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Advice on boyfriend who drinks too much?


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I have been with my boyfriend for 4 and a half years. the first two years were dramatic and sort of on-again, off-again but the last two and a half years have been great. We live together and our lives are completely intertwined. My best friend is his sister. My dad probably couldn't live without him, they both love to rant about politics and sports..we have two cats... we're both in the same law school program...

He is a good guy too. He works hard, he is a good friend to people--but when he drinks, every once in awhile he will just completely black out and go crazy. Ive had to go find him three times in the past year and a half in the middle of the night, always when i have work the next day. Plus, a lot of the times when he drinks but he does NOT go that crazy, i am so stressed out thinking this might be one of the times he turns into a monster drunk again. So I nag him and i'm stressed, i dont like to go visit friends on the weekend, because what if he gets too drunk...

and i mean, i voice my opinion and a few times he seems like he wants to stop and he even scares himself, but i really think he just enjoys it! plus, nothing bad has ever actually happened--because i always get him, or his friends do---and it doesnt happen so often that its a weekly problem, although my fear that it WILL happen is everytime he drinks...

and when he is that drunk, he has no idea who he is or who i am...its horrible. but i think he truly loves hearing the stories the next day from his friends--and he just doesnt know how to stop when he already gets to a certain point...

I dont know what to do at all. I really love him and i know i can't keep babysitting him--but i keep thinking that he'll kill himself, or someone else, if i dont help.

I have tried yelling, breaking things, crying, not talking to him--its all stupid. I always just feel pathetic afterwards. He has tried different ways to control the drinking--and i mean, most of the time, he can have a beer or two and its fun and that's that--so to him, he doesn't see why he needs to stop drinking because he goes too far sometimes--i dont know! i really dont! nothing bad HAS happened yet, and he thinks he is invincible--he thinks things "usually work out" while i constantly imagine him falling off a parking structure and getting a call that he is dead...

i really dont know what to do. At this point, i'm constantly stressed. He is going to a concert a few hours away this saturday with his friends--i'm already anxious about it...people think i'm a clingy nag, but i mean, i really always considered myself almost too UNclingy--i never would mind him hanging out with friends, we are both very independent...but i just worry about his drinking so i look like this "fun govenor."

I mean what if there was an emergency? and i needed him--or his parents...and he was just completely wasted and wouldnt have any clue what was going on for 14 hours.

He is 25. I dont know. i really have no clue. I dont think i can live like this. what if we have kids? Maybe he'll grow out of it, but he's already been out of college for a few years--he currently has an internship, is taking summer law classes, and works at a restaurant--so he IS able to hold onto jobs-I cant just hope responsibility will one day take ahold of him. i dont know what to do.
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I think he is an alcoholic.  It's hard to say, not knowing him, but that type of binge-drinking behavior is indicative of a drinking problem.  I know he's 25, and that might seem young to be labeled an alcoholic, but it's possible.

I think you both need to get help.  He may need to go to AA, or speak to a counselor to figure out why he accepts this problematic drinking, and even thinks it's amusing.  I think you should talk to someone - a friend, relative, clergyperson, counselor - to see what makes you stay with someone who you're always worried might black out and go crazy.  You can't change a person, I'm sure you know that.  The person with the problem has to want to change it him- or herself.

If he's 25, you must be young too.  I'm sorry that you feel so trapped.  Please feel free to PM me if you want to talk.
Considering its only 2-3 times a year, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Now, if it happens EVERY time he drinks, he may have a problem. Everyone I know that drinks has atleast 1 or 2 episodes where they get too drunk, get kicked out of a bar, black out or do something stupid. It happens! Its not the end of the world.

Is he drinking every day? Does it affect his school work or job? Does it affect his relationship with you?

I dont know, I just feel you got to give people a "pass" every now and then when it comes to alcohol....unless it becomes a pattern and a serious problem is occurring.
  I know he's 25, and that might seem young to be labeled an alcoholic, but it's possible.


