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How Do You Know if Your Husband is an Alcoholic??

by Laurie
(Beech Grove, IN)

I have posed this question to myself several times. My brother died of alcoholism so I wonder if I am too sensitive to alcohol and anyone that drinks.

My husband hides his alcohol because he knows that it bothers me. His eyes always become glossy so I always know when he's been drinking. He usually becomes argumentative and says that without me and the kids, he's all alone. He has no friends.

He's in the military and suffers from PTSD when he retired from Iraq. I don't always believe it because I think he uses that as a ploy for my compassion. The kids have lost respect for him since all he does is yell and is unhappy.

He openly admits that he hates himself. Do I force him out until he gets help or do I stay with him and push him to get help?


Hi Laurie

I'm really sorry to hear about your brother.

You don't describe your husband's drinking in much detail, but the fact that he hides his alcohol can be quite a telling sign of alcoholism.

Alcoholism is usually defined as dependence and loss of control. In other words, you need alcohol to help you function because you've become mentally and/or physically dependent on it - and loss of control means you can't stop once you've started drinking at just a couple of drinks like most 'normal' drinkers can, and so usually end up drinking yourself into oblivion.

The big thing though that I like to look out for is how is the drinking affecting you and your life in general? So in your husband's case - has his drinking reached the point where it's affecting his sense of well-being as well as his ability to do his usual daily activities? If it is then there is a problem.

For more specific details of what to look out for, I suggest you spend time reading the various articles on the alcoholism symptoms page - specifically the one describing the signs of alcoholism and the the one that gives you an excellent test for alcoholism. By reading these you should be pretty clear as to whether your husband is an alcoholic.

As to what you should do - I think start off by encouraging him to get help and be as supportive as you can. If that approach doesn't work ... then yes you may want to start adopting a more tough love type approach.

The fact that your husband has PTSD does no doubt play a role - so it seems like he needs help on a number of levels. It doesn't justify his drinking by any means, but it does probably play a major contributing factor. I think you should try and get your husband to go through an alcohol treatment program, which will help him with his drinking, and start addressing the psychological effects of the PTSD with the intensive counseling he would get.

With the proper kind of professional help and treatment, hopefully your husband can get through this. Whether he wants to though is another matter, at which point you may have no choice but to adopt a more tough love approach. Because ultimately the only person who can help an alcoholic is themselves - if they truly are going to recover successfully.

Take Care and I hope everything works out for the best.

God Bless

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Oct 07, 2009
by: C-P

Being bitter is fairly normal with regards your situation and what you're going through. The thing is though, all it does is affect your well-being and happiness, so best we try and address it.

Your husband is going to do what he's going to do. He's the one totally responsible for it. Remember you didn't cause his addiction, you can't control it, nor can you cure it.

But what you can do is begin to create boundaries in the relationship about what you need and expect from your relationship. The best way to look at implementing that may be to try couples therapy - so you discuss these issues in a 'safe' environment.

That way you're being supportive on the one hand because you're looking for a solution with your husband - and it allows you to express what you need and expect from him, which will hopefully mean he starts to make some changes with regards his behavior.

Have you also tried going to any Al Anon meetings (for family members of alcoholics) yet? Those can be a great comfort and support because you'll meet people going through exactly what you are, and you'll be able to find out how they're dealing with things.

But it all comes back to your husband and whether he's serious about wanting to change. Going to the odd AA meeting doesn't necessarily show that. If none of this works and your husband doesn't really seem interested - then you may have to start using a more 'tough love' approach and tell him if he doesn't get serious about his recovery and making changes - then you will leave him. Because ultimately your health, well-being and happiness is also important.

There is no perfect way to handle this. Don't let your resentment play a role in making a decision you may regret later - but at the same time you need to try listen to your intuition and get a sense of what it's telling you.

All the best

Oct 07, 2009
How to be Supportive
by: Laurie

There's been some new information. My husband went to an AA meeting last night and wants me to be more supportive. Here's my problem, I've been through this cycle. He drinks a lot and behaves horribly towards me and the kids. Then he feels guilty the next day and becomes depressed for another couple days. then he decides he needs help and attempts an AA meeting. Things go okay for a few days and then the cycle repeats itself. I think I have become numb to this whole cycle. I'm not very supportive because I know the cycle and I told him that last night. Sometimes it pisses me off to see him sitting on the couch all depressed and sad. He's unemployed and I work, so I expect him to get the house clean on a daily basis but find that I am coming home on my lunch break and cleaning the house. I told him that just because you are depressed that the world does not stop. You have to keep going because the kids and I still depend on you. I guess you could say that I am bitter. I do not know how to be supportive. What do I do?

Oct 06, 2009
When almost all he does is drink
by: Anonymous

When almost all he does is drink. Couldn't be bothered to do anything else - except get drunk continuously. Takes no care of himself, is lazy and goes through terrible mood swings. Been there. It aint pleasant. You need to set some boundaries and insist he get help and change, otherwise things will just continue to get worse.
good luck

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