substance abuse issue

finedreamsNovember 8, 2007

Well i am not married, but there is no other forum where I can ask this. So i hope for some advice.

I have a BF for a bit over a year. We love each other and have a lot of fun together, we are emotionally close and do not have any major issues with the exception of one...(to be continued). It is honestly the best realtionship i ever had. He is recently (take a note of it) divorced with two grown daughters. He had ugly divorce and long ugly marriage involving her affairs, her being workachoholic and uninvolved mother (she is uninvolved mother to her grown daughters now, I see it)

When we first met, I noticed that he consumes more alchoholic beverages than i find normal. But i had to keep in mind that majority of people I observe consume way more alchohol than my family or my friends, so i tried not to judge based on my experience. As we started to get closer and our relationship started to get closer and we started to spend more time together he either started to drink more or I just finally started noticing it. He expressed his fear of our relationship getting very close and i suspect he is not ready for any kind of commitment. I suspect that his drinking is his way to keep me at distance. I shared that with my therapist and she agrees.

After few months of arguing and me being constantly upset he started admiting that he does drink too much and he is trying to stop. He asked me to give more time. I do not see any improvement. He is professional who takes care of his house and his children, he has never been in any problems. He lost a lot of money in a divorce but other than that he does well financially. So he is not a bum.

He is a good man who is nice with the exception of times when he drinks too much. It is the best relationship i ever had, and I have tremendous trouble breaking a relationship.

Does anyone else have any experience with substance abuse? What are my hopes with him stop drinking? Should i run now or do i have hope?

I come from a good family (not perfrect though) and substance abuse does not fit into my life style. Plus I find it disrespectful and disgusting. it breaks my heart because other than that I can't think of anything wrong with him or our relationship. But I guess alchohol abuse is bad enough ...

thanks for reading...

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Sorry for what you're going through, you must be feeling pretty torn. It's tough to have a prince charming with a big butt. er, "but."

You are smart to question this union - red flags are just that. I'm sure he's a great guy in a lot of ways - let's take this apart. The first thing i noticed from your story is the history of his breakup. The ex wife is painted as the ONLY bad guy in the previous marriage. I have yet to meet a second wife or girlfriend who sees the ex as anything other than satan incarnate, and that's no exaggeration. Such a view helps us to believe that "we" will be different, "we" will succeed because :my man was an innocent victim and I'm nothing like his ex."

So that's something to think about - maybe she was mentally ill so his perfection escaped her - but there's probably a bigger picture. I'm not saying that we should not date divorcees, but rather we should hope that they have examined what they did wrong in their previous relationships so that old patterns are not repeated. You might ask him, what was his part in the failure of the previous relationship, and see if he can even identify his responsibilities there. Just a thought.

Now on to your questions - can he stop drinking? Of course. Here's the hard part for you to hear - you have ABSOLUTELY not one iota of control over that. That is ALL him. You allowing alcoholism in your life is just that. He may be wonderful, but if alcoholism is a deal breaker for you, then you have a decision to make.

You say you find alcoholism disrespectful and disgusting. If that's how you think and feel (and that's just who you are, it's neither right nor wrong, no need to change that), It won't be long before you start saying to yourself, I find HIM unrespectable and disgusting.

Your relationship can only be the best from your point of view if you love him unconditionally. That's not to say that you can't be annoyed by stuff, or get in arguments, but that' is a whole different ball game than to be disgusted with someone and their addictions.

He absolutely can change!!! There is lots of hope for him. But as hard as it is to do, my 'advice' which I guess is solicited by your questions, is to 'let him go' with the knowledge that you want more from him, want a committed relationship, that you love him in so many ways, and when he is healed and ready to go where you are, you'll be ready to take his hand in the partnership, but not until then.

You'd be doing both of yourselves a favor -

Good luck to you,

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 3:55PM
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My suspicion is you don't know what kind of guy you've got. The "big lie" about both alcohol and marijuana is that you just get high for a few hours and then you're normal again. It doesn't work that way. Your cognitive processes change and their effect on your emotions lingers. For habitual imbibers, which your guy apparently is, it takes longer. I'm talking weeks, at least. IMHO, you won't know who he is (and he may not either) until....

1) He stops drinking entirely for a month. (does he even have the ability?) and

2) You see how he behaves for this period of time when he hasn't been drinking.

If alcohol is a part of his life, it WILL be a part of yours. The fact that you say he consumes more than anyone else you know is a sign. He probably requires more than most to attain whatever level of euphoria he considers OK from time to time...the level he considers satisfactory or normal. That's usually an indicator that he's been drinking a lot for a long time, is accustomed to it, and requires more than most people to get where he wants to be. The fact that he does it often is another sign of long experience/habit.

