Help me help him be sober.
March 7, 2008 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My husband wants to quit drinking. How can I help?

He's been a heavy drinker for about 25 years (since high school) - he drinks five or six nights out of the week, anywhere from two beers to a 12-pack during a football game or several VERY stiff mixed drinks at a bar after work. Realistically, he's probably an alcoholic although he has never missed work, gotten a DUI, been violent or even particularly stupid as a result of his drinking. But he's getting old (42) and concerned about his health, and I am so glad that he's even considering taking this step.

I am basically a non-drinker - I have a beer or cocktail maybe once a month and seldom finish it (to his mock irritation) so there won't need to be any behavior modification on my end.

I'm really excited about this! I've wanted him to quit drinking, or at least cut back to social or occasional imbibing, for years - and he knows it. And I want to be supportive, but not in a hovering/monitoring sort of way, and not in a nagging shrew kind of way in case he is not immediately successful (he is a bit of a fatalist and might give up the first time he tries). How can I help him?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, good for your husband for wanting to quit, and good for you for being so supportive.

The first thing I would say is that he should start going to AA. That may sound extreme if he has been a high-functioning alcoholic, but if he's been drinking 2-12 drinks almost every day for 25 years, quitting is probably going to be more difficult than you might expect. It will be helpful to him to have some sort of structure and framework within to operate. He'll also get a sponsor, who will hopefully be able to understand what he's going through in a way no one else can.

I would also suggest that you get some emotional support for yourself. I've heard mixed things about al anon, but you could try that, or maybe an online support group ( has good forums). Because even though it sounds like you two have a very healthy, stable relationship, such a huge change is bound to stir up some emotional crap for him and maybe you, and it'll be good for you to have some outside, objective support. Of course, your family and friends can help, but it'll be good to have help from someone who's "been there."
posted by lunasol at 7:47 AM on March 7, 2008

AA. Also, you might suggest he talk to his doctor. There are some past Ask Metafilter threads about the health risks of quitting. And the doctor might be able to give him advice that he wouldn't take from you.
posted by salvia at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2008

Encourage him to start working out, exercising. When I made exercise part of my routine it started to feel silly to drink -- I was wasting my workout results on stupid, ill-nourishing sugary alcohol drinks.

This book also helped a great deal.
posted by cior at 7:55 AM on March 7, 2008

He's going to need something else to do in the evenings, especially if he's a social person. Maybe you could both go to the gym, go to movies more often, go to concerts or join some groups you're interested in.
posted by fshgrl at 8:30 AM on March 7, 2008

so there won't need to be any behavior modification on my end.
There will most definitely need to be behavior modification on your end. First of all, what's he going to do with all that spare time? He'll be getting home earlier, be going to bed sober, and, likely, will have loads more time on the weekend--what'll the two of you do?

My brother was a (not-so-high-functioning) alcoholic for many years, then stopped cold, treatment center, AA, all that. So then he got bored. His whole daily schedule had been formed around drinking, and now he had all this time to fill up. Politics was, and is, his outlet, but your man is going to need some help filling up the hours when he used to drink. Telling him to go to the gym or find a hobby will, indeed, help, but you'll likely be called upon to participate in some of his new-found leisure time.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:36 AM on March 7, 2008

I've wanted him to quit drinking, or at least cut back to social or occasional imbibing, for years

It's possible your husband might just be a 'heavy drinker' as opposed to an alcoholic. But ...

If he's an alcoholic (of my type), cutting back, or social drinking, is not an option. The reason for that is because alcohol affects alcoholics differently from 'normal' drinkers. Once an alcoholic takes any alcohol into his body, it triggers a chemical reaction that means that he can't stop at one or two drinks.

It has to be all or nothing. Seriously. There are no half-way points in being sober if you're an alcoholic.

I'd strongly suggest AA for your husband. He'll hear all kinds of drinking stories and it might well be that he decides he's not an alcoholic and just needs to cut down. If so, good for him. If he does decide he needs help, then he'll find help in AA. There's lots of threads on AskMe about AA which will give you all kinds of information what AA is (or isn't) about.

And for you, Al-Anon, which is the 'sister' organisation for friends and family of alcoholics. It'll help you learn more about the illness of alcoholism and show you what you can (and can't) do to help your husband.

