Alcohol Use & Abuse
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Can someone recommend a recent book about alcoholic parents,
adult children of such families, etc.? I'm more interested
in family patterns, the underlying psychology, etc., as
opposed to AA/Al-Anon handbooks.
Hello! I have read an awesome book called 'Copdependent No
More' it talk about the family cycle in alcholic families
and gives practical advice on how to break the cycle. Such a
great book. Good luck in your search! kristy
Hi all --
I'm looking to legally change the custody agreement that I have with my
ex-husband. After several years of sobriety he has begun abusing
alcohol again and I would like to speak with a lawyer who has
experience in this type of situation, specifically in changing from
joint to sole custody. Other people who have been through similar
situations have told me about mandated supervised visits and periodic
drug and alcohol testing, but I really don't know anything about the
various types of provisions I could put in place to keep my children
safe while they are with their father. Also don't really know if this
is a no-brainer, as my friends seem to think, or if it is likely to be
a very difficult change to make. Any recommendations for lawyers
familiar with this type of situation would be greatly appreciated!
Alcohol abuse is one of a number of factors that are used by the
court to determine the ''best interests of the children'' in
making custody awards. If your case was originally litigated,
then changing custody generally requires a showing of ''changed
circumstance,'' which is a legally defined term. If custody was
agreed on by stipulation, then the court will usually make a
''best interests of the children'' determination, also legally
What often makes sense to the layperson as a parent, is not
necessarily what happens in court, so be wary when friends say
your case is a ''no-brainer.'' Each case is different and the
outcome is often influenced by the nature and style of attorney
representation, who the judge is, the behavior and actions of
the other parent, and ultimately the specific facts in the case.
Changing custody is frequent in family law cases, so most family
law attorneys are familiar with this process. I always
recommend people shop around for an attorney who fits their
needs in terms of goals, style of representation, and budget.
These cases can take a long time and it it important to work
with someone you like and feel comfortabnle with.
My husband and I have been together 16 years. We have an 8 year
old child. He has had a terrible drinking problem for over 20
years - really terrible. I once believed I could 'cure' him, but
16 years later I know I can't. Though he is a dear soul, his
drinking problem is serious and dangerous, and is not a good
situation to raise our child in. I need to get myself and our
child out of this situation. However, I have no idea how. He
makes 3x my salary, pays for our home, car, expenses, and her
school. We have credit card debt, which 95% of my paycheck goes
towards. He will not leave our home, which we do own. He really
has nowhere to go. No extended family, no close friends. We are
his life. His drinking problem continues largely because of our
codependent situation. He supports us financially (until his
employer also gets fed up), and we provide him love and a safe
place to land. I don't want anything bad to happen to him, but
because his alcoholism is the absolute worst, I feel it is
irresponsible to raise my child in this situation. I think I
need help, and I have no idea how to handle this. I come from
modest means - my parents rent a tiny house, my friends can not
support a rent-free roomie. What are my choices? Can anybody
tell me what a person in my situation should do?
Stuck in a Bad Situation
See what life looks like for me in my posting to Marriage is
hard . . .
Please go to Alanon. Find your support system there. That way
you can keep your child safe and Christmas, Easter and Birthdays
do not have to involve your child in a car with a sober - - - or
Life's What You Make It
This advice pertains to a couple of other postings this week ... You
need to find a
divorce attorney to determine in which way you need to proceed starting
to maximize your savings and your chance of a share of the husband's
need to stop using your salary to pay the credit card debt -- why are
this off? Why isn't he, with his huge salary? You need to find the
group, and the local Codependents Anonymous group. AND find a therapist
understands the issues you are dealing with, why do you put up with such
how to avoid it in the future, and for emotional support. And find and
your support system; I bet there are others who have held their tongue
what's going on with your marriage and would support you. Best of luck
I am so sorry to hear of what you have been through with your
husband, whom you obviously still love, at least in part. Of
course you don't want anything bad to happen to him -- but it
already has. He is addicted to alcohol and on a destructive
course. Writing to this list is a first step, but you need
support around you and legal advice. Not so that you can hire
a lawyer to fight his lawyer, but so that you understand that
that salary of his (3X yours) is partially yours, too. Try to
find a good lawyer who also acts as a mediator so that the
object is resolution rather than creation of (more) conflict.
One good person is Judith Joshel, another is Eva Herzer, there
are others in the area. Often a mediator won't act as the
mediator for a couple after offering advice, but I still think
that it is better to ask a mediator to help, even initially.
If you haven't joined Al-Anon, you should try to go. There
will be others there who share your situation. Your husband is
responsible for continuing to offer support to both you and
your child, even if you leave the marriage. I would ask the
mediator for advice about how to handle leaving your husband --
what should happen about custody for your son, for instance,
and what should happen about your house? It seems clear from
your posting that you still feel enormous responsibility for
your husband, even as you acknowledge that you are co-
dependent. For me, it was a big step to relinquish my
responsibility toward my ex (it's a power trip to have that
responsility, too) and tell myself repeatedly, ''I don't have to
protect him. I don't have to support him. He's a grown-up and
has to take care of his own needs.'' You have more means at
your disposal, both financial and psychological, than you allow
yourself. A good therapist for you would also be key. I wish
you luck in your hard journey.
a supporter for breaking co-dependency
Please go to Al-anon. Leaving this relationship is going to be
hard (I know, I've been there), the support of others that had
been down a simular path was the only thing that saved me. Not
only did I find an amazing supportive community I also got
great practical advise. I also learned how to take care of
get to an alanon meetng or several and take your kid to some
Four years ago I married someone I thought was a dream -
affectionate, athletic, smart, fun, successful, and wanted
children. In a year and a half of dating, I barely saw him
drink. To my shock, on the honeymoon, he had about a dozen
drinks a night. And he's had four to eight drinks a night since.
Now we have a child together, and the drinking is the source of
constant tension and fighting between us. It has impacted me in
every way - I'm not attracted to him sexually, I sleep horribly
as he wakes me up when he comes to bed late and drunk, I don't
have a life outside of my daughter since I feel like I'm solely
responsible for her care in the evenings and middle of the night
since he's drinking. We've had many, many confrontations about
it. At one point, I banned drinking in the house, and he hid his
alcohol in the closets and basement and drank after he thought I
was asleep. He says I exaggerate how much he drinks and
shouldn't care if he has an ''occasional'' late night out. He says
his drinking has no impact on our daughter because she's asleep.
He says that he makes plenty of money for me to hire a sitter
and go out and do whatever I want at night if he's out. (Since I
don't know when he's going to be out, I can't plan for sitters).
I've taken him to five marriage counselors - all disastrous. One
was a ''specialist'' in getting men in denial of drinking to
acknowledge the problem. A thousand dollars later, he said my
husband is a cement wall and there's nothing he can do for him.
I can't or won't leave my husband. To me, that looks like living
in an apartment taking care of my daughter by myself 7 days a
week (or far worse, losing partial custody and worrying about
her in his care). It would be worse for her since now she gets
daily interaction with her dad during the day, but I make sure
she's okay all night. It would mean going back to work to get
health insurance and leaving her in daycare and then after
school care five days a week. I would lose the thing I value
most in life - being able to stay at home to raise my child. He
does a large portion of his drinking at home at night so most of
his friends do not know there is a problem. Please share advice
Out of answers
Al-Anon is a lifesaver! Find local meetings at:
I grew up in a similar, not so dramatic, environment, and can easily say
that as the child in the parent relationship - don't deny your daughter
of her needs, whether emotional, spiritual or physical (hugging and
kissing). Also, by keeping her around your husband it's likely she'll
grow up thinking that you're endorsing his behavior, so she can do it
too, and/or that you're accepting being with a man like that. Your
husband won't change, but you should for your daughter's benefit. I
think you're unaware of what you can gain and not aware of what you're
losing as time flies by, fast.
