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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I live with a husband who is a alcoholic and its becoming

Resolved Question:

I live with a husband who is a alcoholic and it's becoming more and more draining on me. I never know what each day will hold. I know that it's taking a toll on my health. I always worry, have trouble sleeping and don't feel very happy. I just don't know what to do.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 6 years ago.

Hello, and thanks for visiting JA. I´m really sorry to hear about what you have been going through.

I think you need to give yourself breathing space, and talk to a counselor about this problem, so that you can clarify your options.

Basically, how do you feel about living with this for the rest of your life?
What are the prospects of him changing?

The sad fact is that until he accepts that he has a problem, and will accept help for it, there is nothing you can do directly in that area.

However, you need some support yourself, and to find a way to make your life easier.

I have several suggestions for you.

First off, your husband needs to be confronted with your feelings about his behavior, and made to understand that, while you care for him his behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, at least by you

He also needs to understand that that any continuation of this drinking behavior will have consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately.

We humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do.

Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give him choices, and make sure they understand the consequences of his choice – and always follow through. If you don’t he will continue to take treat you the way he is doing just now.

Ask him too, what he is prepared to do to change his behaviour in future – tell him to research what might help him, what professional help he might get, and even consider a ‘contract’ between you. In other words, involve him in his own change, with a prospect of a small reward for success and dire consequences for failure.

However, don’t get angry, stay cool and in control, matter of fact and stick to the facts. Avoid drama.

I’m going to suggest that you would benefit greatly from a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a form of therapy that addresses problems in a direct and targeted way and is brief compared with most other therapies.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also cause the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

One final word – you have not failed him. He is an adult and is responsible for himself. Please, therefore, do NOT be hard on yourself.

Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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