Dealing With Addiction
Dear Annie: I'm a middle-aged single mom of two great kids. I recently entered into my first serious relationship since my divorce five years ago, and I love him dearly, but there is a huge problem. I found out that he has had an alcohol addiction in the past (which cost him half of his pancreas and caused liver issues).
Recently, his company closed after more than 20 years in business, and he started drinking again. One day, we had plans to see each other, and I couldn't reach him. It turns out he drank so much that he blacked out and slept for an entire day. I was upset and really worried. So I confronted him and told him that I will not watch him slowly kill himself.
His health is failing again, but he swears up and down he won't drink again and he wants a life with me and our kids. I want to help him, but only if he helps himself. My gut is saying he's still drinking behind my back.
I've been through a lot and am perfectly comfortable being on my own. Do I take him at his word, or do I trust my gut and leave? It would break my heart, but I can't be an enabler. -- Confused
Dear Confused: While it is fine to take him at his word, it is even more important to take him at his actions. Is he attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or other support groups to help him with his addiction? Is he using the same tools that helped him get sober in the first place? Does he have a sponsor? All of these questions are worth a conversation between the two of you before any decision is made.
If you love him dearly, then attending Al-Anon meetings will also help you to deal with him. Before any major decision is made, you need the help of professionals to manage your husband's disease. You are correct that you want to help him only if he helps himself, and the only way he can help himself is if he stays honest with you from the beginning. That is where the action steps come into play. Sobriety has to be his number one goal.
Dear Annie: I wanted to share that I actually took a second job at a rehab hospital to understand my spouse's addiction. It took some years and a dedication to bringing some info home to share, but gradually, things changed, and with naltrexone, he was able to also. He frequently tells me I saved his life.
Dear Saved his Life: Thank you for sharing your story. I am printing your letter alongside another spouse who is struggling with her husband's addiction. My hope is that your letter inspires her to continue to support her husband and that she finds the same success that you and your husband did as a team in fighting this disease. Bravo for staying the course and saving his life! It sounds like true love and dedication from both of you.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.