Helping a secret alcoholic who doesn't think they have a problem
Hi everyone, my husband has been a secret alcoholic for a long time. He's very creative/careful about how he purchases, drinks and disposes of the alcohol. Mostly before he gets home. Hiding his problem is huge and it's miracle he hasn't been caught by police. Although he lost his license drink-driving before we were together. I realised we had a problem when I discovered he'd had 7 full strength cans while I was at work and he was at home looking after our baby. Now I have discovered that he recently drank-drove (over the limit) with our kids in the car. I haven't forgiven him. He says he has no problem, he's said sorry (gets angry), says there's nothing more he can do, I have the problem if I'm not "over it" and that he's not going to put up with me bringing it up. There are many, many more incidents and I'm tired of it. He is adamant he will not see a GP, psychologist or counselor of any kind, solo or together as a couple.
Q - How can you help someone in the pre-contemplation phase?
I've read about people having to want to change, but can I help him get there?
Hello Dear Pastrychef,
A very warm and caring welcome to the forums,
I’m sorry that your husband is doing this to you and your beautiful children…Your husband is breaking the law, drink driving is not okay, especially when he has your children in the car…That’s just so irresponsible and putting your children’s lives at risk, including his own life and other people’s lives as well…
Yes, if someone doesn’t want change or get help, then it’s almost impossible for that person to be helped…it’s really sad, and my heart goes out to you Pastrychef….maybe he needs a huge wake up call before he does in fact cause an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol….Is reporting him, when you know he’s DUI…an option for you?…
Sorry if I’ve been a bit blunt, it’s just that we here so much about tragedy on our roads with people DUI…if someone can be that person to put a DUI person off the road, they have probably saved someone else’s life…
My kindest thoughts Dear Pastrychef…
Thank you Grandy. Thought I’d check for lived experience here, and appreciate your caring response.
I haven’t heard of any strategies for people helping loved ones “want to change”. Just that they have to hit rock bottom…That could be soon or years away, and I have decided I don’t want to be there for that. Just building the confidence make the change soon, it’s a lot.
Yes, getting this chronic DIU driver (my husband) off the road will happen, I absolutely hate it. The courts will not look kindly on multiple DUI charges but we live by the choices we make.
I feel for you so much, given the stress and fear your husband's drinking causes. It can be such a massive challenge, leading someone to see the thing they love (which in their mind offers solutions) as being an actual problem.
I suppose one of the questions comes down to what leads him to see the drinking as 'normal' or 'acceptable' and 'not a problem'. Being a gal who went from being a binge drinker to rarely drinking these days, in hindsight I can say drinking what is literally a mind altering substance to the point of various levels of dysfunction is definitely not normal or acceptable and it's certainly a problem. While deep down I knew there was an issue, I believed it solved a lot of problems. Some of the problems: Social anxiety/fears, stress, feeling low, issues with self esteem etc etc. Like some magic potion, it gave me to the abilities to easily socialise, relax, feel a high and feel confidence etc. When I came out of that time in my life, I found I had no natural skills in these areas. Based on this fact, drinking had posed a greater problem than what I'd first thought. My husband, on the other hand, still drinks and doesn't believe he has a problem. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can understand where he's coming from.
While my husband never drinks and drives, I've tried to lead him to see his drinking as posing problems in other areas. I even said to him a couple of days ago 'While your drinking is not a problem for you, it does pose problems for others'. I'm not sure whether you can relate but it's amazing how when you learn to accommodate a drinker, your life subtly changes bit by bit without you fully realising. You come to manage when you have important conversations so they can recall them, you come to manage most of the driving, you come to manage mental and emotional challenges on your own (based on a drinker not wanting their sense of peace or their high disturbed) and the list goes on. You manage the consequences of what they don't have a problem with. They don't have a lot of problems because things are made easier for them in a number of ways. Your husband may never see his drinking as a problem until it becomes a problem for him in some way, as opposed to it offering nothing but solutions.
How to make someone fully conscious of the impact of a substance through which they lose consciousness is a challenge and a half. When I say 'lose consciousness', what I mean is lose conscious awareness of things such as time, a filter, responsibility, challenges that need to be met, certain needs in the way of personal growth, emotional regulation and the list goes on. I think knowing exactly why we drink is a part of waking up to it. For most folk, besides alcohol being addictive, I think a large part can come down to emotional regulation. While the old saying goes 'Pick your poison', when it comes to alcohol, for a drinker it can more so feel like 'Choose your magic (that takes you to your happy land)'.
Thank you so much for your response. This and other comments I founds of yours on other threads, some from a long time ago, have helped me enormously.
I relate to all of the above, this especially struck a chord - “You manage the consequences of what they don't have a problem with.“ - 10,000%!
I have compassion for why he drinks, ALL of the reasons you said and more, but when he selfishly puts the kids at risk, I explode (on the inside!). Even today, he left the house unlocked.. I’m double checking everything for him.
A health professional said I’m becoming a person I’m not because I’m trying to manage a problem that’s not mine, and I’m now really resentful, we both are. He doesn’t want external help, and I can’t help him in the way he needs. I have emotionally finalised the decision to leave. I’m not financially dependent on him, which I know is VERY fortunate and I’m grateful. I told him last week I think we should separate. He said no. That we will work it out. This week he’s been frustrated and pushing down anger. The factors surrounding the drinking, hiding money, being manipulative, lying, putting me down etc have hit breaking point. I can’t change him (as you and Grandy said). His problem is my response to his drinking. I can see a life without him, that is now what I want, and I’ve grieved our relationship. Thanks again for your time, wisdom and positivity, these threads really helped me.