I'm Worried About Alcohol.... Can Anyone Relate?

Updated on December 12, 2014
O.L. asks from Long Beach, CA
20 answers

I'm finding myself feeling anxious about alcohol. I was raised by an alcoholic and a narcissistic mother, so the combination of the two was not great to say the least. I find myself spiraling into this anxious place worrying about my husband and alcohol. I am not a drinker and never have been. I've always stayed away from alcohol because of my childhood. My husband has 1-2 nights per week where he has a couple of mixed drinks per night.

I never worried about his alcohol use until a few weeks ago. We normally have excellent communication, but one particular night we didn't. He had had a few drinks and I had been gone for the weekend and snapped at him when i got home. Our communication was terrible--I was tired and it spiraled into a very ugly argument. I was so angry with both of us for allowing ourselves to go to that ugly fighting place. We've been so awesome with our communication and have developed some wonderful strengths in our marriage over the past 15 years.

I've tried thinking back on if there have been any particular alcohol-related issues that have raised my concern. I can think of one in particular, but it was addressed immediately and has never happened again. My husband was out with a friend a year or so ago and he drove home after having dinner and drinks. We talked about it and it never happened again. He takes a cab now.

So, since the fight, I've been obsessing about the alcohol and beating myself up for the way the argument went. I find myself worrying and analyzing his alcohol use. A week or so ago he noticed that my mood changed after dinner because I saw a bottle of alcohol in the fridge and he asked me what was wrong. We sat down and talked about my feelings of fear and he assured me that there is nothing to worry about--that he does not have a drinking problem. The funny thing is, I believe him, but because of my past, I start focusing on the "what ifs" and I make myself an anxious mess. I start analyzing and making myself crazy.

I truly don't care if my husband has a drink or two or three. I don't. His behavior is always the same--the fight that we had that one night was not indicative of how our relationship is normally. He is a responsible, hard-working, respectful man and he is an awesome Dad. I'm just afraid. Can anyone relate to this? I feel like i"m becoming more and more co-dependent and it doesn't feel good.

Because of my past, I am sensitive about alcohol and drugs--I am sensitive about losing my family stability--my parents pretty much divorced over these issues. I'm just curious if anyone else can relate? How do you manage your thoughts and emotions about it?

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answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like you need a support group and professional counseling.

I would go to Alanon if I were you. I'd then ask my husband to join me for marriage counseling so that he can hear about my problems with his drinking in a neutral place.

Alanon...good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Very complicated.
Have you ever attended an Alanon meeting?
I'll bet you'd get lots of help with this there.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

As a casual drinker I think I would get very annoyed if my spouse was anxiously watching every beer or coctail I consumed. There is a huge difference between someone addicted to alcohol and someone who enjoys the taste and relaxation of the occasional cocktail. You say you truly don't care about a drink or two but obviously you do. This is not your fault but the result of living with the drama and uncertainty of an alcoholic parent. The recommendation of finding a meeting for adult children if alcoholics would help you a lot. They are often held at churches. Good luck.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with everyone else. You need to talk to a therapist, or join Adult Children of Alcoholics. It doesn't sound like your husband is drinking in a problematic way, except that you would rather he doesn't drink ever, which isn't a reasonable request to make of an adult who doesn't share that goal. It sounds like intellectually, you understand this, but emotionally, you are having a hard time with it. Definitely get into counseling of some kind so you can process all of this in a way that doesn't hurt your marriage.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You have some anxiety and anger management issues - and this is all related and probably a delayed reaction to your parents and your childhood.
Your husband drinking as you describe does not sound like an alcoholic - but on some level you are jumping to that conclusion.
See a therapist and work through it.
You're going to destroy your marriage if you don't.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

So you were tired and snapped at him and you are trying to blame a couple drinks for that? His behavior didn't change, yours did. I get you are sensitive about alcohol but blaming your argument on alcohol isn't healthy.

You need to find a therapist to help you work though this because it will destroy your marriage and it won't be a couple drink's fault.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I was also raised by an alcoholic and narcissistic mother, but no, I can't relate. I am fully confident that I and my husband can drink and not become alcoholics. I drink normally, and drinks two or three times a week is normal, unless your husband is drinking to excess on those occasions (which he isn't).

Maybe you should seek counseling, because your husband is drinking normally, but you are the one with the problem. And you snapped at him after you got home because of it.

How exactly are you "co-dependent?" I think you are misunderstanding what that means.

You need to trust your husband, and seek therapy if you can't.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't have experience with this, but a consistent response I've seen when a child of an alcoholic asks a question on this board is to go to Al-anon. YOU didn't have the problem, but you're feeling the repurcussions and you need support. You need to not take it out on your husband.

Take care of you and give Al-anon a call.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

You need to fix this about yourself.

