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I’m afraid his drinking will kill him—am I overreacting by giving him this ultimatum?

Tagged as: Breaking up, Health, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (15 April 2019) 8 Answers - (Newest, 18 April 2019)
A female Ireland age , anonymous writes:


My husband and I have been married for 10 years. He is an excessive drinker and over the years I have done everything to help him. He was recently diagnosed with heart failure and i blame myself for not doing more to stop him.When he was in hospital he told the doctors his average units per week which sometimes amounts to his daily intake. The doctors failed to reach any conclusion on what caused the heart failure but asked him to moderate his alcohol intake whilst he was on medication.However, I was disappointed to find bottles of wine hidden away and he admitted to have drank 1 bottle of wine jn two days.

I am very angry, concerned and dissappointed as he only just left hospital 2 weeks ago. I gave his an ultimatum that I will move out if he continues to drink as I cant standby and watch him kill himself. Am I overracting?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 April 2019):

I have seen alcoholics day after day at work, returning as regulars in the hospital, each time with a little more damage and a free pass to go straight to the pub. They eventually get new symptoms and return jaundiced yellow, or blow up with fluid, or with Wernicks psychosis. There are lots of different symptoms that can be fatal. So sad, very sad because many are young men and women that could have years ahead of them, it breaks my heart when they die, because many do eventually, and they just don't believe it will happen to them, I witness it.

Few and far between do make it free and stop but it is possible, my partner reached the bleeding stage of alcoholism and deaths door more than once and 10 years on still a recovering alcoholic, always vulnerable. My father had a stroke then stopped and now 25 years clean.

Your husband (AND YOU) needs a very strong support network, professional help and a good vision and possible future. I wish I could take him to work with me on this particular ward to see for himself the future that lay ahead if he does not change his ways.

I really hope he makes it, a topic close to my heart that has brought so much heartache and pain into my past life and sadness in the present watching others experiencing the same.

Take care of you and stay strong, as others have said you can not change him, it must come from him.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2019):

Edit again: I think you are NOT overreacting.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 April 2019):

Honeypie agony auntIf you do nothing, nothing will change.

However, YOU have to remember and accept that YOU can not MAKE him change or change him.

But you CAN show him that you WANT him to seek help and get healthy so YOU two can continue your marriage, but you will NOT sit and watch him drink himself to death.

I don't think you are overreacting either.

One thing though, DO NOT give an ultimatum UNLESS you are willing to back it up. Which means BE willing to walk away and divorce him if he doesn't seek help or claims he doesn't NEED help.

And empty "threat" is pointless and will do neither of you any good. So if you GIVE the ultimatum, FOLLOW through.

Before you talk to him I'd advice you look up resources available in your area so you come PREPARED to the discussion.

Good luck, I hope you can knock some sense into him.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2019):

Thank you all for your responses. It was very helpful and encouraging.

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A female reader, mystiquek Japan + , writes (16 April 2019):

mystiquek agony auntI was married to an alcoholic for years. Their biggest game plans are lies and denial. They absolutely cannot accept that they are addicted and will play their every card like they have a winning hand. I tried EVERYTHING to get my husband to quit. He refused and said that "I don't have a drinking problem YOU have a problem with me drinking." I couldn't handle it anymore. I divorced him. I got a phone call one day saying that he was in complete liver failure and the doctors had given him 3 weeks to live. He went into a nursing home and by some miracle after a year, he recovered. What did he do? Go right back to drinking just as hard as ever. He is still alive but suffering from wet brain syndrome where he has lost so much of his brain cells that his mind is gone. He still refuses to get help.

Intervene if you can but dont hold out too much hope that he'll ask for help. They say an alcoholic/drug addict has to hit bottom. My husband hit bottom, stared death in the face and STILL wouldn't quit drinking. He was having alcohol snuck into him while in the nursing home.

I wish you well sweetie. Its a hard hard road....

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (16 April 2019):

How can it be an overreaction by making an attempt to save your husband's life? By no means are you overreacting; however, he will call your bluff. He knows you love him too much to leave him in his present medical-condition.

I truly sympathize with our dilemma; but the road ahead is going to be rough. It is already effecting his health. It may not be the cause of the heart-attack; but is definitely a factoring cause! It will also regress or slow his recovery.

A family-intervention may help; if everyone came together to convince him to seek alcohol-abuse rehabilitation. Don't be judgemental, but be firm and assertive to the fact that he's literally killing himself! Men have this social-conditioning not to take orders from their wives. Submitting to your threats is like humbling himself to your will and control. He has male pride, and he won't even admit he has a drinking-problem.

You need to seek every resource and support-system you can.

You should be honest and forthcoming with his doctors about his amount of drinking. Chances are, his cardiologist has some idea; but it helps when confirmed by the patient. They will submit more pressure on him; and will also be more vigilant in the event of drug-interactions that could occur by mixing alcohol with certain blood-thinners, NSAIDS, Nitroglycerin, Beta Blockers, or Ace inhibitors.

You are not likely to carry-out your ultimatum. It is best you seek counseling for yourself; and get some expert advice on how to deal with and survive an alcoholic. There can be no rehabilitation; until everyone is able to come to terms with the fact that he is an alcoholic. Especially, if he can't control his drinking; even if it endangers his life. He IS an alcoholic.

You should search the house for stash and remove all alcohol during his recovery-period. You should persist in suggesting he get professional-rehabilitation. He leaves you no alternative but a divorce; if he continues his alcohol-abuse. He will not be able to work, he may become permanently-disabled, he will become abusive (if he isn't already); and the time will come when enough is enough, and you will have no choice.

Intervene NOW! Ultimatums are only effective if you carry them out!

God bless you, and may He help you and your husband.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2019):

I'm anonymous reader who was married to an alcoholic and forgot to add that I don't think you are overreacting.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2019):

I was married for many years to an alcoholic. Your husband is an alcoholic and alcoholics cannot "moderate" their drinking habits. He must get professional help which is available in support groups and he must totally stop drinking. The problem is he will only do that when he admits to himself that he is an alcoholic and needs help to quit.

You can try having a conversation with him and try to get him to recognize his addiction before leaving him but don't expect much. He has to want to get that help himself.

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