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.