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My Wife Has Been Sober For Over 6 Months But Now Thinks She Can Drink in Moderation

by jerry

My wife's drinking was never "terrible" and depictions of alcoholics on TV or even in her recovery meetings give her the impression that she wasn't "all that bad" The problem was she would occasionally binge drink, and worse be the only person drinking at Christmas, birthdays, etc...

She used it to medicate herself and it significantly worsened her attitude. She was angry all of the time, starting fights, etc. I, along with a marriage councilor finally got her to quit a little over 6 months ago and she's been attending meetings.

But recently she decided (with the help of some sadly misguided internet articles) that she could go back to drinking in moderation. She did this behind my back and her change in personality was almost immediate. I knew it was going on, her negative "drinking" personality was back in spades.

She suddenly wanted to have "girls nights out" etc... She finally admitted to me what was going on, I explained that I knew and that her personality had changed. She tried to convince me that she was drinking in moderation, only 2 drinks at most. But these were events in the middle of the week. Tuesdays, Wednesdays. She was going to baseball games and jewelry parties... things she despises.

She doesn't even realize the only reason she's going is to have her "moderate drinking" What can I say to her? What can I do? She really isn't that bad off yet... I know it's coming. She'll come home unable to walk up the stairs one night... I don't want to go strait to threatening divorce, as I know she'll just use that as an excuse to say "Fine" and go off the deep end.

I find the entire situation very difficult because it seems the only thing I can do that doesn't make the problem even worse is suggest it's something I'm just not smart enough to help her with and that she abide by her councilor and support groups advice. Answer

Hi Jerry

Just because you wife didn't drink every day and was only a binge drinker, doesn't mean she isn't an alcoholic, or at least has a serious enough drinking problem that means she'll never be able to drink 'successfully' as 'normal' drinkers do.

You only have to look at her change in behavior to realise she's one of those people who simply can't drink. And just because she doesn't yet have the same 'war stories' to share as other alcoholics at AA meetings, doesn't mean her drinking problem is any less serious or that things couldn't end up that way for her given time.

Justifying why it's okay to drink ... or that they can actually control/moderate, is what alcoholics do. It's part of their illness. Step 1 and the concept of powerlessness to control one's drinking is the foundation on which recovery is based - and as long as your wife fights that, she'll never manage sobriety.

Read the articles in the alcoholism symptoms area, paying particular attention to the 'signs of alcoholism' and 'alcoholism test' articles. Even better, get your wife to read them as well. You'll realise that despite what your wife says, she's got a problem, and her reading them may help her break through her denial.

So while you're right in saying you can't control what your wife does and stop her from drinking, simply doing/saying nothing is not the approach to use either - because all that does is further enable her behavior. You have to be honest and call things as they are because sugar-coating the issue and not holding her accountable keeps her ill longer.

You have to put boundaries in place and create consequences. Not only for your sake, but because that's the only way to help your wife. She needs professional help, and the most likely way she'll come to realise that is if there are real consequences that come with her drinking. Read this story that was recently submitted of what exactly you should do if someone you love has a drinking problem. The advice in there is outstanding.

Best of Luck

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