Actually, anyone of any age can be an alcoholic.  Your boyfriend has a serious problem and, chances are, it will only become worse.  His behavior and blackouts are some of the determining factors as to whether or not someone has a drinking problem.  You can't stop an alcoholic from drinking so unfortunately nothing you say or do can change him.  He would have to make that decision on his own.  Unless you want a lifetime of hurt and unhappiness, I would leave the relationship now.  Is there a history of alcoholism in his family? 
I would consider going to speak to a counsellor together.  It will pave the way for an honest dialogue and shows that you really are serious about it.

That said, I'm 27.  If it wasn't for my serious hangovers and the amount of calories in alcohol, I probably would still be drinking  a lot more.  Many of my good college friends have grown out of the "getting wasted" phase.  Many of them are still in it.  Over the past year and a half, I've learned to set my own limits...mostly because I hate the way I feel the next day.  We all cut back our drinking for different reasons.
After thinking about this thread while I was away from the computer, I think I might need to backpedal just a bit from my previous post.  It was irresponsible of me to state that I think your boyfriend is an alcoholic.  It's a shaky conclusion based on what little I know.  However, the level of concern evinced by your post indicates that there is a problem of some magnitude here.  I know binge-drinking has become somewhat normalized in recent years, so maybe he thinks he's just partying really hard occasionally... however, you're worried, and you've been together long enough to spot some patterns.  That leads me to believe it's more than just "Spring Break"-type behavior.
This website may help you sort out the problem and determine if he truely has a problem with alcohol

Alcoholism
I would suggest that you attend an Al-anon meeting in your area. www.al-non.com   If your boyfriend has a drinking problem there is nothing you can do for him.  Take care of you.  Attending one of these meetings will help determine if there is a real problem or not.  Good luck. 
my boyfriend does similar things... we broke up a while back and he used drinking to cope with it... now i'm always afraid that he'll resort back to that if we have any problems.. he know it gets out of hand sometimes and we talk about it.. now he only really drinks on weekend when we go out and stuff but it used to be a daily thing... and there is alcoholism in his family... it's a really scary situations... i understand your pain and how you wouldn't want to just end it with him.. maybe just try talking to him and telling him that you can't live a life worrying all the time and that you wouldn't have to be such a 'nag' if he would control himself and take ownership of the problem bc even though something bad hasn't happened yet it eventually may. good luck with it.
laura, this situation really sucks.  i don't think any of us can tell you what you should do.  blackouts are a bad sign, and the fact that he doesn't think he has a problem (or doesn't want to admit it) could be another bad sign.

if you explain to him how concerned you are and ask him to try to limit himself to two or three in an evening, his response might give you a clue what needs to happen.  if he's not willing to do that for you, that will tell you that your fears aren't a very big concern to him.  if he agrees but can't do it, he might have a problem.  if he's successful, great!

just remember that you can't fix him.  he's responsible for his behaviour, and drinking--addicted or not--is always a choice.
He could most definitely be one & if you really believe he is, then you are probably right.  A person can be an alcoholic a lot younger than him, even.  Functional alcoholism isn't any less dangerous than the other sorts.  It might possibly be worse because the fact that people hold it together seems to make them less likely to do something about it, and others less likely to push the issue.  I really feel for you here.  It's a very hard thing.  I've been through things like this more times than I care to remember.  For some reason guys who drank very heavily & kinda knew they had a problem were drawn to me.  I was the good girl, I could "fix" them.  I'd be a good influence, etc.  That was practically a verbatim quote from one, in fact.  Anyway, it is a hell of a predicament.  You being in stuck in the role of "fun police" generally doesn't go too well.  He could kill himself, He could kill someone else & he might just be killing himself as we speak, albeit (somewhat) slowly.  There are a lot of other things besides the ones you most hear about that can happen to a person's body from the drinking.  Aside from all the drunk driving issues, The liver can get destroyed, the esophagus, other organs & even other things can result over time like alcoholic psychosis.  And no meds take that one away.  It also tends to age people damn faster. 

