Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Help Header

My New Partner is an Alcoholic. He Was Sober and Has Now Started 'Controlled' Drinking

I have met and fallen in love with a lovely guy. He is very caring and gentle to me.We met online and have been communicating daily. We have met several times and stayed with each other. We are almost 5 months into this relationship.

From the very beginning he was upfront and told me he was a recovering alcoholic and that he doesn't drink anymore except last year when his wife died but he "clawed his way back" to sobriety last spring.

After about our third meeting he told me he had begun having what he called "controlled" drinking, i.e. having a drink in the evening. I asked him how would I know when its becoming an issue again. He said - "when I start drinking in the morning".

Since then he attended my sons wedding this last weekend and we stayed in a hotel. He had a couple of drinks at the wedding but he was fine all evening. No signs of being tipsy or drunk. The next morning he asked if I had a disprin as he felt "queasy". I didn't have one so he reached into the fridge bar and consumed a small bottle of wine i.e. 250 mls. He told me he felt like "shyte".

I was a bit shocked by this. He said to me that he must get himself back into no drinking again. I have asked him to be honest with me (I know that addicts can be deceptive and lie and he has also told me that as well).

I suspect now that he has still been having drinks in the morning to get himself feeling OK. It wasn't much but none the less it disturbed me given he'd told me that it will be an issue if he started drinking in the morning and here he was doing just that.

I was with him all the rest of the day and he had no chance to drink any more but when I took him to the airport he bought a beer and consumed that while he was waiting to board his plane. It all seemed benign but in reality I don't think it was - just another way to keep the status quo going.

I'm off to spend 10 days with him in a couple of days and he says he will be able to be strong when I'm with him. I have asked that he buys no alcohol or has any in the house whilst I am there with him and he has agreed. I understand the concepts of enabling as I have some counselling experience but not specifically in this field.

I have drawn a line in the sand and said that if he continues then I will not stay in this relationship even tho I love him. I have told him it is not worth destroying our relationship and I know he loves me so much that I hope he will be resolute in kicking this.

I have offered to support him in whatever that may be but have also stated categorically that I won't "rescue" him i.e. checking up on him or spying on him etc. as I believe that is only letting me take responsibility and not him. Is there anything specific I need to be aware off in terms of what symptoms I will see and ways I need to confront him if need be? I look forward to you support. Thank you.


You've done the right thing by drawing a line in the sand and putting clear boundaries in place, because once a recovering alcoholic relapses, it usually doesn't take long for things to unravel very quickly.

There's a reason a life of sobriety is the only option for someone who has struggled with alcoholism. Because alcoholics and those predisposed towards addiction can't drink in a controlled way like 'normal' drinkers can. There's a saying that goes, 'one is too many and a thousand not enough' because once an alcoholic starts drinking, control flies out the window.

Your partner may be able to control it initially, but I guarantee you it won't last. He can't help it, it's simply one of the traits of an alcoholic. So the only way forward is for him to try and put this blip behind him as soon as possible and get back onto the path of sobriety, ideally through the aid of a proper alcohol recovery program.

Because if he's not working some kind of program, making the underlying fundamental spiritual, emotional and behavioural changes that led to his addiction in the first place - he'll find maintaining his sobriety incredibly difficult. And working a program also keeps a person humble and honest - sometimes we forget how bad things were and how terrible we felt - and so rationalise that maybe we could drink again because we'll be able to control it. The mind can be a dangerous place if we're not doing the work.

Your instincts will tell you when he's been drinking because you'll notice he's not quite right, that is if he's trying to hide it. And don't let him manipulate you into thinking otherwise. But I think you need to make it clear to him, he gets sober and embraces a life of sobriety, otherwise you simply can't continue in this relationship.

Offer to support him getting help etc. and that you'll be there for him if he gets sober - because if you don't try and nip this in the bud now, things will in all probability very quickly spiral out of control. There's no guarantee it will work, because if he's in denial about his alcoholism, it's likely he won't be in a space where he actually wants to do anything about his problem, which is crucial if he's ever going to beat it.

But maybe if you do make it very clear where you stand on this, he'll take his relapse and problem seriously, and so be motivated to get help and turn things around. You're on the right track though and understand what needs to be done. So best of luck with everything.

Comments for My New Partner is an Alcoholic. He Was Sober and Has Now Started 'Controlled' Drinking

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 28, 2011
No Ultimatum
by: Anonymous

Verbal ultimatums don't work. Leaving must be your ultimatum. And, honestly, don't leave to manipulate him into sobriety. You leave to save yourself. If he chooses sobriety on his own and comes back for you, then you choose. But, don't leave to control his behavior. He will choose the alcohol over you, believe me.