There's an AA publication called 'Living Sober' which I often recommend to newcomers to sobriety. You can buy it at AA meetings or from Amazon.

As others have said, encourage him to eat better, exercise (join him, it'll benefit you too). Develop some new interests together that don't involve drinking (salsa dancing? hiking?).

And remember this: if your husband is an alcoholic, there is nothing you can do to make him stop drinking if he wants to continue. He's not doing it to spite you, but because he's in the grip of a physical allergy and a mental obsession. In those circumstances, you have to take care of your own mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

Good luck.
posted by essexjan at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2008 [5 favorites]

Talk to a doctor and possibly a therapist based on that doctor's advice. As some of the above have said, a major thing is going to be finding other ways to occupying the time he'd normally spend drinking. Peer pressure can be tremendously influential; find ways to stay busy that don't involve alcohol at all.

Are you/your husband religious people? Don't waste your time with AA unless you believe statments like this would be useful for him: "2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.", "3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." and "6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

Personally, I find AA to be entirely and completely insulting. I assumes the person who wants to stop drinking (or just drink less) is entirely and utterly incapable recovery and must instead appeal to a higher power. If you/your husband do feel like some kind of support group would you useful, but don't want the dogma that comes with AA, there are secular organizations like the Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
posted by Nelsormensch at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2008

On the other hand, AA is completely accommodating of athiests and agnostics and many people of those descriptions do attend the groups. There is no dogma about how you construct the word 'god' or 'higher power' and no test of belief. You can decide your dog is the higher power if you like. The point is to remove obstacles coming from your own ego, which has been telling you you can make good decisions about drinking, and from a need for control or escape, which has resulted in self-medication.

Some people react really strongly to that part of the language of Al-Anon and AA, but some use the program and are fine with it even without having a religion or belief in God. Like everything in those programs, how much of it you want to use is up to you.

I second Al-Anon for you. It'll help you understand both him and yourself better, and you'll be in a better position to help him in the ways you can help and to take care of yourself in the meantime.
posted by Miko at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Go to Al-Anon.
posted by abbyladybug at 9:03 AM on March 7, 2008

essexjan: If he's an alcoholic (of my type), cutting back, or social drinking, is not an option. The reason for that is because alcohol affects alcoholics differently from 'normal' drinkers. Once an alcoholic takes any alcohol into his body, it triggers a chemical reaction that means that he can't stop at one or two drinks.

Could you provide some more information on this chemical reaction Essexjan? Can't is a powerful word.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:08 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can't is a powerful word.

"won't" or "never has" is as good as "can't".
posted by quonsar at 9:52 AM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

Static Vagabond, I think the best way it's described is in "The Doctor's Opinion" in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Although it was written in the 1930s, it sets out quite clearly what I know as the 'phenomenon of craving'.

Ask any alcoholic who's been sober for a few years what would happen if s/he had one drink and the answer would inevitably be "It would set off a craving to drink and I wouldn't be able to stop."

This was my own personal experience and I've seen it time and time again in people I've seen relapse in AA.

"One drink's too many, and a thousand aren't enough."
posted by essexjan at 9:54 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Be there for him. Don't stop doing the things you used to do-keep your social life fun, just without the whole booze part. AA is a good choice, they'll help him more than you could ever imagine. AA has changed my dad's life. One problem my dad faced was turning to his other vices: he used chewing tobacco daily for many years, and when he was giving up chewing, he turned to atomic fireball candies...apparently to punish his mouth...I think they're terrible but he couldn't live without those. I told him he was either going to get diabetes or his teeth would rot (weird, he used to tell me that!), but now he's had some major dental work done so he's pretty much done with all the bad things in his life. His friends through AA are some of the best friends he has, and are a great support system.
posted by whiskey point at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2008

You asked what you can do to help. Realize that quitting drinking will probably be the single largest change your husband makes in himself his entire life, and will also be a huge change in the dynamic you two have as a couple. That means your life is going to change dramatically too. Be prepared for that.