My heart goes out to you. I've been with my husbsand for 18yrs.
I even knew he had had a drinking/drug addiction problem before we got
married! So I can only imagine your surprise and shock when the
''honeymoon'' so to speak was over. It seemed to me when we were dating
that the partying was part of our youth. But when we had our 2nd child
and the staying out late or not coming home at all became the rule as
opposed to the exception I nearly lost my mind.The program that has
brought me back to life is Alanon.
It is a 12-step program that helps families deal with those affected by
alcoholism. It has helped me find serenity among the complete chaos that
the disease of alcoholism brings. When things got really bad, we did
separate. And yes, I had to go back to work f/t, put the kids in daycare
and try to do what I thought was best for my kids. All along I went to
my meetings and got support. My husband was doing better, realizing the
loss of his family was huge and worked hard at getting us back. We
slowly started to reconnect and I became pregnant with twins!
What a mess-not only wasn't I sure if this was the relationship I
wanted, now we have 2 more kids to add to the mix. I leaned heavily on
my faith and my program and accepted my husband back into the house and
gave birth to our amazing twins. Over the past year my husband has
continued to use, be unavailable at critical times, but being strong in
Alanon has helped me keep the focus on me, and to take care of myself
and my kids first.
Over the past several months he has again done better by not using and
is trying be more present in our lives. I am still waiting for the
other shoe to drop tho. I just live my life for the kids and me and for
their best interest and safety first. I can't control him, only myself.
I can choose to leave but I have 4 kids with this man and he will will
always be in our lives. He is kind and loving and a great dad when he's
not using. So my net is, if you are choosing to stay with him get the
help YOU need to be sane and happy. Get involved with others that have
been there and can support you. Make a life for your daughter and you -
Check out www.alanon.org to find meetings in your area. Good luck.
Mom who's been there and still is
You need to join AlAnon to find a way to deal with this;
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org. There are meetings all over the east
bay. Note that until your husband understands that he is an alcoholic,
your situation is only going to get worse; and the older your daughter
gets, the more messed up she is going to be.
You have described a horrific situation, but the most important thing I
read in your posting is: ''I can't or won't leave my husband.'' Can't or
won't -- you're not sure which??
Maybe no one has told you this yet, but actually, you CAN leave your
husband. By law, he is obliged to support your daughter, and I would
think she will still be covered by his health plan. So you will not be
Yes, you will become financially poorer, yes, your daughter will
probably have to spend some time in daycare, but worse things can
happen, like growing up in an alcoholic-enabling family.
After four therapists, you know that this situation is not going to
change. Your husband is not going to change. That means that all change
is in your hands.
You must first know for sure that you want change. I can't think of any
reason that you would want to stay in this situation, and I also can't
think of any way you can change it short of getting out, at least
temporarily. (Maybe he will ''hit bottom'' if you go and will stop
drinking -- but don't hold your breath for that one.)
If you really think that none of his friends or family know that he
drinks (and he seems to be very good at hiding it), you probably should
start documenting it. Take note every night (or the next morning) of
how much he drank, if you can, and KEEP YOUR NOTES IN A SAFE AND HIDDEN
PLACE. This important documentation will help you keep your daughter
safe from his alcoholism if you split up.
Take it one step at a time. Decide that your daughter is worth
protecting. Take steps necessary to get out.
Good luck --
One of Thousands of BPN Friends
I first want to give you a big hug through this machine.I really feel
for you and your situation. My husband wasn't a drinker, but he is an
addict. I knew he was an addict before we got married.We got pregnant
first, and I got really scared. He began therapy on his own and of
course addiction came up. But when there were relapses during the
pregnancy, I laid it all out on the table. I already felt irresponsible
for bringing an innocent child into such a situation...that was my poor
judgement and poor choice.
But I knew that I still had power over how the rest of mine and my
child's life could be so...ultimatum...one more relapse and we're gone;
simple as that. This meant he had to continue seeing a therapist weekly
and began a 12 step program, whether he thought he had a problem or not;
it was not up for negotiation.
I am so proud to say that he's been sober for almost three years.
Today our marriage is strong.
I think you are boxing yourself in here. You do have options. If you
left your husband because of the drinking you could get supervised
visitation, so you wouldn't have to worry about your daughter. Also,
you'd get alamony which would help with you still staying home with your
daughter. Do you have relatives you could live with so that you could
stay home with her during the day and maybe work in the evenings? Even
if your daughter was in childcare a few days a week...this is all FAR
better than her growing up in an alcoholic home...I beg you..don't do
that to her. She's already got the addict gene, she doesn't need to
learn the behavior of either the alcoholic or the alcoholic's partner as
You need to be strong and firm about this. I know it's scary, but
that is temporary. You have to think about the long term best interest
of your daughter and it's not living with an alcoholic father.
I suggest you or he moves out and he goes into rehab. Once he's been
sober for AT LEAST 6months, then you guys can start dating again and see
how it goes from there. If he is willing to give up his family for
drinking, let him. But don't make your daughter live with the
consequences of both your bad choice to stay and his bad choice to
drink; it's just not right and fair to her anon
I am sorry that you have such a tough burden at this time, but I admore
your committment to your husband. It sounds like he likes to drink and
you cannot stand alcohol at all? Some folks like to drink, but that
doesn't make them alcoholics... they just like to drink.
I think that you perhaps need to be more open with your dislike of
alcohol than labelling you husband an alcoholic--I am not saying that
you need to accept it, but just ask him why he wasn't more open about it
while you were dating.
My husband drinks 4 to six drinks (beers or glasses of wine) on most
nights, but I don't consider him an alcoholic. But this is partly
because I've always had drinkers in my family and am fine with it... he
isn't making himself sick everynight or reckless.
If you have totally different views about something, though, it is bound
to cause tension. If you cannot stand this but enjoy all the material
benefits he provides (like a nice house, being a
SAHM) it sounds like you are perhaps being a bit unfair to him--like you
want to change him without looking at yourself drinkers are just folks,
My husband is also an alcoholic and I found a lot of solace and hope in
attending Al-Anon meetings. These are for families of alcoholics and you
will find that you are not alone. You will also find a community that
will embrace you warmly. You won't learn how to cure him (as they say,
you didn't cause it, you can't control it or cure it) but you will learn
how to live with it. Here's the website, where you can find a meeting,
some even have babysitting:
happy member of Alanon
My heart goes out to you with your problem. I am sure you will get many
posts and all sorts of advice. I just want you to know that I respect
your decision to stay in your marriage. I, too, am married to an
alcoholic and know the many problems that accompany such a marriage. And
I, too, have chosen to stay, at least for today, for the sake of my
children. It's not that I believe that a marriage is necessarily better
for children than single parenthood--it's that I believe my husband,
with his disease, is unable to care for the children, physically and
emotionally. As the primary caretaker, I also believe that my children
depend on me greatly for both logistical and emotional support-- perhaps
more so than in a non-alcoholic marriage.
Like you, financial considerations also play a role. I do work
part-time, but both my husband and I would suffer, terribly, in the
event of a divorce and that would not be good for the children.
