Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
My husband has a drinking problem but he won't admit it. What can I do?
Posted in Alcoholism by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Aug 06, 2010
"My husband and I have been together 15 years, married 10. We've always gotten along wonderfully. Every now and again, maybe once every year, year and a half, he'd get a little too drunk and go into wild rages. He never touched me, it was always verbal abuse until he'd finally get tired & sit and/or lay down, then go to sleep. I guess it was 5 yrs ago when my mom passed, he wasn't there for me. He claims he didnt know what to do or say, so he would just go out to the bar & come home "buzzed"; he'd just let me be.

1-1/2 years ago at his birthday, a bunch of friends met out for drinks. He was the guest of honor and got free drinks & shots & took full advantage. That night ended with me going home by myself as I embarrassed him by continually asking him to quit drinking in front of everyone. In June 2009 he lost his job, cuts and all. He got really down, money was extremely tight & he began drinking even more. His "episodes" went from once a year to one point, every other week. I myself stopped drinking because I thought that may have added to the conflict of 2 people, alcohol, not good.

My husband won't go to counseling, claims he doesn't have a drinking problem and if he were to ever have gone to counseling or to talk to someone, it would have been when his 1st marriage was dissolving because his daughter was only 2 at the time. I care about my husband, my love has stretched thin. I dont know what to do, he thinks that as long as there's alcohol in the house, it has to be consumed. I've dumped out bottles and hid wine so when I have guests I can pull out a bottle without having to buy more. I apologize for this long winded note, but, I am new to this site, and this type of help as I can no longer afford to see the therapist I was talking with (it's been at least 4 mos). Thank you for your time and any suggestions you may have to offer."

You are correct in assuming that your husband has a problem with alcohol but that problem is clearly a symptom of greater struggles that your husband is dealing with. You can’t force someone to actually recover from an addiction but you can put limitations on them as it pertains to you. Ultimatums are never fun to give or receive but if it is truly as bad as you describe then you need to start drawing some lines in the sand.

Instead of asking your husband to get help for his problem with alcohol why not let him know that you are not happy in the marriage as it is and you truly want to find a way to make it work. He needs to understand that your problems are his problems (and vice versa). Ask him to come in with you to a counseling session so you can both get some ideas about how to better communicate and improve the relationship. He may feel that going to counseling now is simply a way to address his drinking and therefore he is avoiding it whole-heartedly. In the absence of this idea, and with the belief that it is the only way to save the marriage, he may agree to go. It is not ideal but you can make it conditional. This means that you can say that you will no longer stay in the marriage unless the two of you get help. It sounds like your alternative is to either suffer in silence or to leave without trying. Those don’t seem like very good options and your marriage is in crisis at the moment. Inevitably the issue of his drinking will surface in therapy and need to be addressed and if he is already committed to the process he is more likely to sit for this type of discussion.

I know it sounds harsh but why have alcohol in the house at all? If you are truly committed to your husband being alcohol free then it seems you may just want to make the house an alcohol free zone and serve your guests something else since you stated that your husband feels if there is alcohol in the house then he needs to drink it. This won’t prevent him from going to the bar of course but it will send a clear message about your resolve.

In the mean time I would strongly suggest that you look into joining the support group Al Anon. You can find information about it here: . This will help you learn what to expect from living with an alcoholic husband and how to take better care of yourself in this situation. You should also look for low fee or sliding scale counseling which can often be found at any major University or Graduate level psychology program.

- Cyndi

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I have gone to Al Anon meetings before but honestly I felt like all they did was degrade me. I am not the problem. I am just trying to love him. I just don't see how making me feel like nothing helps.

Is there an alternative to Al Anon? My husband can be verbally abusive at times. We both are having problems with jobs and I just got laid off. Now I discovered he is drinking Vodka again. I am afraid he will lose his job now. I really am in no position with a family and no job to leave him right now. He will not admit he has a problem.

I know you mention enabling, but I don't feel I do. If I find booze, I dump it out and we get in to huge fights. I know about alcohol, my dad drank, and a lot of others.

Please help.
By Katanya  Aug 30, 2014
Sounds so much like my life....I pretend I am a bird viewing the world from space. There are billions of people! Why do I get so upset with this one alcoholic that is destroying me piece by piece?!.
By cantkeepup  Nov 20, 2010
Until your husband figures it out all by himself, no-one elses words or threats will matter. I am the alcoholic in my family & my husband has put up with flying into rages once or twice a year. I never remember the next day what horrible things I said/did. The guilt that you feel as the alcoholic is awful. I am sober now & pray I stay that way!! Most do need help to stop though. You can leave until he gets it. My husband threatened to leave me once & I "GOT IT" finally. I didn't want to lose him because of booze. GOOD LUCK!
By ARTnZEN  Oct 09, 2010
I have tried everything too and my husband is an alcoholic I even tried an intervention w/ a professional, but that didn't work. We tried counseling together, but the counselor didn't get it either. It is time for me to see a lwayer and get separated because then maybe my husband will get the message that I am sick of being around somebody that has a disease and is not willing to get help I am moving on to a better place and refuse to be a victim and helpless.
By mbeaton  Oct 07, 2010
When there is a person that drinks too much it becomes a family problem. When the alcoholic refuses help the partner should find help for themselves. AlAnon is a good start.
By summerain13  Aug 28, 2010
When there is a person that drinks too much it becomes a family problem. When the alcoholic refuses help the partner should find help for themselves. AlAnon is a good start.
By summerain13  Aug 28, 2010
cyndi tell him youll take his car away if he dont stop drinking tell him that you care about him and you dont wont to see him hurt people die from drinking and driveing tell him he can go to jail and he wont see his kids
By michele2  Aug 06, 2010
You cant change his way of thinking but you can change the way YOU think, start taking care of yourself. Honey, hese the only one who can realize that he has a problem, you cant do it for him. Ive been going through this for years. Ask yourself is it worth staying or am I ready to move on and rely on myself, I do feel for you and you will be in my prayers.
By benton1  Aug 06, 2010
please seek out al-anon. theyan offer great help and know how to help you you will never be alone. my prayers and support are always there. your friend reginaann.]]
By reginaann  Aug 06, 2010
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