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My Alcoholic Boyfriend Has Relapsed, But Doesn't Think It's a Big Deal?

by Emma
(Cleveland, Ohio)

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about four months. He's been in AA for almost a year, and has told me a little about how bad his drinking was before he quit. He almost lost all ties with his friends and family, and he seemed to take his sobriety very seriously.

A few nights ago though, he said that he just really craved the taste of a good beer, and that the taste of it was what he missed the most about drinking. I asked him about his sobriety and told him I didn't think it was a good idea, but there was no dissuading him. I had some beer in my fridge, and he had one. Then one became five.

Last night he came to my apartment with three six packs and drank fourteen beers, insisting the whole time that it was just for the taste of them and that the alcohol wasn't even effecting him. This morning before he left for work he drank three more.

I don't know what to do. He's back living with his parents while he straightens his life out, so he comes to my apartment to drink. I don't feel like we've been dating long enough for me to give him ultimatums, but I'm worried about him. He doesn't seem to realize that drinking so much in one night isn't normal or acceptable consumption. Is there anything I can do? Answer

Hi Emma

Is there anything you can do? Yes, tell his parents straight away and don't let him convince you there is any justifiable reason for him drinking or that he'll be able to control it. You've seen for yourself - alcoholics, once they start drinking, don't know the meaning of control. Because they can't. And that's one of the primary factors that distinguishes an alcoholic from a non-alcoholic.

You have to think beyond what the implications of doing this will have for your relationship - because his ultimate health and well-being should be more important to you than him getting upset with you, and so jeopardising your relationship if you tell his parents.

And once you've spoken to his parents, be honest and tell him what you've done and why ... because you can't be in a relationship with an active alcoholic, and unless he gets sober again, your relationship has no chance of being a healthy one.

Just because you've only been together for a short period of time, shouldn't stop you from telling it like it is, and making it clear his drinking is not okay with you. Establishing boundaries is important for any relationship. And you're not only doing that for selfish reasons - because it's ultimately in his best interests to get back on track asap, considering all the potentially devastating consequences active alcoholism brings with it.

Alcoholics can't drink 'successfully'. Sobriety is the only long-term solution. You've just gotten a taste of what his drinking is like - if he does nothing and continues to drink, things are guaranteed to get significantly worse. So as uncomfortable as it may be, you have to take a stand, tell his parents, and from there things will unfold however they're meant to. But whatever happens then, at least you'll know you've done the right thing.

And don't let him manipulate you into thinking what you've done is wrong or that he can somehow control what he's doing. It's part of what alcoholics do because they're in denial and it keeps them stuck in the destructive cycle of their addiction.

Best of Luck

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