Alchohol is the great, common mood-enhancer and depression-reliever. Trouble is, it doesn't last long. And if he keeps it up, his health will pay even if he continues to keep his behavior under good control.

My overall point, is you won't know what kind of person he is until you've been around him after he's quit for a while. I doubt that he will know either.

FWIW, I'm not a teetotaler myself. However, I've been around long enough to see how things go for some people with alcohol and I don't like losing friends. Unfortunately, I have had to shuck a few out over the issue. The behavior you've described would be a red flag for me notwithstanding his other attributes.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 4:24PM
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thanks for your reply.

Yes, he admits his faults in his 27 year long marriage as well. He does not see himself as perfect but i am just describing what is his damage after this marriage. I have no doubts she got some damage as well.

i myself am divorced although for a very long time and him being divorced does not bother me. But i am healed and he is not and I think it is contributing to his drinking.

But whatever is contributing to his drinking it certainly is or eventually will become a deal breaker for me.

Eventually my daughter (who is away to college) will discover that he drinks, so far she did not but you cannot always hide it! I most certainly would not want her to know that. what kind of relationship is that: to be embarassed of your partner's actions...

It is tough though to end otherwise good relationship...

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 4:27PM
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Thank you aloso,
I aboslutelly agree with you on all of your points. It is a red flag for me that's why i am so concerned...

The thing is that people in my surrounding do not drink at all or one glass of wine at a party, and that's it. i never kept any alchohol in my house etc. I mean my circle of friends and family do not drink, period. So my perception of what is acceptable differs from general population.

I cut him slack accepting that my perception of alchohol might be on a extreme end. But even taking that in consideration he drinks excessivelly and he does admit that (when he is sober).

It got me thinking that maybe I do not know him well enough because i do not know how he is being sober for a long time. What a dilemma...

i never thought i would end up in such a situation.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 4:35PM
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Really think hard on this. I read into your first post about how he 'isn't a bum', sort of like only alcoholics can be 'bums', and unsuccessful etc. There is also such a thing as a high functioning alcoholic, and they fool people around them because they work hard, are fun to be around, are industrious, so then you get to thinking 'how is it I am looking at him in this negative light when he's successful in all these other areas?'

I believe he drinks because he has issues he can't deal with, without using alcohol as his crutch. So, even if the drinking stopped (kind of what asolo hinted at), there would be behaviors popping up that you wouldn't have noticed before - because he dealt with that with the drink.

Finedreams, don't consider your lack of alcohol consumption as being on the extreme of one side of the scale, look at this more as you both should be nearer the same side, since if you were one to also partake in the excess, this probably wouldn't be an issue. And this is a very important issue and has more to it than just overconsumption of liquor.

Good Luck.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 4:57PM
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Maybe I'm jumping, but I'm thinking if you posted here you're likely asking if this guy's marriage material or not. Of course that's your call, but you've obviously been around long enough to have a few "intolerables" among your ideas for a mate. It appears to me that this is actually one of them and you've been letting it slide because of his other good attributes. You already know dating is different from marriage/living-with. You're already worried about friends/family/daughter finding out.

Doesn't sound like a "dilemma" to me. Sounds like an answer. Your brain's working just fine.

You've got a good relationship, you say. Lay it out for him. Tell him what it means to you and why. You may be surprised at his response. Nobody wants to thought of as a problem-drinker. Might even be the wake-up call he's been secretely hoping for. If it's a deal-breaker for you the way it is, that would be a no-lose conversation.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:09PM
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Yes, he does use alchohol as a crutch to deal with life and he does admit it. he says he drinks much less since he met me because we are close and not withdrawn like his past relationship. he does say he works on limiting alchohol consumption because he garees it is bad, but his point is: give me more time, let me heal, don't push me. i don't see much progress though...thank you for your good suggestions!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:22PM
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thanks again. We had couple of conversations of this type.

He alternates between
1. expressing concern about his own drinking, being willing to stop and asking to give him more time...
2. being deffensive and blaimng me for attemtps to control him

I have never thought of substance abuse as a red flag or undesirable trait because I never dated anyone or never been around people with drinking problems. I have met people who drink and always found it awful, but it was never on my mind because it never occured to me I can possibly get involved with one.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:26PM
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I think my reluctance to end this realtionship was due to the fact that I have been in relationships, dated, was married and none of these men drank and yet none of them treated me that great, were rather selfish and not affectionate.