The al-anon meeting is a good idea.  I hope you also have other people who care about him and you and you're not shouldering this alone.  Others that might be honest enough with him so he doesn't kid himself into thinking this is your issue rather than his.  Just be careful & take care of you, as well.  You can't live your life babysitting.  I think all your concerns are valid & I really hope things get better.

He's not going to grow out of it.  Either he'll choose to stop because someone gets through to him & maybe get some help if he can't control it or some major catalyst will come along to change it & that is usually something very, very bad.  I can see you're clearly afraid of those sorts of things.  I hope it never comes to that.  Hang in there!
You've already gotten some really good suggestions.

Mine is this: He doesn't know what he looks like or what he does when he's that drunk, so show him -- videotape him the next time, and show him the tape after he's sobered up. I'll bet it doesn't look so funny, or sound so funny, to him OR his friends when everyone is sober.
#12  
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I'm sorry for your difficult situation and I hope he gets help or grows out of it. I also recommend going to Al-anon. Please consider it. It's very difficult to have a loved one with a substance abuse problem, and al-anon can help you out. He may be an abuser or he may be an alcoholic. When I was in college I probably did similar things as he did. I grew out of it and didn't drink to the point of blackouts later in grad. I am lucky--if I had a genetic predisposition to alcholism then my abuse most likely would have led to alcoholism. I hope the best for you and him. Look into al-anon.
i am so sorry this is so long. we just had a super long, stupid fight/discussion and then he left for this mini trip he had planned, and thank you so much for your help. i wish i had posted years ago--


I can't believe how nice you all are for responding and taking me seriously. It's just you feel so lonely because i dont want to talk about this with my friends because i dont want them to know.and i dont want to upset our families with this...

This is all sort of coming to a boiling point--I dont know why now, after years of it--we've had mini blow-ups but i think i just feel his friends have grown out of it mostly, so now i'm more sure he has a problem.

see my dad was a maintenance alcoholic. I mean I'm even impressed with how much he drank --he would drink at least a fifth of whiskey a day. I didn't even know this until I was about 14, and at that point, i would romanticize it and think he was like a stay-at-home drifter, contemplating his thoughts over cigarettes and drinks--but then as I got older, I realized even though he was a great dad, always there for us, always working really hard--he just wasnt healthy and stuff. earlier this year, he had a really bad seizure because he decided to quit drinking for ONE day and went into that withdrawal shock. He almost died, and was in the hospital for awhile, not knowing who he was--then he went to rehab, and amazingly, after drinking heavily for over 30 years on a daily basis--he hasnt drank in months and the best thing is, his personality hasn't changed. if anything, he is more fun because he is AWAKE. my mom and dad are like newly weds- --she is so happy now.

anyways, so i guess at the meetings for my dad, (such as Al-anon! and thank you for reminding me of that, i think i'm going to go because i'm really at a point that i dont know WHAT to do)
i realized my boyfirend was more of a problem for me than my dad. my dad always acted sober. he always drank but he never seemed drunk.he took care of everyone and everything. i would say i never saw my dad drunk actually! he never acted "silly"--well he is naturally silly, but i think he is more silly now that he is sober. Plus, my dad is almost blind so its almost like i understood why he drank. Nick is young, in law school, with a million friends, a great family, healthy...its so selfish to throw it away--purespark-no, i think he is an alcoholic. i went to those meetings about my dad, and this is definitely not spring break stuff--i understand that. i mean i'm 24--so the last 6-7 years or so, there have been tons of my friends who went too far here and there. i throw up after a few so i physically can't ever go too far--guess i'm lucky? but nick even says that he doesnt know why his friends seem to be able to control it, and he cant'....i wish he wasnt such an optimist! he thinks he is "protected" or something--i swear, he thinks he is magic. he even admits it a bit...he has NEVER had anything bad happen to him in his life. which i'm glad for, but he doesnt know how to fear anything! and the thing is, you're completely right purespark, the one thing my mom taught me was he has to change for himself, not for me--because otherwise, he'll think he can do it behind my back or resent me or something...

