I don't wanna be a pace car any more...
August 11, 2005 11:12 PM   Subscribe

I seem to have issues with booze, well, issues with my wife's booze...I suspect I am nuts but would appreciate the collective wisdom of askme giving me its two cents please.

I am not sure how to frame this exactly, so let me give it a shot...I seem to have a problem allowing my wife to handle her own booze consumption. Once, when we were much younger, she agreed that she wasn't consuming wisely, so she quit drinking for about 4 years. Since the birth of our first child though (4 years ago), she has been drinking again socially, and for the most part it has been fine. Thing is, I get really uptight when she crossed some line in my head, that always changes. Then, my night is effectively ruined, because I am all messed up about just how drunk she might be getting etc.

Now, in the last 6 months or so, we have begun to bring weed into the house...It's long story in itself, but I wanted to see if I could use it to help with some anxiety issues I have. I use it periodically, like maybe once a week. My wife also took part in the anxiety experiment, and has found that it really helps her. She also finds that it helps with some ongoing back pain she suffers from. So now...of course, I get freaked out about how much pot she is smoking.

Potential points of interest:
1) I am the child of an alcoholic who really has no issues with my own consumption, in that I drink little mainly, sometimes I go out with pals, etc...ACoA is soooo churchy, I don't think they can help me.
2) I worry that my wife has an addictive personality. Her family does have a history of issues with booze, and some drugs, etc.
3) I really feel that I don't have a problem with recreation drug use, including achohol, weed, etc.

I guess my long winded quesiton is: Is there anyway I can let this go? I think I really suspect that her use is fine, why can't I just let it be? I always have this nagging thing in the back of my brain wondering if it is too much, and referring to ancient history as evidence that she once had a problem. I understand that some of my behavior is classic Adult Children of Alcoholics behavior, but...everything I have seen from them is so "higher-power" related, it turns me off, and gives me very little to go on. Are there any truly secular books out there on this?

I have set up a gmail for questions...seems like a great idea. Any help would be soooo appreciated folks. Email me at booze.pace.carATgmail.com
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I note you haven't recorded any behavioural problems or a history of repeated overindulgence by your wife, save for an allusion to the problem 8 years ago. You haven't mentioned how family life has changed or worries about job security or social repercussions.

Unless you are skimming the background it seems to me that it's your control issue.

In that this subject has been prevalent in some way in your marriage for a long time I wonder if you've had much of a discussion with your wife about how you feel and the triggers that get you worked up. If she's acknowledged a problem in the past I would have thought she's possibly more open to discussing this kind of thing. Talk to her and tell her how you have this (what seems to be, with no offense intended) somewhat illogical reaction to her drinking/drugging. Maybe she would be willing to compromise in some way (although on the face of it, this would be mere appeasement).

I guess otherwise the old favourite response would be to make contact with a psychologist for at least for a session or 3 -- get it all off your chest, without the necessity of brevity that an internet noticeboard requires and see what they suggest. Or yoga +/- exercise ---- another way of getting a bit more relaxation into your life.
posted by peacay at 3:21 AM on August 12, 2005

First, off you're self medicating, be it booze or weed. The problem is, you're in an altered state when you're finding comfort, and the question that both of you ought to examine is how does the other one behave...when you're sober and clean? Let her evaluate you as well as you evaluating her.

I think, as peacay mentioned, you seem to be consumed by controlling your wife. That this isn't an issue of substance abuse, but whether or not you know what's good for her.

That's the real underlying issue - examining it may be destructive to your marriage. So may your resentment. Think about seeing a professional.
posted by filmgeek at 6:13 AM on August 12, 2005

I don't think your controlling. You've been burned before, as the child of alcoholic and in the past by your wife, and, naturally, you're particularly sensitive to the problem coming up again. Talk to your wife. Tell her you're worried she might be a bit too quick with the drugs, but that's probably because you're a worry-wart about drugs. Tell her you love her and trust in her good judgement and you will do your best to stop obsessing over her drug habits. Then, whenever you find yourself worrying about said habits, repeat to yourself that you love her and trust her and the past is in the past.
posted by nixerman at 6:36 AM on August 12, 2005

Drug and alcohol use can be an escape. In moderation, no harm done. In excess, you have to ask yourself: What is a person escaping from?

Put another way: Rather than asking why your wife is using substances excessively, ask why your wife is unhappy. I agree with filmgeek: consider counseling.
posted by Scooter at 6:42 AM on August 12, 2005

I just erased my incredibly judgemental response about your control issues. Trying again, more gently: This is about what's in your head, not in her glass.

She's an adult, and it's okay for her to get tipsy/altered if she wants to sometimes...you've acknowledged that she has the wherewithall to realize when she needs to control her own behavior. Adult kids of alcoholics justifiably tend to have a different take regarding the relationship between intoxication and personality and being aware of one's own behavior, but I would, again, gently, urge you to think about letting some of the self-inflicted responsibility go. If you haven't already, absolutely tell her that you realize that your desire to "supervise" her drug/alcohol use is a little wacky/probably annoying/worrywort craziness.

