Seeking Advice on Alchoholism

Updated on July 04, 2009
T.M. asks from Sun Prairie, WI
16 answers

My husband is an alchoholic, he is never stumbling drunk and I can never really tell when hes been drinking and he is not abusive or mean in any way, but he does drink a case of beer per day (I have receipts to prove it). I just found this out last week and I confronted him about it last night. He says he had no idea thats how much he was drinking. I asked him to quit drinking totally and get professional help or I was leaving.

He claims his doctor told him not to quit drinking cold turkey or he could die - is this true, can you really die from stopping drinking cold turkey, it sounds like BS to me, but I am not a doctor? My other question is can he really do it on his own? I am not sure how long it has been going on, but I would say at least 3 years if not more. My last question is, he says he will not give up drinking totally, he says he still wants to be able to go over to families houses and have a beer or two if offered, can an alchoholic really just have a few beers without going back to his case a day?

I am very confused as to what to do, cause I do not want to seperate my family but I do not want my son growing up in an alchoholic house, I spent my teen years their and did not enjoy it. And I am having a very hard time trusting him right now cause he is apparently very good at hiding things from me and I have been way to trusting over the years.

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answers from La Crosse on

Dear Teri...yes it IS true that a person can die when they quit drinking alcohol "cold turkey". I am a 52 year old recovering alcoholic. I have been sober 28 years. I have worked in the field of alcoholism and other drug addictions. If your husband is accustomed to drinking that much beer on a regular basis, he is probably "physically" addicted to the alcohol. Many "physically" addicted persons need medical attention and prescription drugs in order to detox from alcohol. I have also, in the past, been in a committed relationship with a person who drank to excess, so I can relate to your frustrations and concerns. My suggestion is three-fold: 1) Begin research on your own; learning about alcohol addiction. This will better help you understand your husband's condition and how YOU (as his spouse) have been emotionally affected by his alcohol use. 2) Please seek support for yourself in trying to cope with this "family disease". There is a support group called Al-Anon, that can help you better understand what is going on in your relationship with your husband in regard to his excessive drinking. I have gone to Al-Anon meetings and I learned how to cope with the drinker's problem AND how to take care of MYSELF in the midst of all the chaos the drinking creates. (The help in Al-Anon may also help you heal from the past wounds in the family you grew up in.) 3) Build a strong relationship with your Higher Power. (My Higher Power is God.) I have found great strength, and peace of mind, when I ask God to help me through my days. As crazy as your life may seem right now, God can get you through it and help you heal from the pain in your marriage. Even if you do not feel close to your Higher Power, just ask for help and it will come. Just talk to your Higher Power as a friend. It brings great comfort in times of need. One more will do you no good to try and CONTROL your husband's drinking. HE is the one who will have to do that. If YOU try to control it for him, there's a good chance,it will make you emotionally sick. Give your husband over to HIS Higher Power. Praying to your Higher Power and asking him to heal your husband may bring you comfort. YOU can not SAVE your husband from himself and the choices he makes. But God can. YOU are the only person you can control. May God bless you in your attempts to be a supportive spouse and a good mother. Sincerely, TRB

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answers from Minneapolis on

My recommendation is to contact Al-Anon to get the support you will need. You will not be able to change him, but you can learn strategies to cope and care for you and your children. He undoubtedly needs professional help. If you have a health insurance plan, they likely have behavioral mental health services that can also get you in touch with resources. Another resources is United Way. Dial 211, it's like 911 only it's 211 for resources and information regarding health and human service issues from food, shelter to mental health help. Most of all, I strongly encourage you to get support and help. You don't have to go this alone. Moreover, your pain and issues from your youth may surface and make this even more challenging of an issue for you to address. You will view the current circumstances through the filter of your history, not a bad thing, but a therapist could certainly help you navigate this terrain. Here's some additional ideas: Take a moment to consider what he is doing well and right in your relationship. What are his strengths? Let him know what you love and appreciate about him and you want to support him in enjoying his life and having good health and your recognize that the level of his beer consumption is not healthy. Speak to a doctor and let him know that you have sought the advice of a medical professional. I hope it all works out for you and your family.

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answers from Minneapolis on

With a drinking problem this big (one case a day!!) I think that your husband can /will have some issues getting off alcohol (withdrawal can be pretty bad). A friend was in a VERY similar situation and her husband was put into a medically induced coma so that he could withdraw .. he was in the hospital for a month. No I don't believe he can do it on his own, and no he can not have "just a beer or two" when he wants to. He MAY be able to do that for a while... but 2 will become three and three will become 4 and he will soon be back to a case a day. If he fights this ask him... "if you could just have 2-3 beers why haven't you?" I mean a case is A LOT of beer. If he has health insurance or works for a mid-large size company they usually have an 800 number that you can call for support like this. Call his HR department and tell them you mispaced your HR informatin and would like a second packet sent to your home. If they have the anonymous 800 support number then it will be listed in this information. If he needs to go into treatment he should tell his HR department exactly what he is doing b/c this will put him into a protected class and they can't fire him b/c of his treatment needs. When he withdraws , as mentioned above, he will need medical attention. My friend videotaped her husband during this b/c they don't remember a thing - and they do some CRAZY CRAZY stuff. She wanted him to see how bad it was and to realize exactly what the alcohol was doing to him. If he refuses to get treatment get yourself in an Alanon (SP?) group - even if he does get treatment you should go to these meetings. It is for family and loved ones of alcoholics and will offer you a great support group as you make your decision re: to stay with him or not. Bottom line - alcoholism is a disease that needs to be treated. Good luck and please get yourself some help even if he refuses to get help for himself.



