Dating a guy who suffers from alcoholism.

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    Nov 28, 2011 2:45 AM GMT
    I've been dating this guy for nine months but have known him for over a year. Oddly enough I didn't know he was an alcoholic before we started dating. He has been doing better with it but lately he has slipped over the holidays. We are doing a long distance relationship as he is finishing off school in Washington and I'm working in Texas. I want to help and support him, however I don't know how I can living so far away. I've told him we can work on it together because well I love the guy and can see myself being with him for life. Any suggestions on how I can help?
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:19 AM GMT
    Does he recognize he has a problem, and is he open to getting help? I understand 12 step groups do pretty well and exit every where.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:21 AM GMT
    There isnt much you can or should do. He needs to figure it out. With you not being in the same state I guess you can not mention drinking. Its his addiction to over come. And he probably needs a shrink to tell him why he is doing it.
  • johndubuque

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    Nov 28, 2011 3:24 AM GMT
    You could look into an al-anon meeting.
  • vintovka

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    Nov 28, 2011 3:25 AM GMT
    If you are not living near him then I have to assume that the periods of "doing well" are self reported, not information backed up by a detached observer. If he is really serious about getting help and staying clean it may work out, but you need to establish a limit now in terms of what you will tolerate and stick to it. Also, speaking as a person in recovery, expect that if he continues to do this that his ability to make good choices in other areas of his life are also likely to be impaired (fidelity, safe sex, etc.) Good luck!
  • TheAlchemixt

    Posts: 2294

    Nov 28, 2011 3:28 AM GMT
    Get out of it while you still can before you become more emotionally attached to him in a romantic way. I dated an alcoholic for 7 years. If you want to help him as a friend then do that but stop dating the guy. He'll only change if he wants to and is ready to.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:28 AM GMT
    Mixleanmachine saidGet out of it while you still can before you become more emotionally attached to him in a romantic way. I dated an alcoholic for 7 years. If you want to help him as a friend then do that but stop dating the guy. He'll only change if he wants to and is ready to.


    That dog wont hunt.
  • masculumpedes

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    Nov 28, 2011 3:34 AM GMT
    I dated a guy with both an alcohol addiction and a crack addiction. You can't compete with an addiction because you can't be responsible for another persons sobriety. icon_cry.gif
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:37 AM GMT
    The most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:38 AM GMT
    The other posters have hit the key points - he has to make his own decisions and nothing you say or do will likely change it, sadly.
    He'll have to see drinking as a problem and want to change it, and then follow up to make sure the changes happen.
    There's AA and other counseling for him,
    and Al Anon for you.

    My late partner was an alcoholic and for better or worse (and towards the end, it was all worse for me) I just couldn't leave him, I didn't want to leave him alone and unsupported. I don't know if it helped or hurt, or if 'tough love' would have made a difference. In the end, he was consumed by it all, and along with the accompanying depression, is what killed him in the end.

    It can be a really tough road to walk, though, if they don't want to change and their drinking affects all the good things in life, his and yours. If he can make a change, both of you will be all the happier for it.

    Best success to both of you.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:39 AM GMT
    He has done rehab twice before we met. He told me this as I brought up his drinking one time. Obviously they didn't work out for him. While he lived here, he did the meetings and 12 step programs but didn't finish as he moved. One thing that aggravates me are his friends.don't see his drinking as a problem and brush it off as "Oh that's just how he handles stress." I care deeply about him and want him to know I'm there for him. I appreciate all the advice.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:42 AM GMT
    The title you chose tipped me off: "Dating a guy who suffers from alcoholism" as opposed to "Dating a guy who is an alcoholic."
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:43 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidThe most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.


    He is doing amazing in school. When he is occupied with tasks, he is great, its the downtime that gets him, such was the case this week with fall break. And he is suffering with depression as well. What is Al Anon? Is it the same as AA?
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:45 AM GMT
    You're not a counselor or a psychologist, you're a partner. All you can do is provide support for him, be that in the form of suggesting he go see a health professional either specifically for his alcoholism or a GP who can help him find one (if the GP can't help then the American Psychological Association should be able to); encourage him to see someone if he already was/is; and just generally "being there". The holiday season has kicked in and that can be a hard time for a lot of people with substance use problems, so letting him know that you're there for him can be a big help.

    I think giving him an ultimatum is a bad idea. People don't react well to that; it just adds to the problems they are already facing and creates even more pressure. You do obviously need to talk to him about it but you need to wait until he's sobered up and is doing okay before you do.

    You do need to accept that there is the possibility that whatever you do, he may not change, and you need to decide what you're willing to accept and where the boundary is.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:49 AM GMT
    Be his friend, and remember You can't change him, he has to do it himself ... don't be a victim ,don't cave to the pressure that its ok he drinks, AND what ever you do, don't drink with him ... . In time you will get stronger and be his pillar. IMO
  • johndubuque

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    Nov 28, 2011 3:51 AM GMT
    justme281 said
    DudeInNOVA saidThe most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.


    He is doing amazing in school. When he is occupied with tasks, he is great, its the downtime that gets him, such was the case this week with fall break. And he is suffering with depression as well. What is Al Anon? Is it the same as AA?


    Al Anon is for family and friends, and is closely associated with AA. Al Anon members sometimes also attend AA meetings. I have heard very good recommendations for Al Anon...it will at least give you some support even if your partner is not improving.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:52 AM GMT
    Trollileo said
    jpBITCHva said
    justme281 said
    DudeInNOVA saidThe most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.


    He is doing amazing in school. When he is occupied with tasks, he is great, its the downtime that gets him, such was the case this week with fall break. And he is suffering with depression as well. What is Al Anon? Is it the same as AA?