This may not be the decision I keep to next week, or next month, or next
year, or five years from now, but for now, yes, I do stay.
I strongly urge you, however, to find an Al-Anon group to go to. It is
the only thing that has kept me sane over the last three years. It has
taught me to find serenity despite my circumstances, to focus on myself
and my children and not my husband, and to take care of myself
(financially, emotionally, spiritually), so that I don't get totally
sucked into the family disease of alcoholism. It has also taught me a
tremendous amount about the disease of alcoholism, which is crucial is
you're going to live with an alcoholic. I have grown so much through
this program and, most days, actually feel comfortable, even happy, with
my life and my decisions.
I wish you strength, peace, and hope--believe me, many of us have walked
in your shoes Grateful Member of Al-Anon
I hear and appreciate the tension between two different pulls -- one to
be there for your child and the other to escape the misery of being
married to an alcoholic. I think you do best by yourself and your child
by getting support for yourself, either through Al-Anon or CODA, or
individual therapy (or both) so that you have a nonjudgmental ally in
this terrible situation.
Your husband is doing what one would expect of someone who drinks that
much -- denying, minimizing, justifying, lashing out defensively. That
doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong. Please, get some support
for yourself so you can survive this. The limits you set are reasonable
but you're in a situation that many would find untenable. Are there any
support systems outside the marriage you can access? Friends or family?
People who would not say ''I told you so'' or ''leave him now!''?
He may need to reach his own bottom by losing his job or his friends,
and when he does I hope he finds treatment. If you reach the place where
you deliver ultimata, make sure you are prepared to back it up.
Otherwise, you may wind up feeling worse about him, yourself, and the
whole situation. Try to set a good example for your daughter -- think
about what you would want for her if she were in this situation herself.
I think that in time, with enough support, you can find the strength to
do what's right for yourself and your family. But please don't try to do
it alone. It's like trying to plug up a dam with your thumb -- there's
just too much pressure for one person to do it all alone.
If you have enough money to do so I would hire a sitter for whatever
evening activity you want to do regardless of whether your husband will
come home or not. Since you have decided to stay with him I would think
that you could behave as though you are a single parent and stop
revolving all of your decision making around your husband. He is an
alcoholic and in denial and won't change until he decides that he needs
to. Try and accept that you can not change him. If he had a physical
disablilty that made it impossible for him to care for your child, what
would you do? Be thankful that you have enough money to work around his
poor behavior. You might also want to consider going to Al-Anon or some
other type of group to get some support anon
I have no experience with this but contact Al-Anon to meet others in
your situation and to help figure out what to do.
I am very sorry that you and your child find yourself in this situation.
I know that you said you do not want to leave your husband, but I
thought I would share my perspective, which is that of a grown child of
an alcoholic father. Like you, my mother never imagined that her husband
would become an alcoholic, yet he did, and he was not willing/able to
get better. When I was three, she told him to leave; she said she felt
he would either destroy himself with his drinking, or destroy all of us.
For a while both before and after the split, my dad was able to keep
drinking and hold a job-but eventually that became untenable, as it
often does for addicts.
When I was six, my father died from an alcohol-related accident.
I am nothing but grateful to my mother for making the decision she did.
It did mean being raised by a single mom, being in day care while my mom
worked, being a "latchkey kid." But I consider that a far better fate
than being raised in a house with an alcoholic (especially one not
getting treatment or not willing to admit to his addiction).
My mom has always said that leaving my father was the hardest decision
she ever made. It was not at all part of her plans or her dream for us.
I have told her how thankful I am to her for being that strong. I know
it was the right choice for us.
I don't know what the right choice is for you. But I do think that as
you hold on to your ideals/plans of being an at-home mom in an intact
family, you should also consider what that might cost you and your
I strongly recommend that you attend Al-Anon meetings. They are for the
loved ones of alcoholics.
Sad but also grateful
my heart goes out to you. Having had a similar experience, I can tell
you that leaving is probably not as bad as you think it might be. I
don't know how you can stay. You really need to consider what is best
for you and your child- daycare is not the worst thing that can happen.
Best of luck to you
First let me offer you my sympathy. I know what it is to live
with an alcoholic. As the adult daughter of an alcoholic dad, I
would like you to suggest that you reconsider your decision to
stay with your husband. If it is indeed the case that he is in
total denial and refuses to do anything about his drinking,
staying with him (even if it is more convenient in terms of $$,
childcare, etc) might be psychologically and emotionally
manageable for you, but could well be disastrous for your daughter.
I love my Dad, but the rage and unhappiness and lack of joy that
led him to be an alcoholic worked their way into my life and
destroyed much of my self-esteem, ability to function well in my
own relationships, etc. Believe me, there are worse things for a
kid than spending a lot of time in daycare and worse things for a
mom than taking a financial hit. Having a mom and dad who did
not especially show love and affection for one another was not
particularly helpful. Just recently my sister and I had a long
heart-to-heart with my mom, and when she said that she stayed for
us, we were devastated. Give divorce another thought or two, I
still struggling with co-dependency
I really want/need to find a therapist/counselor who specializes
in alcoholics and the ones who love them. I checked out all the
recommendations and was unable to find one this specific. I
know there are other women out there who are experiencing the
life that I'm living. Married 2 kids and one functioning but bad
alcoholic. Our communication is shot, our sex life is zilch,
our time together is awful... But I love him and want to make
it work for us, and the kids. I am reaching out for help, in
part looking for other women to come forward so I don't feel so
alone, and also just for a name of a therapist who understands
alcoholism. A man or a woman who will talk with both of us and
help us help each other. I'm getting numb to his insanity and i
need honest and experienced suggestions...
ready for change!
Dear Can't Stand,
Do you have Kaiser? If so, Kaiser has a wonderful chemical dependecy program. One goes three nights a week and attends Saturday education classes for a minimum of three months. They are wonderful and are saving my life and my marriage. That said, no amount of therapy is going to help the two of you if he does not want to stop drinking. If he is not yet willing or is unsure if he has a problem (we all like to think if we just had the will power, we could drink or use like ''normal'' people) try attending the Saturday classes on your own or with him. You don't have to be a Kaiser member for the Saturday classes. They are open to the public and purely education. They are wonderful for family members who want answers. The next class I will be attending in Walnut Creek is about parenting and addiction. I don't when they have classes in Oakland, but I know they do have them. If you live in Oakland and are afraid you will run into someone you know, then go to Walnut Creek. That's what I did!
Good luck to you both!
Your husband needs therapy, but be aware to cure an alcoholic
husband most therapists or group therapy will recommend a
separation from the spouse or even divorce. Most alcoholics are
co-dependants to there spouses and will not find the answer to
his problems by stayng in the same home environment. You need
closure and he needs help. It is not healthy for the children to
see his father everyday drunk. Answers
I would recommend Rebecca Woolis (510) 525-3153 925 The Alameda,
Berkeley, CA 94707 who has a great deal of experience with
families, such as you describe. Good luck. Hope this helps!
I would start by going to alanon-they have a website with all the meetings. There you will hear others who are or have been exactly where you are. I have found it so helpful, I encourage you to give it a chance. I do not know of a therapist specializing in alcoholism, but alanon should definitely be included in your considerations.
I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma with your husband's situation.
I have a therapist in mind, who I think would be able to help you (on Solano Ave in Albany): Dr. Ghazi Kaddouh 510 229-9704
He is an extremely talented therapist who has had some experience working with alcoholicism. In his training, he has co-taught Family Therapy in graduate school. His post-doc was at UC Berkeley's Counseling Center, where he had much exposure with alcohol and drub abuse.
