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Alcoholic Boyfriend

Group Therapy: Should I Stick by My Alcoholic Ex?

This is an excerpt from a Group Therapy question in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

My boyfriend and I just broke up because of his drinking problem. He's such an amazing person. Smart, kind, considerate, loving, fun. When he wasn't drinking he was the most amazing person I ever met. Always quick to do or say something sweet. He's had a checkered past and I knew all about it before we became bf/gf. He's turned his life around . . . except for his drinking. I've never been around an alcoholic and it's the most horrible thing ever. He is mostly an angry drunk. He turns everything around on me and tells me how horrible I am. There' s no talking to him when he gets like this, he just wants to start a fight. It would break my heart every time he would get like that. He's such a great person and then when he drinks this monster comes out. I know it's his addiction talking and not him but it doesn't make it hurt any less. I can't make him change his ways and it makes me wonder if he will ever want to change for himself.

He has told me that alcohol has ruined all of his relationships, his family, jobs, etc. It just hurts to see this has taken over his life and he can't or won't overcome it. He has been in rehab twice in his past and has been able to stay sober for months at a time. He likes to surround himself with people who are not good for him and that's how he slipped the last time. His girlfriend at the time was an alcoholic, coke-abusing stripper. Their relationship was based on drinking and partying.  It's still going to be hard to overcome his addiction surrounded by positive people but I feel as if hanging out with like-minded alcohol abusing people completely dooms any chance he has at recovery. My question here is, is it dumb of me to stick around?


