple days at home, refusing to go but not drinking, he went. He was in rehab for about a month and appeared to be a changed man. Went to any meetings he could, got “the religion,” and made a lot of friends. He came out, attended meetings regularly, talked of honesty and choices and being a better husband/father. Got a job. Everything was great those first three months he got out.

    Then today I woke up, smelled alcohol in the air. As soon as I saw him and asked, he denied it. Drunk as ever. My father has relapsed for the first time. I don’t know what to do. I’m a student teacher and make no money for 6 more months. My mom has her first 9-5 in years and barely makes enough for the mortgage. We had to file bankruptcy because of what happened when he was drunk for months and not working. My 29-year-old brother still lives at home too and has two kids (4 & 5) who come over on weekends. I feel so defeated. I feel so broken. I don’t know what to do. I thought he was better. I know relapse is likely, but it sure sucks.

  33. Breanna says:

    My husband has struggled with alcoholism for our entire relationship, 6-7 years now. After a bout of serious suicidal thoughts, he decided that it was time to go to rehab and get help. He suffers from severe manic depressive disorder so it has just been a vicious cycle with the drinking. He had been sober for the last 3 months and has just relapsed.

    I understood with the recovery process that this was something that could happen, and didn’t let myself naively think that drinking was forever gone from our lives.

    When I found out, obviously my first reaction was anger, how could he do this to us. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on psychiatrists, hospital bills, therapy sessions and meds. All to help the mental illness that was “masked” by the drinking. I have tried my best to be the supportive wife he needs, which is not easy all the time.

    Now I am feeling deeply saddened. It felt like 7 years of fighting and resentment started disappearing when he got sober. Even his bad days sober were better. We used what he learned in therapy to cope with some of the feelings he was dealing with. He was hopeful for the future. After having a rough week at work, fighting between me and him, and his new medication not working, he decided there was no more hope.

    Now we are back to where we started. He is already putting me down, blaming me for the drinking, telling me to divorce him cause he doesn’t care anymore. At first I lashed out also because I was feeling angry, and now I am keeping cool and not letting the hurtful things he says affect me negatively. I feel he does that so I will fight back and he can use it as an excuse to drink more.

    He says he wants to continue his sobriety, though, that he doesn’t want this. All I can do at this point is support his want and desire to be sober. I hope he follows through and uses this relapse as a learning experience.

  34. Julia says:

    My boyfriend, whom I love very deeply, recently went into rehab (1 week), after I found him after falling off a stool with a dislocated shoulder and head injury. I had no idea he was using. I rushed him to the ER and found out there the drugs and alcohol in his system with liver inflammation. He was hallucinating intensely.

    After the ER visit, and believing his lies, I took him home and left for a hotel. He was clear minded. He yet again used and hallucinated a break-in, called the cops and got arrested for possession and public intoxication. He agreed to go into rehab the night he was released from jail. He is there now. I know it is the right decision.

    I have hopes he can return the man I love. I am so scared though. I don’t know how to deal with my anger and fear and love and forgiveness. I am mad I will be alone for 90 days in our house in the country. I am moreso happy and overwhelmingly grateful to God that he went to rehab for help.

    I don’t know how to communicate how I feel to him–if I should wait for him to come to the step to apologize to those he hurt, or if I should ask him about the crazy things he did in those destructive 48 hrs (like the clothes I found in the freezer). I don’t know if I should tell him I miss him> or if that will just make his recovery harder. I am so afraid of rocking his recovery boat.

    I feel on egg shells. I work a lot, I want to get into Al-Anon. My loneliness is building, and with it feelings of resentment towards him for his decisions and addiction that tainted our new home. But I cannot be angry at him for his disease of addiction. We both have it strong in our families. I just feel lost, and wish I knew the right way to communicate with him the way I feel.

