My Wife Has Been a Binge Drinker for 6 years - I No Longer Know What To Do?
My wife and I got married in 2001. We have a great life and are now retired. Six years ago I became aware that she had a drinking problem. She has had major health issues all her life, and I at first mistook her inebriation for medication interaction.
It wasn't until I took her to the emergency room and found a bottle of rum in her purse that I realized the problem was alcohol. As I started to pay attention I noticed that she would binge about once every 3 weeks or so.
At first the binging was due to childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother and the fact that her father and older sister didn't protect her. Over the course of the first 4 years of her drinking I resuscitated her 2 times that she stopped breathing, had to call an ambulance for her 4 times, had her participate in 2 at-home detox programs, 2 in-patient detox programs, 2 30 day residential rehab programs, 2 after-care counseling programs.
She has seen numerous counselors since the after-care programs and seems to get better at dealing with her emotions for weeks at a time. However, about every 3 weeks something causes her to revert back to alcohol as a means of numbing herself from whatever is upsetting her at the time.
Tragically, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2009 (more tragically, she is not aware that her drinking caused her to miss a GYN appointment 8 months before she was diagnosed that might have resulted in an earlier detection of the cancer and a better course of treatment), and had to undergo a bilateral mastectomy with subsequent surgeries for reconstruction, hysterectomy and course of debilitating chemotherapy.
She now binges because she feels that the cancer will return and that she hasn't long to live. When she drinks she exhibits most of the behaviors that I have read in other postings (anger, fear, blaming me for her drinking but then apologizing after she sobers up, LYING to me about her drinking even when I find a bottle beside her
, hiding bottles all over the house, etc. - these have gone on for years), and when she is not drinking, like I mentioned, our life is great.
She says I don't know how she feels (she's really the only one who truly knows) - and gets angry at me for trying to keep her from hurting herself when she drinks. I'm at my wit's end - she feels that rehab won't help her, and she canceled her most recent counselor appointment because she felt like she was "getting better." The next day (this past Tuesday) she started to binge again.
I don't know whether to leave alcohol out in the house, in a sense enabling her, or try to keep her from drinking and destroying her health even more (when she drinks she neglects to take her medications). I get so angry at her that I
want her to leave, but then I realize that she has real fears with which she is unable to cope.
I am tired of her lies, tired of her lashing out at me, tired of covering for her and missing events we have scheduled because she is drinking. At the same time I fear she will hurt herself or worse like before when I happened to return home in time to resuscitate her. Sorry for the long post, but if anyone can offer some suggestions I would appreciate any guidance.
Despite the hardships your wife has been through, until she stops using them as excuses to drink, her binge drinking is going to continue being an ongoing cycle. She needs to reach the point where she's had enough of all the consequences that come with her drinking, before she's likely to change.
And you need to help get her there. That comes through not enabling her behavior. Hiding bottles etc. doesn't help, because she'll find ways to get around that. You need to put firm and definitive boundaries in place as to what behavior you regard as acceptable (and what you don't) ... and then create consequences for crossing them.
Essentially your wife needs to realise that you are no longer going to tolerate her behavior because you've had enough. And unless she gets serious about getting professional help for her drinking problem
and doing whatever it takes to achieve sobriety, there are going to be severe ramifications from your side.
In your mind that may seem counter-productive or 'not very nice.' The reality is unless you take a stand and decide enough is enough, not only are you going to become more and more miserable, while your relationship deteriorates further - your wife could end up killing herself as you've already experienced first hand having to resuscitate her.
This is about trying to help save her from herself, and the only way to do that is by helping her reach the point where she realises if she doesn't change, she stands to lose everything that means anything to her.
Don't be an ogre about it - make it clear you love her and only want the best for her, and that's why you're doing what you are. Tell her you'll totally support her if she gets the help she needs (residential inpatient program) and commits to turning her life around. But that you can't stand by watching her kill herself anymore.
At the end of the day there is only so much you can do. Your wife has to ultimately want to do it for herself. But by taking these steps, hopefully you'll help motivate her into doing so.
P.S. For more detailed information on what to do and how to handle the situation with your wife, you may want to consider getting yourself, Help Me! I'm In Love With An Alcoholic
. We cover stuff in there that space constraints don't allow us to go into here.