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My 73 Year Old Husband and Drinking Problem. How Do I Cope With This Situation?

by Marie

My husband is a specialist in the medical field. He is 73 and now works from home for 2 labs. In the past, he used to drink whiskey excessively, especially at parties, and often embarrassed me in front of friends and family when he could hardly walk or speak etc.

Now, he drinks 2-3 whiskeys every night. The problem is that, due to a weak leg, he sometimes falls after these drinks and I cannot manage to lift him up and get him to bed. I have to call for my son to come and help his father. My children are very fed up with this situation, and I have come to the end of my endurance after years of dealing with his drinking.

Besides his weak leg problem which is undiagnosed, he suffers from depression and panic attacks. Without his 2-3 drinks every night he is zombie-like. He does not wish to see anyone as he can't socialize without having a drink. He talks often about wanting to die. He does not seem to have anything to live for, especially when he is not drinking. His depression prevents him from doing volunteer work or taking up a hobby.

I am not sure if he is an alcoholic as he gets up every morning and goes for a walk, and he is able to do his work as a pathologist everyday. I have insisted that he does not drink at all as I cannot help him if and when he falls. I haven't hidden all his drinks in an effort to make him stop.

Am I doing the right thing? And what should I do about this situation? Very grateful for any advice. Answer

Drinking 2-3 whiskeys a night one wouldn't have thought that makes your husband an alcoholic, but obviously the effects these drinks has on him, means it is a serious problem that needs addressing.

The older you get, as your metabolism and other functions start to slow, the harder the effects of alcohol start to hit, with the various medications one often has to take as one gets older often also being a major contributing factor.

The person probably best place to speak to your husband is his G.P. Because he could prescribe something to your husband that would help with the depression, and maybe also get through to him about his drinking and the effects it's having.

We don't usually recommend G.P.'s as a first point of call because the sphere of alcohol abuse is a complex and specialised one that most don't understand, but at your husband's age, his Doctor can be a voice of sense and reason.

The approach you're using is also helpful, because you're not helplessly standing by hoping for things to change by themselves. Are there no activities you and your husband could do together in the evenings, that will distract him enough from wanting to drink, or maybe only have one instead of three?

It is hard because at your husband's age, if he hasn't got the will to live, becoming motivated enough to make changes is going to be difficult. But maybe if his G.P. can help with the depression via prescribing an anti-depressant that also treats his anxiety (and one can't drink on those), he'll start to feel better and be more receptive to doing things rather than drinking.

All the Best

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