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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? The Facts Might Surprise You

Women drinking wineJackie asked me how many drinks could her husband have in a day before she should worry. She says he drinks three or four beers in the evening on work nights and a lot more on weekends when he doesn’t have to go to work the next day. She thinks he may be a functioning alcoholic.

Kevin worries that his wife’s three or four glasses of wine in the evening could be the beginning of alcoholism. Alcoholism runs in her family.

Both Jackie and Kevin were quite surprised to find their partners’ consumption was well above what are considered low-risk drinking levels… I quote some information on safe alcohol consumption levels below. First, it would be good to name a few of the “risks” that go with drinking more than the Guidelines suggest as safe.

If you’re interested, I’ll write more about each of the risk areas in future articles.

What Risks come with drinking too much alcohol?

Disease

Too much alcohol directly causes a number of diseases. The one that comes to mind immediately is cirrhosis of the liver. It also contributes to a number of diseases, including some cancers. Many of the diseases lead to death.

The length of the list diseases with which alcohol can be associated surprised me.

Mental Disorders

Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is the obvious mental disorder associated with alcohol consumption. Did you even realize alcoholism is classified as a mental disorder?

Marriage and family breakdown

Under the Alcoholism Test on this website, many of you have left heart-wrenching stories of what your partner’s alcohol abuse is doing to your marriage and your children. In fact, the fear of marriage breakdown is the single biggest area of comment. Assisting women in relationships with functioning alcoholic partners is a major part of my practice.

Unintentional Injury (Accidents)

The most obvious injuries that alcohol consumption causes or contributes to are those resulting from automobile accidents. Many of these are fatal.

Intentional Injury

About 30,000 Americans die from suicide every year and research shows that at least one third of those were abusing alcohol or were alcohol dependent (alcoholics). Alcoholics, about 7% of them, eventually die by committing suicide. Alcohol plays a big role in other intentional injury besides suicide, including spousal assault.

How much can I drink before I am at risk in one or more of these areas?

The Low Risk Drinking Guidelines define a standard drink as 5 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz of spirits or 12 oz. of beer. (Remember, coolers and some beers have more alcohol than a standard drink.)

Not drinking at all carries the lowest risk for an alcohol-related problem. The risk is not zero, however, because you could be killed by a drinking driver, as my mother was.

The guidelines for low-risk drinking set the limit at two standard drinks in any one day. They further set a weekly limit of 14 standard drinks for men and 9 for women.

To a former alcoholic these limits seem comically low, but the research suggests that the risks go up substantially if you drink more than the two drinks and 14 or 9 total for the week.

As low as these limits may seem, the Guidelines go on to say they only apply if you are physically and mentally healthy, are not on certain medications, have no family history of addiction or cancer, are not pregnant, are not playing sports and are not doing anything that requires alertness, like operating machinery. Otherwise, the risks go up with just one or two drinks.

If you read this and say to yourself, “I’m alright; I only have a couple of drinks after work,” beware.

Everyone, it seems, underestimates how much they drink. In surveys where people are asked how much they drink, their estimates account for only about one third of actual alcohol sales. The ‘forgetting,’ underestimating and denial is consistent, regardless of social status, age or sex. Something to think about?

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74 comments to How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? The Facts Might Surprise You

  • foxyesia

    i drink quite alot at the weekend that dont make me and alcholic im nt dependonta on it all week !!!!!!!! x

  • rosa

    Thanks! This info helped my school work!!!

     

    Keepsafe!!

  • Sean

    Hi Dr. Neill,

    I had emailed you previously, (Sean is a 21-year old man who had emailed me privately about a lot of strange physical symptoms he has continued to experience after excessive drinking. -Neill)

    You have the details of what is going on, so I’ll try to make this a bit of a brief update. I saw an ENT recently about this whole thing and he did a laryngoscope of my throat, including the trachea and windpipe. He visualized the area where I was having irritation and saw no irritation/inflammation or any signs of "acid", so he ruled out reflux. He said one doesn’t just develop reflux overnight or have symptoms of it overnight.

    He also said since my endoscopy showed nothing that could cause this, and I was unresponsive to the antacids/PPI’s, that this is not an acid problem. He wants to do an ultrasound of my thyroid, and says that this could be psychological stress.

    I am taking a homeopathic herb at the prescription of a homeopath to try and help with this. A new symptom is a burning sensation I get around my neck, specifically high up around the back of it that can spread to my shoulders at times. I also become dizzy and get heart palpitations after I eat. I almost feel semi-intoxicated after eating, which is unusual for me. I’ve had a normal EKG test at the beginning of all this, so I’m not sure if that rules out a heart cause.

    I was looking into environmental allergens to see if that could possibly be the cause as well. I have 3 birds staying in the house (not mine, they are here temporarily, have been for a few years) that could possibly be causing my problems, but I’ve never had a problem with them before.

    At this point I am trying to figure out if trying gin for the first time caused all this, or maybe I was leading up to some type of imbalance that happened to be set off at the time of the gin. My symptoms are very strange and many people I’ve talked to have hinted at a "body imbalance", but I’m trying to find out what it is or how I can fix it.

    I have remained sober for quite some time now, but this has not cured me. The hardest thing about this is maintaining a positive attitude and mood. Sometimes I feel like I’m no longer myself because I cannot enjoy the things I used to, and my sense of well-being has suffered a bit from the annoyance of my symptoms and uncertainty as to what this is or when it will pass.

    I do not intend to drink my problems away, or ignore them. I want to fix them.

    Please let me know if you have any advice for me.

    Thanks – Sean

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Sean,

    I want to be clear up front that I am a psychologist, not a medical doctor, so I can’t give you medical advice.

    However, your story has a strange similarity to my own–a variety of physical symptoms that the medics couldn’t explain.

    I was 36 and had been sick off and on for about a year. I was hospitalized for a duodenal ulcer, which turned out not to exist. Then I was hospitalized for a gall bladder attach, only to find my gall bladder was fine. Later, due to extreme pain in my chest, left shoulder and left arm, the suspicion was heart attack. My heart was and is fine. Then it was a hernia–excruciating pain in the groin and lower abdomen–no again.

    I saw a number of specialists before I finally went to the Mayo clinic in Rochester Minnesota for a full workup. All systems came out clean, but I still had symptoms, so I asked for a psychiatric referral. The Mayo clinic psychiatrist I saw concluded (or speculated) that through my excessive drinking I had developed a sensitivity (allergy-like) to alcohol.

    He went on to explain “projected symptoms.” Apparently, when one’s body is reacting to a toxin, in my case, metabolically, the symptoms can be projected to some other seemingly unrelated part of the body. He said the mechanism of this is not understood, but he had encountered it a number of times with alcoholics in his practice at the Mayo. Projected symptoms obviously make diagnosis very difficult

    His recommendation was that I stop drinking for five months and “see what happens.” I stopped and within a few months most of the symptoms had disappeared.

    Some years later I drank 1/2 oz. of wine for a toast. A day and a half later I had such pain in the groin that my wife was urging me to check into the hospital. Then I remembered the wine. We waited. The pain was completely gone a day later.

    The Mayo experience was 30 years ago. Needless to say I don’t drink.

    I don’t mean to suggest that you are experiencing the same thing, but you at least could use my experience as another line of inquiry while you pursue the medical investigation. You might want to add to your list of specialists one in environmental allergens, just in case it was something concentrated in the gin with which you are still in contact elsewhere.

    I wish I could be of more help.

    Neill

  • Common Sense

    Hi. I don’t drink much. It doesn’t take much for me to get typsy so I don’t drink while out. I may have a glass of wine on rare occassions just because I feel like one. Once a month or once every two months. When used to drink, I found that I was doing so out of depression and that caused me to stop because I didn’t want to for that reason. I sense have decided to help myself out and see a psychologist. I am married to a man who is a functioning drinker but he neglects me terribly. He pays the bills but that is not enough for me so I have some big choices to make. He wont change because he sees nothing wrong with it. Thanks for your website.

