Dear Barb—Bottled Concerns

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have been married for seven years and we have two young children. Our married life has been pretty good. We have never broken up, but we have come close a few times because of my husband’s drinking. Sometimes he’ll drink too much and doesn’t come home all night, or flirts with other women. He hasn’t been unfaithful, but he did kiss and make out with other women. I’ve threatened to leave a few times, but he would promise it would never happen again and was really sorry. Then he’d be good for a few months, one time he didn’t drink for six months. We got along great during this time, although he did seem edgy and sort tempered. Gradually he begins drinking again and within a short time he’s binging again.  Each time he stops drinking I fool myself into believing everything is fine and he won’t start drinking again. I have talked to him about going for treatment or doing some reading on alcoholism, but he is adamant he is not an alcoholic, because he says if he was he wouldn’t be able to stop drinking like he does. He says he enjoys a drink, but admits that he does get carried away at times. I don’t know if I am overreacting. I love my husband and want us to stay together, but from what I’ve read I am concerned that he might become an alcoholic. Looking for any advice you can offer, thanks Christine.

Hi Christine:

Thanks for your letter. Alcoholism doesn’t just start overnight; it is a long and gradual process. You are right to concerned, as your husband has demonstrated some behaviour that would indicate he’s a good candidate to possibly become alcoholic. I’m not saying that it will happen, but there are stages an individual goes through on their way to becoming an alcoholic.  Initially a person may begin drinking as a teenager and experiment with binge drinking. As a person moves into their twenties and thirties this drinking should happen less often, and should not be occurring to the point of becoming physically ill or acting reckless or irresponsible.  The reasons a person drinks may change as they begin to develop a problem. For example, if someone begins using alcohol to alleviate stress, or as a way of coping with sadness or loss, they may be developing a problem. When drinking progresses to the point where you think you need to drink to feel good, you probably have a problem. The worst case scenario is destroying your liver, heart and brain among other things. You need to discuss your feelings with your husband and possibly attend an Alanon meeting as a guest. Also talk to your family doctor about some counseling for both of you. A counselor may be able to identify whether your husband has a drinking problem. He would probably be more receptive to hearing this from a professional. I think you are on the right track to stay on top of this. Best of luck Christine.

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