I know that he is open to counseling both spouses, either individually, or in couple's counseling. Try calling him, and he is very open to talking with you and seeing what your issues are. If after a preliminary conversation he feels that you might be better matched to somebody else, he is very upfront, and would give you a referral to another doctor. In my mind, he's one of the best out there: it's more than just training, it's intuition, patience, skill, and compassion. He has more heart than anyone I know. buttah
Gordon Holleb has handled a similar issue for my family and we were very pleased with him. He's in N. Berkeley.
I'm only writing back to let you know that I empathize and that you are not alone -- I struggle with the same kinds of issues. I'm sorry to hear that you and your children are stuck in the madness -- it can feel very lonely and overwhelming, I know. Keep persisting in finding the right therapist(s) for all of you. Don't give up on that route -- say if you find a therapist that doesn't seem to be helping, then keep looking and look more into it. Likely chemical treatment is going to have to occur along with the therapy. I have been to Al-Anon meetings and found them to be quite a relief -- and I didn't feel so alone. With Al-Anon, I went to the Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, & Alameda meetings to find one that I felt most comfortable with. As far as the right therapist, I don't know yet. Don't try to have discussions with him while he is intoxicated or hungover, but try to remember or write down what you want to say during those periods and then persist in discussing while he is sober (and not hungover).
I can't refer you to a therapist, but there is hope and help
available for you and your children within the walls of the
meetings of Alanon and Alateen/Preteen. Here's the website:
You will find that you are not alone, everyone is there because
their lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. I hope
you will try it - it takes a while, you may feel really emotional
at first but eventually you WILL SEE that we are there for each
Have you tried Al-Anon? It's free and provides a community of support and education from people going thru the same thing you are. ACA
go to a few al-anon meetings
Try Dr Bob Matano. His office is in the Market Hall complex. If
his practice is full, he'll know who else out there is good in
the field. He's a psychologist.
Another option is to call the California Society of Addiction
Medicine (in SF) and ask them for a referral. Their members are
I was married to an alcoholic who drank before we were married and was a ''dry drunk'' while we were married for 7 years. After I left he began binge drinking and has been for the last 6 years. Alanon was a great help. It's good for any one who's with some one who's logic makes no sense. It's basically a support group for helping you keep your own logic clear while dealing with someone else's behavior that makes you crazy. it helps put things in perspective. It's also very important to learn how to explain your husband's behavour to your kids. I say that your Daddy's mind tricks him to think it's okay to drink, and then he can't stop. His body doesn't take alcohol well yet it tricks him to think it's what he needs. I did have a great therapist who helped me leave and create a stable environment for my child, who was 5 when I left. Her name is Terry 510 496-6060 and she sees people in Albany and San mateo. Good luck.
My husband has a drinking problem. He doesn't drink at all during the
day, and often not even during dinner, but after the kids are asleep he
starts drinking beer and then doesn't stop until he falls asleep (often
sitting at his computer, sometimes in front of the tv, sometimes spilling a
beer on the couch/bed). He's an insomniac, and even when he's
exhausted will spend hours tossing and turning unable to sleep, and
that's his excuse for staying up late and drinking. I'm not really sure of
the amounts because he hides some of the bottles, but he drinks at least
a six pack every night. He's been this way (better and worse) since I
met him ten years ago. In the past I've found him sleeping standing up in
the corner of the room, stumbling drunk. Before we had kids he used to
stay up late drinking and working, and come to bed around 3 in the
morning. Now I sleep upstairs with the kids, and he rarely manages to
come up to bed. In addition to being woken up by kids several times
per night, I often get up to check on him and ask him to come to bed.
The other night I found him asleep at his computer and told him to come
up to bed. I went back upstairs and listened for him; next thing I hear is
a beer being opened downstairs. He is simply unable to stop! I angrily
went back down, emptied his beer down the sink and ordered him up
to bed. By 5:30 in morning he couldn't sleep any more and had to get
up, rather than lay awake in bed. I don't doubt his problems with sleep,
but I'm tired of not getting enough sleep myself. I am the only parent ''on
duty'' at night, and in the morning he's usually cranky when the kids
wake him up. Also, he stinks from alcohol, and I'm embarrassed by his
lack of control. Thankfully, he's not abusive when he's drunk, and he's
not into harder drugs, but I think he's unwilling to recognize that he has a
problem because it's ''just beer''. In the past year he's started smoking
pot again, and I think he also smokes that every night. He's developed
a hacking cough at night that I think is caused by smoking. When I was
given a prescription for codein after oral surgery recently, he finished
off the bottle. Strangely, he has a prescription for sleeping pills but
doesn't take them because he doesn't want to mix them with alcohol.
Two incidents recently were particularly embarrassing. First we
visited my sister, and he went out to the bar with her boyfriend. They
came home, already pretty drunk, and her boyfriend went to bed while
my husband stayed up drinking in the bathroom. I guess he tried to
stumble to bed at 4 in the morning and crashed into some furniture,
waking everyone up.
The second is the other night (he claims he wasn't drunk, but I have my
doubts) he was walking back to the house from a studio that we are
building and tripped over a garden tool left near the door. He fell and
smashed his face on the blade of a garden hoe, cutting his cheek and
causing his face to swell up like a chipmunk. He seemed okay, but
suggested I take him to the emergency room the next day. The doctor
knew he had been drunk, even though he denied it again. When she
asked if he passed out from the fall, he said ''he wasn't sure''. I felt like
all the nurses were smirking at us, and then he asked if she could give
him ''something for the pain'' (which she didn't give). I feel like he's out
I've tried to talk to him, asking him to come up to bed earlier. I've
phrased it in the context of concern for his health, wanting him to sleep
with the rest of the family, being angry with him, being disgusted by the
smell of liquor etc., and that he has a drinking/ drug problem. He cuts
these conversations short, and says he'll try, but he doesn't change. I've
calculated that we spend $400-500 per month on beer/wine, and I
don't even know how much he spends on pot. I'm at a loss as to how to
help him, or how to get him to stop/ change this behavior. If anyone
has any suggestions or insights I'd really appreciate it.
feel like I've put up with it for too long
Hi, I just want to say that I really feel for you. It seems like your
husband is an alcoholic and I know how painful that can be. I grew up
with an alcoholic father. My mother just coped with it for many years
and tried to keep the family together.
Finally, last year, my sister and I decided to have an intervention.
Many people had been suggesting it for years but we had never done it
because it seemed like my dad just wasn't the kind of guy who would
respond to an intervention. Anyway, things were spiraling down fast, so
we tried it. It was the most frightening thing I have ever done..finally
confronting my dad about his drinking. And amazingly, it worked. He
agreed that day to go to a month long rehab. We drove him there. And he
has been sober ever since. Its like a new life for my dad and mom. The
only sad thing is that they are both in their late 60s. I just wish we
had done it sooner.
We hired a professional ''interventionist'' who helped us prepare. He
was great. His name is Bryan Bowen. He lives in Petaluma but travels all
over the country doing interventions. He explains the whole process,
meets with the whole family beforehand to get you prepared and provides
mediation and support. And he's a really cool guy, down to earth and
trustworthy, definitly not a weirdo. He also arranges the rehab bed,
etc. His services cost about $2000, but it was the best money we ever
spent. His number is 707 778-1543 and his email is
bryan[at]1ststepinterventions.com It really helps to have a professional
help you thru this.