  35. Pam says:

    My fiancĂ© is an alcoholic. We’ve been friends for over 14 years and I’ve seen him at his worst. He has relapsed twice during our relationship together, which is in its 1st year. Today is his 3rd. He left this afternoon and tonight I am sitting here waiting, worried and angry.

    I’m waiting in the living room, thinking every sound is him walking home. Worried that he might freeze in these winter night temps. Angry that he won’t freeze because someone is keeping him warm–uuggh. Mostly, I’m angry at myself for believing his words of love, loyalty and sobriety.

    I read these stories of relapse and relationships that span over decades. Am I wrong to want out of this now? Should I “understand” this disease and be compassioned to hold out, give him a 4th chance?

    I ask myself these questions but my past shouts loudly that it’s in my nature to be empathetic, especially toward men with addictions.

    I am screaming inside for the strength to be empowered. To withdraw from this now, to walk away from this addicted soul that I love.

  36. Paige says:

    My mom has relapsed. I didn’t know what to do. This isn’t the first time. I support her and rent our studio. She blames me for everything, lies to me, and has a “boyfriend” who’s barely a year older than me. I feel like she’s become the child in our relationship. I don’t know what to do, how to deal with this. I’m hurting so much, and not even talking to her helps. Most people just tell me to let her go, but if I do that we will lose the littler kids and it’s killing me. I am 18.

  37. kaycee says:

    My husband came home from an 8 week stay in rehab 5 days ago and my son found a bottle today. I’m hurt and angry. How can he do this? I’m sorry. Everyone says this is a disease and he can’t help it. I’ve been dealing with this for 20 years and I’m so tired of it. But I don’t know what to do. I’m scared and cannot afford to be on my own.

  38. Anita says:

    My husband of 35 years had 25 years of sobriety until 3 years ago, when he decided he could start having a glass of wine for dinner, and that was all she wrote. Three years later, he is full blown in his disease and seemingly close to dying. It is breaking my heart but I had to leave. I cannot stand to watch him killing himself.

    He drives under the influence. He is retired and I still work, so I come home to him nearly every night drunk and high. He smokes medical marijuana for pain (which he says is why he drinks too). Over the summer he took care of some of the grandchildren and we found out he drank and drove them, too.

    He starts fighting with me if I say anything about the drinking when the grandchildren are over so now my daughter, of course, says he cannot watch the kids because of drinking while watching them, and they cannot come over without her because of the fighting.

    Now I have had to leave. I cannot live like this. But I feel worried about him and I feel guilty for not taking care of him. Even though when I went back to pick up some clothes he called me every name in the book, blamed me for everything, said he hopes I drop dead etc. Then he sent me a message about how sorry he was and he feels very remorseful, so much he hopes his heart stops because he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Then he called today and told me to divorce him because he is a hopeless cause. It all makes me so sick. I can’t stand it, and I still love him!

  39. Anna says:

    I read all the above stories and cannot help but feel guilt and shame for having to put my family through all the worries and stressful situations you all feel. As an addict, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not battling with my disease. I have three children, a really good job, and still have urges to use. This does not stop, but hearing your stories makes me think twice.

    Addiction is a disease and family members don’t know how to stop it. There comes a point when you have to give the addict an ultimatum and it sounds from all you have stated you can’t just leave. Getting support for yourselves and seeking a higher power to hand it to can help. I’m sorry you all must go through this and I will pray for all of you.

  40. Sheila says:

    My husband has been sober for a year and a half and relapsed two weeks ago. He has by lying to me and hiding it from me. I don’t know what to do next or how to help him.

  41. margie says:

    My daugther had been in rehab for 22 days. She just came home this past Wednesday and has relapsed. She won’t go to meetings, telling me she’s not court-ordered to go. She’s had two DUIs in not even 2 months. One involved hitting a parked car. She has a two-year-old daughter.

    All we’ve been doing is fighting, saying nasty things to each other. I pushed her tonight, she has me so mad. I’ve been here for her, watched her daughter for three weeks while she was in rehab, and that’s the thanks I get, to get treated bad after everything I do for her. I am so worried about my granddaughter and my daughter. I don’t know what to do.