  • Cece

    Dear Dr. Neill,
    I just came across your website after a long frustrating Christmas/New Year
    holiday. I have been browzing information regarding alcoholism, as I am
    about at the end of my rope living with my “functioning alcoholic” husband.
    He has been drinking beer since attending college, and has continued
    for the past 30 years. He has a great job and he is very hard worker. To everyone around us, he seems like the perfect husband and provider. To keep the illusion, I worked hard keep him happy and help him to quit drinking by
    being the best wife I could be, and then when I couldn’t, I would keep myself busy with my children and activities to hide the fact that there was a problem. I continue to make excuses to family and friends, try and fix problems and took over almost all decisions that pertained to our home
    and family. My children now grown and in their 20′s have realized the problem, and not sure if it’s because they are older, or he is just getting
    worse. I also find myself leaning on them for support to help
    me find a way to deal with it. I can see that I continue to cause more harm than good. I worry so much also about his health. He doesn’t eat but once a day at dinner , but before that he’ll have at least
    4-6 beers a day (up to 12 or more on the weekend…he just polished off 30
    between New Years Eve and day.
    Whenever he uses the bathroom, the bowels are very loose…and I hear many times a moaning sound or heavy breathing. This scares me. He sleeps all the
    time and has absolutely no lust for life. He is bringing me down, and I am
    stressed and depressed. My children are pretty much gone, and with their
    absense and the need for companionship, this has also taken me to a place of infidelity due to my feelings of lonliness. I’m not sure I want to stay married to this man.
    I have no feelings for him, but I don’t want to see him hurt himself anymore.
    Any information or advice you can offer would be of great help. I’ll
    be ordering your book as soon as I can. Our finances are now in shambles!!
    I’m so frustrated!!

  • Ann

    Hi Dr. Neill,

    An acquaitance died last Monday due to difficulty in breathing and eventually choking. He has been drinking (beer) for the last 3 days. I can’t understand how this may have happened to him. Please enlighten me.

    Thanks,
    Ann

  • CindiSu

    I will try and make this long story short. My husband did not drink for 11 or 12 years at all but has been again for the last 2 or 3. It is getting very bad. (I am so embarassed to say that he has been wetting the bed for a month or so now) It started out once in awhile and the last couple weeks it has been at least 3 times a week. I know this is not a good sign. He has heart problems and high blood pressure for which he is on coumadin and other medicine. He also has bad asthma and I have noticed him choking in his sleep lately. He has many, many tiny ulcers inside and is also on medicine for that. He was just in the hospital a few weeks ago because his hemoglobin was below 7 and normal is about 14. The doctor said next time it could be fatal. He is not taking care of himself and I am also ashamed to say that we had to file a reorganization through the courts. ( It’s a form of bankruptcy but not total – you pay back some of the bills over a three year period. I am so upset about this because I had no idea how bad things were. He kept telling me things were fine and he always goes to work so I thought they were ok – financially anyway. I am so afraid that if he keeps drinking he will tell me things are ok again until we can’t pay our taxes and then we will lose our home of 24 years. He promised me we would do a budget but even in our present situation he always has excuses for that. I love this man but I don’t know what to do now except pray. Should I seek counseling? I feel I am getting desperate and sometimes he admits he might need help and other times he doesn’t. Any encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, CindiSu

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear CindiSu,
    I’m sorry you are in this impossible situation. Your description suggests that he wants to die and is moving in that way fairly quickly. Possibly if you left him, it would be enough a jolt to him that he would try to do something about his problem. There are no guarantees. Without such a jolt, he will probably continue on his present path.

    Yes, get some support, and if you can, get some professional help to see you through this. Talk with your doctor (and your minister) about what’s happening. Part of what you are going through is grief.

    I’ve been there. I was the heavy-drinking husband…until I cleaned up. I have had to watch as three of my children deteriorated and died. All three had a history of substance abuse. I feel your pain.
    Neill

  • Debra

    Dr.Neill,

    I am so glad I found this website, alot of these women sound alot like me. My husband has drank for as long as I can remember. I met him at the age of 15 and enjoyed partying with him. When we finally married at the age of 22 I never took a look at the big picture. Now here we are 30 years later and my husband/friend is lost inside this obnoxiuos drunk. He`s a beer drinker, he`s not violent, but loves to complain about everything.

    Our grown sons went through bad marriages and are now back at home. My husband has always worked and kept the bills paid. But we`ve never had anything more than fixer uppers in both cars and home, these things don`t get done or half way get done. He`s always provoking fights with our sons, just hoping they`ll want to go out in the yard. He doesn`t go anywhere he cant drink, so he missed their births, their graduations, their marriages and the birth of our grandson(just to name a few)My oldest son recently decided to see just how much my husband actually drinks,so he started counting the beer tops every friday collected in the coca-cola cap catcher, 1wk.179, next wk.133, next week, 111.Then he caught on to him and now he throws his caps away.

    Our sex life is non existant because he cant perform most of the time,he smells, he doesnt brush his teeth and what few he has are rotting out. He has all kinds of aches and pains but will not go to the doctor. I`ve left him before, but this leads to MORE drinking and I`m scared of what this is doing to him.

    Please give me some sort of idea what I`m about to be dealing with health wise for him. It`s already caused me so much stress that I believe it to be the cause of my recent by-pass surgery. I`ve tried to change everything about my life for the past 10 years, no drinking (5yrs) quit smoking (6yrs) and I`m always working on my relationship with God! I`ve started working out at the hospital gym and increased my work load, just to stay away from home as long as I can.

    Thank you for letting me vent!!!!

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Debra,

    Congratulations on working on yourself so diligently. That is exactly what you need to do to get out of the soup.

    You ask what you may be facing.

    You may be facing his death. My daughter died at 51 after years of drinking too much. She was not what you would call a “drunk,” but she died anyway.

    You could die. You know you are already at risk. Recent research is showing that women who are depressed (your situation has to be depressing)have a greatly increased risk of sudden heart death.

    You may be facing another month or decade of the same. If it’s a decade, you may not be around that long.

    His death could be long and drawn out, with you as the caretaker long after he is able to work. This would probably kill you, and then he would be in institutional care.

    No matter how this plays out you are not with him. The next big step in your own self care is is to go out on your own, that is leave. And that be be your only hope for a ‘life.’ If you decide to go that route, you don’t need to know how you will handle this or that detail. All you need to know is that you are doing it. The universe/God will fill in the details once you make the move.

    Love and blessings,
    Neill

  • Alyson

    Dear Neill, Thank you for providing this wonderful community for us, which I have just joined. I have recently started a new relationship and living with a person who has a history of alcohol abuse, but didn’t show much of it when we first got together on Feb. 1. Now he is attending school mon-fri for 5 1/2 hours per day and also works about 28 hours per week 6 days/week as a bar back (he doesn’t drink on the job).

    The problem is he has gone from only drinking occasionally to now drinking almost every night after work a 40-oz. malt liquor, and sometimes a gulp of vodka in addition to it. He says it’s the only thing that soothes him, cuz he has had a hard life, and now he is stressed with working all the time, and he also blames me for the continued drinking because I am on his case all the time. Once in a while he drinks a lot more than this amount, but usually it’s just the "40" but with no dinner. He says he doesn’t want to ruin the buzz by eating food.

    I love him and have kicked him out a few times but he has nowhere to go cuz of his bills and he can’t afford to pay rent in a decent area. If I stick to kicking him out he will find a shelter or sleep outside and still go to work and school but still drink. So throwing him out does not stop the drinking, but only exacerbates it, because he has more stress and drinking is how he relieves it.

    What should I do? I love him and he is never violent toward me– quite the opposite when he is drinking he connnects with me and tries to get closest at these times. He doesn’t understand why it’s a problem for me that he drinks, when to him it’s only affecting him, but not our relationship. I point out his mood swings but he denies he has them and blames me for being too touchy or emotional.

    Should I just ignore the drinking and let him live with me, but not drink with him? I don’t want to throw him out again, but how do I help him? He’s indicated a few times that he wants to stop, but not right now. He stopped for three weeks recently. He claims he can stop again when he wants to.