In fact my own mother (I told my mom that i think he might be drinking too much) said that my other boyfriends did not drink but weren't nearly as nice and maybe this is not the worst thing ever and maybe I should not pay attention to it ...

It made me even more confused...

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:30PM
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Yep. When you get the wrong advice, you tend to get confused especially when you trust the advice giver. Sweet mom, just wants you to be happy but probably doesn't realize what she's saying -

Remember. You don't have to choose between nice alcoholics and mean teetotalers. There are a lot of nice guys out there who are not alcoholics.

And when you end your relationship, it's not like you're saying, I dont like you. You're saying, when you're healed, I'm interested in working things out at that time.

Don't settle for something just because he's a nice guy - there are lots of nice guys out there.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:52PM
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Just me, but I don't spend meaningful time with people who's "altered states" are a part of who they are. Sooner or later it always ends in some form of turmoil. I don't like spending my time with people wondering how far it's going this time and whether or not I'll have to step in for some reason or another. For me, this would be a deal-breaker (smoking would be another) but I'm not you. How do you want your life to be?

Just like fat people must control their diets if they want to not be fat, problem-drinkers need to stop drinking if they want their problems to abate. Of course its difficult. However, it must be done. If the fatty doesn't stop eating like they have and/or if the problem-drinker doesn't quit, the problem stays. In the end, it's a matter of will and action. Everything else is just conversation that accomplishes nothing.

Your man isn't stupid. He knows this. And you know it, I think. Your question, I believe, is whether or not you want to wait or move on now. Do you have another year to spend? It will likely be at least that long.

Also astonished to learn of you mother's statement.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 6:18PM
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thanks again.

i am glad people didn't sugar coated this and were really honest about all this. I suspected that his alchohol addiction is stronger than he is willing to admit to himself and he might need to get help to overcome this addiction. If he would get help it would be great, but I don't see it so far.

Well I know that unless he stops drinking, I won't be fully happy in this relationship. It will never be OK with me. I do love the guy very much and he does make me happy, it makes "ending the relationship" difficult.

I feel very sad.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 7:48PM
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"Also astonished to learn of your mother's statement".

I didn't have much luck in men ever so this guys is way better than anyone so my family likes him, I think my mom just wants to see me happy and probably settled.

Plus she does not know what excatly I mean by "drinking". She brought an example of a colleague who has a glass of wine every night at a dinner table. I would not consider it to be excessive drinking, but i am embrassed to describe in detail to her.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 7:52PM
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Maybe the best thing for you to do is take some time off from him. Tell him exactly why you are doing it. See what he does. If he really understands that you might be gone someday then maybe he will take a closer look at himself and his problem. Nothing you can force him to is all up to him. You have to decide what you are willing to put up with. I hope things work out. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 11:45PM
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I come from a family where my father was a true alcoholic, a case of beer a day was not unusual here.
you said that he was nice with the exceptions of the times when he drinks too much, are you saying he is mean to you at these times? That is a MAJOR red flag, I watched my mother go through life with a drunk who was a abuser, it is not pretty, and it sure as heck was not fun for us kids. He beat us, but I think the times I seen him hurt my mother was much worse then any beating he ever gave me.
And it did not start out like this, he would just say mean and spiteful things to her, by the time us kids came along it had escalated (he actaully threatened to kill her parents when she tried to take us and go to them one time, I heard him tell her this)
So it started with him just being mean when he drank but by the time I left home he was just pretty much a you know what all the time, but then again he may of been drunk all the time, got to where you just couldn't tell.

Just tread very carefully here, what you do or don't do could impact the rest of your life.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 1:48AM
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thanks again here.

Sorry to hear you and your mom ad to put up with that.

Well he is not abusive to neither his kids, nor was abusive to his ex and is not abusive to me physically. But I do find his behavior (when intoxicated) amotionally abusve.

If he drinks and I say nothing he is not mean to me but if I say anything (in regards to his drinking) he gets mean. He does become mean towards the whole world when he drinks though and even if it does not effect me directly, I find it unpleasant to be around. Makes unkind comments about everybody and everything. When he sobbers up he feels guilty and embarassed....

thank you for your insight.

I don't worry about becoming very much abused because I will leave, I left my other realtionships if they did not meet my needs. It is all sad though, isn't it... Why can't people deal with life withiout poisoning themselves..

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 8:21AM
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I'm sorry to hear that FineDreams...

But plead realize that if he becomes "mean towards the whole world when he drinks" that eventually, you will become part of that whole world, and he will become mean to you.

Know also that emotional abuse is the most insidious kind. It starts out slowly with a few surprises that can be rationalized away, then escalates until your self-esteem gradually erodes to nothing.