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JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 6 years
Peacefulme, Do you live with him or apart?
peacefulme peacefulme 6 years
i have been reading all the above posts in hope of finding some understanding of my own problem. i am just learning about alcoholism watching my partner go through it. i always wondered why i was on the receiving end of some pretty weird behaviour and i can only assume its the alcohol. i am at cross roads of not being sure what direction to take, especially when i see things getting worse over time. my man is everything described earlier. he is horrible when drunk and even worse when sober. he is ok in moderation but naturally can't stop when he should. how do alcoholics hide this so well? in the early days i never picked there was a problem. i wish i did see it earlier because it would have been easier to leave. thank you everyone for your ealier posts - it has given me clarity and realisation that i just have to leave him alone and make a life for myself. i can't rely on him, lean on him or expect anything from him. he is very selfish and i am learning to love him at distance. thank you
searching-soul searching-soul 6 years
Thank you bigthunder67. Not only did you help the OP, your post helped me. Someone I care about, his Mom has a drinking problem. His father does not and is having a difficult time with the situation. He's spending some time with her at his parents country home and I know when he gets stressed he drinks more and he's been super stressed lately.I've seen his Mom completely enable that behavior. I guess he feels if his Mom does it, what's the problem. He's not full blown like her but I see it as something that looks like it might get progressively worse because he turns to it in times of stress. You're behaviors such as upping the ante instead of calming a situation down describe him to a tee. I never understood that behavior until recently. If you have any other insights pls. share. I don't know how to handle this behavior when he acts that way because other times he's pretty rational. Thank you
GregS GregS 6 years
bigthunder67 - I was actually trying to say that us alcoholics are extremely selfish. All we think about is the next drink and not what effect that has on those around us. Everything that OP said it sounds to me that she was an enabler; just like his father is. She provided money and excuses and an environment within which to exist as a drunkard. No one can change him, and you know. He has to change himself like I did, and you are doing. He also was apparently an violent substance abuser. I'm sorry to say this, but they're the absolutely worst kind of person to live with. You take your life in your hands with them. She was totally correct in leaving him. As for you, I hope you ask for your wife's forgiveness for having lost 15 years, and then work hard to build her trust in you. Then, ask for your kids' forgiveness, too.
bigthunder67 bigthunder67 6 years
Hi,as a recently confessed alcoholic, I can assure you that you are not alone. While i havenever been violent or abusive while drunk,(i was one of the fun ones) I have never really been there for my wife or kids (for 15 years now) Im not saying you should have stayed with yourBF by any means,its a hard thing to deal with, but, understand, all these other people who said to be alcoholics neglected to mention one thing, an alcoholic is extremely selfish, they dont care what other people think, their only concern is getting the nextdrink to cope.The majority of us dont know how to deal with things when we aresober, and as soon as we are.... WOW! no wonder we drink! An alcoholics brain does function differently from a normal persons, some of the stuff we rationlize would seem insane to most people,ex. my wife once told me that if I drove drunk again, she would leave me, mymindset? fine! I did it just to get her to do it!result? shes still here.An alcoholic can recover, but it requires support, both proffesionally, and personally.The personal takes some time,but, recovery can happen, if the the alcoholic comes to the understanding that he/she is sick and tired of being sick and tired. P.S. Please dont think that this was a rant that you should stay with him!if its asituation which you dont tink you can handle, get out of it. its not up to you tosave him, he has to do that himself.
searching-soul searching-soul 6 years
Someone in my family who has counseled alcoholics for a long while said that the alcohol actually changes the brain chemistry of the person with the drinking problem. In some ways the persons thinking and brain chemistry becomes toxic. Their coping mechanisms change. I'm not making excuses for your BF at all I'm just trying to explain what might be happening. Even if he is an angry person who has issues ( who does'nt) the affects of the alcohol exacerbates everything. It's good that you left. He can only change for himself not you. If you do decide to go back to him despite peoples advice-because I know the heart sometimes defies logic, please at the very least attend some Al-anon meetings to find out how to better deal with him and the situation.The meetings can give you some coping mechanisms and tools so you can better handle loving an alcoholic.
GregS GregS 6 years
onhelpnow81 - As an alcoholic, you know that there are different types of us. Violent drunks are very dangerous. They are blacked out with not a toe in reality. They'll verbally abuse, hit, cut, shoot and kill with no conscience knowledge of doing it. When told that they hurt or maimed someone, they don't believe it. You and I are the quiet drunks, apparently. While you may be monogamous even when drunk, you have no care about what's happening to your wife and family. You don't care about what she's thinking. Will you come home from the bar? Will you get hit crossing the street? Will you get in a car wreck? What has she done to push you to drink again? That's why a woman will leave an alcoholic. She's tired of being constantly worried. You pinning a furtherance of alcoholism on her leaving is purely denial on your part. Your drinking has nothing to do with her acts. It has everything to do with your failings as a person. You grab at any excuse to get drunk. Her leaving is just one more in a long line of justifications. We're sick pups, you and I. I'm done with the excuses for my drunkeness. When are you going to be done with yours?
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 6 years
" For a women to leave a man over alcohol is totally absurd..." --> You are in extreme denial about your extreme mental health condition (alcoholism). You need to go to a professional counselor and say, "I am in extreme denial, please help me to stop being in extreme denial."
onhelpnow81 onhelpnow81 6 years
Let me start out by saying I am a 29 year old male alcoholic. Both of my grandfathers and also my father died before the age of 50. If anyone has any negative doubts as to genetics and alcoholism then lets talk please. I know this sounds like an "excuse" on my behalf, but the facts in my family stand true. My wife, which I have known for over 12 years, still stands by me through thick and thin. I'm not a violent person but still get mean at times under the influence. For a women to leave a man over alcohol is totally absurd, except in the circumstance of not being monogamous. I have always been faithful to my wife. Just leaving a man in desperate need of help, which he certainly needs, is very selfish in my opinion and only gives him reason to multiply his habit. Good luck taking advice from others on a web forum who have never had to deal with the same situation. Hopefully your ex is still doing ok.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