I have trouble getting to sleep a lot. (I'm still adjusting to an
operation to relieve apnea). I usually take 5 mg of Ambien at night. It
works wonders and there is virtually no hangover.
It sounds to me like you husband needs AA (and possibly NA).
Here's a basic AA test.
Can he, on his own, stop drinking completely for a week? Stop the pot at
the same time.
Can he, once he's had a beer or two, stop drinking without drinking
enough to get very drunk or passing out?
If the answer to either or both is no, he should strongly consider a
program. 12 step programs are really great, IMO. They've substantially
changed my life for the better.
Your situation sounds challenging, but there is hope! The hope is for
your peace of mind, and may not have anything to do with your husband
changing his behavior. Al-Anon is a 12-step program for family and
friends of alcoholics or ''problem drinkers.''
There are many, many people who have found relief in this program,
whether or not the alcoholic stops drinking. If you're interested, you
could attend a few different meetings to see if any feel right for you.
You can go just to listen, or you could share at the meeting, or talk to
people after the meeting. In Al-Anon we share our ''experience,
strength and hope,'' but we do not give advice. I have been in Al-Anon
for more than a decade and I can honestly say that it has totally
transformed my life and attitude. Some meetings have childcare, but not
all. Check the website for Northern California: http://www.ncwsa.org
or call a local district:
West Contra Costa, Berkeley, Albany: (510) 528-4379 Oakland, Hayward,
Freemont: (510) 276-2270 San Francisco: (415) 626-5633
Marin: (415) 455-4723
You can also ask for a member to send you some pamphlets about Al-Anon.
And don't worry: the return address will not say Al-Anon. We are very
careful about protecting members' and potential members' anonymity.
Taking the step to go to the first meeting can be challenging, I know,
but if you're like me, you will feel incredible comfort in being with
others who have had experiences similar to yours.
Best wishes to you!
A Grateful Al-Anon Member
Hi - You'll probably get tons of advice but I just wanted to say I'm
sorry for your situation. I had a similar situation that, thank god,
finally got fixed after 10+ years. My husband wasn't as far along as
yours but I too suffered in silence. With the birth of our kids he
finally faced his problem and fixed it. He did it without AA, all on
his own, and he still drinks. For him it was a matter of cutting back
to a normal amount which he was thankfully able to do.
You know that the bottom line is your husband is the only one who can
start the process of healing. He has to be the one who wants to change.
Of course you don't have to sit there and deal with it - you can leave
too and thats ok.
Would he go to counseling? My husband went to one session with Leo Kidd
(Kidd Leo F MFCC, 510) 525-8903, 1035 San Pablo Ave Albany, CA 94706)
who specializes in alcohol/drug problems and that started him on the
road to recovery. My husband is the type who needs a third party
(someone besides me) to tell him how it is. It was like a bucket of
cold water on him to hear someone totally objective confirm what I'd
been telling him - he had a problem with alcohol that was not normal and
he needed to deal with it. We definitely had bumps in the road after
that meeting, but we were on the road to recovery.
Good Luck. Again, I'm sorry you're going through this. It really
Been there done that
Your first line said it all: My husband has a drinking problem.
My heart goes out to you because alcoholism is a family problem.
Alcoholism is an illness that requires lifelong management, like any
chronic illness. The good news is that you are not alone.
There is help for you and I strongly recommend Al-Anon, which is a
support group for families of alcoholics. I don't know how old your
children are, but there are support groups for children, too. I can't
emphasize enough how important it is that YOU take care of yourself,
learn as much as you can about alcoholism and learn what you can do to
help your children.
There are many Al-Anon meetings in the Bay Area and there is even an
online chat for families of alcoholics at stepchat.com where you can
talk about how you are doing and find out more about what it's like to
go to meetings.
You are not alone. If you need to talk please feel free to write.
If I were you I would run to the very next alanon meeting and make a
commitment to myself and the kids to do that for me.
Interventions are popular strategies but require extensive counseling
support and family members other than spouse to step out of denial and
literally confront the drinker with the evidence of how destructive it
is to family relationships. you won't 'get' him to recognize the problem
if a hoe to the face didn't. you have my sympathy, empathy, and whatever
support can be conveyed via this. focusing on fixing him and not caring
for yourself could be a sign of codependency. It's not a great trait to
model in families and pass on to the next generation.
We did it around anger/mood control in our house, but it's not too
different from the alcholic model.
It seems to me you have two options: give him an ultimatum (you know
what I mean even thought I can't spell). Tell him he needs to get help
and stop this behavior or find another place to live. Then if he chooses
to get help you can try to stand by your man.
Or you can just tell him you are done and he needs another place to
live. This cannot be good for you or your children, and I can imagine
how many hours of evey day you spend angry and resentful. This energy
would better be spent on productive things. I think your life as a
single parent, though difficult, would be better than your life now with
your real children and this man-child.
Believe me- my children's father was a drug addict and I gave him an
choice once- he went to rehab and then
relapsed- and I kicked him out when I had a 2 year old and a
6 week old- but it was such a relief!! You don't deserve to be treated
I am sorry for your frustrations and difficulty in your marriage. This
must absolutely be heart wrenching for you and your relationship.
Have you considered an intervention including family members/ friends?
Sometimes your health insurance will cover something like this. Or
maybe you can look into services that provide free interventions in the
Bay Area. I believe interventions usually call for the addict to go
into rehab immediately following the ''surprise'' meeting. You would be
completely counseled on what it is to expect from an intervention.
Rehab not only helps with addictions, but also provides counseling. It
sounds like rehab may do wonders for whatever your husband is going
through. It sounds as if he is hiding from something that is bothering
him by using barbituates.
Perhaps the sleeping problems also stem from whatever it is that is
causing him to drink/ get high. It sounds like he's got to get to the
root of the problem and he'll never do it while using.
Good luck and please know that you are not the only person suffering
from watching a loved one with addictions. You are not alone.
Your husband is not alone in this battle; you are also suffering!
Consider seeking counsel through a therapist/psychologist or even
through AL-ANON. Their only requirement is that you have a friend or
loved one with a drinking problem! And it's free! You'll find you're
not alone and you'll get first hand advice and professional advice on
how to live with the pain! www.alanon.org.za anon
There is one place just for people in your situation, and luckily, it is
wonderful and effective: Al-Anon. Here, you can learn from countless
others about what is universal about living with an alcoholic, and find
actual help for the misery and stress it can cause. You can be happy.
You can get a meeting schedule by calling 528-4379. It's free. It
Long story short, consider going to Alanon meetings.They have ones with
childcare provided. They are free ( or you can opt to give a small
donation to help cover refreshments and room rental-like $1.00-if you
want)They won't tell you what to do.They won't tell you to leave him or
to stay with him. They will not focus on how to change/control him
because you can't control another person. They will talk about how to
return to a sane life and thereby give your kids a sane life. There will
be people there who have made great steps towards bettering their lives
and you can listen to them and consider if you'd want to try what they
Consider a women's meeting. Consider a ''beginners,'' ''speaker,'' or
My heart goes out to you. Your husband needs detox. Try to get him in
something that also has an AA program and you should go to an Al Anon
meeting. My father had a serious drinking problem all his life -- until
his firm forced him to check into a detox program. He tried to stop on
his own with AA but it was too hard. He succeeded with the program and
went to AA for years. It's hard -- but it can be done.
It sounds like your husband is an addict. 12 step programs define
addiction as being something that you can't control and makes your life
Unfortunately you cannot change him, he has to do that himself.