I'm a light drinker. I don't have your past trauma. My parents were extremely light drinkers. My ex drank more than I cared for, yet it didn't traumatize me nearly as much as you are being traumatized. I was annoyed that he thought we could fit two nice bottles of wine per day into our monthly budget. $900??!!! Not including when he went out with buddies!!! So I made him buy boxes of wine and limited what he could spend when he went out. He didn't mind. I made him promise to NEVER drink and drive. He didn't. I made him promise to drink responsibly and never get drunk in front of kids. He complied. I told him no being cranky and hungover. He complied. We had maybe one or two arguments where he was meaner than normal because he'd been drinking. I chalked it up tot he drinking and let it go. He apologized. Once we got the kinks ironed out early on, all was well with the alcohol use for the rest of the marriage. We divorced for totally different reasons. However now I hate him taking kids to visit the in-laws because they drink way too much :(

Anyway. Your husband drinks VERY reasonably. It's not OK for you to watch him like a hawk and get all upset. If I had a non-drinker doing this to me I'd be super annoyed no matter what their background was.

So I understand WHY you feel this way. But you have to fix it about yourself. So get all the outside support and help you can.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I can completely relate to your issue. I manage it by reminding myself that my husband is his own person, not a figure from my past or a pawn in my present life. I can't control him and he deserves no baggage from the turmoil someone else created.

Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't know what you mean by codependent. A part of codependency is basing your own happiness on what the other person does. But it's more than that. If you haven't already read up on codependency.

Yes, get help from Alan on and a counselor who focuses on alcohol issues. However it's not the alcohol that drives this. It's caused by your emotional issues surrounding your life with Mom and Dad. I suggest you need to focus on your reactions to the alcohol so that you can heal those wounds.

My first counselor asked me to read a book entitled Codependency. I resisted because I was fearful of what I found out. Reading that and counseling based on codependency changed my life. I was having difficulty getting along at work in part because I thought some things should be done differently. I was,anxious and depressed. I learned that I could be happy when I didn't depend on others to make me happy. I also learned that it is my responsibility to manage my feelings. My co-workers didn't change. I did. This began my lifetime journey of learning about me and what I needed separate from others as I matured. Now, at 71, I'm much happier than I ever thought possible. I've done that by focussing on myself and doing for myself instead of requiring others to meet my standards.

I suggest that when you're feeligible anxious you say out loud something like I am anxious, "What can I do for myself to ease my tension." Say this to yourself and to your husband. Use your strength to not allow yourself to comment about your husband's drinking. Tell yourself that you know these feelings are your responsibility and you will not hurt your husband by commenting.

Plan an activity that will change your focus when you're wanting to change him. I often go for a brisk walk around the block. Doing something physical will help you change focus and cause endomorphins to increase. They will also help you feel better. Know that none of this is easy and it will take practice before it will change how you feel.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Does your husband know that your feelings about this are related to your childhood? It sounds like you have great communication, so I'll bet he does. Regardless, when you're having these feelings...tell him. "Love, I know it's totally irrational, but I'm feeling this way and it's related to all the yucky stuff that happened with my dad. I just wanted to share with you so you know that I'm not upset with you, just with this yucky, confused knot of feelings I'm having over this."

Talk it out completely. It will be okay. You have a husband who loves you and you're great communicators. That's awesome.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Honestly? Sounds like you two had a fight. Just like millions of other married couples. The difference in your fight is that you are attributing it to alcohol. That's not fair to either one of you.

You've said you have a narcissistic mother. I'm not looking up the actual definition in the dictionary, but I'm sure that part of the meaning is thinking only about oneself. Don't let this happen to you by attributing alcohol to every bad thing that happens in your family.

You said, and I'm quoting, one to two nights a week. This does not sound like an alcoholic. However, you could drive your husband to more drinking by stressing him. You sound like you are wound SO tight that it would behoove you to go talk to a counselor who works with adults who grew up in alcoholic homes. If you don't, you will never be happy. This idea that you are becoming co-dependent? You really need to understand exactly what you're talking about. I really think you are bordering on a phobia and you need to straighten out your thinking.

I wish you a lot of luck, and hope you go get help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

You snapped at him when you got home and it started a fight. If someone snapped at me upon walking in the door after being gone for the weekend, I would snap back, whether or not I had been drinking.

I was married to an alcoholic. He downed a bottle of wine before going to work in the morning, kept a bottle in his car for the drive home, and had a bottle every evening. He had cirrhosis of the liver, esophageal varices, and alcohol-induced lesions on his brain, and kept drinking.
He got fired from one job after another for alcohol-related reasons. I was having to work multiple jobs to keep the bills paid because he couldn't stay employed.
I divorced him after he depleted our savings on one rehab program after another, relapsing after every one. His drinking almost caused me to lose my house.