    Please advise– I am desperate and don’t want to lose him to this! He is a kind and good person but is troubled! Thanks, Alyson

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Alyson,

    Yes, don’t drink with him, but ignoring the drinking won’t help either of you.

    Unfortunately, the longer you let him live with you, the more likely he is to continue his alcoholism and not do anything to to change it. One of the biggest problems with living with an alcoholic is that you become part of the problem. Why has his death wish (probably unconscious) increased while you have been together?

    Suggestion: Require him to move out and ask him to do something about his drinking. The ultimatum would be that he do whatever he has to do to deal with his underlying problems, so that he no longer needs to drink…and doesn’t drink. After he has been clean for a year or so, if both of you want to be together, then go for it, but with the understanding that if he starts again, he takes the action of moving out immediately.

    You could date in the meantime, but only when he has been sober for at least a day. Pay attention.

    It could happen that you don’t want to continue with him. It could also happen that he finds someone else to look after him.

    Remember, he’s a man, not a help project. Allow him to take responsibility for himself.

    Sound harsh? It is harsh. But you could be saving both of you from a mountain of grief.

    Neill

  • shaz

    Dr Neill, even after a year could you really believe that someone had given up the drink? I have lost so much trust in my husband, because they tell you what they know you want to hear. Even my daughter 12 is sick of his drinking. I just hope his depression at the moment doesnt lead to anything. The house is up for auction tomorrow and he sits and cries and sobs downstairs, very sad and I feel guilty, even though I know I didnt make him drink. He is not a bad person. He has clicked a few times, verbally over money and the kids, etc. He is saying that he would be better off dead. He is still somehow getting to work, in a club as the manager, but doesnt eat much.

    Even if he gave up for a year I dont think I could live with him again. When you have financial connections with them it is bad, especially if they go to the club and play poker machines. My husband is not very social and when he goes to the club, he just sits and drinks and wastes money, his money. We separated all accounts, but I still pay for everything, off to a solicitor to see how much I have to give him. I know what he gets he will just waste.

    It is so hard loving an alcoholic, because you really want to believe that they will just stop and you will lived happily ever after, but it’s always there and I have never seen many happy endings. Go nicole and keith, wish my man had stopped drinking.

  • Steve

    Hello, I am real curious as to the best route to take. I am in my mid 40′s, and have drank a 750ml bottle of canadian whiskey every 2-3 days for the past 10 years. I do not drink at work, and have never driven after drinking. I have a real great job, and i usually only drink in the evenings (usually 8pm-12pm, give or take).I have not had any “health issues” to date, but do “feel” the results of my bad decisions. My wife also drinks (usually beer) 8-10 beers, on average of 4-5 evenings a week. We both know that we would be better off to quit, but it has become habit for the both of us. My question is what would be the best way to quit; “cold turkey” or reduction over a set time frame? AND, i am planning on seeing the doctor about this tomorrow to make sure that i am as “ok” as i feel. I have 3 children, 2 of wich are grown and have moved on, and 1 teenager still at home, and i don’t want to be “that person” any longer. Your help would be apreciated….Thanks.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Steve,

    I’m glad you are seeing your doc first, because there is no way of telling how much withdrawal discomfort either of you will experience. It would be a good idea to have some medical assistance on hand, especially if you are going cold turkey. Or you could play it safe and both check into a detox facility for a few days.

    Understand that stopping drinking is just the first step in a major life change. You could both benefit from coaching or counseling as you recreate your lives. Please don’t let anyone talk you into believing you have an incurable disease and will have to be "in recovery" for the rest of your life. It make take two or three years to make the transition to your new life, but then it’s done.

    I personally went cold turkey–from 20 oz of hard stuff per day to zero–and had no ill effects, but the experts later told me that was both unusual and risky. It took about three years of changes before alcohol or its absence was no longer part of my identity. That was over 30 years ago.

    Best wishes,

    Neill

  • Steve

    Doing better…never realized how dependant i had become.For anyone reading this, and if you are questioning if you need to stop…well, you know yourself best, and there is obviously a reason you would question it. My advice…quit now, NOT tomorrow. It is a battle, but it can be won. Many thanx to those who support and my prayers go out to the families who struggle with an alcohol dependant family member. Always try to be there if they decide to get help, but DO NOT support their habit. Thank you again for the help. I will try and post periodically.

  • Tamara

    I am in the same boat as you exactly only I have 4 wonderful beautiful children. He is choosing alcohol over us and now I dont know where to go. The pain of neglect is awful now he wants us out of the way. I have such a huge broken heart from being married to an alcoholic. He pays the bills and has a great job, is the “super hero” at work and amongst the neighbors and he is friendly and helpful to everyone but me. He says he loves me but the neglect is terrible. For everyone else out there it seems easy to just leave but I’ve been a stay at home mom for 11 years by choice and its not just that easy. My heart breaks everyday.

  • aine

    my husband has been drinking vey heavily for at least 10years. I have caught him on several occassions at home drinking vodka and finding vodka bottles around the house. the mental and emotional abuse is awful but i suppose i always thought he would change. i had my fifth child recently and had to dischage myself from the hospital 3 days after a section as i knew he was drunk every night with the kids at home. it has gotten very bad over the last year especially and he is in a drunken stuper every weekend at home. it is very hard as it is all behind closed doors. after coming out of hospital he was especially bad and after confronting him he stormed out of the house one night after drinking driving with the new baby in the car. he went missing for two hours and never took his phone so was uncontactable. he came home eventually and took the baby from me and wouldn’t give her to me so i slept on the couch that night to mind the baby while she was in his arms. during the night i awoke to the sound of the baby screaming as he had dropped her onto the ground. he didn’t even wake up. thankfully the baby is fine but i am heartbroken. is this was i am going to be going through for the rest of my life? he has started aa and is meeting an addiction counsellor next week but it is me organising all this and making him go. he is off the drink for the last 3 weeks but how long will this last. i have hundreds of stories of his drinking and the emotional abuse of the kids and me; should i just kick him out or can he change????? i feel so sad and angry that i am in this position as a wife of an alcoholic husband.

  • sharon

    Dear Tamara,
    As I read your story I felt as if I was reading my own. My husband and I have been together for over 23 years, we grew up together. I remember my instincts kicking in when I was young and approaching our wedding date – telling me that his drinking is only going to get worse and even though he says he would never drink in front of our children when we had them, I always knew he would. But I was so utterly and completely in love with him that I ignored those thoughts. My husband is a great guy! He has built his career from the ground up and is now at the top and considers his number one priority to provide for our family. Yet his job causes so much stress on him that he has become someone I wouldln’t even want to be friends with. To everyone else he is a wonderful friend – always coming thru for them and his parents and brothers. No one believes that his drinking is a problem because he is the happy fun guy to them when he drinks. I used to think it was fun too. Not so much anymore. The only person that ever sees the angry and totally disconnected man is me, his wife. He doesn’t talk to me at all – much less communicate with me. I know nothing about his life. His job and his friends are his world – we are completely separate from them. He tries to make up for it with the kids by taking them places and doing fun things once in a while, but the damage is done during all the other time he is around us. I am a non-drinker. Don’t get me wrong, I can go out to a bar with friends and ham it up just like the rest of them, and others having a drink doesn’t bother me one bit. But when my husband drinks he becomes stupid and says and does things that don’t make any sense – and that makes me trully angry and disgusted with him. I have wanted to take the kids and leave so many many times, but my heart just won’t let me do it. So I feel as if I am doomed to a life with a husband that will never show me respect, friendship or even love. The hard part is that I am a completely emotionally driven person. I need love to survive – and the lack of it has turned me in to an angry shell of a woman. I have no friends left because I gave them all up since he never had any interest in them. I am a stay at home mom that can’t go back to my career because I have been out of it for over 11 years and wouldn’t be able to even compete in the field anymore. I can’t leave him because it would put my children and me in such an awful predicament. It is like torture. My husband did give up any drinking for about 10 months and he promised me it would never go back to the way it was – but here we are again and he doesn’t even notice it. At least I know I am not alone. but it sure would feel good if I could find a solution for both of us! I keep reminding myself that I will be damned if my children learn my husband’s and his family’s drinking habits – yet here we all are, in my nightmare, stuck. And I don’t have any family to go to because there wasn’t any love as I was growing up. I guess that is why I can keep pressing on – I am used to being ignored and uncared for. Sad but true. So, good luck to you Tamara! I pray that you find your way to happiness. Please pray for me as well!