Know that he will have tough times, especially in the beginning. There will be times that he is hurting like he just had teeth pulled with no sedative. Be there with him to help him sit on his hands, and hurt with him. He may relapse. Once. Twice. Maybe he'll go on a week long binge. Know that there isn't a thing you can do except to be there with him when he tries sobriety again.

Your husband may replace going to bars with going to meetings, so you still won't see him. Realize that he will be hanging with a whole new crowd, also drunks, but recovering drunks. Avoid the temptation to be jealous of the people who now dominate his time, and the fact that you don't know any of these people.

If your husband does become willing to give AA a try, and if he enjoys some short-term success with sobriety ... let's say 90 days ... he may find that AA becomes his new motivation, his new social network. If, like me, he finds exactly what he needs in AA, I don't think the problems with time will be as large as others have suggested. In my case, I jumped into AA with both feet.

I attended meetings at least six days a week, sometimes twice on weekends. I became interested in volunteering in the AA community. I conducted AA meetings. I helped out at treatment centers. I participated in 12th step interventions. I attended district and regional AA conferences. Simply put, the time I put into AA replaced all the time that I drank.

Most of all, what you can do to help is accept that what is, is. Acceptance is the answer to all of his, and your problems today. "When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment." -- AA Big Book
posted by netbros at 10:36 AM on March 7, 2008 [5 favorites]

Have him try AA, but don't let him get discouraged if it's not a good fit for him. It works for some, not for others. Do some research online for alternatives to AA (there are quite a few), and present to him what you think would help him. (One suggestion I'd make is for both of you to read Rational Recovery.)

Has he tried to quit before? What happened? As essexjan suggested, it's possible he's just a "heavy drinker", and not an alcoholic, in which case cutting back would be less of a problem. If his drinking hasn't negatively impacted his life much at all, this very well may be the case, and then it would more or less be a matter of changing his habits. If he's dependent on alcohol to feel normal, then you've got a much tougher road ahead.
posted by Koko at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2008

Essexjan-- Cravings can be ignored, with effort-- "can't" is a bit defeatist in my opinion.

I know ex-smokers in the same boat, while the social effects are less for a smoker compared to an alcoholic, I'd imagine the cravings are along a very similar vein. I have a friend that gave up and is fine about it, but another who gave up.. two years ago, and still gets cravings, loves the smell when we go to bars. If she had just one pull, she'd be well back into numerous packs a day, there's no chemical reaction (no more then any thought is a chemical reaction anyway)-- there's just the constant longing.

The difference between those two is their different outlooks on their problem, the one who's clear looks at giving up smoking as gaining something, he gets pleasure out of not smoking, so there's no desire to go back to it. In her case, she feels by giving up (for good reasons) she's missing something she would otherwise enjoy. She really wants that cig but constantly has to use her will-power to deny it from herself, because it's a pleasure she has forced herself to do without.

I know an ex-alcoholic, he goes to AA religiously (no pun intended..). You know from talking from him that he misses it, it's not something he's given up, it's something he's living without, and is seems like such a painful way to approach it.

Would be nice to find a simple way to flip that outlook.
posted by Static Vagabond at 10:48 AM on March 7, 2008

And this is an answer to Static Vagabond's question.
posted by netbros at 10:49 AM on March 7, 2008

Static Vagabond: I agree that there is probably no exact chemical reaction that happens when drinking. But, as an ex-smoker, there is much more to whether you experience cravings or not than willpower or "different outlooks." Any habitual behavior sets up neural networks in the brain which are reinforced by use. That's what makes them a habit - when faced with certain stimuli, the brain activates those same networks, and the behavior plays out the same way.

When you change a habit, there's a lot of discomfort that relates to the fact that you're actually changing your brain. The brain still tells you what it needs (relaxation, escape, freedom from anxiety, excitement, a lift, a calming influence). You have to build new neural networks to satisfy those needs without resorting to that same old habit, and teach them to activate instead of the old networks. This can be very hard if you don't replace your harmful habit with something that satisfies some of the same needs your brain is prodding you for. This is why many alcoholics replace the stimulus/response cycle of drinking with the cycle of going to meetings, or why people eat a lot when quitting smoking, or why people leaving off a bad habit might replace the time spent on it with exercise or socializing. They're trying, whether they know it or not, to flood their brain with new stimuli and create new networks in order to satisfy their needs without relying on the habit to determine their brain activity.
posted by Miko at 11:01 AM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

And netbros' is a terrific link. Interesting.
posted by Miko at 11:04 AM on March 7, 2008

Static Vagabond - "can't" is a bit defeatist in my opinion

With respect, I am talking from experience, not opinion. I can make a pig of myself on chocolate, but I can stop if I want to. But with alcohol, one drink sets off the allergic reaction, which triggers the craving and then the obsession and compulsion to drink. That's why AA is a programme of abstinence.

