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LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 589
Experience:  10 years post-MSW experience
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I think my husband has a drinking problem. We have been

Customer Question

I think my husband has a drinking problem. We have been arguing about his drinking for probably 10 years but has worsened in the last 2. He is a good man and used to be an amazing husband. We have been married 36 years next week and I feel helpless and frustrated. Can you help me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  LeahMSWuofm replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for writing to us today. Please note the info I provide you does not constitute treatment nor replace a local professional's evaluation.
Hello: I am sorry to hear you have this problem with your husband and that it has gotten worse these past couple of years. I really understand why you feel so frustrated. From your description, it sounds like you have had plenty of conversations with him about changing. Has he ever taken initiative to seek help for himself or does he maybe show temporary changes then resort to drinking again?
Unfortunately, I know it is probably not what you want to hear but there is not a lot you can do in the way of forcing treatment on him. Alcohol can have a very firm grip on people who rely on it - there is a large level of dependency that comes with chronic use of alcohol and quitting takes serious effort and commitment. If you have clearly expressed yourself regarding your desire to have him quit as well as laid out potential consequences for his ongoing use such as leaving and he still has not changed, this shows he is just not ready or willing. Typically with long-time users, they have to come to terms with their illness and be "ready" to make a change to end their behavior. Without this engagement to conquer the use on the part of your husband, I am afraid there is a low chance he will stop drinking at this time.
This leaves you with a few options. You can stick it out in your marriage choosing to focus on the good while continuing to press and hope that your husband will turn the corner and seek help. Or, you can leave. Either way, one thing that can be very helpful for the spouse of a substance user can be individual counseling. Individual counseling for you could help give you the time and space to vent, process, cry, and learn coping skills to help you through this and ti help you make decisions about which direction to go in..
Lastly, there is the option of an intervention with your husband which would involve you seeking support from friends and family who also have concern about your husband. As you can imagine, after 36 years of hearing from you that you would like him to quit, he has probably just learned to efficiently "write off" your concerns in favor of his preference to drink. Often, aligning with other people and choosing to have a confrontation with your husband centered around his drinking will elevate the sincerity and concern and really force him to confront his illness and make a decision. There are professionals willing to help you with an intervention and a plan - you might start with your local agencies for substance abuse which you can find through online searches such as "substance abuse treatment in xxxxxx".
I hope you found this helpful and will definitely remain available to you for concerns and questions on this matter. I wish you sincere best of luck in deciding what to do regarding your husband's behavior. Do remember that we can never truly control the actions of another person - we can only control how we act and how we react.

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