  • Megan

    hello,
    I am trying to get my husband some help. He drinks 4-6 beers and a tall scotch and soda every night. I mean EVERY night. Whatever time he gets home from work he will change his clothes and then go straight to the refrigerator. If he is off work he usually starts drinking beers around 2 or 3pm and then starts on the scotch around 7 or 8pm. I recently worked nights and I recently found out that he drank the same amount when he was at home with our 3 year old be himself. He doesn’t see that he has a problem and when I mention it he gets angry and tells me that if he drinks too much it is my fault for not being a better wife (not in those exact words). Where he comes from drinking all the time is the culture but he has gotten worse. I have been seeing a psychologist and a therapist to help me be more assertive. I recently told him that if he wanted to keep our family together then he would go see someone himself. He agreed, made the appointment (which he is at right now). The night before last he told me he didn’t want to go, then again yesterday. I told him that if he didn’t go then when he got home we wouldn’t be here. Am I overreacting? My grand-father was an alcoholic (died from complications with the disease when he was 53), am I just projecting? How else can I help him?
    Thank you for your patience!

  • It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  • [...] almost anyone what to do about alcoholism and they will suggest going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or “going to rehab” for [...]

  • [...] almost anyone what to do about alcoholism and they will suggest going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or “going to rehab” for [...]

  • Lynne

    I have been married to a wonderful man for 17 years. He is honestly really nice. However, as soon as he comes home he pours a glass of wine. Then he has a glass of wine with dinner. Then during the evening he has several more. Eventually he has about 4-6 glasses a night every night. He used to drink hard liquor with soda pop but he got Gout so went to wine. Wine doesn’t bother the Gout. He never gets obnoxious but he can be argumentative when he has had too much. Something he never does when sober. He starts to slur and not make any sense. Can’t remember anything, under-estimates how many glasses of wine he has had and denies he has had too many. Then, when he goes to bed he snores like a freight train. Nothing helps.

    I really love this man and he is very loving and caring all the time but I just can’t take the over indulgence. His personality changes. He denies he slurs his words and thinks I am making a joke about it.
    I may not be as badly off as some wives but it does bother me. He has promised to stop and usually does but it only lasts a week.

    He does not think he has a problem because he says he can stop at any time and he has. However, he goes back to it. Not because he HAS to but because he likes the taste. He likes drinking. I do too but I stop after 1 or 2 and he doesn’t.

  • dr. jons

    This isn’t very good science. Your facts are based on a source that you don’t identify. Assumedly, this is based on the findings of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found here:

    http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa65/AA65.htm

    Although their methods may have some merit, you’re dealing with an institution whose very existence is dependent on the conclusion that alcohol is bad for you. I can’t think of a more suitable formula for experimental bias.

  • Dear Dr Jons,

    You make a very good point about the science. It’s about like getting drug companies to support drug research. However, my goal is about helping people to pay attention to their drinking. The “facts” are American. I am Canadian and quite aware of the significant differences that exist among different cultures. This was not in my judgment the context for addressing the science. Nevertheless, your observation is sound.

  • Andrew

    Alcoholism is not about how MUCH someone drinks, it is about both physical dependence AND how they view alcohol. Type in “international drinking guidelines” into Google. American physicians recommend no more than 2 drinks a day for men, 1 for women. This is one of the lowest amounts in the world recommended. Basque, Spain’s Health Department says up to a bottle of wine per individual is the upper limit of moderation. Italy is three glasses of wine a day. Portgual is also three. A landmark John Hopkins study during the 1970′s said that a man of average 180 lb weight could be classified as a moderate drinker as long as he stuck under 4 drinks a day, about 58 grams, (Purdue, French Paradox).

    Someone who is drinking 10 drinks a day is absolutely at risk, if not already dependent on alcohol. However, the way Americans view “moderate drinking” is so conservative and puritanistic, it is exactly why we have people binge rather than drink moderately. Alcohol is the “forbidden fruit” and Americans avoid it like the plague only to misuse it when they get their hands on it. People in southern Europe have the HIGHEST alcohol consumption in the world, but the LOWEST rate of binge drinking and alcoholism.

    Please people, get your facts straight. Three or four drinks per day is NOT binging if you look at this internationally. We were a prohibitionist country until not too long ago. I am not trying to take away from the fact that alcoholism is deadly and horrible. It is by far the worst addiction out of all, ranking near heroin and crack in terms of health cost. However, I have heard people in America say anyone who has a few beers a day is an alcoholic. This is absolute paranoia. Peele.net, as well as the books “The Truth about Addiction and Recovery” and “The French Paradox” goes over exactly what moderation is, ACCORDING to professional physicians from country to country. I’m sure Dr. Neill, the psychologist, has little idea on how the rest of the world view alcohol, which is VASTLY different than us in America, who seem to have a major problem even with healthy consumption levels.

  • Dear Andrew,

    Although I didn’t talk about it in the article, I am aware there are substantial differences among cultures in their views about how much alcohol is too much. There are also great differences among individuals. If you read any of my stuff, you must be aware I am very slow to identify anyone as an alcoholic. I fully agree with you that America is extremely puritanical and uptight, sometimes bordering on paranoia, about alcohol consumption. I am a Canadian living in Canada, but Canada is not far behind the United States in its attitudes about alcohol. We do have one thing: in Canada the courts cannot order anyone to attend AA or go into treatment.

    I am well aware of the vast differences among cultures. This short article was simply not the correct context for getting into that.

    I know Stanton Peele and regard his work to be of the highest caliber. Thank you for including the reference.

  • Nancy

    Hi, my stepfather passed away this past Friday, he was a severe Alcoholic. he was only 46 years old. I also like to drink, but I am concerned that my consumption will lead to health problems like his. I really don’t think I drink that much, but sometimes I’ll go through about 18 beers in a weekend. That doesn’t include what I drink during the week. What is my risk factor, should I seek help?

  • Michelle

    I have seen my life in the stories shared here. I have been married for twenty years now. I married young and didn’t see the danger ahead when my husband would have a few beers every day. It’s just beer, I thought. He never touched the hard stuff. So far, no problem. But gradually, those few beers turned into a twelve pack a day or more. I began to notice that he would not be without beer, ever. The fridge was always stocked well, even when we were broke and needed groceries. He would gather up change to buy quarts of beer. I was bothered by this, but he never appeared drunk and never missed work. I convinced myself that I was worried over nothing. He couldn’t work every day if he had a drinking problem, right?

    Now here I am, twenty years later. I am forty years old and so very tired of this life. Although I am married, I feel as if I have raised our daughter as a single mom. She feels as if she doesn’t even have a dad even though he is here every day. He’s here, but he’s not really here. The good man I married is lost to his drinking. I live with an angry, obnoxious, loud and controlling, abusive drunk. I get a peek at that good man just often enough to hook me again. Looking back, I would have done almost everything differently. Coming from abuse as a child, I never understood that I deserved anything better. I am open with my daughter about his drinking…why wouldn’t I be? She has grown up watching it. This devastates me that I have allowed this behavior to continue in front of her.

    I have been searching online for help because these last few years have been so much worse than before. He added bourbon and vodka to his drinking routine. As soon as he walks in the door, no matter the time of day he goes straight for the booze. If it is the weekend, he is up at dawn and ready to go! He wants all and any activities over as quickly as possible. He doesn’t have time to enjoy whatever we have planned because he has to hurry and get home. He won’t drink and drive so he has to get home to his alcohol of choice. It doesn’t matter if it is ten a.m. or five in the afternoon. If he is home, he is drinking. He won’t eat. He just plops in front of the TV to drink. Unless he is pacing around, scanning the house, looking for things that I haven’t done to his satisfaction. He is compelled to point out every flaw of everyone else except himself. With me and our daughter being his favorite targets. He holds off eating so he can have more drinks. Often he will go through two fifths of whiskey a weekend. Now he buys the half gallon to be sure he doesn’t run out. Plus at least a case of beer. He switches to beer when he finally decides to eat.

