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My Husband Refuses To Seek Help


My husband has a chemical dependency problem. He refuses to admit it, and for the past two years has sent our family on a financial and emotional roller coaster. I am looking to get some legal advice, and try some meetings with Al-Anon here in town. We’ve been married over ten years and have two children, but he just doesn’t seem to want to try to get better. There is a serious risk of my having to file bankruptcy if I stay with him, but I am so close to kicking him out completely. I have separation papers and am considering refusing him visitation of our two boys unless and he gets help. Does that sound too harsh?

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Sometimes it is hard to tell someone they have a drinking problem. If you have already discussed this with him, and he won’t listen to you, then it is time for plan B. People with addictions may not want to admit they have one or are too scared to stop. As for your idea, I don’t think it is too harsh. It may be just the thing to knock some sense into him. But that is for you to decide. I do like the idea of you attending the Al-Anon meetings. They would probably be the best people to talk to about your situation. Maybe they can even talk to him. Try attending the meetings first to see what they have to say, and then go from there. I hope everything works out. Sincerely, – Anne

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  • Lianda

    I dont belive anything you have said is harsh. Having come from a background of living with an alcoholic I understand the stresses that it puts on you. My father is an alcoholic and has been since before I was born. My mum had enough of him by the time I was 6 and he moved out.

    I cant comment of whether you should stop him seeing the children as my father stopped seeing us, not the other way round. But what I do belive is that if you feel that you have need to worry about him being around your children because of his drinking then you should stop him seeing them or being around them, you have to think of there welfare and safety first. Dont get me wrong he is probably a very good father but that just seems to go out the window when drinking is involved.

    Im suffering a bit myself at the moment as my partner drinks, not all the time but when he does he doesnt know when to stop. And from past experience I can see it growing if not stopped now.

    I think there is only so much you can put up with and only so much help you can offer. At the end of the day only your husband him self can decide if he has a problem and whether to seek help. I know its a shame but some times the only thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to walk away. Your life will never get any better while he is still drinking.

    As for the amount of finacial trouble it is causing, get out while you can, you must think of your self and your children, they need a roof over there head and food in their stomachs more than he needs his next drink. I

    think the best action to take is to sit him down in a sober state and tell him your worries, its harsh but make him choose, his family or the drink, explain to him the way its making you feel and the strain its causing on the marriage, let him know you will be there to help but only for some long if no effort is made, seek the help for him, set him meeting with his GP is the first step. Then in time you will know in your heart if he is making a true effort or not and what action to take.

  • JR

    Speaking as an alcoholic (de-activated), I do not think that your idea is too harsh in substance, but it would only be fair (to yourself as well as your partner) to be completely honest and transparent about this. Tell the person (preferably when sober) that the consequences of their drinking/using have become intolerable and that either they give up drinking/using by whenever (preferably Now) OR "PLAN B" (what you will do in default), and mean it. In this regard, and apart from Al-Anon (of which, I have to admit, I am even less of a fan than I am of AA), you might consider Googling Rational Recovery. Their website includes, in its "free" area, an introductory "course" for family members of addicts which expands on this approach.

    May I wish you the very best. I hope that your partner recovers, and that all works out well for you and for your family.


  • Scott Ludtke

    I am a recovering alcoholic and I can honestly admit that it took me some time to "get it"!

    Please read an article that I wrote in the tradition that "you can only keep what you have by giving it away"

    How to Help the Alcoholic Who Refuses to Admit That They Have a Problem

    I wish you the best.

  • budding neuroscientist

    I'm sure we're all familiar with the phrase "Do as I say and not as I do." It couldn't be more misguided. An effective, healthy motto should be "Lead by example."

    Quick mini lesson about how memory (the major mechanism in learning) works

    neurons are the brain's workhorse, and synaptic gaps are the brain's storage facility. Every time we learn something, neurons generate a new synaptic gap specific to that event. Specific areas of the brain correspond to specific processes areas for language, other areas for motor skills, other areas for spatial thinking, other areas for logic, etc etc.

    This is why children who learn a second language are more apt to be a polyglot (learning to speak many languages fluently) than an adult just learning a second language. The child's still-developing brain allocated more neurons to langage and thusly generated larger language structures. Once grown, the brain can work of course, but it can no longer change work capacity.

    Mirror neurons are responsible for learning through imitation. We see it all the time, in children copying every parental quirk and minutae. We see it in birds learning to fly, animals learning to hunt/hide/etc. Imitation, not language or book-reading, are the primary learning procedure. Even if you tell your kid not to do x,y,z, if you're doing x,y,z... they most likely will, too.

    In short, refusing visitation/placement for as long as the father is actively addicted is not only not the wrong choice, it is the best one you could make for them. They do not need the stimuli activating their budding neurons and memories to emulate later to be one of drunkeness and dysfunction. You must commit to that, if you're going to do it, and stick to it no matter what. You must weather internal negative self-talk, any feelings of guilt or shame or what have you. It may hurt to be demonized, especially by the wrong-doer, but your children are worth that. In a way, so are you.

    Best of luck.


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