However you can help him, and yourself, by to Alanon or Nar-anon
meetings. Those are the family support groups that coorespond to
AA(alcoholics anonymous) and NA(narcotics anonymous). Either would be
good- it is rare these days that someone only uses drugs or alcohol or
drugs. Pot and perscription pills are commonly abused together with
You can get more information about addiction and how other people deal
with similar situations by going to the meetings.
The BPN archives has a listing for these groups:
Been on both sides
Wow, your husband sounds just like my father. For most of my
childhood, he too drank “only beer” after dinner until the time
he stumbled into bed. He too was never abusive, and was in fact a
jolly, funny, gentle drunk. (A very confusing situation, as might
know.) But today, at age 71, after two near-fatal heart attacks
and on serious meds that are mostly incompatible with alcohol, he
still often drinks to excess — falling down and smashing his face
on the sidewalk being a recent incident. He was a successful
executive and excellent monetary provider for my family of
origin, but his alcohol addiction has had serious emotional
consequences. My mother chose to stay with him, but that has
meant nearly 50 years of struggle — times of no drinking and
times of heavy drinking, times when he would go to counseling and
more times when he would not deal with the problem at all. To
this day (I’m 40 years old) my dad thinks that I don’t know about
his drinking — that’s how delusional alcoholics can be. I mention
all this to give you an idea of how life with a late night
drinker can be.
You don’t say how old your kids are, but believe me, they are
aware of the tension, stress, anger and anguish in the household,
however well you are able to hold things together. It’s a
terribly difficult situation, and I think the hard news is that
there is nothing you can do to “help him” or “get him to change.”
AA is a great resource, as is counseling, but he has to want to
With that in mind, you will have to make decisions based on what
is best for you and what you feel is best for your kids and your
family as a whole. Al-Anon and counseling (for you and your kids)
can be extremely helpful in sorting these questions out. It
sounds boring and cliche but your husband won’t stop his behavior
unless he wants to — and given the level of drinking you
describe, he’ll probably need professional help to do so. If you
leave or take other decisive action he may be jolted into
confronting his demons. But the bottom line is, however much you
love him, you can only make things better or different for
yourself, and then wait and see what he will do.
A book that might help you — not related to drinking, but really
helpful in dealing with anger and making changes in relationships
— is Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger. She’s very good at
taking apart “overfunctioning” (sounds like you, taking care of
kids, on night duty, etc) and “underfunctioning” (sounds like
hubby, checked out on beer) dynamics and helping you let go of
patterns that don’t work anymore.
By the way, after lots of therapy I have come to have a
reasonably good relationship with my father, despite the drinking
-- he is also intelligent, funny and a very loving grandfather.
But when I was 10 years old I used to lie in bed at night and
wish that he were dead. It would be great if you could spare your
kids that feeling. I wish you all the strength and courage to do so.
Ok, I know this is going to sound sort of cruel but, this really
works. And I know from experience:
Take pictures of him while he's drinking.
Then take pictures of him after he's passed out.
Make a week long or longer project of it so, you have enough
photos. Then show them to him in chronological order.
YOU NEED TO LET HIM UNDERSTAND THAT IT CAN''T GO ON LIKE THIS.
That it's tearing you apart and you fear it will tear apart the
family. That it's emarrassing, hurtful and you've become lonely
in your desperation to cope and just accept it.
You shouldn't have to accept it.
He NEEDS to change.
And there are plenty of outreach programs than can assist you.
Now, the reason I know that this works is that my best friend of
10 years and I shared and apartment. He meant everything to me!
We partied a lot and drank a lot... like early-20-somethings do.
But, quite a few times it got really out of hand. He'd pass out
in the front doorway with the door still open--- meaning he made
it home but, not all the way in. He passed out with his face in
the water of the toilet bowl... really sad. So, I started taking
Polaroids and I made an album and dated every picture. I did this
for a month. I had about 20 pictures!! From ONE month! That means
that he drank himself into a stuper 2/3 of the month! Anyway, it
helped a lot because my approach was out of concern and love.
And those pictures were not funny...at all.
Hope this helps.
Wow, your husband sounds just like my father. For most of my childhood, he too drank "only beer"
after dinner until the time he stumbled into bed. He too was never abusive, and was in fact a
jolly, funny, gentle drunk. (A very confusing situation, as might
know.) But today, at age 71, after two near-fatal heart attacks and on serious meds that are
mostly incompatible with alcohol, he still often drinks to excess - falling down and smashing
his face on the sidewalk being a recent incident. He was a successful executive and excellent
monetary provider for my family of origin, but his alcohol addiction has had serious emotional
consequences. My mother chose to stay with him, but that has meant nearly 50 years of struggle -
times of no drinking and times of heavy drinking, times when he would go to counseling and more
times when he would not deal with the problem at all. To this day (I'm 40 years old) my dad
thinks that I don't know about his drinking - that's how delusional alcoholics can be. I mention
all this to give you an idea of how life with a late night drinker can be.
You don't say how old your kids are, but believe me, they are aware of the tension, stress,
anger and anguish in the household, however well you are able to hold things together. It's a
terribly difficult situation, and I think the hard news is that there is nothing you can do to
"help him" or "get him to change."
AA is a great resource, as is counseling, but he has to want to do it.
With that in mind, you will have to make decisions based on what is best for you and what you
feel is best for your kids and your family as a whole. Al-Anon and counseling (for you and your
kids) can be extremely helpful in sorting these questions out. It sounds boring and cliche but
your husband won't stop his behavior unless he wants to - and given the level of drinking you
describe, he'll probably need professional help to do so. If you leave or take other decisive
action he may be jolted into confronting his demons. But the bottom line is, however much you
love him, you can only make things better or different for yourself, and then wait and see what
he will do.
A book that might help you - not related to drinking, but really helpful in dealing with anger
and making changes in relationships - is Harriet Lerner's The Dance of Anger. She's very good at
taking apart "overfunctioning" (sounds like you, taking care of kids, on night duty, etc) and
"underfunctioning" (sounds like hubby, checked out on beer) dynamics and helping you let go of
patterns that don't work anymore.
By the way, after lots of therapy I have come to have a reasonably good relationship with my
father, despite the drinking
-- he is also intelligent, funny and a very loving grandfather.
But when I was 10 years old I used to lie in bed at night and wish that he were dead. It would
be great if you could spare your kids that feeling. I wish you all the strength and courage to
I have been having a hard time lately. I cannot say why it has
happened, but I have found myself DRINKING. Sometimes I just
drink more than I like in a public way, and end up grouchy or
argumentative with my (very forgiving) husband. But other
times I have drank by myself during the day, been TOO drunk,
and kept it a secret from everyone. I really beat myself up
about how anyone could be a good mother who allows herself to
drink during the day, too much or in secrecy. I have been
speaking to a psychiatrist about it and also trying to do all I
can to stay busy and active during the days, knowing that too
much loneliness and lack of structure can be hard on my mood.
I imagine that the adjustment to not working any more is part
of it (although I WANT to be at home, I just need to figure out
a lifestyle that is good for my mental health). Plus, I am
still recuperating from a serious illness, postpartum, that
leaves me unable to drive, which limits me to walking and adds
to my sense of isolation. I feel desperate for support,
advice, company - if anyone has any of these to offer, it would
be so appreciated. Thanks...