oh and yalcekim, i think i meant to say 3 times in the last year i had to go find him downtown..its way more than 3 times a year. sometimes he'll be good for 2 months and i undermine the problem.. and i definitely am used to covering it up a bit so i dont even know when i exaggerate it to make it sound better...

well so lately ive been more and more upset about this, plus i was stressed about my dad for awhile. i have been a downer, for sure. i gained weight, i had a horrible withdrawal from antidepressants, i was stressed with law school, i have a new job that i'm worried about, plus i was always angry with Nick for drinking--so i found he had all these flirty emails with this girl he works with--and he had kind of mentioned it before but i accidentally saw them today...he talked honestly about it, and how he wanted to see if she would like him--and i mean, to be honest, i sort of understand--he wasnt cheating, i dont think he was going to cheat--(unless he got really drunk and went with an impulse!)--and we all know that a little harmless flirting can be healthy, even when in a good relationship- i've done it before
-and i have been really awful lately. like an emotional angry blob... but i still hate that this girl thinks she can have him--and what if he got drunk and DID go with an impulse? they work together at a bar...they go out for drinks after...

anyways, so he said he is going to "try" to not drink for two months but he said honestly that he feels one or two drinks isnt a big deal and if i wasnt around, he'd probably have one--and i mean, i guess i'm happy he's the kind of person who doesnt really lie--because at least that saves a lot of hypothesizing on what the truth is...oh and pgeorgian, i dont think 2-3 drinks are bad at all, but he tried that before.. but you know, not really. he genuinely tried to limit himself before and suceeded, but he also then had times he wanted to get drunk--and i'm not even against getting drunk a bit once in awhile, but he gets MONSTER drunk. not just like where he shouldnt drive and gets a little loud, but the black-outs...


i am so at a loss---i really think Al-Anon is a good idea. I'm glad you guys seem to understand its not so simple as just breaking up--i mean i never have been with someone who i am almost more myself with than when i'm alone--

oh and like some of you said, people go through this phase when they are young--but lucky nick has NO bad side effects--he doesn't get hangovers after drinking ridiculous amounts! its amazing--like how robinsue mentioned functional alcoholics are almost worse cause they have no reason to really stop! like my dad, =nick isnt really functional, he just hasnt had any consequences yet...
like if i was stick thing, i would eat 8 brownies a day--and then if they said my heart was in danger, its just harder to not eat brownies when you dont see the ramifications right in your face! oh and robinsue--his sister apparantly told his parents some stuff, which we always avoid because they are the hardest working, best people and we dont want to make them upset, and they talked to Nick yesterday, i dont know what will come of that...

oh and athena--he asked me to videotape him today! i just worry he'd think he was so funny. to be honest, he IS really funny when he is wasted. thats why i think everyone gets a kick out of it.-- i mean, but they go home before its 4 am and he runs across a major road...ha, so i have to tape THAT part, not the funny parts...i have to tape the part when his friends talk the cops out of arresting him. i wish they WOULD arrest him.

oh and apple, i hope things get better for you too. is it a problem right now? or you were saying it was more a problem before?
i am so sorry that was so long. thank you all so much for your responses. it couldnt have come at a better time. he literally just left and i was circling my apartment, thinking i should go buy a pack of cigarettes or something--and then i thought to check this post. (i don't really smoke, but here and there --like when our college friends get together and we all tend to resort back to our stupid ways..., but i felt a cigarette would be good right now...)

i'm sorry it was so long. i'm sure no one can read all that. but it felt good to write it.
Nice post Laura! Welcome to C-C...hope it all works out!
Go find an AL-Anon meeting right away -- try it for at least 6 meetings.  One thing I've learned in the month I've been going to Al- anon is YOU can not change the drinker - you can only change your way you deal with the issue.  I've also learned that an alcoholic can be anyone even if they only drink once a year.  Also stop "babysitting" that is more enabling him to drink. 

