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January 30, 2007


Many couples seem to be dealing with a third party in their relationships…alcohol. One partner typically comes home from work and makes him/herself a drink to help “wind down” from a stressful day. It’s not uncommon for the person to drink two to three drinks, three to four nights a week. If there’s a party or an event on the weekend, they drink more.

This pattern can, and often does, go on for many months or even years.

Gradually the atmosphere in the home begins to change. The conversations seem to slow down, the interactions begin to center around what needs to get done rather than how each person’s day was, and the energy in the house becomes tenser. In some households, the person who has a few drinks becomes short, impatient, and irritating to be around. The rest of the family distances more.

When I work with couples in this pattern, often one partner is worried about the impact the alcohol is having in their relationship and the other partner is not. Guess who’s worried and who isn’t. You got it… the one not drinking is worried, and the one drinking is often certain their drinking isn’t a problem. The drinking partner will often say the alcohol isn’t impacting the relationship; it’s their partner harping on them about the alcohol that’s impacting the relationship.

I’m a firm believer in responsible, social drinking. In fact, I would like to be able to have a drink when I’m ninety years old while I’m soaking my dentures and holding my ninety-one-year-old husband’s wrinkly hand. I’m very aware, however, that in order to do this, I will always have to drink responsibly. I will always have to be in control of my drinking and not have my drinking be in control of me. I’m also aware that there may be a time in my life when I may not be the best judge of my drinking. If you’re drinking several nights a week, you may not be the best judge either.

Drinking is deceptive. Alcohol dulls our senses, it deadens us. Initially, it starts out as a part of a social experience. Next it moves to an enhancer of our experiences. Perhaps next we turn to it to “relax” us or even to help us reduce our stress. Finally, we just use it because. And before we know it, someone in our life is saying it’s a problem.

Alcohol provides a veil that clouds life; it distorts the picture. If you’ve developed a pattern of drinking several nights a week to “wind down,” you’re no longer a responsible, social drinker. You’re a person who’s using alcohol to handle your stress or to settle you down from a long day.

Don’t fight with your partner about whether or not you are an alcoholic—take steps to insure you don’t become one. Creating a weekly ritual around drinking will catch up to you. It may not catch up to you today or next week, but keep drinking several nights a week, and, I promise, it will catch up to you.

There are tens of thousands of alcoholics and substance abusers in this world, and I’m very confident that few, if any, intended to become addicted. It just happened somewhere along the way.

You never know when that one drink or that one drug is going to be the drink or the drug that turned your use into abuse and your desire for a drink into your need for a drink. It’s like playing Russian roulette--several drinks for several months may not do it, and then WHAM, all of a sudden that next week of drinking leads you to think you need another one.

Are you playing Russian roulette with alcohol? If so, are you prepared for the consequences should it be your day for that fatal bullet--that one drink that just turned your “social drinking” into a social problem: addiction?

Challenge: Find a moment sometime this week to objectively look at your drinking. Have you formed a daily or weekly pattern around drinking? If so, what story are you telling yourself about this level of drinking? Ask your partner if he/she believes your drinking impacts your relationship. If the answer is yes, have the courage to trust their answer and begin to take steps to reduce (or, if necessary, remove altogether) the influence of alcohol on your relationship.


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I to have lost the love of my life due to alcohol. After 5 1/2 years of his drinking a six pack every nite and undetermined amounts on weekends, ive had enough. He moved out of our house and in with his daughter who enables his drinking even more. His nickname, which he's proud of, is 6 pack dan. Bills have been left go to collections and the only reason to work (by the way he is a commercial truck driver) is for beer and smokes. A heart attack a year ago gave him a reality check but after a month he was back at it. He promised to marry me, to take care of me, all of which will never happen as he cant even take care of himself. I'm totally devasted but cannot take his verbal abuse and his denial that he doesnt have a problem.

Dear Crystal,
Rather than being embarrassed that you're sick of his behavior--pat yourself on the back for being wise enough to be tired of it! The healthiest move you've done is to NOT set the wedding date. Tell him how unhappy you are in the relationship due to his drinking and that you're clear that you don't want to go forward with the wedding unless he seeks help for his drinking. In the mean time I suggest you go to Alanon meetings and start getting support for yourself.
Listen to your instincts--they are right on!
Warm Regards,

My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 yrs. he proposed a couple yrs ago but I can't seem to set a date. I think the reason why is the drinking. He drinks whiskey every night until he is drunk . I'm embarrassed to say that I am so sick of his behavior, I have become distant and rude to him. When I try talking to him about it he becomes angry . He thinks he only drinks occasionally . It has affected every aspect of our life. Our love life has become a task instead of a plus. I just can't make myself want to be with someone who is drunk...
We are just going through the motions
I'm at a loss...


Just broke up with my partner after nine weeks of living with me.
He told me at the start of our relationship that he had an alcohol problem and that he had attended a AA program in the past and realised his problem wasn't that bad.
This was delusional in every sense, whilst he is a functioning alcoholic, his weekend binges has led him to receive a final warning from his employers for Monday morning no shows and he ended up financially dependent on me. The aggression just built and built through out the relationship until I kicked him out.
He acknowledges he has a drink problem but refuses to address it.

I have been in a relationship with a man whom I love very much for 5 years. I have become erratic and frustrated with his drinking and am continually kicking him out (verbally) for his behavior/drinking. He moved out yesterday which in many ways I am sad about but also relieved to not have to be around it. He drank every day mon - thurs maybe 6 cans of lager. On the weekends he was starting to drink between 1-3pm and would continue until he was passing out. I have had many chaotic incidences with him when he has been drunk. Arguments, verbal abuse to strangers, disrespectful behavior in front of my friends towards me when drunk.. to the point of them not wanting him to come to their parties because of how he changes when drunk. He has punched my brother's wall and dented it twice at 2 Xmas parties, violent to me in a very bad way when drunk. I am very sad that our relationship has come to this but I think people have to look after themself when it comes to someone with an alcohol problem otherwise you feel as though you are being dragged down into their depths. I started to think last winter that people only have one life and therefore we have to do what is right for us.. I keep in mind this mantra ' Get busy living or get busy dying'.. I know which one I had to choose.

My husband wrecked and killed someone and injured another person. He spent almost 3 years in prison, after getting out he continued drinking, and driving, wrecking cars, being violent, etc., Does he have a rock bottom, I made him leave, is there anything I can do to help him?

How do you stop drinking after years more than 10 years of drinking and youvw already gone to AA gyms and tried everything!

It is not advisable to drink whiskey when you are in the age of elders- age ranging 60 and above. There are many old people who were not able to maintain the health of their body.

my daughter is a alcoholic it hurts to see her in such a mess. She is living back home with me and I am helping look after her and my grandsons. its very stressfull and im so very tired. I work full time and can't be there 24hrs a day to help assist care of the boys and my daughter. she has a alcohol worker, made attempts to get other services involved they all say they will help but never contact to provide the help not just for my daughter but for my grandsons and myself. I have begged for help but nothing I have in return I daont know what to do or who to turn to my house and my garden is a real big mess my daughter also suffers with depression. Its so painfull to see her like this I cant fix her and make her better.

Dear Anthony: Get into treatment with a substance abuse/alcohol specialist. You need to get sober before you can work your relationship. Also, there are many different AA groups--you often have to try many groups until you find the one that is a good fit for you. Stop excusing your lack of sobriety and start truly getting sober. Doing that will be the best sign to your girlfriend that you are truly sorry and are going to do whatever you can to mend things.
Take Care-Lisa

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