Desperate for support and advice
Okay.....please understand that I'm not diagnosing you. But if
you feel like you have a problem with alcohol, are drinking in
the day by yourself AND keeping it a secret, there's a chance
that you could be alcoholic. Generally speaking, people who are
not alcoholics don't give their alcohol consupmtion a second
thought. Nor do they keep it a secret. I can say these things
because I've been there. I quit drinking over 20 years ago. My
life was NOT in shambles, and I wasn't living on the street.
But I did recognize that I had seen others in my family go down
a long hard road, and I didn't see a reason to have to make
that my story. I've also learned over the years that for some
reason, there are pschiatrists, psychologists, and therapists
who seem to be blind to alcoholism. That said, I strongly
encourage you to call Alcoholics Anonymous. They are in the
phone book. When you call all you have to do is ask for a time
and location for a meeting in your area. They don't have caller
ID and they won't bug you in the future. But please give it a
chance. If you go to a meeting and don't like it, try another.
My first meeting was a bunch of blue haired ladies eating
cookies...I could not relate. I found other meetings where I
could relate to most if not all that was said. If you want to
talk to me privately about this, please e-mail me. I'll be
happy to talk with you. Incidentally, I don't go to meetings
anymore, having stopped many years ago. AA does not suggest
that, but it works for me.
You are not alone!! After my son was born I had a VERY tough
time and my preferred coping mechanism is also to self medicate
with alcohol. I was also at the mercy of loneliness and lack of
structure. I would very often say ''so this is my life now?'' I
couldn't possibly imagine a time when I would feel better,
couldn't possibly imagine ever being ''good'' at this mom thing.
Couldn't imagine ever being able to bond with my son. And OH the
guilt! PPD is an exceptionally difficult thing to deal with, not
only do you feel like crap all the time, you also beat yourself
up for feeling like crap, and then when you do something,
anything, to try and feel better, naturally you beat yourself up
for that, too. It's a no-win situation. I think PPD is one of
those ''not to be talked about'' issues, especially around here
(Berkeley) where it feels taboo to ever say anything about your
Postpartum experience except ''breastfeeding was so easy!'' which
is SO unfortunate, because talking about it is the cure for it.
I read an article back then which said that when women talk to
other women, oxytocin is released in their brain (the same
feel-good hormone that's released when you breastfeed) and makes
us feel better. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was
desperately craving people I could talk to, and unfortunately I
was rather isolated and didn't have anybody except for my husband
who worked all day. If you can't find anybody around you, there
are websites with message boards and chat rooms; it might not be
face to face contact, but it's better than nothing. I found
myself a wonderful therapist (Alisa Genovese, 286-7599) who
specializes in PPD and who helped me immensely. I had joined a
mother's group, but the other women there seemed to be adjusting
so well, it actually made things worse for me.
Now my son is three and I'm expecting #2. You CAN get through
this! You CAN! YOU CAN!! If you want somebody to talk to,
please email me and I'll give you my phone number. Remember,
talking about it is the best thing you can do for yourself right now.
first of all, it is great that you are posted your message. it
definitely sounds like you could use some extra support.
postpartum is difficult for many new moms with 'perfect'
situations, & your sounds difficult-- not being able to drive,
recovering from an illness, etc. you did not mention how old
your baby is or if you have struggled with alcohol use before.
I would suggest joining a new moms group (I facilitate groups in
Berkeley, Lafayette & El Cerrito/Richmond). but most groups
meet during the week & if you do not have access to a car it
would be hard to get to one unless it happens to be in your
neighborhood. there is also a great group on Saturdays at
Waddle & Swaddle- maybe your husband or a friend could drive
you?- that focuses on postpartum stress. the woman who
facilitates the group, Lee Safran, is a therapist who
specializes in postpartum issues, & even if you do not end up
doing her group I'm sure she would have many referrals for you.
her number is 496-6096.
best of luck,
Virginia Duplessis, MSW, CD (DONA)
MOST: Mothers Outreach & Support Team
Support for New & Expectant Parents
Postpartum depression can be a serious condition, and you should
seek good psychiatric help. People often compulsively
''self-medicate'' with alcohol or drugs when they have an
underlying disorder, but as you are finding, it doesn't really
work. It is not in the control of your will, nor is it shameful
or a character flaw! There is often a genetic component to severe
postpartum depression, a particular category of depression, as
there is to all mood disorders. This is not your fault. You have
been through a lot.
Beating yourself up, or even looking just for lifestyle
solutions, is not going to solve it. You are doing the best you
can at the moment in trying to keep busy and in looking for
structure, and you deserve much credit for that. You also deserve
credit for asking for help. Now, ask for medical help!
If treated properly, this will likely be a temporary condition
for you. However, if you continue to self-medicate with alcohol,
you are likely to develop true alcoholism, and believe me, you
don't need that on top of dealing with a new baby and your
recuperation- in fact, you don't need it at all!
When you are feeling better, you will have the ability to deal
with the other important issues such as your isolation. When
someone is seriously depressed, they just don't have the
wherewithall to deal with everyday problems.
If your health insurance does not offer you sufficient resources,
a good resource for excellent, sliding scale psychiatric help is
the Mood Disorders Clinic at Langley Porter Institute in SF (part
of UCSF). You can get there by public transportation. Stress to
them that you are in crisis and need to be seen ASAP.
Take care of yourself, and seek the help that you really need.
1) Be careful if you are breastfeeding. There is no safe ''dose''
of alcohol for a baby in utero or thru breast milk. There is
clearly lots of data that heavy exposure in utero leaves the
child effected for life ( funny ears, odd facial structure,
learning/ attention problems) The brain is still developing and
growing in infancy and childhood..so, if you are still breast
feeding, if you can't get a handle on your drinking, switch to
formula. That would get you more time to solve the drinking/life
problems and you don't need to heap super-guilt on top of your
2) AA is really, really good. Consistent attendance to groups for
years is the best ''treatment'' known for alcoholism. Have your
paychiatrist read Valiant's studies out of Boston...long range
studies with over 30 year follow-up. It also helps with the
To start, just call the East Bay AA number in the phone book and
listen to the recording of the meetings. You could also ask them
to send you a flyer of meetings. Odds are that there's at least
one meeting a week walking distance from your home. The best
meetings are ''beginner meetings'', ''speaker meetings'' or ''speaker
discussion meetings'' for someone starting. Just go! Take the
baby with you! You don't need to talk, just sit and listen. If
the baby cries, just step outside 'til he/she stops. A meeting
for all women would be nice.
3) Keep it up with your psychiatrist.
4) Keep trying to help your life change. This'll mean new
friends, new supports, new daily schedule, learning to balance
what the baby needs vs when your needs must prevail etc. It's a
slow process. As the baby gets older, the park will be a great
way to meet other parents.
5) You might want to try to find a new mom's group thru this
network or a local storefront like Waddle and Swaddle, Alta Bates
Hosp etc. These are an investment in the future. I wish I'd done
First of all, you need to not define yourself as a bad mother
because you have been drinking. This parenting thing is really
stressful as well as the adjustment to not working!! It sounds
like you are just struggling to find the right thing to help you
cope. I also suffered from postpartum depression and there were
times when I drank during the day or too much during the
evening...it seemed it was too hard to resist as a way to help me
relax and just deal (and of course I felt like a total failure of
a mother after...not really the result I was hoping for!).
Between a fussy baby and the depression I felt completely
isolated and I didn't want to be around others because happy
people and easy babies only made me feel worse.That is great that
you're keeping yourself busy and you know, I hate to say it but
fate may be doing you a favor by limiting the car and forcing you
to walk. What I did both to conquer the depression and make it so
that I wasn't tempted to drink during the day was walk, walk,
walk. I've read about exercise being just as effective as an
antidepressant and at first, I hated it and didn't want to do it.
