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My husband is continuously losing jobs and has no desire to do anything but sit and drink

My husband is an alcoholic who has been in treatment 4 times over the last 4 years, the last time being a year ago (he has been relapsed 1 yr). He cannot make it past the 90 day period, is continuously losing jobs and has no desire to do anything but sit and drink. He knows that he needs to go through detox and work through the program, but getting him there is difficult - he says he doesn't feel ready....... How do you get them there, is it bad to have family help to escort the alcoholic.....any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just have a difficult time watching him deteriorate and don't want to be pulled into this madness.


Dear ----:

Escorting your husband to treatment isn't the issue. He's been there four times, and it's done him no good.

How you get your husband to treatment is to have him want to be there. Do you have children together? How do you support yourself (your husband and you and anyone else in your family)? If these things are not important enough to your husband, it will be hard for him to find positive motivations to enter and follow through on treatment.

My web site in general is not a good one in which to find ways to "work the program." The philosophy I endorse is to ask a person what they want, and to offer them different ways to get there. For me, this includes standard treatments and AA (at which your husband has failed repeatedly), alternate treatments (groups such as Rational Recovery and SMART Recovery), possibly continuing drinking (but after a period of abstinence and at a reduced rate), and change without treatment.

Obviously, whatever goal or method is selected, the person must be committed to it. If he fails, he must either renew a commitment or select another route.

You are right to fear being dragged down by this relationship, as to a large extent you may already have been. If you want to be helpful, you can first assist your husband to focus on what in his life is more meaningful than drinking/intoxication. The second thing you can do is make your relationship part of the reward for his sobriety. That is, if you find his alcoholism painful for you, then you must withdraw from the relationship until he remedies it. You can also offer rewards for sobriety -- providing companionship and support for the moments when he behaves well towards you and others.

Obviously, this calls for you to rethink your relationship with your husband. I appreciate that you do not want to watch a man you love deteriorate. But this has been happening for quite some time now, and you must do something different (just as your husband must). And, at this point, the only individual's behavior you can control and change is your own.

Best wishes,

Stanton Peele