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How Do I Help My Ex-Husband Who Doesn't Think He Has a Alcohol/Drug Problem ?

My ex-husband and father of my two daughters (22,14) has always been a drinker (at least 12 pack a night) - but recently after back pain he's been taking zanex and pain meds and is totally out of it.

He's a business owner and it's affecting his business and relationship with his girls. He's finally slowed down on drinking and driving after a bad experience with our oldest daughter but now he just sits around his house talking about how exhausted he is but he doesn't do anything.

He sleeps a lot and practically passes out, his voice is slurred and doesn't make sense. Our relationship after our divorce was very good, we stayed very good friends and work together (we built the business during our marriage).

He reschedules appointments a lot and doesn't get bids out. When we try to tell him there is something wrong he denies it or gets upset talking about how much pressure he's under. I'm sure this is probably typical but I just don't know how to help him or help him get help??


You are right when you say your ex-husband's behaviour is fairly typical. The biggest obstacle you currently face is your ex-husband's denial about his alcohol and drug problem. Denial is the biggest obstacle anyone with a substance abuse problem faces in achieving sobriety - and your ex-husband is using all the classic justifiers, e.g. stress, as to why he's using alcohol and drugs in the way he is. And of course if there is no real problem (in his mind anyway), why should he get help?

The bottom line is that ultimately your husband has got to want to help himself, i.e. realise he has a problem and that he has to get help and do something about it. Because you are powerless over what he does and so unfortunately can't control his problem drinking/drug using, at least not in any significant way.

If however you feel things are bad enough to warrant it, you can as a family attempt a professional alcoholism/addiction intervention, which can be a very effective method to accelerate your husband reaching his bottom and so agreeing to getting proper treatment.

Or if you want to try something more low key to begin with, get your husband the very popular Addiction Free Forever Homestudy Program - which you can give him to work through or just leave lying around and see if hopefully he picks it up and starts working through it. A lot of people have experienced tremendous success using it, and it offers an alternative to the mainstream addiction treatment and 12 step programs, and for the price, it's worth a try if nothing else.

You might also want to consider going to Al-Anon meetings which is for family members of alcoholics, and find out what other members are doing in similar situations.

Whatever you do however, it always comes back to the same basic fundamentals when dealing with alcoholism or addiction in a family member or loved one: You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. Keep those in mind so that you don't take on unnecessary responsibility and guilt over a problem that isn't yours (as cruel as that may sound). You can't save your husband if he doesn't want to save himself.

Best of Luck

Comments for How Do I Help My Ex-Husband Who Doesn't Think He Has a Alcohol/Drug Problem ?

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Nov 12, 2009
You Don't
by: Anonymous

You don't ... not unless he wants to help himself. That's the biggest frustration of seeing an addiction unfold in someone else, trying everything you possibly can to help with little or no success, to eventually realise that there is nothing you can really do, unless that person is ready and prepared to accept your help. That sense of helplessness can be incredibly difficult to deal with - so don't let him take you down with him because addicts are good at that.

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