Convincing A Binge Drinker He Has A Problem

JC: How can I convince a binge drinker that they have a problem with alcohol? Is a binge drinker an alcoholic if  they only get drunk once per month? Is this a serious problem worth confronting in a loved one?  I answer these questions throughout the article.

Worried About HusbandArticle By: Angela
I am a newly wed, married on year. I am previously divorced and have four children, ages 4-12. When I met my current husband, I was so excited for my children, he is so good with them and loves them. Just what they needed given their own father is always too busy to see them.

We dated for a year and a half, and then got married, I was so excited. It wasn’t until we moved into a home together that I found out about the drinking. When we were dating he would drink at home on his own. I feel like I’m in over my head, I don’t drink at all, never have and I don’t know what’s normal.

My husband doesn’t drink very often, but when he does he drinks to the point that he can’t walk, or make sense. He drinks maybe once a month or less, but it is never just a few drinks. I don’t think this is ok, and have asked him not to.

As I read about your husband binge drinking, I was reminded of a readers article submission entitled Nice Guy Turns Out To Be An Alcoholic. There was a far amount of interaction from our readers in the comment section.  Perhaps you will find a few ideas on how to handle your situation by reading their advice.

I teach my children that drinking is bad and causes too many problems. Also he can be so mean and beligerant when he is drunk, the neighbors have called the police before because he was asking their friends for smokes while they were having a party, he ended up in the back of the cruiser, so embarrasing. Luckily the kids weren’t home.

I have asked him to get help, but he says he isn’t an alcoholic and not doing anything wrong. He is the best when he is himself, but mean and withdrawn after a drinking bout, it lasts for days after he drinks. It’s a rollercoaster and I don’t how to explain it to my children. Every time he says he won’t do it again, and that he doesn’t even enjoy it at the time, but then it happens again. How can I convince him that this is a problem, and that he needs help?

  Angela, It’s going to be near impossible to convince your husband he has a problem with binge drinking. At this point in the development of  him “possibly” becoming an alcoholic you can only communicate to him your concerns.  He may not think he has a drinking problem, but if he is truthful with himself, he cannot deny that he creates problems in the family when he does drink.  All you can do is express your concern and then Learn How To Let Go Of An Alcoholic.  The video below has a few good pointers in it on how to communicate with an alcoholic. Rule number one, never try to reason with him when he has been drinking. Avoid arguing with an alcoholic at all costs. I’d suggest you learn all that you can about dealing with a problem drinker through attending Al-anon meetings.

 


16 comments to Convincing A Binge Drinker He Has A Problem

  • C

    I would feel he tricked me if he was drinking when he was on his own. He knew you would eventually find out – I would pack him up or take the kids and leave. Why waste one day of your life trying to take care of someone who does not care for himself, you or the children?

    Life is too short. This will only get worse.

  • SC

    If you argue against reality, you will suffer. -Oprah’s Lifeclass

    Angela,
    I have come to realize, there are different types of alcoholics. I married a man that drank every night and you could not tell he was drunk. Never embarrassed me public, could drink 2-3 glasses of wine at a party, would not drive if he had more than 3 drinks, did not stumble when he walked or slur when he spoke. He was smart, successful and funny.

    But, when his mood changed, he was mean, would blame, criticize and insult me. It started off slow but became worst as time when on.

    I thought it came from his childhood because I couldn’t see that he was an alcoholic (my father was a dry drunk but b4 he quit you could visual tell when he was drunk).

    I have had many years of therapy and support groups. So, I thought, I had enough knowledge to get us through this. If I explained things to him, he would see the light, get to understand me and we would have a great relationship.

    But, when I explained my actions or defended myself…he would get mad and act like I was just starting a fight?? He could not communicate and got mad if I tried to?? It never ends, everything becomes a circle they can’t get out of, which means, you can’t get out. It only gets worse.

    If they quit drinking then they just become a dry drunk. I think their biggest problem is they drink to regulate their emotions, while the rest of us work on our issues and try to become better people.

    You have to know what is best for you and your children; your answer will come to you from within.
    But, I’m just sayin;)

  • C

    SC: WOW! That really spells it out. Thank you for that comment. Reading comments from many people, all say the same – it only gets worse. Some do get sober and then are angry because they cannot drink.

    I cannot understand how someone can drink every single day and then torture the person who is taking care of the house, etc. I couldn’t be in any room without my ex checking on me! It is almost like he was insane. He would drink at any hour and kept it up until he fell asleep. I would be very quiet and let him sleep. He would drink at night, keep the TV loud, and stomp around the house doing whatever! If I asked him to be quieter, he would rage. The memories are ugly! Whenever he talked to any relative on the phone, he would be a totally different person. I brought it up to him and he denied it. Other women had told him the same thing, so he knew what he was doing.

