My husband over the past 6 years has gone through what he calls "phases" where he drinks daily for about 5 months. He is 32 and hangs around with 20 year-olds mainly, claiming they have the same interests. He has drank and drove, more than once, and with his child in the vehicle. He becomes angry and irritable daily mostly with myself, his wife. He recently threw our keys and his cell phone off of a staff cruise ship party for his work, and spent over 120 dollars on alcohol on the boat. He has barely any recollection of the evening. Since, he has not had a drink, not that I’m aware of, in 4 days. He is very hostile. he yells, doesn’t eat right, won’t talk to me, and wants this 20 year old lad over constantly, claiming the boy is his friend. We have some solid friends together, and some of our own, too. He thinks he may be bipolar and need medication. Can you help us?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
There is no question in my mind, based on what I have read of your situation, that your husband is engaging in dangerous and irresponsible behavior. There are many things that could be causing this behavior and one of them, in my opinion, is alcohol. Drinking and driving is dangerous, as you well know. Drinking and driving with his children in the car is beyond dangerous. He is putting your children at risk, as well as other drivers and pedestrians, when he is driving under the influence.
It seems to me, and others may disagree, that the first thing he needs to day is stop drinking. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous groups may help with this. There is also medication that he could ask his medical doctor about that could take away his craving for alcohol.
As to Bipolar Disorder, it is possible that he has that diagnosis. I cannot say because I do not know him. That and other disorders are often accompanied by alcohol and drug abuse. For example, major depression, dysthymia and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are also frequently accompanied by substance abuse.
Be aware that alcoholism stands by itself as an addictive disorder and needs no other disorder to bring it about.
I want to suggest that your husband, in addition to starting AA and going to his medical doctor also see a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist for an accurate evaluation of whether or not he has a behavioral disorder. If he does then he can be started on medication, whether he suffers from bipolar or any other such disorder.
Having said this, no amount of medication will do any good at all unless he stops all drinking.
Finally, when he has his diagnosis he also needs to enter psychotherapy to help him learn how to cope with life without resorting to drugs and alcohol.
For you, I would urge you to attend ALANON groups. These groups are for the spouses or relatives of those with drinking problems. It will help you learn how to cope with him and how to avoid making it easy for him to drink and to avoid taking responsibility for his drinking. In other words, it is not your job to make him stop drinking. Only he can do that.
Best of Luck