Defining whether my husband is a problem drinker or alcoholic

by Eva

My husband drinks every night from the time he comes home from work to bedtime and on weekends will often start mid day. He typically drinks 20 or more ounces of vodka a day. He tries to cut back by drinking wine some of the evening or having a few beer before the vodka. His attempts to control his drinking are usually short lived. He has been drinking heavily for 40 years. If he doesn’t drink he has trouble sleeping (which in 8 years I have seen him sober maybe 5 nights). His hands tremble. I smell alcohol coming from his pores during the day. His drinking takes place at home.

He does work and has never lost a job due to his drinking, nor had any DUIs. His physical health does not appear to be affected. His memory is poor even when not drinking. He will argue or shout at me and not remember the next day.

He says he likes to drink, that it takes him to his happy place of peace and harmony. He does get aggressive with me at times when drinking though he has been trying to “control” his anger.

I have been around Al-Anon and gone to open AA meetings for years, yet here I am, wanting a definition of my husbands drinking. I know it is a problem for me in many ways. Does this sound like a problem drinker or alcoholic?

Reply

You are saying that your husband drinks daily for many years. He has physical withdrawal if he attempts to quit drinking for even one day. He feels better when he is drinking than when he is not drinking. He makes attempts to limit his drinking and is unsuccessful. His drinking is affecting his relationship with you. If he is not an alcoholic, then I’m not sure who is.

Just because he is able to hold a job, hasn’t had any DUIs, and hasn’t developed cirrhosis of the liver, doesn’t mean his isn’t an alcoholic. Those are not the criteria for being alcohol dependent.

Some common signs of alcohol addiction are:

  • Struggling to quit drinking or to control how much you consume.
  • Needing to drink more to get the same effect (building a tolerance).
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.
  • Large amount of time spent drinking and recovering from drinking.
  • Giving up other activities because you prefer to drink instead.
  • Continuing to drink even though it’s negatively effecting relationships and/or causing health problems.
  • Changing what you drink, such as switching to another type of alcohol because you think it help.
  • Making excuses for drinking.
  • Feeling guilty about drinking.

To learn more about alcoholism and the signs of alcoholism, just follow the links.

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