(While I'm not an automatic get-thee-to-therapy type, in this case I think it's clear that you would likely benefit from it.)
posted by desuetude at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2005

Also, not entirely related to your question, but in response to churchy recovery groups. There's smartrecovery.org that is based on rational emotive behavioral therapy, not God. It's worth looking at. It is not, however, a tool for moderation but rather abstinence.
posted by pissfactory at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2005

Go to AlAnon. They exist for people like you.
posted by mkultra at 8:01 AM on August 12, 2005

I have this problem with being anxious about my SOs drinking, probably going back to being a kid of a functioning alcoholic. My main irrational issue, in a general sense, is that being with someone who is drinking a lot eventually leads to abandonment. More specifically, at some point the drinker cares about their alcohol more than they care about you. With my Dad this was pretty much the status quo: the world revolved around his drinking, he wasn't very nice to people when he drank [and occasionally he was truly horrible and said horrible things] and if you asked him to not drink, or drink less, he said no and got pissed off. So, if I wanted to spend an evening with him, I couldn't guarantee he wouldn't be an ass to me and it was the erraticness that bothered me almost more than the emotional abuse.

My SO is a recreational drinker, and I drink pretty rarely. He's given me no cause to believe there would ever be a problem, and as a result, there pretty much isn't. He is not my Dad. He does not share characteristics of my Dad like being emotionally abusive, like choosing beer over me, like making me choose between getting in a car with a drunk and not getting home. Keeping all this in mind helps me deal with MY anxiety issues about drinking. I guess at some level you may want to think about whether it's just your wife's interaction with substances that triggers bad feeling with you, or if she is acting in ways that you don't like when she's under the influence. The behaviors are something she has to be responsible for, but the anxiety may just be yours to manage. As an aside, I find that weed can help with anxiety issues short term but the long term weed smokers I've known were some of the most anxious people I knew. YMMV, naturally.

If I'm having a truly lousy day and some sort of anxiety flare-up I might ask "Hey do you mind if we have a beer-free evening?" This happens rarely, very rarely, and is always met with a "Sure, no problem" I know it's just my SO being indulgent, but since we seem to agree on our terms -- generally I handle my anxiety, specifically, I may request a favor on a bad day -- it helps me ease controlling/anxiety instincts at other times.
posted by jessamyn at 8:14 AM on August 12, 2005 [2 favorites]

I am the child of an alcoholic

I worry that my wife has an addictive personality. Her family does have a history of issues with booze, and some drugs, etc.

3) I really feel that I don't have a problem with recreation drug use, including achohol, weed, etc.

Your answer is found in your last quote, 3); seek help.
Because, if the first two quotes by you are true, then your last one may be wrong.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:14 AM on August 12, 2005

You need therapy and the two of you need counseling.
posted by lrivers at 9:15 AM on August 12, 2005

everything I have seen from them is so "higher-power" related, it turns me off, and gives me very little to go on. Are there any truly secular books out there on this?
You can make anything your higher power.
A higher power is what you surrender to in your life. Right now your wife’s is alcohol. Yours is weed.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:24 AM on August 12, 2005

Bah. So long as the drinking isn't to the point of being hammered, and the pot-smoking isn't wake-n-bake, wtf is the matter?

Most of America alters their mind every single day by sitting in front of the frigging television for hours.

IMO, that's one helluva lot worse for one's health -- both mental and physical -- than having a glass of wine or a toke.

If she's being sensible about her drug use, taking part only after the day's responsibilities are addressed, what's the problem?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on August 12, 2005

fff, think you've missed the question, which is

I guess my long winded quesiton is: Is there anyway I can let this go?

Anon knows the problem is his attitude rather than the reality of his wife's habits, and wants a way to overcome that attitude.

Sorry anon, I don't have anything practical to suggest, just thought I'd stick my nose in.
posted by penguin pie at 11:54 AM on August 12, 2005

What about trying to articulate/write down what exactly it is that you're concerned about? Does your wife's behaviour change in ways you don't like when she's "altered", or is this entirely about your own reactions? Maybe trying to make a list of what it is that worries you or makes you generally uncomfortable about this could help you get a handle on it. You can say you feel you don't have a problem with recreational drug use until you're blue in the face, but if that's not how you really feel, then it isn't true. Does it bother you if your wife does this out of your presence? Clearly you have SOME kind of issue about this, and whether it's a control issue or a more general issue with altered states of consciousness is something I think you need to really do some soul searching about.
posted by biscotti at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2005

You are looking for certain things in the wrong places. Namely, looking for counseling on core relationship foundations here on MeFi; and looking to street drugs to medicate an anxiety problem.

My two cents is that there are professionals who have trained for years to know how to help with each of these things, and that you are *definitely* in deep enough, with respect to both of these issues, to need that help. You should start with a relationship counselor and a physician, respectively.

I don't mean this to be judgmental, harsh, hostile or criticizing. Knowing when to seek help, having that insight, is always the hardest part; and you are already there.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:34 PM on August 12, 2005

I recommend talking very frankly with your wife about what you've started to articulate here, and possibly as part of that conversation asking about what it might look like if you all went to counseling for a little bit. I disagree with the moralists who see a big SA problem here, but I agree with all those who see a (potential) relationship problem here.
posted by OmieWise at 6:22 AM on August 15, 2005

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