answers from Minneapolis on

I do know that it's true that someone can die if they stop drinking cold turkey like that. They can have tremors and seizures (my mom was an alcoholic). As far as whether or not an alcohloic can have just a few beers.... I know that that wasn't true for my mom. I also know that in AA they tell you never to even have a drop of alcohol. I guess, though, that it depends on the person. My mom was drinking to self medicate for bi polar disorder. I believe that there is a reason that most people become either alcoholics or drug addicts. Maybe your husband has a need to self medicate? you never know. I feel like that every now and then myself. I hope this helps some :)




answers from Cedar Rapids on

My oldest son, he is 5, has an alcoholic for a father. He swears he can handle drinking. But he can't. If he even has one then he thinks he can have another and then he can't stop until he is blitzed. Unfortunately, when he is drinking he is another person. Violent, bad judgement, no self-control. I kicked him out of my home because I refused to let him endanger our son. I came home from work when he was 3-mo old to find his father so drunk he could barely stand but yet he felt he could give our son a bath. In a full bathtub. A lot of people can handle drinking a few beers after work everyday. A lot of people can't. But if your husband is truly an alcoholic then he most likely will not be able to handle having "one or two" at the friends' house. Yes, quitting cold turkey can give you detox withdrawal. I know that is a factor with hard liquor but I am not sure with beer. The both of you should speak with the doctor to find out options and what to expect if your husband is willing to quit. You also have some baggage from your childhood. If your husband is willing to go to AA you might benefit from the family oriented Al-Anon meetings. But I do encourage you to try to work through your issues with this because you won't be able to help your husband as well if you are blaming him and resentful. If he does have a problem and is actually willing to work on it, be thankful and do your best to be there with him. So many alcoholics refuse to admit it and destroy everything they touch. My 5-yo thinks his father walks on water but that is because he barely knows him. His father hasn't chosen to see him in two years.



answers from St. Cloud on

I am a hospital nurse and can tell you like many others have, YES, stopping with no other interventions can be life threatening. I would recommend finding a program for him to detox and get counseling.

But be sure you are clear with him as well as your family about expectations. If there is to be NO drinking which is very difficult to do for someone who doesn't want to stop, let him know the consequences and stick with it.



answers from Minneapolis on

I feel for you! I have both a father and sister who are alcoholics and it is very challenging to understand and deal with. First thing, I hope you never leave your son alone with is father. I know that sounds bad but you never know and it is your job to protect your son. Second, I say join Al Anon. Try a couple different meetings until you find a group that you are comfortable with. My mom goes to regular meetings and I have gone to several and they give you support that you can't find anywhere else. You will learn that this is classic behavior of some alcoholics, hiding things and denial. As far as quitting cold turkey, I am not a doctor so can't say but I can tell you an alcoholic can not just drink "just a little". The Al-Anon will help you understand an addiction and how to handle situations. I wish you the best of luck and my prayers are with you!



answers from Madison on

I am the daughter to an alcoholic, niece to an alcoholic, and granddaughter to a deceased alcoholic. My dad and aunt both quit on their own. Neither one went to a program or meetings, they both decided that they didn't want to live that way anymore. Neither one was a fall down drunk. They both held jobs and led normal lives, at least during the day. Most people would never have known they were alcoholics.

You can't push your husband to quit, he has to make that decision for himself. Unfortunately that may mean that you need to make a difficult decision for you and your son. My dad and aunt didn't quit drinking until I was an adult and had my own children. But they have both been sober for over 6 years!!

My grandfather never did quit drinking, although he lived to be 80+ years.

Good luck to you, I know this will be difficult.



answers from Omaha on

If your husband is a very heavy drinker, he should have medical supervision when he goes off the alcohol. It is possible to have severe withdrawal with bad results if not medically supervised. It sounds as if his doctor is aware of his problem. It might be helpful to enlist his help. As for controlled drinking, it just is not a good idea. One drink can lead to relapse. I suggest you contact your local AA group. They can give you more information. Also, I would like to suggest that you consider going to Al-Anon for yourself. It is the group for spouses and other family members. Alcoholism effects the entire family. Having had an alcoholic parent, I speak from experience. good luck to both of you. Liz



answers from Grand Forks on

He's not going to die, he is going to need a lot of help, and from what I have heard from recovering alcoholics, there is no way that he could have "a beer or two" at friends' houses without restarting the whole nasty cycle. The trouble is that he is going to want the change, or its not going to stick. All you can do is support, but if he's not ready to change, he's not going to.