Also an addict can be any age.  I attend Al-Anon because my 17 year old is an addict.  She's a dual addict -- cocaine and alcohol.  She has been in rehab and other substance abuse programs.  It has only been since April 24th that she has stayed clean and sober she attends AA everyday sometimes more than one meeting.  She was court ordered for over a year to attend AA meetings and it didn't help it wasn't until her dad and I told her that she was not welcome back into our house until she was clean and sober (she was in detention at the time)  She agreed to go into rehab.  Her other option was to go to juvenile prison until her 18th birthday.  Yes this worked for her - but her first go around in a substance abuse treatment program didn't work - even though she asked for the help.   Trying to force someone to stop drinking usually doesn't work. 


#17  
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I feel your pain.  Want to know what you look forward to if you stay?  More of the same - alcoholism is a progressive disease.  I know, married a guy for 20 years(now divorced) that drank like a fish and called it "partying".  He kept me up half the night and I had to go to work in the morning while he called in sick.  I managed the household, - he drank.  I became the solid parent - he drank.  Sober...great guy and a really good man, drunk he turned stupid and could not remember what he said or done.  He held down a professional job during this time but always used his vacation time, sick leave, and any other times to recover from the hangovers.  Promised he would quit drinking when we had our son.  never did...I needed a marriage partner and really loved him but he wouldn't quit drinking to save our marriage, I finally left him.   If you think your boyfriend has a problem, he probably does - drop him and save yourself from alot of future heartache.   
You know, when I saw that suggestion about videotaping I thought two things about it.  It could be good, but in past experience I find they are amused at the things they do.  My husband is like that about everything.  (Not referring to drinking in this case).  He thinks every disgusting idiotic thing he does is just freakin' hysterical.  I've said the only times he really seems to be smiling or enjoying himself is at someone else's expense, when he does something gross or jackassy (not a word, I know) or when it's something pervey.  Basically, I married a 14 year old boy, but with a lot of grey hair.  *sigh*

I wish you didn't have to deal with all this right now.  You've been together a good while & things should be a little calmer now.  Of course should doesn't always mean it is.  I doubt you're a downer exactly, but just remember you're entitled to your feelings too.  You're entitled not to be a ray of sunshine.  When we are dealing with people suffering dependencies & some other conditions we can start to disappear.  It isn't good.  You shouldn't have to feel like apologizing for needing a little yourself.  It sounds like you've got a lot on your own plate.  Please don't ever feel guilty about taking care of your self. 

That is one thing about getting so drunk.  You don't have your full wits about you & it isn't that hard as a girl to get what she wants in that case.  I'm not referring to beer goggles, either.  The impulse control that might stop a person gets very worn down with all the alcohol.  Flirting does go on all the time, I agree.  So that's one thing.  But, personally I'd be mega pissed if my husband chose to put himself in that position in the first place.  The recipe for disaster is there.  I'm sure a lot of women would disagree with me here because this seems to be a very common thing nowadays but there's no way I'd be having that.  Especially since I know for a fact that the conversations are not simply friendly.  Add the two together....  no way.  I can't see why he needs to go out for drinks with this person at all! 

Anyway, I hope he does what he says he will do & realizes the one or two thing is the same b.s. copout every drinker who realizes they go overboard says.  I hope he takes it damn seriously & you guys can find some peace & be ok.  I wish more people realized that if alcohol is that important... that IS a problem.  Just like if it's chocolate cake.  It makes me feel some odd combination of sick & annoyed when I hear people speak of alcohol with such special emphasis.  So many people it seems wouldn't give up drinking but would easily get over a friend who did something they didn't like.  Sounds like you guys are working on some brilliant futures & have decent, full lives.  I hope he can see that a beverage is hardly something to risk all that for.
okay, people, let's not judge this young man.  we don't know him. 

lots of people quit or control their drinking when they have a reason to do so.  their reason might be prison, it might be family cutting them off, it might be the fact that it's affecting their work.  maybe for nick it will be the fact that his behaviour scares laura.
#20  
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I didn't think we were judging the man, but were judging his actions when he was under the influence, and his reactions to his girlfriend when she brought up her concerns to him when he was sober.
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