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Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

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Old 09-22-2004, 02:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
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mnolan0823 HB User
Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

My husband doesn't get slobbering drunk and he is not abusive in any way, but he does have alcoholism in the family. His mother has been a member of AA for 17 years now. My husband stopped drinking on his own 4 years ago and was dry for 3 years and then for some reason, last fall, decided he could control it again and started drinking. Now he is back to drinking almost every night again, sometimes beer, sometimes saki, sometimes wine, sometimes martinis. He has several, just to mellow out or take the edge off he says. The worst part about it is that he is now having our 19 year old son sitting down with him and hanging out and having a couple of beers. So, I am afraid he is really teaching an unhealthy behavior, especially in a family that has alcoholism in it's history. My husband is very obsessive/compulsive about most things. Never very balanced . . . usually real into something or not into it at all, so his personality lends itself to this disease as well. So, does this behavior sound like alcoholism? Does a person have to drink very heavily and/or all day long to be considered an alcoholic? I know I can't make him stop, but I get very upset with his behaviour and choices to drink and it does cause a rift between us. Please give advise if you have any. I'm praying for him . . . but I feel so helpless. Is there anything else I can do?

Last edited by mnolan0823; 09-23-2004 at 01:51 PM.

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Old 09-22-2004, 03:20 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 80
Yommy HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

Hi mnolan0823!

Let me say, first of all, that I understand this must be very difficult for you. Just know that you aren't alone, and that there are others concerned with a loved one's drinking. That being said, this is what I have heard: in order for someone to be classified as an alcoholic, they are dependent on the alcohol. You could have one drink a week and still be an alcoholic. If you feel you need it, you have a problem. Let's say you only have a beer on Friday night. If you need that beer in order to relax or to end the week on a happier note, you can be classified as an alcoholic. Does your husband say he uses the alcohol as a means to relax? Does he just like the taste? If it's a relaxation issue, try getting him involved in other things, like a hobby or long walks for the two of you, or even make him a nice bubble bath! If it's just simply because he likes the taste, there are non-alcoholic beers out there. If you talk to him about his drinking, why it bothers you, and try to suggest alternatives and he is responsive to it, he may not have a problem, but just didn't realize how it was affecting the family. If he shuts you out or tries to make excuses, he may indeed be an alcoholic. You can talk to him about AA, but if he can't admit to his problem, he won't be ready for that yet. If that's the case, ask his mom about alanon and how to get in touch with them. It's an AA for the loved ones of alcoholics. They can give you better ideas on how to work out the problem. Good Luck! We're here for you!


Old 09-22-2004, 03:32 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2004
Location: the South
Posts: 648
windysan HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

That is a tricky one. He is probably an alcoholic cuz it runs in the family. If it is interfering with his life(it is cuz it pisses you off) then he has a problem on his hands. It sounds like he knows the AA program.....he knows what to do when the time comes.

Old 09-22-2004, 10:24 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 307
Ellnyc HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

Not really different degrees, though there are different stages, early stage, late stage, etc. One doesn't have to be in late stage to get help. If it is recognized earlier alot of anguish could be avoided, though often times the alcoholic waits until the pain is so great (known as "bottoming-out") before they become willing to seek help.
There is help and support available to you though. I would suggest contacting Alanon, which is the 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics. Here you will learn all about alcoholism, and how to handle living with a spouse who probably suffers from the disease.
It's an incredible organization and your participation can help you both find peace and recovery.

Wishing you both.

Old 09-23-2004, 06:30 AM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 261
rockingham HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

he is teaching your son that drinking several drinks most evenings is ok. he is an alcoholic. "My husband doesn't get slobbering drunk and he is not abusive in any way but..." i can feel the conflict in your emotions over this. i understand it. it is hard to admit that someone you love is an alcoholic, particularly a spouse, and their behavior is damaging the relationship.

there is no in between for an alcoholic. he must stop drinking. you cannot make him do that but you can make him think very hard about the consequences of his drinking. it will be important to set boundaries with him and make sure he understands well that this is a very serious issue in your marriage. i would not talk to your teen but to the dad about his drinking with your son. him stopping the nightly drinking parties will have a positive effect on your son. making clear this is not healthy behavior would be wise.

i would take your time with this. go on reading posts here and try to use the search engine to find more information on alcoholism. its a great tool. there is a vast amount of posts. what the others have mentioned is sage advice. Ala-non is a very good place for someone in your position. lastly, do not allow yourself to waver once you have made the decision you are going forward with this. very important.

good luck

Old 09-23-2004, 07:36 AM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2
mnolan0823 HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

Thank you all for your help and support. I think he knows he is an alcoholic or he wouldn't have stopped for 3 years. He knows he has obsessive/compulsive tendencies, which is also a family trait. He just thinks he can control it. He is familiar with AA because of his mother and other friends that we have known that have become members. He did go through rehab and a "drying out" period for 30 days for cocaine, several years before I met him, but he claims he wasn't addicted. He said that it had become a problem in his life and his first wife put him in rehab. I am a stepmother of his 3 kids (including the 19 year old son) so my input in how he is raised is only taken so far. I have talked with my husband about what he is "saying" to our son about drinking with him while sitting around the house. His response is that our son is out there drinking with his friends anyway, and as long as he isn't leaving and driving any where, what is the big deal? It is causing big problems between us. More than he even knows. When he quit drinking for those three years, I was so impressed with his strength and commitment to it. Now that he has chosen to bring it into our lives again, it shows as such a weakness to me and as much as I love him, it actually makes me feel unattracted to him (it is hard for me to admit that) because he is being weak and choosing something for himself that he clearly knows bothers me. In other words, putting alcohol before me. I feel so selfish saying this, but it is how I feel. There are so many good reasons why he should put it out of his life and not any solid good reasons for it to remain. I do not have an addictive nature, so I don't understand it well at all. It probably would be a very good idea for me to join an Ala-non group so I can get a better understanding of this. Is my joining a group something that I should keep from him or is it something that I should tell him and be open about???? Again, thanks for listening (reading) and for all your advice. It is very, whole heartedly, appreciated.


Last edited by mnolan0823; 09-23-2004 at 11:21 AM.

Old 09-23-2004, 11:48 AM   #7
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 307
Ellnyc HB User
Re: Are there different degrees of alcoholism?

Sometimes when the spouse of alcoholic in denial decides to go to Alanon, the alcoholic can feel terribly threatened and try to convince you not to go. You might learn something he/she doesn't want you to hear, or something that could break through their own or your denial. Anyway, perhaps you can go to your first meeting(s) without consulting him and even asking other members how they handle that. I'm sure you will find alot of people in similar situations.
You can always tell him later after you've made some progress for yourself, and learned
a little more about the disease. Good luck M ~ let us know how it goes.

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