    He “goes to sleep” slumped in his chair, beer can in hand. He rages if I say he passed out, he says he goes to sleep in his chair because he is tired because he works so hard. And he does seem to be superman at work. Never misses a day. Always the first to arrive and last to leave. His boss likes him. Neighbors like him. He would be described as one of the friendliest people you could ever meet. Unless you are his wife or daughter. He saves the cruelty for us. It is a relief to discover that I haven’t been crazy all this time. I have been emotionally and verbally abused. He may function well at work, but he has destroyed me. I will never again purchase alcohol for him, nor will I carry it to him like I am his servant. I am reading and learning all I can about being co-dependent so that I can change my life. I don’t want my daughter to think this is okay the way I did.

  • James

    My wife (age 30) has been a drinker since i met her about 10 years ago. We have been married for 5 years and her drinking has over the 5 years got considerably worse. We both drank socially on weekends and she had a wine or two with dinner each night and I wasn’t too concerned. But then it became her passing out on the lounge most nights, and even falling asleep when we were out with friends. For a period of time after confronting her it seemed to get better until i discovered that she was drinking at work, or at home before i got home from work. We wanted to start a family but i had reservations because of her…part of me hoped that having a baby might change her ways. 15 months ago she fell pregnant and i thought all was well. She was drinking apple juice or nonn alcoholic wine and I was happy. But then she started drinking again at work or in secret. Bottles were hidden around the house and I confronted her on a number of occasions and she broke down said sorry and said she would fix things. It didnt happen. She started seeing a counsellor but despite this she continued to drink. The baby was born late last year – healthy thank goodness, but she still drinks.She is seeing a counsellor fortnightly but i think she is lying to the counsellor, possibly out of fear for what might happen to the baby. She broke down again the other day when i spoke to her about her drinking which seems to be getting worse again. Should I attend the counselling sessions as well or what should I do? I have lived this life now for 4 years and have survived but the future seems bleak.

  • MJ

    Hi,
    I am so angry. My husband and I just had a huge fight. He has been drinking since yesterday and stayed throughout the night awake and had 18 beers. I am so worried. He drinks throughout a week, maybe 5 beers, but as soon as the weekend hits, he starts to drink heavily. We have been married for 7 years. I am 30 years old, and I am planning on leaving if he does not change.

    I love him so much, but love does not help me, because I can’t ignore this problem I have. I never have drinks, due to my epilepsy. My father was a horrible alcoholic and very abusive. I am not asking, if I should leave him, but I am asking if you think he is an alcoholic, or am I over exaggerating. Anyway, I made the hardest and most heart-breaking decision today. I bought a one-way ticket to NYC to go home. I am leaving for now, we’ll see what happens. I deserve more.

  • Lu

    Dr. Neill appreciates your comments and how you all help one another! He is very grateful to provide this forum and all the feedback he receives! However, Dr. Neill is not able to give advice in this public forum. If you need his help, please refer to his consultations page: http://www.neillneill.com/consultations. He uses Skype or telephone to make consulting more convenient. Also, you may find his book, “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide” as a great resource. You can find it here: http://drneillneill.com/

  • I have a really big issue here also. My husband of 14 yrs drinks approximately 15 beers daily. He doesn’t think he has a problem. I know there are a lot of similar stories here. I told him to quit and he refuses. He passes out in the car or just wherever. We can’t leave that little ice chest home either. I told him I was leaving and he said he would quit. As you all know that many beers each day he cannot quit.

    This is not his only issue because he drinks so much he has caused us to nearly loose the house twice. He sexually assaults me while I sleep and says he has a right to do what he wants. I filed for divorce but he won’t let me go. He now has a new addiction. I have learned that when they have one they usually have another. He is addicted to porn and uses this as an excuse to view and take his business out on me.

    Sometimes I feel like my life has spun completely out of control. I’ve had some counseling and made me realize this is not my fault. I did not cause this. I cannot fix this. The only choice I have is to let him hit bottom. If you did the math on the amount of money spent each week it makes me sick. How can he function with this amount of beer in his system then deny all the family issues.

    He blames me for the problems. Well guess what I am not the problem. The kids are not the problem and if you have the same issues remember you did not cause him to drink. It is he choice. I am getting out if I have to walk away with nothing for the sanity and the safety of the kids. What’s next an accident? Who knows–but the children come first.

  • Helen

    I’ve been going through some challenging times for the last couple of years, as a mom of two small children and the wife of a (now-recovering) alcoholic. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, for what it’s worth.

    We spouses of alcoholics have the opportunity to make a real difference in our children’s lives. The alcoholic is not able to care for children properly while they are struggling with a drinking problem, and their emotional problems and behaviour serve as a negative example for children. Children can benefit hugely from a non-alcoholic parent’s love, support, reliability, and firmness in setting boundaries with the alcoholic parent. We can be the strong and loving parents our children need, both in childhood, and as a positive example for their adult lives. But we need to take care of our responsibilities towards ourselves too, and not try to do more than we can manage well.

    One important question is: are we satisfied that our children are safe and well cared-for when left alone with the alcoholic parent? Even when outsiders are fooled, we often have a much better idea of what’s really going on, and we can work to try to ensure that our concerns carry as much weight with the alcoholic parent as the concerns of outsiders. We can talk confidentially to Al-Anon members and others (counselors, doctors, lawyers, ministers) about our concerns and ask for advice. We can trust our gut instincts. If we’re supporting our spouses financially, we can ask ourselves: is this the best caregiver I can hire for my children? Can my spouse earn some more money, so that I have more time to spend with my children? Are there loving, trustworthy family members who can help care for my children? Can I hire a loving and trustworthy professional child-care worker?

    Providing loving care to children is a challenging endeavor – few if any can do it well if they are truly alone, let alone struggling with the effects of an alcohol addiction (either as the addict or as a family member). Like single parents, we spouses of alcoholics need an alternative support system to help us raise our children. Sometimes, providing firm boundaries and responsible parenting gently shows our alcoholic spouses how to hold themselves to a higher standard, and they respond well. Sometimes, they may be resentful and respond poorly. In all cases, our primary responsibilities are to ourselves and our children, not to them. They are grown-ups: it’s up to them to solve their problems, and it’s up to us to stop their problems from becoming ours and our children’s.

  • Andrew

    Dr. Neil,

    Thanks for your response. I must say I am very pleased that you not only replied to my comment, but also included your respect for Dr. Peele. Maybe my previous post wasn’t the best context to include my disdain for alcohol guidelines in America, but i’m grateful you saw my point. It is refreshing to see a psychologist who looks at issues from all sides.

  • Jag

    I drink 4 scotch eeruy nite how i give up

  • Dalton

    My step dad drinks a lot every night and smokes, so I am wondering at what age will he die?

  • Liz

    Dr Neill,

    This past summer my partner and I decided to give our tumultuous relationship another try. Shortly after she came to dinner (local place) under the influence and then through out dinner continued to drink. She started yelling at me and I left and walked home. She called me every foul term you can call a woman. Finally I drove back to the restaurant and found her sitting outside with a beer between her legs. She is a police officer and I begged her to give it to me but she slammed it instead. I stood in front of her car door and she shoved me out of the way and drove the few blocks home, drunk. The next day she reported she didn’t remember any of it. She has had a history of drinking too much and due to all combined, she saw her therapist who supposedly told her that drinking a few times a week wasn’t bad. I wasn’t born yesterday, but I’m trying to find it in myself to let her find the answer. I’ve finally told her I am not OK with her drinking 3x a week, 4 beers at a sitting, so she said she would pick two nights a week to drink. We tend to eat out a lot, which doesn’t help.