If I could have a couple of drinks, get merry and go home at the end of the night I would. In fact, every time I went out to the pub after work, that's precisely what the plan would be. But the reality was that, once I had the first drink, I could not stop. Could. Not. Stop. Until I passed out drunk. I really, really didn't want to end the evening slumped in a doorway having pissed myself, wondering where the hell my purse/keys/shoes were. I never, ever wanted the things that I did when I was drinking to happen to me and I couldn't understand why my friends never ended up in the same trouble as I did. It's because they had an 'off' switch, which I, as a full-on alcoholic, don't have.

I understand where you're coming from - I heard over and over from my ex-husband: "Just have a couple of drinks and then stop". But I really couldn't. It wasn't a question of weakness or lack of willpower, but a physical/chemical reaction that I - and millions of other alcoholics - have when we drink any alcohol at all.
posted by essexjan at 11:29 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Miko-- I can only speak to my own experiences of course. My mother was a smoker since her very young teens. Tried her best to give up a number of times, but eventually caved and went back to smoking. The friend I talked about earlier, the 'alternate outlook' quitter did so by using a book, I gave the same book to my mum and she's quit now, without the craving's she previously experienced. That's with over three decades of strengthened neural pathways and habit-forming behaviour.
So perhaps the mind is more immediately flexible then you give it credit for-- you just need to find the right stimulus to effect change.
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2008

Static Vagabond: What do you think would happen if your mother had one cigarette?
posted by essexjan at 11:47 AM on March 7, 2008

anywhere from two beers to a 12-pack during a football game or several VERY stiff mixed drinks at a bar after work.

YMMV but he might just need a better way to unwind at the end of the day (Netflix? New HD television?) ... there's a thousand shades of gray here but I have a feeling the process underlying his drinking is different than someone who has a drink and then finishes off a 12 pack and half a bottle of Jack.

What essexjan describes is drinking until you literally cannot drink anymore due to the effects of alcohol. Two to three beers, even a night, is not that level of drunk. In fact I wouldn't even consider it being drunk, but that's missing the point.

Has he thought about being healthy about drinking? It will still be a change but forcing yourself to drink one or two when you're out with friends is a lot easier than abstaining. This is not true for all people, but for some it is possible. I've known people who've managed to "cut back" and be more healthy about their various addictions, whether it be cigarettes, alcohol or whatever.
posted by geoff. at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2008

Essexjan, I'd expect the same reaction as when she had a cigarette after she finished the book-- she didn't enjoy it and didn't want a futher one.
I do see your point though, whereas cigarettes have essentially one level of effect , e.g. you take a pull, you feel relaxed, a slight buzz, having a futher one doesn't increase that buzz, just merely keeps it going (correct me if I'm wrong smokerites!). Compare that to alcohol, which has a definite sliding scale, you can keep increasing the buzz by simply imbibing more.

Long term, I see your choice of constantly avoiding alcohol as the far tougher path, but if your mental state and physical predispositions make that off-switch harder, or in your experience, impossible to control, then of-course that's a personal and correct choice.
It just seems to me, with the detotal path, it's always building to a potential failure point and if it comes the effects will be potentially devestating.
Do you ever expect it to become a non-issue, or do you believe your path to be a life-long battle?

I believe that we have the ability to control our actions, if only we learn how to do so effectively (including medical help). By no means does that mean it's just a matter of saying to yourself, "oh, just one!" it's obviously far, far deeper and more complex and chaotic then that, but if that path can be found, then long-term, it'll lead to an happier ending.