    I do not want anyone else in this world to experience what I went through.

  • marilyn johnson

    angela, i too am married to an alcoholic, it started in the 1990’s with one or two beers. well how bad had it got. i left last october 2011 & realized that to keep from losing my mind, i had too. the best
    thing i could have ever done. we have been married for 42 yrs & we both seen it in our families. we told each other that would never happen to us. well it sure did. i couldn’t see it till the drinking was happening everyday & he wouldn’t do anything, & yes i mean anything to changeit. promise after promise.
    i’m at our lakehouse & until he stops drinking i will never go back. now angela listen to me i do mean ever. i still have hope but that day may never come. so i’m telling you with children don’t walk but run for your life & your children’s life. because he has to help himself. you can’t help him. i know because
    i’ve been working on this since the 1990’s. if you can get out now go. i’ve learned alot threw alanon but
    you can’t change him. that was the hardest thing for me to learn. we have along way to go if ever. please
    don’t put your kids threw any of it anymore. run run run lots of love coming your way

  • John

    Angela, I remember when my wife first started abusing alcohol. She was acting very distant and the intimacy of our close friendship had ever so slowly faded. I thought I had done something to cause her to be this way…was it my “fault?” Two years later she had progressed from getting really hammered periodically to drinking all time, taking prescription pills daily and doing hard drugs every other weekend or so. As the alcohol and drug abuse increased so did the distance between us. There were more arguments, I spent more nights at home alone and the family dynamics got really dysfunctional.

    There were times I begged and pleaded for her to quit because the family was falling apart, she never did. We eventually divorced because she became too abusive. It took five years to get to that point and three of those years were hell on earth for me and the kids.

    My point is that this massive earthquake called alcohol and drug addiction started with the smallest change in her behavior. Had I gotten involved in support group meetings early on… I would have had a lot more peace in “my” life during all of the destruction.

    I don’t think you can convince an alcoholic that the have a problem. He is in “denial” already and it’s important that you do not deny what he is doing to the family through his occasional drinking. In other words, don’t sweep this under the rug and pretend that everything is alright…because it isn’t.

    Read everything that you can about alcoholism. This site is loaded with great information and the Secrets To Dealing With Alcoholics lessons offered here are excellent. As JC and others have mentioned, get involved in support group meetings.

    Express your concerns to your husband, but do not aggressively attempt to pursued him into believing he has a problem with drinking alcohol. Don’t nag him either. Tell him once and then let him go. When he gets drunk, find something to keep your focus off of him. If you focus on what he is doing it will drive you crazy.

    If you believe in God or not, ask him for help too!

    All the best to you and the family.

  • Brenda

    I to am married to an alcoholic. I never saw him take one drink before we got married. I was angry at him for the longest time for hiding it from me. I now know he doesn’t think he has a problem.
    He would come home drunk and yell at him family members on the phone, stomp through the house, pick fights with me or the kids, until he passed out.
    I finally told him, when he was sober, and probably very hungover, that when he’s drinking he is not to be around me or the kids. If we leave the room, he is not to follow us. Took a few tries, but he finally got it. You have to set boundaries with him, and not give in, so don’t set a boundary you are not willing to follow through on. And make sure he is sober when you do.
    Well, in January of this year, 2012, he had a mild heart attack. He’s only 47. It scared him enough that he was sober for almost 3 months, then he went to visit his family for 3 months and that was the end of his sobirity.
    Living with an alcoholic who is in denial is a very hard life. I have put my husband in the hands of God and I praise God daily for his sobrity. My husband has been back for 2 months now and the drinking is starting to slow down.
    The best thing I’ve done is pray and be selfish meaning you have to put yourself and your childrens happiness first. Take your focus off him. Alcoholics don’t like to be left alone and the don’t like to drink alone with no one to argue with.
    Only you know what is best for yourself and your children.
    God bless

  • Pat

    Angela, I wonder if your husband has traces of alcoholism in his family. From what I understand, the disease of alcoholism is genetic. If he has relatives who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse then you could be dealing with a serious problem at some point.

    In my family there are several people who have struggled with drinking too much. One of my parents was a binge drinker. They could not just have one or two drinks. Once they started, they binge drank until they passed out. Sometimes the binge drinking would last for days at a time.

    This website has a link in the sidebar to articles that will help you learn how to set boundaries. You must let him know that his behavior is not acceptable within the home. This is a tough thing to do because he may go party somewhere else and you will be left to manage the family. Oh well! That’s the price that goes along with being with someone who has issues with substance abuse.