    Well we fell into the habit of going out 3-4x a week and every time we go out now, she orders a beer and then orders them faster than I can get my soda refilled. I told her I didn’t want to be the one who had to keep tabs on her drinking, holding her accountable, and she agreed, but now if we go out that 3rd time in a week, she will look at me with her “pretty please” face and I don’t know what to do. I say, “No” and she gets sullen. I say, “No” and she wants to buy beer for the weekend football game then. I want to just scream at her but that won’t change things.

    She won’t take any accountability and keeps telling me after her sessions with her therapist, that she told her (therapist) that she thinks she is in control of her drinking and is doing a good job. Also, she is a police officer and every time she leaves with me in the car (after dinner) or when she gets mad and leaves or drinks by herself and leaves, she is driving drunk. I did call the police on her once because she was hammered when I kicked her out of my place. I don’t know what to do. She is looking to me to keep saying, “OK, go ahead and drink that 5th or 6th.” She knows I don’t want to be in that position, which is why if we go out 4x a week, she will have at least 17 beers while out at dinner.

    I can’t handle it, even if she isn’t calling me every name in the book, she is still taking advantage of me. She did get quite mad the one time I exploded and said she had a drinking problem and wasn’t even trying to keep it to the 6 beer limit/week that her therapist told her she could have. I feel like she isn’t trying one bit and in a way, knows she has me over her knee. Any thoughts would be helpful and much appreciated.

  • Walter

    I drink a 12 pack every night and easily polish off a couple cases of beer on the weekend. I am also addicted to Asian porn. How do I quit?

  • Tina

    Please could you confirm that my partner has an alcohol problem. He is drinking 437 ml, 4 to 6 a day and more on the weekend. He doesn’t think he has a problem.

    I’ve been a landlady/bartender for years and wouldn’t have gone into this relationship had I realized the amount he drank (he lied and said he didn’t drink that much).

    Thank you in advance of reply.

  • Grecia

    Hello Dr. Neill,

    I’m 22 years old and I live with my alcoholic mother. My whole childhood has been around her drinking. My parents separated about a year ago due to the same thing and now they are in the process of their divorce. My mother is bipolar and refuses to take any type of medicine anymore because it causes (according to her) all these weird types of side effects that she doesn’t like.

    Well as you can imagine, she is depressed with the situation. I’ve tried my best to be there for her, but I’m pregnant and with all this stress, I have been on medicine for pre-term labor since I was 23 weeks pregnant.

    Today is Sunday, and she began drinking since Friday. It has not stopped. She has been drinking Tequila, the largest bottle there is. She has it hidden in her closet, as if my little sisters and I didn’t know what’s going on. She’s not a violent drinker, she just says mean things to my sisters and screams for no reason at all. And is in a bad mood. It upsets me very much. I’m fed up with the situation and recent her so much for being absent my whole life. Even now when I need her the most and when my baby is due any minute now, she is still stuck in her bottle.

    She hasn’t showered these whole 3 days, urinates herself, pukes, cries some more, it’s becoming too much. And tomorrow my dad takes my sisters with him like every Monday, so I’m afraid she will continue drinking because she “feels so alone”. She has spent all weekend screaming at the top of her lungs saying how much she misses my dad, yet she knows that with her issue, she is the one at fault. We all know this, yet she doesn’t want to do anything about it. She also has this alter ego of this little girl, and does this little girl voice. She screams like a little kid and demands things from my younger sister because my sister is that “little girls” mom.

    I have a lot more to deal with now that I will be a single mom, than to mother my mother. She has driven most of our family away from her, including my dad and I. My sisters will be next, I’m sure. Yet, she doesn’t realize that. I’ve tried talking to her, she stops for a week or two (if we’re lucky), then goes back to drinking. I just don’t know what to do with her anymore. I’m trying to be stress free during my pregnancy, even though I’ve been diagnosed myself with depression, I’m doing my best to be of some support for my sisters, and be a mom to my own mother (since I can remember).

    I would appreciate any suggestions from anyone at this point of how to handle all this. I need some serious advice.

  • Susie

    Help me get my thinking straight. My friend is 65 and healthy. He drinks 6-7 wines daily and often 10-11 glasses….mostly at night, alone. It’s just what he likes to do. He wakes up early and it doesn’t seem to affect his life….except I don’t like it. No liver problems. Is this likely to hurt him at all one day? I am trying to plan since he won’t. Thanks.

  • Jones

    Telling people to leave their spouses because they have an alcohol addiction? What horrid advice. I understand your mother was killed by a drunk driver, but that is no need to over-react in the alcohol-related cases of others.

    Please evaluate your qualifications.

  • Mary Jane

    Dr. Neill,

    Hi. I have been married to my husband for 8 years now, and am concerned about his drinking. He is 36 years old and has a father who is a recovering alcoholic. My husband will drink up to 5 beers or coolers a day, but functions really well, eats well, is fine at work, and we have no problem paying the bills or going out places. We have 4 small children and it worries me that he may become an alcoholic. When I have confronted him about his drinking, he has a “so what” kind of attitude, saying he is not drunk, not harming anyone and functions just fine, so I am being silly. Please help, what can or should I do?

  • Jan

    Dr. Neill,

    I am convinced my 62 year old husband is an alcoholic and although he is home all day every day, he doesn’t have his first drink until I get home from work at 5:15 pm. He drinks half a liter of whiskey a night and agrees that he has a drink problem, that he doesn’t care and says that it is all my fault and drinks to numb the pain.

    His whole personality changes from being the nice person who everyone loves during the day, to someone who is not capable of tolerating any situation. When he has had ‘one too many’ he displays strange and embarrassing behavior, (i.e. facial expressions, and hand motions, his speech is slurred and then he always starts an argument over absolutely nothing with either myself, my daughter or his grandchildren). He is making everyone very miserable and we are tip toeing around him every single day, doing our best not to upset him. I have offered to support him if he needs help, but I don’t think he will ever agree to it. We are at our wits end and don’t know what else to do.

  • It seems I have to repeat that what I say on this website is for educational purposes. It is not counseling advice. Having said that, it is a fact that sometimes, usually under extreme circumstances like long-term abuse or neglect, separation may be the only course, especially if there are children involved.

    Personally, I believe in marriage. My wife and I have been married for over 30 years. We have had to weather bumps like anyone else. Yet neither of us believe that a couple should stay together no matter what.

    I have worked in addiction treatment centers and I continue to work with alcohol-addicted men and women in my private practice. I help couples who are trying to overcome marital issues, including alcoholism. I encourage patience and avoidance of overreaction. I am saddened when a couple has to split up.

  • Evan

    Dr. Neill,

    I need to address your assertion that it’s a myth that one is in recovery their whole lives, rather it’s just 3 years. I’ve just this evening attended an NA meeting (and have had a similar experience at AA) with multiple members having participated in the program for over 15 years, and sharing the experience that addiction is still a part of their lives. My good friend recently relapsed after 6 years of sobriety, so your assertion is false and potentially dangerous to addicts.

  • Dear Evan,

    Actually Evan, the truth is that some people, perhaps many people, who have become addicted to alcohol or drugs, will be, like your friend, in recovery for the rest of their lives.

    It is also true that many people successfully rebuild their lives after addiction. They go through a period of recovery, and then “recovered.” Some of eventually reach a place where alcohol is simply irrelevant to their existence. It’s as if alcohol doesn’t even recognize them anymore.

    Just as it could potentially be dangerous to some people to make a blanket statement that recovery takes three years (I don’t actually say this), it can also be damaging to others to claim that it will take a lifetime, when in fact they are willing and able to do the work put alcohol completely behind them. In fact, the popular belief that they would have to be in recovery rest of their lives has prevented people I know for even attempting to clean up.

  • Diane

    I find it creepy, Dr. Neill, that you “specialize” in working with women living with alcoholic men, going so far as to write a book specifically addressing the women of alcoholics. Most medical professionals have come to realize that alcoholism shows no sexual preference. Why do you?