Apologies to the anonymous question asker for this flying off on a tangent, but I'm quite interested in the idea of habits and addictions-- I'm hoping it's interesting to you too.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:38 PM on March 7, 2008

So perhaps the mind is more immediately flexible then you give it credit for-- you just need to find the right stimulus to effect change.

Oh, I give the mind plenty of credit for being flexible. I too used several methods to quit before one method took - it was the method that best explained habit, neural pathways, and how to rebuild them. Perhaps that's what this book helped them to do. But also, the more times smokers quit, the better they get at it. I think we're in agreement, but I tend to reject arguments that rely on something like "simple willpower," because the physical dimension to addiction is quite real. Things happening at the mind-brain line are pretty subtle, but successfully quitting a drinking or smoking addiction is about more than having a good attitude.
posted by Miko at 12:50 PM on March 7, 2008

Not being alcoholic myself, I find the moderation idea bizarre. I have no need to moderate my water, soda, alcohol, sour dough bread, or green pea consumption. If you have to think about moderation, something's already off. Whatever it is means too much to you.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2008

Do you ever expect it to become a non-issue, or do you believe your path to be a life-long battle?

I don't see it as a battle any more. I don't crave alcohol, I don't miss it, I hang out with lots of people who drink normally and it doesn't bother me in the least. But I can't drink safely, so for me that means I can't drink - period.

Once a pickle, never a cucumber again ...

Also, apologies for the derail, but it's still sort of on-topic and might help the OP understand a little more about alcoholism.
posted by essexjan at 1:08 PM on March 7, 2008

Anonymous, have your husband ask himself this question. "Is alcohol interfering with the way you want to live your life?" If the answer is no, then your husband is probably like most social drinkers. However, if the answer is yes, there may be a problem. For that, many solutions have been suggested above.

There was one other thing about your [more inside] that worries me somewhat. That is your husband's age. At 42, and drinking heavy for 25 years, he may be at risk for entering late-stage alcoholism when physical health issues really manifest.

If I may, I'd like to tell you my story at age 40. I was very much like your husband. I was dependable, successful professionally, and managed to stay out of trouble ... mostly. I had not reached any kind of "bottom." But alcoholism is a progressive disease. Here is what I became:

I must have hated myself. Night after night I sat alone in my room. The television or a good book was all I needed. This was before the Web, so I hadn't yet discovered the joy that can bring. Oh, and I drank.

That's what I did. That was my life. I drank from the moment I got home from work until I passed out. And I did it in my room with the door closed. I didn't have to face other family members who would hassle me. I didn't drive somewhere to endanger others. I just sat in my room and drank. It's all I knew.

I never bought myself any new clothes or neat gadgets to play with. I gave all my money to my wife so she would leave me alone. I stopped at the public library every week to get some new books to read, but that was about all I did for myself. I rarely ate. See why I must have hated me?

And I hated who I was. When you've been a drunk for nearly 25 years though, you know no other life. As much as I wanted not to, I could not not drink. I didn't know how. I didn't know how to handle day to day crisis without drinking. When that is your crutch, everything is a crisis. I drank when I felt good, I drank to forget.

I have been in recovery now for 15 years. For every recovering alcoholic there comes a turning point. For me it was discovering the right place to ask for help. Surprising as it might sound, that right place is in the midst of other recovering alcoholics. My friends and saviors are also drunks; sober drunks.

I discovered a spirituality that I understand, and that understands me. It was always there, I just didn't look. I ask first thing every single day to help me not to drink. When I go to bed at night, I sincerely say thanks for allowing me to have another sober day.

My life is wonderful. My hands don't shake when I eat soup. I am not sick every morning. I have learned to handle situations that used to baffle me; with my mind and not a bottle. My family and friends value my presence, and I theirs. I love and am loved.

I've been presented the gift of a second life. Not everyone gets that chance and I know not to blow it. How could I? Simple, just take another drink. I don't have to do that today because I finally know how to live life on life's terms. For that I am eternally grateful.