    I hope you take time to learn how to handle this situation because it really is as serious as you are making it out to be. Alcoholism destroys lives and families. You are “right” in having concerns over his behavior. I don’t think you will be able to convince him that he has a problem. It really sounds like he is in major denial that this is causing trouble in your relationship. You will be a lot more peaceful about the situation when you communicate in a loving way your concerns and set boundaries then LET GO OF THE OUTCOME. You must learn how to let this go. If you don’t you will be dragged through the mud with him.

    You cannot control his drinking no matter how hard you try! You can beg and plead and try to reason with him until you are out of breath and it will not do any good.

    Good luck!

  • Chloe

    Angela,
    Oh boy, your situation sounds similar to mine. I remarried and thought my husband was going to be a great stepdad and husband. He hid his drinking earlynon, and it progressivelybgot worse and worse as time went on. By last January, he was guzzling between 3-6 bottles of wine a day. Like all the others, he was a mean and nasty horrible jackass when drunk. My advice is to NOT wait 3 years like I did feeling unsure, confused, hopeful, and in denial about the severity of the problem. It will get worse. Take massive action NOW, and set a firm time limit on when you will bail on this guy if he does not change.

    I finally took action in January and then in early April by having an intervention for my husband. He was surrounded by people who were confronting him publicly about his verbal abuse, physical abuse, amount consumed, stupid things he did when drunk, etc. I told his family everything too and his own alcoholic father reacted very badly by blaming and lashing out at me. His dad insinuated that his son drank because I insisted he marry me and this caused him stress. His dad tried to shame and blame me to protect his son, and I believe even resented me for trying to get his son help. Crazy stuff. This helped my husband to see the extreme dysfunction of his own family, and the nastiness of his own alcoholic father. God has really worked on my hubby’s heart, and though his dad and I are not on speaking terms, maybe God will work in that situation too.

    I set a firm date by June 1 of leaving if he was still drinking. So far so good. My husband really suffered the consequences of public exposure, confrontation, and accountability which has been enough pain for him so far for him to change. I took the ugly dirty secret of our life and put it out into the light of day for all to see. You have to have the strength to confront this awful awful affliction head on, and then you have to have the strength to walk away and save yourself and your kids if your alcoholic refuses to change. It’s tough. Very tough. I still have some rough emotional days because I can get angry that I had to go through this trauma for 3 years. I think we store these traumatic emotions in our bodies, and it takes time for them to come up to be recognized, accepted, and then released.He learned through therapy to just come over, put his arms around me, and say, “I’m sorry I hurt you.” This helps.

    Angela, save yourself from staying much longer in this situation if it is not going to change. It will do you in. Set a plan to try to get him help, but you must be ready to leave him if there is no change. Living with an alcoholic is brutal and the terrible toll it takes is just too much.

    I’ll have you in my prayers today.

  • JC

    Chloe, I always enjoy reading your posts. It takes time to learn how to live with an alcoholic, to love them in their present state of active addiction and to become strong enough to be prepared to leave if things get unbearably worse.

    I lived one day at a time, without making any “firm” plans to leave the relationship if things didn’t get better. I was content in learning how to cope with the situation differently and working on myself through attending Al-anon.

    I changed for the good over a period of three years while living in the middle of a dysfunctional mess. I was actually happy, joyous and free most of the time. I had learned how to obtain serenity amidst the storm and how to keep it.

    We eventually divorced because the situation escalated into being way too abusive for me and the kids to stay. In the end, I feel so good about doing all that I could to make things work. I stayed in the situation hoping and praying that the miracle that many alcoholics find would happen. I stayed in faith “one day at a time.”

    It was very apparent when it was time for things to end What had started out to be an occasional binge once every other weekend had progressively changed into the alcoholic/addict being in an altered state from medicating every day. It took about five years for things to get a lot worse.

    I have no regrets for the decision I made to stay and try to make things work until “death do us part.” I have no regrets about leaving either. She was in love with her addictions much more than me.

  • DM

    My husband and I met in our 30’s. We married within a year, and his problems with alcohol (and cocaine abuse) became obvious and clear when our daughter was still a baby, i had no idea when I married him that he was using cocaine daily, and when i discovered this, I feared for our future life, stability and our baby girl. I went to counsellors, Alanon, etc. my counsellor told me that when he was on his binges, to extricate myself from him to another room, Not to engage. I have done this for years. When it first began, I was terrified for my daughter, especially with the cocaine use. I contacted his family (who were well aware he had issues and likely relieved i married him and took him off their hands) his mother hated me from then on. Her son was perfect…how could I be so horrible to suggest he was not! She treated me with verbal “anguish” at every visit (she lived a couple of provinces away). His brother (65) drinks beer from the minute he wakes until he goes to sleep. His wife’s advice is Alanon every time. His father died at 63 of a heart attack….apparently he was a major alcoholic too. He died before we met. My father was a lawyer, and under a lot of stress, and drank gin daily and smoked 2 packs of dead ends until he died of a massive coronary at age (48). I was 15.

