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My partners drinking habit has now turned into a drinking problem

ADVICE COLUMN

My partner (28) and I (31) have been together for nearly 8 years and she is truly the best person I have been with. But in the last few years, she has developed a drinking habit which has now turned into a drinking problem. She admits that she is an alcoholic but refuses to see anyone for help. She has suffered with depression since her early teens when her mum passed away.

She has attempted to get help for that in the past through counselling and medication but she feels nothing has helped. There are times when she is drunk when she will express suicidal thoughts, although she has never acted on these thoughts and I have not felt worried that she would. Her drinking is now really straining our relationship.

My mum was an alcoholic before she passed away so I feel like I am going through all these emotions again. I suffer from ADHD and sometimes anxiety, so my reactions to certain situations and our arguments don’t always satisfy her expectations. I try my hardest to be there for her when she is low and I acknowledge that sometimes I am not the best and can be better.

When she is drunk she also constantly brings up how we aren’t compatible with each other and has quite often said she doesn’t feel the same about me. But the next morning when she has sobered up, she is apologetic and blames the alcohol. We rarely show any sort of affection to each other and we haven’t been intimate for at least 6 months.

I know in my heart, that I still love her tremendously and I would love to spend the rest of my days with her. I feel like I have sacrificed a lot of dreams to be with her. Having kids and getting married hasn’t really been a goal of hers and I grew to accept that. But with the amount she drinks and the constant arguing, I am now at my wit’s end.I want to work things out with her and help her with her addiction but I sometimes question whether splitting up would be better for both of us? Splitting up would affect me financially but I wouldn’t want to stay with someone just because I’m financially better off. Please help.

She admits that she is an alcoholic‚ it is an illness, and she needs professional help.

ADVICE COLUMN

Dear Anonymous, Thank you for your Question. You have a lot going on there and I thank you for taking the time to write out how you are feeling. It takes courage.

I want to break this down into two people with two different identities, rather than one problem. Let’s take you first. You cannot control how another person acts or behaves. You can only control how you act and behave. You can offer love and guidance but if that person does not want to listen or take responsibility for themselves you must step back to protect yourself.

She admits that she is an alcoholic‚ it is an illness, and she needs professional help. As much as you love her, you are not being listened to or heard because normally it is the ones closest that get pushed away. With heavy drinking, they have to want to change. Sometimes this involves hitting rock bottom first. Drinking allows someone to avoid something. Sometimes people get stuck in a rut and it is more comfortable to be in that rut than it is to change.

Therapy can help with the issue of avoidance, but in most cases, the drinking has to stop first for it to be effective.

What would you like to happen? (For her to stop drinking, for her to be happy and for you to be happy) I am guessing. This is where you need to be honest with yourself. Then when you are ready, be honest with her. A few questions for you…

What is your goal and what is the timeline for your goal? Realistically it is not going to happen tomorrow. So when? 6 months, 12 months, if someone is an alcoholic it has to be a lifestyle change that is ongoing.

Again be honest with yourself – how do you see this changing, if at all?
What can you do, (not her) to help?

What if she rejects help? which she is doing now.

What if she keeps rejecting help?

How much time are you willing to invest in this relationship?

Make a list of all the things that you can do to help her, – including a total ban on alcohol in the house. I am not sure if you drink. Maybe it could be something you do together. At least you know you have tried. I hope this helps.

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