    Al Anon and AA are different groups. Al Anon is oriented toward the families, friends, and loved ones of the substance abuser. it's more of a support group and is not a 12-step program.
    Really? I didn't know that. I'll keep that in mind for when I'm an alcoholic celebrity.

    I have a question for you about his alcoholism. Is he actually alcoholic like does he HAVE to have a drink or does he just get super hammered every time he drinks?


    He has to drink. When I went to visit him, he poured himself vodka and oj to start the day. He is up there by himself with no family and one or two friends so it is rough. Giving him an ultimatum was never an option and won't be. I will look into al anon.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:55 AM GMT
    Jamesdp saidBe his friend, and remember You can't change him, he has to do it himself ... don't be a victim ,don't cave to the pressure that its ok he drinks, AND what ever you do, don't drink with him ... . In time you will get stronger and be his pillar. IMO


    Sadly, I have drank with him and even though I control the amount he drinks when he is with me, I know I'm enabling it. We have done things that are out of the drinking scene and those were the best times.
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    Nov 28, 2011 3:58 AM GMT
    justme281 said
    DudeInNOVA saidThe most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.


    He is doing amazing in school. When he is occupied with tasks, he is great, its the downtime that gets him, such was the case this week with fall break. And he is suffering with depression as well. What is Al Anon? Is it the same as AA?


    Based on what you are describing, in my completely nonprofessional opinion, it sounds like he is self-medicating, rather than being a party animal who can't quit. His treatment is going to have to include addressing the underlying issues of his depression and any other mental problems. Otherwise, the rehab isn't going to work. He's just going to go straight back to the bottle.

    This may be one way that you can help him. If you know his problems well enough, maybe you can encourage him to go into therapy of some sort. If he has alcoholism and depression, he can find a therapist who specializes in those areas.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:13 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA said
    justme281 said
    DudeInNOVA saidThe most I think that you can do is be supportive. You can't go beyond that because you aren't even there. He's going to have to get help on his own, if he isn't doing that already. Is he doing well in school? He might need to take some time off to get his life together.


    He is doing amazing in school. When he is occupied with tasks, he is great, its the downtime that gets him, such was the case this week with fall break. And he is suffering with depression as well. What is Al Anon? Is it the same as AA?


    Based on what you are describing, in my completely nonprofessional opinion, it sounds like he is self-medicating, rather than being a party animal who can't quit. His treatment is going to have to include addressing the underlying issues of his depression and any other mental problems. Otherwise, the rehab isn't going to work. He's just going to go straight back to the bottle.

    This may be one way that you can help him. If you know his problems well enough, maybe you can encourage him to go into therapy of some sort. If he has alcoholism and depression, he can find a therapist who specializes in those areas.


    The upside is that he is willing and wanting to look for a therapists, but like many people, he dosn't have insurance and can't afford the medications or sessions. I am aware of the underlining issues he is suffering from but when i bring them up, he shuts down. I normally wait for him to bring them up and then I suggest things.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:16 AM GMT
    justme281 saidThe upside is that he is willing and wanting to look for a therapists, but like many people, he dosn't have insurance and can't afford the medications or sessions. I am aware of the underlining issues he is suffering from but when i bring them up, he shuts down. I normally wait for him to bring them up and then I suggest things.


    Has he checked the school or local area to see if there are free mental health services available? It's far from ideal, but even finding an online chat group to help him through his problems might be beneficial.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:19 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA said
    justme281 saidThe upside is that he is willing and wanting to look for a therapists, but like many people, he dosn't have insurance and can't afford the medications or sessions. I am aware of the underlining issues he is suffering from but when i bring them up, he shuts down. I normally wait for him to bring them up and then I suggest things.


    Has he checked the school or local area to see if there are free mental health services available? It's far from ideal, but even finding an online chat group to help him through his problems might be beneficial.


    I'm not sure if he has checked with his school about any mental health services. I know I suggested while up there but I don't remember what was his response.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:30 AM GMT
    justme281 said
    DudeInNOVA said
    justme281 saidThe upside is that he is willing and wanting to look for a therapists, but like many people, he dosn't have insurance and can't afford the medications or sessions. I am aware of the underlining issues he is suffering from but when i bring them up, he shuts down. I normally wait for him to bring them up and then I suggest things.


    Has he checked the school or local area to see if there are free mental health services available? It's far from ideal, but even finding an online chat group to help him through his problems might be beneficial.


    I'm not sure if he has checked with his school about any mental health services. I know I suggested while up there but I don't remember what was his response.


    Can you look online to see what the university has available? Depending on how large the area is where he lives, the local government or state government might also have a web site listing for health services.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:42 AM GMT
    Will do, and thank you for the advice. I'll look into all of these suggestions.
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    Nov 28, 2011 4:45 AM GMT
    Here's my two cents. This comes from someone that has alcoholics in the family and have gone to al-anon. First, get past the idea there is a reason he drinks. You can't "happy" him past this or distract him for that matter. It is chemical in nature. You can have a drink and not think about it again. For someone addicted they think about it all the time. It is a craving they walk with all the time. Every time they take a sip of alcohol it wakes the cravings all over again. They quit when they hit bottom and realize they can't drink anymore. Logic does not come into play. Common sense has no part of this. You can love the person during the experience but you cannot love the person past it. Al-anon will teach you that. You are as powerless against the disease as he is. My sponsor use to say, "what do you do when you find the alcoholic past out and on the front lawn? You close the door and go to bed and love them enough to leave them." Her wisdom was that everyone needs to hit bottom and if you constantly cover up and fix the situation for them then you are robbing them the opportunity to hit bottom and therefore the need for recovery. It is one of the most difficult forms of love to master. Good luck to you both.