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My Husband's Confusion And Inability To Make Correct Lifestyle Decisions

Question:

Dear Dr. Schwartz, You would never in your life meet a person that wants to live a good life and make wise decisons like my Husband does. He was raised with alcoholic parents and his Father died when he was 13, and at that time he began a life of alcohol and drug abuse. In 1991 he was at the bottom of the pit, thinking of suicide, when he accepted Jesus Christ into his life and turned away from drugs and alcohol…..what a blessing. His self loathing and ability to make right lifestyle choices are still with him ’til this day, however, and there are so many times in his life when he is paralysed with fear. He’s introspective beyond belief and wants to make the right choices, but does not, and then has to deal with the aftermath of his poor choices. He cannot sleep at night and thoughts of unworthiness continually roll around in his head. I have a good family (but also very normal and with plenty of faults on their own) that loves him unconditionally, but he feels intimidated and embarrassed to even be around them , recently not even being able to show up for our every other year family reunion at Thanksgiving. It hurts him to hurt me and my family, but he seems stuck and it seems as if his isolation is worsening each year. He loves me and my family and blames nothing on us, accepting the total responsibility for his decisions. He has a lot of confusion and now, so do I. What kind of treatment would you deem fit for him. We desperately need your advise. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts….for any help.

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Answer:

It is extremely impressive and courageous that your husband was able to find the strength, both within himself and from his spirituality, to end his alcoholism and drug abuse. Now, he needs help in coping with the deeper issues that led him in the direction of alcohol and drugs in the first place. In other words, I am fairly certain that he was abused, either physically and verbally as a child, as a result of his parents’ alcoholism. Then, he tragically lost his father at the very tender age of thirteen. It is understandable that he suffers from self loathing, fear and the inability to make good choices. I agree with you that he needs professional help.

I want to recommend that he enter psychotherapy as soon as possible and be evaluated for medication by a psychiatrist. Anti depressant medication in conjunction with psychotherapy is what works best. In many respects your husband is experiencing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Among these symptoms are the same things that you list in your E. Mail. It is entirely possible that the psychiatrist will prescribe something non addicting to help your husband sleep at night.

I do not know your health insurance situation but one way to go is to contact your health insurance company and be referred to a psychologist or social worker for psychotherapy and to a psychiatrist for medication. If you do not have an HMO and can see any professional of your own choosing then you might ask your family doctor for a referral. At this point I believe he needs to begin medication treatment as soon as possible, followed by the psychotherapy.

One more factor that I suggest is that he consider going to Alcoholics Anonymous after he has started medication and therapy. Perhaps he did this in the past. It is a good idea for him to return to AA even though he is not drinking. If he never went it might make sense for him to begin. They provide a wonderful support system for people with a history of alcohol and drug abuse and, of course, they are very oriented towards spirituality.

Finally, you should consider psychotherapy for your self in order to help you cope with such a difficult situation.

Best of Luck

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