  42. Mimimomo says:

    I can totally relate with each of you. I am from Asia, moved here and got married 4 years ago to a recovering alcoholic. And now we are blessed with two little kids. My husband was sober for 5 years and he relapsed back in July and went in for treatment for 24 days. Just got out 5 days ago and now he relapsed again. I can’t describe the pain I feel and also the disappointment.

    I’m worried that he’ll lose his job. I have no family here. I’m so scared for him as this disease will eventually kill him, if he continues doing what he does. I’m worried about my kids as well. It breaks my heart every time I think about all of these. I don’t know if I should stay in this marriage or not.

  43. jennifer says:

    I relate with many of you. My 22-year-old relapsed 8 months ago. Not using everything, but he’s smoking pot and drinking. More frequently, he gets belligerent and says horrible things to me–also blames me for everything when he’s drunk.

    He doesn’t want to go to meetings and says he doesn’t want to stop. He binge-drinks every two weeks but has been drinking every week and this week drank twice. I also have picked him up from the gutter, but for some reason he doesn’t see how quickly he’s moving backwards.

    I’m afraid of what may happen to him. Afraid that he’ll start using again. I don’t know what to do. Picked him up drunk today and I hate to say it but I hope he’s passed out already. I’m a nervous wreck. This has been a 5-year battle, but I don’t see him fighting as hard as he could be.

    I want to ask him to leave, but he has nowhere in the world to go. I can’t stand the thought of him being on the street. I’m at a loss.

  44. Amy says:

    I am dealing with my husband of 35 years relapsing after 9 years of sobriety. Most of the years previous to him getting sober were hell. During that time there were periods of sobriety, but they were few and far between. There finally came a day when he agreed to enter rehab and came out a better man than ever, and I was so proud. I could even joke to him that there never was a drug that he didn’t try, a drink he didn’t drink or a woman he didn’t have.

    I also had unbelievable courage after rehab and put in writing that I would never put up with anything and one time screwing up and he would be out. Well, a month ago he admitted he had smoked a joint. I freaked and he promised he would never do it again, but three days ago he came home drunk and stumbling. I lost it and demanded he go to a meeting. He did last night, but the attitude about that meeting was different than it had been before and I knew he went because I made him and not because he believed he needed it.

    I forgot how sick this all made me and how I can’t think of anything else. I am angry that I have been brought back down to feeling this way. Confused as to what my next move should be as I cannot live on my paycheck alone and cannot get a second job due to helping take care of my mother who is in the later stages of Alzheimers.

  45. Martina says:

    The abuse I get from my son is horrendous. I have a drink now and then and he calls me some horrible names. Twice I picked him from the gutter, two-and-a-half years in an ongoing drunk. Does everyone who gets sober treat their mother like this, as I have been. To my own care workers, every week, does everyone that gets sober carry on like this, or am I losing my mind–because everything seems to be my fault, even though I do everything to help him. I think I am cracking up.

  46. Jean says:

    My only child and son is 32. He was a recovering alcoholic of 10 years the first time, one month the second time, and recently relapsed a third time after tow months–one of those months he was in treatment.

    His story is his dad hasn’t been in his life for most of it, which is sad but true. His father and I divorced when he was five, as his father was a full-blown alcoholic. He has lost his wife of nine years to divorce, and is on the path of losing his job he has worked so hard for. I am just sickened inside.

    I need Al-Anon. I lost my second husband to a sudden death four years ago–an awesome man. I can’t do this anymore. I have no life. Since his divorce, he came back home to live for a while. It has been a chaotic six months, to say the least. He and I are very close, but some ways he blames me for things–I believe that is part of the sickness.

    I thought this time he was on the path to sobriety, but it was won out by the alcohol and his choice to drink again. I am in a state of what do I do now? Do I ask him to move and feel guilty and worry sick over how he is? Or do I give him the chance to sober up and lay down a contract of what I will and won’t accept and if he doesn’t live that contract he is then going to have to move out. I appreciate all of the thoughts and shared feelings.