    I am 52 now, my daughter is 18 and heading off to university in the fall. This has been going on for 20 years. She understood what was happening by the time she was 10 or 11. When she was 5 he convinced me he was off the cocaine for good. 6 years later he told me he had quit the cocaine for good. I was mortified, thought he had stopped when our daughter was 5. It turns out that for those 6 years, the bleary eyes were not solely a result of the drink, it was still the cocaine, i have never done cocaine in my life, this revelation that it had been going on for 6 years until he quit that was a shock to me. i had mistaken the look in his eye for alcohol,

    These days, he binges every other day on alcohol. By binge….he guzzles wine or a 6 oz. bottle of whisky then some wine – usually by noon…sometimes earlier, he does this 5 minutes before a planned outing (secretly) he will guzzle something, then get in the car to go to….say costco at 11am on a Sunday. 5 minutes into the drive I realize what he has done, lately, I make him pull over and get out of the car. My daughter will come oick me up. He basically puts lives at risk and is total denial that he is doing anything wrong, he is 56 years old no….I am 52.

    Today, he had a coffee, showered, and we were to go out for breakfast with our daughter and her friend who had a sleepover at 10am. Friday night, we had our first dinner in our new hime (moved cities for his work 18 months ago)…..so friends brought wine. The dinner was wonderful and he didn’t binge that day because he did the night before and was hungover. The problem now is….I have made many many friends in our new city, have participated in fundraisers, and have become involved in our daughter’s school. I have made many many new friends, and had the “nerve” to hold this first dinner party – all the while hoping he wouldn’t do anything to embarrass our family, that night (although i worried all day) went off without him binging. This morning, on our way to breakfast – I looked at the wine fridge. The one bottle of white wine that was unopened at 9:30 was empty by 10. I confronted him, and asked why he would do this and then out us at risk by getting behind a wheel to go to a restaurant for breakfast, why does anyone do this (chug a full bottle of wine in less than 10 minutes) and try to get you and your kids in a car before you notice he is impaired.

    My daughter goes to university in the fall. She is worried for me being left to deal with him. I can’t stand being around him these days, and sleep alone. He is a huge disappointment, always says he will get help, and never does. I have Crohns Disease, and throughout my marriage, my disease has worsened 10 fold. This past October I underwent an ileostomy (complete removal of colon and rectum) I now wear a “bag” for the rest of my life. When I first met him, I described my crohn’s as mild…..I have gone from “mild” to total removal of large intestine. My body can’t take any more. Stress is VERY bad for Crohns disease. I have now undergone the “final” surgery…but the disease will return in some form…..they say it may stay in remission for many years, as we cut out the entire disease colon. There is not much left that can happen other than a heart attack from stress.

    He is very visible player in our new town. The “big boss” at his job, I am the one making lots of friends, and have to literally beg him to stay sobre for anything social, as I never know when he will binge, his job is full of “triggers” as he outs it. I am thinking that now that my daughter is off to university – I need to make a change.

    I have lived with jekyll/hyde too long, and it is only a matter of time before my new (and wonderful and affluent) friends find out my life is a sham. I had to “retire” from a 6 figure job 10 years ago as my crohns and depression took over. I have managed to fight the depression with the help of paxil. I cannot believe how readily i have made wonderful new friends in my new town….and can’t believe how I have managed to participate in so many fund raisers, trips away with my daughter and friends, etc, since having had this major crohns ileostomy just 7 months ago.

    What i really can’t believe is how my husband continues to do this, fill my life with stress, (he has picked my up after crohns related surgeries several times throughout the year inebriated)……and yet he blames it on me, or my daughter,,,,anyone but him, I am the one making the friends, people like me. I am fun and have a good attitude (seriously…..considering all)…..yet none of my new friends have a clue to what my life is really like. I have to hide it for fear of new friends dropping out of the picture, several of my lifetime friends know the situation fully….,but my new friends would be shocked.