  • Hello Diane,

    I have worked with alcoholic men and alcoholic women, and of course their spouses. You are quite correct in saying that alcoholism shows no sexual preference. However, a woman’s experience of living with an alcoholic husband has a lot of differences from that of a man living with an alcoholic wife. For one thing, men have a greater tendency to just leave their alcoholic wife, while women have a greater tendency to stay and try to fix things. Furthermore, women, whether alcoholic or not, tend to take greater responsibility for the children, making it easier for the man to just pick up and go. In my experience these inequalities put a lot of extra pressure on women.

    Furthermore, whether the alcoholic is the man or the woman in a couple, it is more frequently the woman who will look for and read a book about alcoholism.

    I’m sorry you find the notion of my addressing women to be “creepy.” I focused my book where I thought the need was greatest and the book would do the most good. The feedback from women who have read it has been very positive. In the last several years I have had only two or three comments from men that they would like to see a parallel book for men with alcoholic wives.

  • DeAnn

    As a married woman who is mainly responsible for our nine year-old child and has been out of the full time workforce since his birth, I have found Dr. Neill’s book a sanity saver, a comfort and the first crucial step for helping me change my codependent behavior towards my husband, a long-time substance abuser.

    My husband recently completed a medical detox from alcohol and is now in an intensive out-patient substance abuse program. I am struggling to hang on these days. In addition to seeing a therapist myself and reading other self-help books, I return again and again to Dr. Neill’s book. Thank you so much for writing a book that validates and supports the difficult struggle of woman in this situation.

    Dr. Neill, can you direct me to places on your website about the struggles of women once their husband enters early sobriety/ treatment?

    Thank you-

    DeAnn

  • Hi DeAnn,

    Thank you for your kind comments. Glad to be of some help.

    You asked for articles on my website about “the struggles of women once their husband enters early sobriety/ treatment?” You might find some of the articles under the category “marriage” or under the category “self growth” helpful. However, your request has made me realize that I have not adequately address this important issue. Therefore I will attempt during the next couple of months to write a new article or two to address the struggles that may follow treatment. And believe me, there are a few.

    Thank you,

    Neill

  • Lakiya

    I am a functioning alcoholic at the age of 18. The levels mentioned above shocked me because I am way above those. For example, I have been drinking vodka monsters everyday for the past three weeks. Each night I had like 6 or more drinks.

  • Teresa

    Every night we get into the most dumb fights. Tonight it was stupid and I called him a f-ing drunk. I’m sorry.

    But we’ve been married ten years, he makes good money, but now I see what a jerk he really is. I don’t have job because he doesn’t want me to work. Every night is the same. So. Fed. Up. And I don’t know WHAT to do.

    I fantasize about other men. He’s 15 years older, has developed a HUGE stomach, and constantly watches porn yet doesn’t care at all about getting is shape for me/us. He plays the victim all the time. I haven’t cheated on him, but I want to. I just feel like he’s an alcoholic ass. Lately he yells out into the backyard terrible names at me. He did this a few nights ago because I refused to take his dinner out to his shed where he drinks every night.

    I go to Alanon. What I get from it is that I’m just supposed to try and live with this behavior and do the 12 steps. It’s not working for me. He’s already been thru rehab. We separated and I said I’d only come back if he did. He started drinking the day after graduation and never did the 28 meetings in 28 days.

    I’m very tired now. Any advice??

  • Charlize

    Thanks. This helped me with my home work.

  • My father drinks half a gallon of whiskey mixed with water daily. He doesn’t start drinking until like 5 pm in the evening. But all he does is sleep all day long and hardly ever goes outside. He goes to the grocery store once a week if he has too. Other than that, he is asleep.

    Just recently, I had gone through a divorce and I had to move in with him because of my finances. I noticed that he doesn’t eat healthy meals, he has nightmares at night time. He hollers and screams through out the night. He just recently woke me up at 2 am accusing me of all kinds of crazy stuff. Then he proceeded to let me know how sorry of a person I was. When I was packing my clothes to get out, he started cussing me and acted kinda like he was going to get aggressive with me. I left and I’m never going back. I can’t stand to see him like that and he stays like that if he is awake. Is there anything that me and my sisters can do to get him help?

  • Jimmy

    Dr. Neill,

    You are wrong. Your methods are self centered. Peace will never be found in pleasing and ourselves. My wife cheated on me after 17 years and children and during that time, I never drank. I started drinking every night after that to deal with the pain. So your saying it’s okay for her to leave because I drink? Adultery is better?

  • Jimmy

    I find it interesting that all these drinkers are men. Who do you think drove them to it?

  • Having a few drinks every night on a temporary basis may help to alleviate the pain of loss. Millions have used alcohol this way successfully. It’s only if it goes on too long, or if you have a history of addiction, that it can become a problem.

    My question to you is, Jimmy, why would you want a woman to stay with you, if it’s quite obvious that she doesn’t want to be with you and doesn’t like you?

  • Jimmy,

    When I look back on my alcoholic days, I can point to some sad things which were factors in my drinking. But I did realize that I was choosing to deal with these things by drinking. When my alcoholism reached the point of hurting me, I took responsibility for my life and chose to stop drinking. I faced my demons and moved on, alcohol free. I went through two divorces during that period. But I alone was to blame for choosing alcohol to deal with my pain. My wives were doing the best they could, and one of them was even having an affair.

    Men and women, who blame someone else for driving them to drink or driving them to have an affair, are playing the victim role. The victim is never responsible. It is always someone else’s fault.

    Personally, victim hood sucks. Life is much more satisfying when you stay in charge.

  • James

    Hi Dr. Neill,

    My wife drinks 2 bottles of wine every 3 days, like clockwork, except when we have the occasional friends over on the weekend where she might drink 2 days in a row. I have asked her to stop and she says she can at any time, but the best that happens is she starts drinking on the 4th day.

    She has whole conversations with me while drinking she doesn’t remember at all and her personality changes over those three days. She goes from tired and despondent the day after, grouchy and cranky the second day and like a kid about to visit Disney World for most of the third day (until she starts drinking again).

    When she starts drinking she will consume any and all alcohol left in the house and is frequently verbally abusive, singling out every fault I have. When she is on one of her sober days she says she drank the day before because she was happy/sad/depressed/celebrating/had a bad day, literally any event is a reason for her. Almost like a reason to drink a day calendar.

    I think she is an alcoholic, but because she only drinks 2-3 days a week (4-6 bottles of wine a week) she is able to say she doesn’t drink enough for her to be an alcoholic.

    She has recently asked for a separation and while I went through bad a_s emotional roller coaster for the last few weeks, one of the things I am looking forward to is not having to put up with her drinking again. (For the women reading this, I am far from perfect by the way and the separation is just as much my fault, just somewhat exacerbated by the drinking).

    My question is this, when she is drinking she talks about the possibility of saving our marriage, but the next two days she becomes very down about the possibility and that trying to work things out is not an option. It is not making things very easy for me as to whether I try work on my flaws (while she doesn’t work on hers because she isn’t an alcoholic and I am being judgmental) with a goal of maybe saving the marriage or whether I bite the bullet and start the separation process. My wife, even though she wants to separate, doesn’t seem to want to initiate things or even find out what she needs to do. (We live together with three kids and my wife does not have a job and financially we don’t have the money to keep the house and separate. We have to sell the house and separate at the time it is sold.

  • Rosa

    After reading everyone on here I must be in big trouble. My husband suffers from central pontine. He drinks 24-30 beers a day, has only a meal, if that, and has done this for 2 straight years, not a day with out at least 24!! He is slow now and not sleeping and he is still alive! How long can this go on for?? He drinks all these years, but maybe 12 a day then retired and now it’s down hill!!

  • Laura

    My sister drinks 5-7 beers every night. She is 61 and has recently been through a terrible divorce, but has been drinking like this for over 15 years. She recently had a gallbladder out and suffers from shaking in the morning. She does most if not all drinking after work until midnight. She drinks more on the weekend. She is very thin. Her children will not approach her, but I am very worried about her. About 9 years ago, she had breast cancer. What can I do??