Your husband does not have a drinking problem. You have a perception problem.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I have a friend who lived through a lot of similar situations like you probably did. She is the WORST fanatic about alcohol. O M G! It's crazy.

I'm not even a social drinker. I can go out with friends and not drink a single bit of alcohol. I used to be listed on everyone's insurance as a driver so if I had an accident driving their vehicle it would be completely covered.

I would maybe have one drink per month if I had a little extra money.

She would sit me down and tell me what an alcoholic I was on those few times I'd drink anything. She drove me crazy and it was nice to finally make the break away when college was over.

If you didn't want to be around alcohol you choose the wrong man. He drinks and it sounds like he drinks more than socially but not to the extent where he's drunk each night.

If you think of other countries drinking habits many other countries drink wine or alcohol before dinner then something else with dinner then with dessert they have another drink. So by the end of a meal they've probably had 3-5 drinks every evening of the week. They drink all the time and don't have alcoholics like we do here, where it has become a crutch or something that keeps them from being a whole person.

If you want to live in a non-alcohol home you and hubby need to make some appointments with a therapist that can help you learn new coping skills and help hubby see your point of view a bit more. Come together more.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Drinking doesn't have to be slobbering drunk to be a problem, but a few drinks a couple times a week doesn't also have to be a problem, either.

I would look back at the fight. What was said, and how, and what was it really about? If it's really about your concern for his drinking, then address that. If it was really your anxiety, address that. If it was both, address both. If you are scared and still dealing with the baggage from childhood, then find someone to talk to to help you work through it - for both your family and yourself. Your history makes it likely that it is childhood fears cropping up vs the reality of your husband's behavior. Please get some counseling. We can do an awful lot of coping on our own, but sometimes we need a little help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I agree with Marda that I suspect co-dependence isn't the problem. Based on what you have described, you might need to deal with the inevitable issues from growing up in a crazy-making household. I will share a bit of my experience and you can evaluate whether any of it 'fits' for you. I grew up with a mother who binge-drank and needed tranquillizers to sleep; she also was/is mentally unstable, and really, she used the chemicals to cope with her anxiety. I learned various ways of coping with life in that environment, and while they got me through to adulthood, I was miserable, constantly afraid. For me, I needed Al-Anon and particularly groups which focused on the effects of growing up with an alcoholic parent--even when I was no longer living with active drinking or a problem partner, those effects were with me. Al-Anon groups didn't fix everything, however they and the 12-Step program have been my go-to set of tools for dealing with so many things in life (along with therapy at points along the way), unlearning the habits I developed. I've been involved with the program since 1988, and it is still helpful when I forget or revert to older, less-effective ways of dealing with things.

Like you, I don't drink alcohol much at all--maybe a liqueur once every couple years. I have never acquired the taste, and with the family history, there's no reason to push it. Do I feel a twinge of anxiety when my husband drinks a beer a couple times a week or wine at a party? I did at the start of our relationship, but not now. It is so clear to me that he is nothing like my mother and I don't fear that things will go that way. My intuition is that your reaction to the fight and the underlying anxiety you describe might be a sign that it is time to deal with the effects of your childhood. There are many options--group or individual therapy, reading relevant books (Adult children of Alcoholics might hit the spot for you), Al-Anon, whatever works. It seems like you're at the point where you have become aware of the issues, which means you are ready to deal and find a different way of living. It's a good journey.

Wishing you luck, and feel free to send me a private message if you want.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Due to your background with your alcoholic parent you have codependent behavior that can make you crazy. I had a similar background and had a destructive marriage. I recommend if you situation continues to make you uncomfortable you should seek out a local Al anon group. It helped me a lot and you are able to work at the fears. It will help you to understand your codependent behavior.

Remember your codependent behavior is the fear of repeating your childhood. It sounds like you and your husband have a solid relationship and he might want to attend a meeting with you to understand your fears.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Al- Anon and /or adult children of Alcoholics. I spent years struggling wit Al-Anon as it did not fit my anger and other issues. I was raised in the alcoholic situation I had had no say or resource in the matter. Books by Claudia Black are a good start. My tendency was to over react to things that were not even about me. Look around your area and see if there are any ACOA meetings. Good luck. You have some heavy lifting to do emotionally but use those great communication skills with your husband and ask him to support you while you do this work. (I had to ask my husband to give up all alcohol for a while until I got my emotional reactions under control. It also helped me see that his use was not problematic. Like I said - good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

My sister went through something similar. I would kindly suggest you do go to ALAnon and maybe have some personal counseling to help with the insecurity.
I think you don't want to care if your husband has a drink or two, but you do and I worry that your husband will become a closet drinker (NOT alcoholic, but feel a need to hide his drinking which the HIDING will then become a problem) because he feels judged because you do care because you are understandably holding on to the past experiences.
I am so sorry for all you've gone through and I hope that you can find peace.

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