Anonymous, hopefully your husband isn't like me. In that case, his desire to stop is timely because of his age. But if you begin to notice some of the behaviors I had, beware, but fear not because there are marvelous rewards at the end of the path. Working together, you already have a great shot at living the rest of your lives happy, joyous, and free. Never be afraid to ask for help.
posted by netbros at 1:48 PM on March 7, 2008 [20 favorites]

Your husband may be self-medicating to handle stress. If I were you, I would encourage you to see a couple's counselor who works with substance abuse. If this is the case, s/he might be able to refer him to a psychiatrist to find a suitable, non habit-forming, medical treatment to accompany your therapy.

Best of luck for your shared path to recovery/healthier living.
posted by mynameismandab at 1:49 PM on March 7, 2008

I quit drinking the first time when I was 26 because I knew that coming home every night after work and drinking a six-pack of beer was not normal behavior for a 26-year-old female engineer. I started up drinking again several months later when, on my way to commit suicide, I decided to stop and have a beer or two because what difference did it make. Funny how that drink made me just want to drink more -- and the thoughts and feelings that made me suicidal were dulled.

Several years later, I quit drinking because I knew that drinking 1-2 six packs a night after work was not normal behavior. This time, I stayed quit for almost two years. Until, one night, when my thoughts were dark and life didn't seem worth living and my partner at the time said, "What you need is a drink," and I thought, "Hell yes."

A year or so later, I decided I needed to quit drinking because I knew that drinking 1-2 six packs a night plus hard liquor wasn't normal. Like your husband, drinking was not affecting my job performance -- I had moved into management, was being groomed for higher level management, and was highly paid. I had no DUIs. I had no medical condition. I just knew that being drunk every night was not normal.

From my previous two experiences, I knew that I could not do it without help. I knew that "AA" was an organization that helped people to stop drinking. I was fortunate enough to find an AA group that was not overly religious (growing up fundamentalist Christian and then coming out as lesbian and having my family disown me left me with a bad taste in my mouth about religion). I managed to work the 12 steps, including finding a way to resolve the "God" issue with my distaste for religion. This last year, I celebrated 8 years of continuous sobriety.

I believe that it is not necessary to lose a job, get a DUI, go to jail, or become violent to be an alcoholic. I also believe it is possible to stop drinking without AA. For me, stopping drinking wasn't the hardest part (although the first few days were tough) -- living without alcohol is why I needed the help of AA. Best of luck to you and your husband.
posted by elmay at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

*long sigh* Firstly realize you can't do a damn thing to change it :) Or you would have by now.. right?

This isn't your battle, and if it comes to it - it's not your failure either.

He'll stop when he 100% wants to. 98%... 100% - what's the difference you might ask? Such a fine line that may as well be a chasm. Mentally it's just a couple of clicks and suddenly - you're there, you can feel it and you know it... but that's the difference it makes.

If he actually wants to, it won't be that hard. Really, nearly, almost - Forget It.

From memory, after this amount of time, there is a physical concern that needs to be addressed. As in alcohol was doing something the body is supposed to do. But now when the alcohol goes it just doesn't get done. I could be misinformed or thinking of something else... something to do with Serotonin. Possibly?? Meh?

Anyway - the very best of good luck to him and much patience, sanity and coping skills to you :)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 9:07 PM on March 7, 2008

elmay: "I believe that it is not necessary to lose a job, get a DUI, go to jail, or become violent to be an alcoholic. I also believe it is possible to stop drinking without AA. For me, stopping drinking wasn't the hardest part (although the first few days were tough) -- living without alcohol is why I needed the help of AA."

Yes. You don't have to be falling down drunk, screwing up everything in your life type of person to be an alcoholic.

Please know that there is really nothing you can do to help him. It's not your fight. He has to decide he's ready to do this and make the commitment. Hopefully he can find an AA group he likes. All you can do is sit back and be encouraging. Many people in AA do relapse, but it's the idea that you just start over again. Just try not to blame yourself. He has to make his own choices - you didn't pour it down his throat and you can't yank it out of his hand either. Good luck.
posted by CwgrlUp at 2:11 PM on March 8, 2008

fwiw, the book cior's recommending did nothing for me. The person who wrote it was more extreme than your husband, for one thing, and the author's irritatingly enamoured of herself and her "gritty" life experiences.

I have a few books that have taught me a lot, and you're welcome to email me if you're interested in them. Al-anon is what's done the most for me, though.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:11 AM on March 10, 2008

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