I'm going to have to agree with the posters who advised you to separate from him and tell him why. Don't give an ultimatum of "Quit or I'm gone" -- but rather leave because he hasn't quit.

Let him realize what it HAS cost him, not what it MIGHT cost him unless he can beg, charm, threaten, bluff, wheadle, modify a bit temporarily, etc.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 9:24AM
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If you know any experienced cops, they will tell you there are basically three kinds of drunks: happy, sad, and mean. What there are not are any that are healthy. Lots of people drink a lot, regularly, for a long time. Many remain quite functional commercially and socially. However, the physical and emotional invoices always come due in the end. Something always happens that wouldn't have happened except for their altered state.

Another factor that often becomes an issue is the cost. Commercially successful people, especially, often acquire a taste for quality liquor and nice surroundings. Four drinks at a nice bar are 20-25 bucks -- can be quit a bit more. Multiply that by 30 days. Or multiply 4-6 bottles of 20-30 dollar liquor at home per month. Lots of people have 2-300 dollar per month drinking habits. And these aren't sloppy, dysfuntional people....just folks with regular long-term habits. I've known quite a few. It doesn't take long for it to become part of who they are and how they do things.

Not saying this is your guy. I wouldn't know. However, you certainly did describe the typical signs.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 10:04AM
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Oh yes, he says himself how much it costs him because he does drink expensive stuff. He does not drink much when we are out because he drives, he does not drink when he drives maybe one drink the most. He buys expensive stuff though to drink at home. Cost would not be a problem for me as much as other issues. This is plain bad and he knows it is bad, he is smart. He also smokes (it does not bother me, i used to smoke but quit). But it does say something about addictive perosnality and how much it costs to his health and finances

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 11:59AM
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Actually, that same "addictive personality' thing is probably why he is commercially successful. Among people I know I'm not sure I would call it "addictive" as much as an ability to focus intensely and bore in. They seem to bring this intensity to everything they, eating, drinking, recreation. (I'm this way with chocolate malted milkshakes...have to stay away from them!) It seems to all go together. Not a bad thing, neccesarily, but needs control and balance. You've described an imbalance in perspective. His acknowledgement of it is a good thing. Does he have the will to control it?

Among the people I know with this tendency, they never have one drink because it doesn't accomplish anything. If they're going to drink at all, they drink to the point of elevation they want. In terms of control, they decide whether this is an appropriate time to be "elevated" or not and either imbibe or don't based on that evaluation. None of them do it regularly. They choose. Friends I had that were regular about it, I've had to let go because they lost track. Basically resesnted it when they were in booze-free situations. Became something of a social nuisance.

Again, I say, I don't know your man. Just keying on the "signals" you've described. Encouraged by his acknowledgement. Sounds to me as if he knows its time for a change and maybe you're the motivation to consider it. Still places a burden on you which you may not be interested in accepting. Does seem to me you're thinking clearly about it. I don't see a fault in yoiur bearing with it hoping for a change or in choosing to not to. Your life. Your time. Your choice.

His choice, too, I think, if he intends to keep you.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 12:23PM
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Finedreams; my own mother gave me similar advice when I revealed my concerns about my dh's drinking habits to her, she pointed out how financially stable and secure he has kept his family, that he deserves to go out and cut loose, and that I'm expecting too much. This was early on before I/we made the decision to include children in our lives, now I am at a point of 'do I leave and scar the children?', do I stay and let this erode my values and beliefs?

Tough spot to be in, and I see you're in a bad spot too by the way you are weighing your pros and cons. This appears to be his big fault - and we all have faults, it just depends whether it's one we can live with. Even though he admits it's an area he needs to work on, do you have the time and patience required to wait it out? Limiting yourself from not meeting another nice guy with a different set of characteristics you could live with?

I know I'd rather spend the rest of my life alone with no romance in sight, then with what I deal with periodically right now, if it weren't for the guilt I feel for our kids. Think hard. Wishing you well.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 12:41PM
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You stated that you come from a pretty much non-drinking family and your past relationshios have never involved a serious drinker. That plus your mother's comment leads me to think that you have no idea of the true nature of alcoholism, that it is a progressive disease and what you would face as the sober half of an alcoholic relationship.

I urge you to attend some Al-anon meetings, which are for the families of alcoholics. You need alcohol education before you jump into this swamp. I also suggest you assess yourself to see if you have co-dependent tendencies. Co dependents often hook up with substance abusers and the results are catastrophic.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 11:00PM
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nofaves, I grew up with an alcoholic father.

The children are already scarred & will get more so by staying in the alcoholic environment.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 10:32AM
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