  47. jan says:

    This all sounds so familiar. My ex-husband never helped with my son or around the house. In fact he made messes and just left them for me to clean up. He spent money we did not have on alcohol and now years later I am finding out he was spending it on drugs as well. Thankfully I walked away from the situation after 19 years of marriage. He just passed away a little over a week ago from cirrhosis of the liver. Very sad and such a waste of a life.

    They always make it seem like it is you who has the problem so you stay in the relationship and feel afraid to move on with your life. I did it and it was not easy starting my life over again at 49 but I did it and I am so glad I did. For my son’s sake as well as mine. Also the threat about taking your children if he leaves. My ex said the same thing and it instilled fear in me for years until I realized that no judge in the world would award custody to an abusive alcoholic. He had to stop working soon after our divorce because of his alcoholism and his illness.

    I worked full time and had to arrange care for my son so I could work. I went to food banks for help to supplement our food and got help with my utility bills and did my own divorce because I could not afford a lawyer. I won’t lie, it was tough! And I depended on that child support to keep our heads above water. Once he stopped paying that and because he was self-employed and sick and I had no money for lawyers etc, I got so behind on my bills that I lost my house.

  48. Mo says:

    My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years now. We have 3 children. He hasn’t been around much of their life. He has been drunk most of the time. He was drinking very heavy and would stay gone for a week at a time and leave me and the kids. I would be sick with worry–Is he with another woman? Is he hurt? Is he in jail?

    I would call everywhere looking for him. He got so bad he would be throwing up blood, peeing on himself, and doing crazy things he says he didn’t realize he was doing. He lied constantly and hid everything he did. He drained bank accounts before bills were paid. I would find myself racing to the bank to get bills paid before he had a chance to rob us. He was verbally mean and would break everything in our home. I told him I couldn’t live that way anymore.

    He quit for almost 5 months this last time, and now he is at it again–lying again, and everything is my fault. I caused this. I’m a bitch with daddy issues and he has done nothing wrong. He doesn’t need a momma. He will do whatever he wants when he wants. He dumps beer on me and calls me names and says I’m a worthless mother. If I leave, he will take the kids.

    I don’t know what to do. I love him. I want our family together, but how do you live this way? How do you ignore it and act like things are ok? I’m constantly walking on egg shells, thinking about every move I make. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.

  49. KEB says:

    I just found out that my 19-year-old son has relapsed. Not sure when exactly, but his father and I suspected he may be using based on his behavior (funny how that hunch is usually right).

    After getting a possession charge last fall, he agreed to go into rehab. He was there for 10 days, followed by 3 months in a halfway house and then was in 2 different 3/4 houses. While he has worked, the best he did was work for 5-6 weeks and then got fired. That was 3 jobs ago. So his dad and I have been subsidizing his living.

    After him getting fired from the last job, I didn’t pay the weekly rent so he had to leave. I was bothered by his entitled attitude. I don’t expect a bunch of “thank-you’s,” but do expect him to keep a job and make forward progress. After a few days living in his car and his dad returning from vacation, his dad suggested he come live with him and that family under certain conditions–working, stay clean, save money, etc. That was one week ago.

    I discovered today that he withdrew the most recent check he received, which was a few hundred dollars, without any regard to the car insurance that is due or the $1,800 he still owes his grandparents. His dad confronted him and he admitted that yes he cashed the check and was using again.

    I feared this day. He had been sober 6-7 months but does struggle with depression, is immature and still sick. Since he was supposed to be sober as a condition of living at his father’s, he has been kicked out. It breaks my heart and I fear what will happen to him. I think he needs to hit bottom. He has to want to be clean–I don’t think he is ready, even though he has legal ramifications to him relapsing. I wonder if I am doing the right thing by letting him be homeless.

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