Topic: Substance Abuse
Question: My wife’s drinking has become a problem since our children have left home. She does not work and judging by her level of intoxication when I get home at night, she is drinking all day. I have approached this topic more than once and let me just say, she is less than responsive to talking about it. I love her but I do not know how to help her.
Michelle’s Take: First off, let’s be clear that you are dealing with alcoholism. Alcoholism is a substance abuse problem that is effecting your wife on physical, mental and emotional levels. She is self medicating as way of coping with hurt and pain she does not know how to handle.
She needs counseling to deal with possible depression and adjustment issues. However, the initial phase of treatment will involve assessing and treating the alcoholism. This can be in the form of intensive out patient services or inpatient services at a treatment facility for multiple weeks.
There are differing opinions as to what constitutes alcoholism. However, here are some basic questions:
1) Is alcohol a daily part of your life?
2) Do you ever binge drink?
3) Has a friend or family member commented on your drinking?
4) Have you said or done something to cause harm when under the influence?
5) Do you hide your drinking?
6) Have you received a DUI, lost a job, or lost friends/family members as a result of your drinking?
7) Are you secretly worried you may be an alcoholic?
8) Is there a history of alcoholism in your family?
9) Do you have past pain that alcohol helps you to temporarily forget?
10) Have you failed with previous attempts to stop drinking?
If you answered yes to more than one of these question, take pause. This is about being honest with yourself.
Healthy models of substance abuse are effective at removing the guilt from the condition while providing new coping skills. Groups can be very effective for providing support and educational information.
It is important to recognize that you are only responsible for your behavior, not hers. I would encourage you to find a local support group or visit: Al- Anon
P.S. Your comment can positively add to this discussion. Please share how alcoholism has effected your life and any tips you have learned.