But I just kept forcing myself to do it and now I feel really
healthy again. I also told myself that it was okay to have say,
two glasses of wine a week-and only with dinner (do whatever
number you're comfortable with)...I tried to make it be a minimal
number just so that I felt I was in control of it. That way it
became a treat again and not something to rely on. And I know
it's not as simple as I made it sound (therapy is good!!) but at
least those were some steps that I took that worked for me. If
you think this is just connected to the PPD then it's just
finding other things to help you cope with the hardest job ever
and help you regain control so that you can feel good again. You
must not beat yourself up- taking the steps to recognize that
this is not how you want to be and talking to a psychiatrist is
HUGE. I felt a ton of pressure to do this mothering thing ''right''
because since I left the working world I felt like this WAS my
job - my one responsibility- how could I be failing so
miserably?! Give yourself some credit- you will get through this.
And please know that you really, absolutely are not alone.
Hello. Thank you for reaching out for help. That is an
important first step. I am no expert on the subject at all, but
I do understand depression since I, too, suffer from it. My
primary concerns are you and the new baby. I have heard that
Alcoholics Anonymous works well for people trying to quit
drinking. I hope other people write to you with this or other
suggestions for the drinking problem. What about the baby? Who
takes care of the baby during the day? Does your husband know
about the drinking? I am glad to hear that he is
supportive/understanding. Together, you two should approach this
dilemma. Than, you can find solutions together. Of utmost
importance are: 1) You getting specific help for the drinking;
2) The welfare of the baby during the day. I am praying for you,
your baby, your husband, and your family. Please take care of
yourself, the innocent little lamb, and this extremely important
issue. Thank you for writing. There are people out there who
can help you and your family.
I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. I didn't turn
to alcohol when I was suffering from post-partum depression, so
I can't begin to understand or advise you on what to do about
that aspect of it. But, I do know how frightening and
alienating post partum depression can be. My only advice is to
seek out anyone who can support you (or just hang out with you)
without judging. I joined a mom's group which I credit with
saving my sanity. If you can't drive, ask someone to take you
or just invite friends over(best if they are recent moms). Just
remember that you are not a bad mother and you are not alone!
The more you can surround yourself with support and especially
with people who are experiencing the same or similar things you
are, the better! Please feel free to e-mail me if you want to
You will get through this!
Although I am not much of a drinker ( I use food and TV), I could
relate to your post- I too am struggling with Depression (not
just post partum) and how to function as a stay-at-home mom- I
quit my professional job 6 months ago. I often feel isolated and
unsure how to structure my time. Would love to speak with you in
person or via email and share what has worked for me (although it
doesn't always work!). Please ask the moderator for my name and
email. Hang in there and keep reaching out for support-
Dear New Mom,
I?m really glad you are reaching out for support, which is essential with a new
Isolation can be very profound, both socially and emotionally.
Hopefully, the MD that you are seeing is helpful.
Additionally, I would like to mention that on my website I list Postpartum
Community Resources. I do my best to keep them up to date so that a fairly
comprehensive listing is available in one place. It is so hard to search for
resources while caring for an infant.
There is a section specifically for Postpartum Stress
The people listed here are reliable professionals who have worked with new
parents for years.
It sounds as if your postpartum has been even more challenging with illness
which makes it even more stressful than the usual.
If you would like to talk further, call me.
Support Groups For Mothers
Your message could have been written by me some time ago. You
will be amazed at the support and clarity other moms can give you
at AA. There are lots of us. I would recommend calling the
hotline & ask for some women's meeting times. I think they are
all ''closed'' meaning only for those struggling with alcohol
personally. The liveliness, hopefulness, truth, & peace of mind
that you may be trying to find with alcohol are all there at a
meeting. Going to a meeting doesn't make you an alcoholic. As a
(non-drinking) alcoholic mom, I'll tell you I felt a tearful and
giddy relief after my first meeting.
hang in there
I am looking for a book that I can pass on to a family member
of mine. She is in her early 40's with a history of
drug/alcohal abuse, in addition to a stint in prison. I believe
that her self esteem is very low despite her verbal statements
of wanting to find a career and have a ''normal'' life. The
problem is that she is drinking again, though not on drugs, and
often reverts to her old ways of showing brash and
inappropriate behavior for someone who wants to change their
Are there any books that I could possibly get for her that
might offer her tips or information to help raise her self
esteem and let her know that it's never to late to start over.
I think that she often sabotages any help that she gets because
internally she doesn't think it is possible for her. She has
received a lot of help from family but it seems like she can't
take a step for herself, as if she keeps needing help. And then
when help isn't offered she feels sorry for herself. She is a
good person and I would like to provide any assistant that I
can but am not sure where to start.
Thanks for any recommendations.
I'd suggest the best book around for the alcoholic/drug abuser
still using. ''Alcoholics Anonymous'' the book... and the
program. And for someone trying to change the drinker/addict
I'd suggest the Al-Anon program. The best of luck to you both.
Hi-I would like to suggest the Big Book of Alcoholics
Anonymous. I am not an alcoholic, but have been in 12 step
programs before, and read most of the book myself(trying to
place my own problem/self/recovery in the place of the
alcoholics who wrote the Big Book). This is also the tool my
best friend used, combined with meetings, to arrive 10 years
later at long-term sobriety.
The Big Book speaks directly to the alcoholic. It is written by
alcoholics who have found a better way to live their lives, and
tells their stories-both from where they have come, and how they
have arrived at their present state of recovery. It seems to me
it would be the exact thing you are looking for. You can
purchase it at an AA meeting, and probably most 12 step
Good luck. Your friend is lucky to have you--
It sounds to me like your relative's drinking is bothering you. I
also have a problem with my husband's drinking and have found so
much comfort in a group called Al-Anon. I used to think that HE
had the problem, not ME, but the only person who can change your
family member's behavior is her. And when she is ready, she'll
look for the books and groups. In the meantime, I needed help in
learning to let go of my worrying and despair. Through Al-Anon, I
met others who knew how I felt and who shared their experiences,
strength and hope with me!
The website is at http://al-anon.org/newcomer.html and their site
tells it better than I ever could. There are also online groups
you can visit beforehand:
Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who
have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest
to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can
easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react
to the alcoholic's behavior. We focus on them, what they do,
where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their
drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that
really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the
alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become
ill.It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at
least four other people... alcoholism is truly a family disease.
No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether
they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by
someone elseC-s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity
in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship.
Hi. I understand how hard it is to live with a sister with that
has trouble with alcohol and drugs. My sister is in her 30's and
has just had a year+ sobriety from alcohol and drugs. According
to her she had started drinking when she was 13. I only knew that
she had a problem with alcohol when she was 16. The thing is that
she had to hit her bottom on her own. No amount of talking or
books got her to get sober. I didn't know if she would ever get
sober. I had to stop contact with her for a number of years. I
couldn't hear another story of her drinking, losing a job, etc. I
hope you have an open mind and will consider going to Alanon.
Alanon is a 12 step group for people that have friends or family
that are alcoholics. The website for Alanon is
The first step is for her to deal with her addiction. She
needs to be in a support group like AA and individual therapy
to work on her personal goals.
Books that come to mind are Feeling Good and Ten Days To Self-
Esteem by David Burns. I would also recommend the authors
Harriet Lerner and Claudia Black. They both have tons of great
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