    Am at a point where i think to save me from perhaps a heart from the continued stress (now that my intestines are gone)…..i am ready to go. I have two dogs, and work for him, any suggestions on how to get out of this mess. I hold disdain for him now….20 years of blame throwing and family strife….but nine of it is his fault. I am so tired,

  • DM

    Just a further note. I developed Crohns at 17 – 2 years after my father died . My father too was an alcoholic. As was my husbands father. I do realize from years of counseling that i did indeed marry a man like my father. I don’t know if anyone will answer me on this website – bit the counsellors have said all they could on how to deal with the situation, ie. leaving the space (have retreated to my bedroom for years, with my daughter). She is a tough little cookie, has seen a lot, and seems to be handling it ok now that she is 18 and off the University. I am so proud of the way I got through my major surgery in october. Had the surgery in my old hometown (4 hours away) and stayed with my brother for 6 weeks to recuperate and be close to my surgeon, i just feel now that counsellors can’t do much for me….they have given me advice over the years to get me through to some degree.,..but there is not much more health wise that can happen to me except a heart attack from stress. The house is in my name, I have new friends here, family and old friends 4 hours away, yet houses here are cheaper. I work for my husband 20 hours per week, and our house is paid for. I didn’t want to be alone, and am at the end of my rope what to do. I am thinking it is time to put the house up for sale, and maybe that will finally get him to AA. Also, like I said I work for him…..yet if i was to leave, he won’t make it easy. I won’t be able to get a high paying job after having been out of my field for 10 years…..how does one do this? Would a for sale sign possibly get him to finally do something,,,,,or is that a pipedream after 20 years of the same behaviour?

  • SJC

    Why is it so quiet on this site? Has everyone found a different place to go? If so, please share what the site is.

  • Jellybean

    I see a lot of activity on stepchat….it’s for a variety of 12 step meetings but the rooms are open 24/7. So nice to have someplace to go and focus on US, you know? Hugs. *DM – have you tried al-anon? You probably already have, but thought I’d just mention it because I have found it to be priceless in my recovery to my addiction to my husband’s issues. I can’t say for sure, but it’s unlikely that you can do anything at this point that will make your husband see the light. It’s heartbreaking and I know how deep the pain can go….but you matter. You are important, unique and special. YOUR life matters separately from your husband. You can take care of You. Therapists can help if you will focus on your own recovery separate from whatever goes on with your husband and his life. It’s kind of like taking a sabbatical from your marriage – even if just emotionally. To get some space and clarity – some serenity and peace of mind. Because YOU deserve that now. It sounds like your very life depends on it, hon. Take care.

  • I was married for 18 years and got divorsed due to my husband that left me for a younger girl. I met my husband and he was very lovable. We got married at first in our first year we were the couple that all talked about – we loved to go out and dance . We have 2 children one his and the other mine – he and his son was for 13 years alone and it sounds like he drank alot then and his son always got his way with what he wanted – so his son loves his father drinking – Now he drink over the week one or 2 bears a day but not every day but when he is not working the following day he will start to drink when he comes from work at 4 oclock and will not stopp drinking until he passes out and when he gets drunk he will be looking for trouble with family members – he even tried to hurt me a few times. The next morning the first thing that he wants is a bear . If he works the following day he will stop drinking at 4 occlock and will drink 2 litres of water during the night. I asked him to stop drinking but he says he have not got a drinking problem. I am at the point of wanting to leave him but would like it so much if he can shows how much he loves me and that he would stop his excessive drinking. He would throw brandy in a glass half full then ice and then just a little bit of coke and he drinks very fast. I hate it if he sits like a drunk and I must look after him as if he is my baby.

  • SJC

    Charlene, I feel for you. The alcohol will always come first. I heard a RA say, when he was drinking, if he was on a cliff and had his child’s hand and a bottle in the other hand and could only hold onto one, it would have been the bottle. Hard to believe.

    I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party, well maybe. It has been a really hard day. I read all the horrible stories on the site and say I should be grateful he left me while he was still a high function alcoholic
    or this would become my stories.
    I think in someways it makes it harder because he was functioning. Very smart, good job, funny and we had the finer things in life.
    He did not slur, come home drunk, get sick….
    But he did have the Jekyll & Hyde issue.
    Blame, criticize, insult (shame, hate that one) twist things around… I keep praying God will get through this one. Out of everything I have been through in life, this has taken me down. I will never get involved with an A again. I worked so hard to get pass my childhood and feel good about myself, only to let this throw me down to the ground and can’t get up. It makes me feel like I’m the one that has gone crazy and he has just gone on.
    I pray for peace for everyone on this site.
    The stories I read hurts my heart. We all
    want love and happiness…you would think that would not be to much to ask for.
    Thanks all for sharing, it always helps to have others in your life that can relate.

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