Here is a good resource for you, which might help you find a direction to take:

It is a support group for family/friends of alcoholics.



answers from Minneapolis on

Been there. Professionals (I'm a licensed social worker and wife of an alcoholic) will tell you that it is best for him to go to inpatient treatment for rehab as sobering up on your own is very difficult and will not last without support (they have meds there to assist with detox issues). Can he someday have a beer or two without going spiraling downward again? Maybe, this is considering harm reduction but he should sober up with professional support. There are other issues that go along with the physical addiction, and as much he wants to be "normal" these issues should be addressed in the best case situation. If he loves his family, acknowledges that his use is excessive and cannot immediately remedy the situation on his own, seek help. Like I said, I've been there. No two situations are alike though and only you know what is truly best for you. I demanded that he go to inpatient treatment and moved my 10 month old sona nd myself into my mom's house for 3 weeks until he agreed to go. He was gone for a month, go tsome aftercare support but did not stay connected to support and started to drink beer again after a year or so. I'm not happy with that result, but it beats the daily bottles of vodka that it used to be... Good luck to you, I hope some of this info is helpful, feelf ree to email for additional...




answers from Sheboygan on

Yes, he can die if he stops cold turkey. His body can go into withdrawls and have seizures. He will probably need medication intervention for the withdrawls and then a med called Antabuse to keep him from drinking. When a person taking Antabuse drinks they will vomit. Good Luck.



answers from Milwaukee on

Yes, if he is drinking a case of beer alone every day, he will probably experience withdrawal if he quits cold turkey, and it can make you very, very ill.

I highly doubt he can do it on his own. If he has a serious problem, which I would classify a case of beer a day as serious, then he will need professional help to quit. Possibly detox and inpatient treatment.

No, an alcoholic cannot just have 1 or 2 when offered. If he was a social drinker, he might be having 1 or 2 beers at night, but he's not, he's drinking a case. He will never be able to drink socially.

Have you ever watched the show Intervention on A&E? It is about many different addictions, but you will find many episodes about alcoholism on there. I believe they have a website with great resources too because I looked up information for my Mom regarding my uncle at one point.

Either way - this won't be an easy journey for you or your family. I hope you decide not to subject your children to an alcoholic father...whether that means leaving him or getting him to accept treatment. My heart goes out to you.



answers from La Crosse on

No, an alcoholic cannot just 'cut back' the amount they drink. You need to be in touch with a group like Al Anon so you can get some support for you and your son. Call ###-###-#### for more information. A case of beer each day is a real red flag. It sounds like this is a very volatile situation and I wish you and your son a lot of luck surviving how this is going to play out.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi T.
I am so sorry you have to go through this. I went through this last year with my mom. She was a binge drinker. I would see if you can get him in to a rehab clinic, atleast to help him with the withdrawl process. My mom finally did that and that is where she needed to be. They were their to take care of her while she was so sick and make sure nothing else happened. Her medical insurance covered most of it too.
No he can not have just one or two at a social event. It will most likely turn in to 3 or 4 and then more.
Have you looked in to going to Alanon meetings? They are a great support system for somebody going through this.
Good luck to you!!



answers from Davenport on

Bless you T.! How are you feeling?

As a mother who was once married to an alcoholic I just want to add my sentiments about protecting your child.

When I was in that situation my brother sent me a little paperback book titled, "Getting Them Sober". It was shockingly accurate. It was hard to comprehend reading your 'life story' in few short pages of some old paperback. There is a pattern to alcoholism and there is a pattern that many of us around them also follow. We all think we are the 'only ones' with completely unique life circumstance, values, responses etcetera. Beyond belief that there is almost a 'text book' of how many of the scenarios play out.

Getting some help and support not just for him but also for you is an important step. People who are addicted especially when they've managed to hide it for so long are masters of getting people to do what they want, many times without us being consciously aware of how the subtle maneuvers are taking place.

As many others have indicated spirituality and faith become very important elements in overcoming these challenges not just for the alcoholic but for those that love them.

Addictions affect the whole family mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually so remember to take the best possible care of yourself and your child, first. As they say on the airplanes, "Put your mask on first, then help those that are traveling with you."

You might enjoy reading something written by Melody Beattie, for instance "The Language of Letting Go" gives a page a day to read for some inspiration and often reminders about 'self care'.

You say you grew up in a house with alcoholism so you have some tools and insight already. Just remember that you may also have some of the learned traits of living with an alcoholic.

I gave my copy of that little book on alcoholism to a friend of mine whose husband was secretly drinking. As others have indicated there are likely to be physical symptoms present for someone that has become physically addicted to the substance. The body will react.

Regarding his family hopefully you will find support there and they will also want to help your husband get through this.

As is often the case with addiction the addiction may be more of symptom rather than a 'cause' all of its own. He may have started drinking to 'cope' so it is possible to get ride of the 'drinking' and still have to deal with something that is underlying that outward symbol.

You are in our thoughts and prayers. When you look for help you will find it. As you noticed on these boards there are many people that have been down this road and they are very happy to be able to help each other. It is a difficult path but you will get though this.

Your child is so lucky to have you for a mother!

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