My husband is sober now for 9 months after rehabilitation in the Elim Clinic. He started asking me to buy him a drink again 2 weeks ago, I refused and he did not ask me again but I know it is just a matter of time. He has been in Elim clinic for alcohol abuse about 6 times now in the past 18 years. I need guidance or a divorce.
It is so difficult to watch someone you love continue to make poor choices that hurt not only themselves but also others. This can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless. It sounds like you’re not sure what to do next. It can be hard to discern when you are being an enabler and when you are being supportive. Many people have trouble deciding where to draw boundaries and when to give up on the situation.
It has to be his choice to stop drinking and maintain his sobriety. The key concept here is that abstinence does not equal recovery. He has been sober nine months, but he may not be recovered. Abstinence without recovery happens when a person avoids alcohol primarily to avoid negative consequences such as criminal charges, loss of job, or spousal rejection. In this situation, the alcoholic still desires to drink and probably would if they could do so without the negative consequences. In other words, they are abstaining more for other people than for themselves. The motivation is external.
When someone is truly recovered, they may crave alcohol yet do not desire to actually drink. They own their lifestyle change and have a strong desire to maintain what they’ve achieved. This person has discovered the root causes of their alcohol abuse and also their triggers. A recovered person has internal motivation to maintain sobriety.
You will be able to tell if your husband is truly recovered or just merely abstinent. Until you see genuine signs of recovery, you can expect a similar pattern as you’ve seen over the past 18 years.
The important thing for you to do is to maintain your boundaries and not enable him. Do not buy him alcohol. If he wants to drink, he will need to purchase it on his own. At that point, you need to decide how you would like to respond to his choices. You are not responsible for his actions, but you need to plan how you will respond.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.