BrownEyeBabe, I'm glad you had the strength to finally make the right decision. I would like to recommend that, next time, you should find out these kinds of things about a guy before getting emotionally attached to him.
BrownEyedBabe BrownEyedBabe 7 years
As an update, I finally walked away for good. As much as his decisions have hurt me and I know this is for the best it still isn't the easiest thing. I truly think that he and his brother will be dead before they ever get any help. That's the sad part but there's nothing I can do. What's the kicker is that their adoptive mom was an alcoholic and died of cirrhosis of the liver. You'd think seeing how she was and how it ruined their family they would stay away from the stuff. The last straw was when I would not buy him beer or cigarettes this weekend. He then proceeded to make phone calls while at my house trying to sell his Klonopin for a few bucks so he could buy a drink. It was the most pathetic thing I had ever seen in my life. He is used to getting his way and his dad throwing money at him. He does not take "no" very well because no one besides me has ever told him those two letters in his 27 years of living. I just feel so stupid because here I am, 25, graduated from college, successful, own my own house, car, have a career that I enjoy and fell in love with a drunk. He is a great person deep down, he just needs to tackle his demons and I can no longer be in the picture. He either figures it out or he doesn't but he is going to do it without me.
Cupcake061 Cupcake061 7 years
I'm hearing that you really care about this guy and don't see him as a lost cause. You see a lot of potential in him to have great things in life but because of his problem with substance abuse, that life is beyond his grasp. You mentioned that he has been to rehab and has relapsed on multiple occasions. That issue is unfortunately common and it's primarily due to the issue of followup. Follow-up is one of the most important predictors of rehab success. Someone can go to rehab, get clean and sober, but what are they coming home to? An effective form of treatment needs to continue beyond the set rehab period, and there must be a lifestyle change. This does not appear to be something that he is motivated to do. But the situation is what it is. He is an alcoholic. He is not taking the steps he needs to in order to get cleaned up. There is absolutely nothing you can say or do that will change this for him. Addiction is an ugly thing and if he could just quit, he would have done it all ready. This is going to eat up and destroy his whole life until he has nothing...the best thing his dad can do for him is to cut him off. The best thing you can do for him is cut him off. Why? Because sometimes a person has to burn their whole life to the ground in order for the scales to come off of their eyes. You clearly love this guy, not necessarily in a romantic way, but certainly in a compassionate way. Compassion is good. Just because someone is a drunk doesn't mean that they are worthless. You recognize this. What concerns me is that it appears you are taking on personal responsibility for a positive prognosis. You recognize the necessity for a positive environment, notice that he has chosen not to surround himself with "good people", and assessed that he needs someone encouraging him/rooting for him because he has no one. By placing yourself in the role of that good friend he allegedly needs, you are inadvertently taking on a level of responsibility that no person is sufficient for. The line you said that stands out the most is at the very end, "it just tears me apart inside". That is the bottom line here. When expressing empathy, we want to get close enough to the flame to feel the heat but not close enough to get burned. You have no control over what is happening with him. Understand this, if you choose to remain in his life with his addiction, you are choosing to get burned very badly. You are not being cruel by going your separate ways, you are doing what is best for both of you. Neither of you can meet the other's expectations. This is not your fault. My hope for you is that you can find the courage walk away now before you become consumed in his grief.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
He won't change for you. That is something you have to accept. An addict will only change when he/she wants to do so for him/herself. You are doing the right thing by breaking up with him and you should step aside and let him figure his own life out. He has to make the change for himself. Like MissJules said, you will only be dragging yourself down by staying with him. And, like GregS said, staying with him is enabling him.
GregS GregS 7 years
Alcoholism comes in many guises, and I have one of them. I am an alcoholic. I was a half a fifth of scotch per day drinker in college, but I was functional. I am damned lucky to be alive. I'm also lucky in that I can control my urges pretty well. After 20 yrs of smoking 1-1.5 paks a day, I was able to quit my first time. I was able to put myself on the wagon in terms of drinking and sobered myself up. I'm weird like that. Most people aren't. He needs help of a professional variety, and a support network behind him. But angry drunks turn into physically abusive ones. Be glad you're out. Also, it sounds like you are absolutly the wrong person for him now. You'd be an enabler for him in terms of making excuses for him. He needs to face his own deamons like I did. They're freakin' ugly, but if you're there to make excuses for him, you'll weaken his resolve.
soulsearcher83 soulsearcher83 7 years
You already solved the problem by breaking up with him. Let it go. He probably won't change and he was manipulating you to think he was a good guy, like miss jules said.
MissJules5x MissJules5x 7 years
Also... it's not your place to root for him. He will have to want to do this for himself. You are just dragging yourself down by continuing to be around someone like that.
MissJules5x MissJules5x 7 years
i hat eto say it but you are making excuses for him, and there is no way to "cope" with something like this. This will be a lifelong struggle for him, and you can't cope with it or change him. I am a firm believer that a person does drunk what they wish they could do sober. His issues are much deeper than just being an alcoholic. He is clearly a manipulative, violent, and angry person to begin with. The few times where he's nice to you doesn't mean anything. It's just his way of telling you what you want to hear and keeping you around. It's the same thing with an abusive person. They don't beat you all the time, just sometimes. You deserve better for yourself. Don't let him manipulate you into staying because this is what you will always deal with. If he quits drinking you will still have to deal with resentment for making him stop drinking, and the anger will still be there when he's sober. A few good moments doesn't make up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
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