Aug 28, 2011
No Such Thing As Controlled Drinking
by: Anonymous alcoholic cannot control their drinking. Period. That's why they are an alcoholic. There is no such thing as controlled drinking, or "just having some in the fridge for guests", blah blah blah.

Alcoholics and addicts are MASTER manipulators so please do not believe them regardless of how convincing it sounds. They have already planned their entire logical response to you long in advance of you even finding out. This is because they are 100% preoccupied with getting alcohol or drugs...somehow, someway. It is a 24/7 obsession. If they are not active in treatment, they usually relapse.

My ex-fiancee is a recovering addict/alcoholic. When I met him, he was clean for 6 years and active in AA and NA. Slowly, but surely, he reconnected with his old druggie friends and began to slip away from meetings and clean friends. He manipulated his cancer-suffering mother to sign her house over to him so he could "assist her with paying her medical bills". Sounds logical, right? Ok...well, he took out a 300k mortgage and BLEW IT ALL ON COCAINE AND ALCOHOL. Yep. He's 41 years old. He should "know better". Right? Nope. So now his mom is out a house, has no money for cancer treatments, he lost his job because he didn't go to work for days on end on a binge, I left him and his whole family basically wants to kill him. And, his twisted logic? He says "we left him in his time of need and he will never forgive us". Uh...yeah.

It's a disease that needs daily treatment and attention. Just like someone who needs meds every single day. AND complete abstinence from alcohol, drugs and the people who use with him.

Walk away, my friend. Walk away.

Dec 10, 2010
Yes you are
by: C-P

Giving him an ultimatum is the right thing to do because it draws a clear line in the sand as to what behavior you regard as acceptable and what your expectations are if you're going to stay in a relationship with him. The thing with alcoholism is that it doesn't only destroy the alcoholic, but they inevitably end up taking you down with them because of all the toxic elements they bring to a relationship. So unless he commits to turning his life around by working a program, things are just going to get progressively worse and you'll be caught in the middle. Having a healthy relationship with an alcoholic (or addict for that matter) is near impossible because you'll always end up playing second fiddle to the alcohol and all the chaos that comes with it. You're starting to experience that already, but its only the tip of the iceberg as to how bad things could end up. You're doing the right thing! All the best.

Dec 09, 2010
by: Anonymous

Hi there again- thanks so much for your help thus far and I can see I'm going to need it more and more. I have just spent the last 9 days with my man and he had a 0.5% beer every night whilst I was there but I could smell other stuff on him and finally I confronted him and have given an ultimatum of "me or the booze". He would go out to the garage on some pretext and was gone for a few minutes and this was I suspect the time he was sneaking a drink in. Although I didnt detect any untoward behaviour, Ive now discovered that alcoholics need to have booze to maintain a semblance of what we call "normal"- almost the opposite to normal people. I ve given him a timeframe to decide. He bucked initially and asked me why I couldnt accept him as he was then recanted on this. Ive left him to think about it and have also suggested he get on a programme. Im thinking of suggesting this as part of the deal as well i.e get on a programme or I wont stick around even tho it will tear me up I am not prepared to allow myself to be hurt by this stuff. Since the relationship is relatively new I am bracing myself for the worst. I think it is better to be prepared to leave it for good if he doesnt deal with this insidious disease. I feel like Ive left the ball in his court. Am I on the right path? Thankyou again for all your help and support.

Nov 29, 2010
Thanks for this response
by: Anonymous

Thankyou for this answer.It doesnt appear that he is in denial as he made it quite clear after hed had a drink in the morning (in front of me) that that he needed to get back to not drinking again. Hes open about the fact he is an alcoholic. I will encourage him to get into a programme and Im pleased that I have drawn a line in the sand. Im prepared to support him in helping himself but I have made it clear (even tho I love him) that if it continues I wont stay there and I hope that sufficiently motivates him to sort his stuff out. Thanks for the info about the mind being deceptive and he thinking he could control it. Now that I know that its not possible for an alcoholic to have even one drink I will be even more resolute and gently and lovingly challenging.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Addiction and Alcoholism Effects on Family Questions Archive2.


FREE E-Course

"10 Essential Steps to Ending a Life of Alcoholism or Drug Addiction ... Permanently!"

This Course is packed full of valuable information and advice for overcoming addiction that you're unlikely to find anywhere else.

And if you subscribe now - we'll throw in a Special eBook that will help immensely in your struggle against addiction.

Don't worry - your e-mail
address is totally secure.
Your details will NEVER be sold and you will NOT be spammed.

What is this?
Add to My Yahoo!
My MSN RSS button
Add to Google

Copyright © 2013 - - All Rights Reserved.