  • Loretta (Pruett)

    I met my pretend daughter in a DV shelter last year. We became close immediately; and, she told me of her childhood love. I suggested she check to see if he was on Facebook. He was, they started talking daily and within months he moved across country and moved in with her and her young son from a previous marriage (that marriage was abusive). The problem is that this long lost love gets drunk, calls her names no woman should be called, and has even put his hands on her. She is so afraid because, when drunk, he is a nasty drunk and is even so in front of her son. They surprised me a couple of days ago and joined me in my room at a casino. Woo, that is when I saw just how bad he/it was and tried to talk to him about his behavior and drinking. Today she called me in tears from the parking lot of her apartment, explaining the awful names he called her; he won’t leave even though she had asked him to. He even came outside while we talked and her fear rose greatly. Now, a couple of minutes ago, she told me he said he will go to AA tomorrow. As we all know 10 to 1 he is just saying that (so he can stay)as well as going when one has no intention of quitting, is a waste of time. I can say that because he had told me weeks ago he was going to quit, but it has only gotten worse. He was such a embarrassment at the casino: falling all over the place, kissing, hugging on me, even kissing the stranger (older lady) sitting across from me on the cheek and hand. I have no idea what I can say to her to make her see what she is doing to herself and her young 4 year old son (she has seen, heard what was said, done to his mother)and the danger they are in. She is afraid to call the police and begged me not to when I offered to call them myself or come over to help. I will come and get her even though I lived 1 1/2 hour away from her. PLEASE advise ASAP. She is under the impression just going to AA will be a immediate fix, but my main concern is their safety when he gets drunk again tomorrow. Thanks in advance.

  • Hollis Hale

    My girlfriend drinks 2-3 bottles of wine per day,more if there is more around. I have seen her nurse a 750 ml bottle of vodka on a Saturday from 9 a.m. until bed time. That’s 25 ounces of vodka on top of her wine that she switches to at dinner. That’s 10-15 glasses of wine PER DAY! I met her 3 years ago. It wasn’t until last January that some things in my life changed and I was pretty much living with her and her kids. Over the course of 4 months my suspicion grew that she was a heavy drinker and I kept tabs on her consumption. I also accidentally found a bottle of Zoloft and found out she also takes 150 mg of antidepressants on top of her drinking. When I confronted her, our relationship started to deteriorate very quickly. Right now we are separated. She wont even talk to me about the booze and has said, “it is off limits.” I have no idea how long she has been drinking like this and she won’t answer questions about it. It has ripped my heart apart because she is and was the woman of my dreams, or so I thought. In truth, between the booze and mind numbing drugs she takes, I am not sure I have ever known who she truly is or if she even knows. I worry for her, her kids, and her future. Plus, she constantly drinks and drives. her tolerance is so high now that she thinks she’s fine… until one day when she get’s pulled over. Sad:(

  • John

    This is by far one of the dumbest things I have seen in a long time. I have lived with my dad. Being a Vietnam vet 1969-1971, he kind of struggled with alcoholism, but did quit for 10 years until my younger sister graduated from high school.

    I am 23 right now. I am a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I also now suffer from sorta an alcohol problem. I am 10 months sober. I had more problems with marijuana (Because it really does help with the anxiety and the sleep issues that I have). I haven’t done marijuana now in 10 months because I got in trouble (alcohol related). Now I am addicted to a sleep medication which is just bullshit. Now, Dr. Neill, I think you are kinda of an idiot. Only because you are probably dealing with some stupid people with actual drug problems and they probably have not had any LIFE ALTERING things happen to them. For some examples: rockets flying on base, getting shot at, and serving a country who technically doesn’t even give two shits for there freedom, and GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN!

    How you you recommend these women to just leave there men, when that could be the only thing that really helps them decide to maybe go to treatment? In all aspects, they have to wanna quit, I know this from going to treatment my self. There are also health aspects that really linger.

    My Grandpa died at 59, in 1986. My Grandma is 94 right now, widowed never remarried, because when she buried him, she put her name on the same gravestone. That means so much to me, because that is true love.

    My Grandpa was a WWII vet, purple heart and bronze star. My Grandma met him in Hawaii. She was a navy nurse and she needed an armed guard to go with her to go through the locked psych unit. Now, to the women who wanna just GIVE up and leave there husbands, LOVE THEM, just love them. I know why my Grandma did what she did, for one, my Grandpa was a hero. That is probably why we are not speaking Japanese or German as a whole country.

    Now, Dr. Neill, could you post your psychologist credentials? And who do you normally work with? The american people who have problems because they are obviously sooooo dependent on drugs and alcohol, or Veterans who have actually kept your job alive?

  • Mike

    I am 66 and have been drinking about 7 drinks a day my entire adult life, except for the last ten years after I retired, I’ve been drinking 10 or so.

    I’ve been successful in everything I’ve done in life and am still very physically and mentally active. Do you think I should change now?

  • jimmy

    I disagree with some and feel if anything, the United States guidelines on moderation, are excessive. Many of the other countries guidelines are plain ridiculous. France has serious alcohol related problems as does England.

    Alcohol causes cancer, all kinds. It doesn’t take much. Less than moderate amounts increase multiple types of cancer risk. Heavy drinking, binge drinking, or occasional heavy drinking, is the most dangerous kind of drinking because each quit or temporary stop damages the brain (way more than heavy chronic drinking) and primes it for a worse withdrawal. It causes addiction. It only takes one heavy night to lead to an accident (as happened to a friend who at best you would characterize as a nearly non drinker) that changes your life forever. You don’t have to drink to be ruined by alcohol.
    It is a terrible drug. All the people I have personally known who defend it are in denial about their own abuse and need to use.

  • jimmy

    I think a good start in encouraging much less alcohol use and abuse is to do what France does, and ban all advertising of it in print, radio and television. Prohibition may not work, but limiting exposure to it through advertising, and lets say, taxing the hell out it I bet would slow it down and have a positive effect. And maybe even help the economy along.

  • Hi there, I need advise please as I’m on the verge of making an end to this life. My fiancee has got a drinking problem (real bad). When he is sober, which is for maybe an hour in the mornings, he is kind, gentle and tells me that he loves me. But, then he starts drinking, and in public, in the presence of strangers or family, he tells me I’m useless. That God punished him for meeting me. He swears to God and tells me that I’m mad, as I was diagnosed with bipolar after my son’s death. He refuses to let me work, yet he never buys me toiletries or clothes. When I dare ask him for anything he says, “that there’s no money,” yet he can buy alcohol every day and that is double what my toiletries cost. He took me out once to a diner, but he got so drunk and made a scene to such an extent that cops were called out and we had to leave. When we go to places or family gatherings I get embarrassed as he stumbles and falls or he steals alcohol or flirts with women, telling the men that I’m a whore. I can’t no more please you are my only way out. When he wakes up he can’t remember anything. This is day in and day out. We were almost hijacked while he also got drunk and my biggest fear is, how can he protect me as a woman should people break into our house.??? I can’t no more. Please

  • Uncertain

    Hello, I would welcome any feedback regarding my story. There is an individual who cares greatly for me and I for him. I have known him for many years and have heard many “drinking stories” involving he and his friends. I know he has a history of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol resulting in black outs and withdrawal symptoms. In recent years, he did cut back the frequency of drinking. We began dating, but soon I had concerns. He drank excessively (8 to 10 beers and one to two drinks of whiskey with no mixer) nightly on all three nights of the weekend. He did not drink during the week and claimed that because he was able to hold down a great job, own a home, and had no history of DUI, that he did not have a problem. However, I witnessed him at work hungover numerous times and witnessed him drive numerous times after drinking more than one beer. While we were dating he quit his job and the drinking increased from weekends to 4 to 6 nights a week drinking approximately 6 beers and 1 to 2 whiskeys during those nights. I know he feels more comfortable socializing when he is drinking, all of his friends are moderate to heavy drinkers who therefore see no issue, and I know he uses alcohol to cope with and manage all emotions- positive or negative. His personality is different after drinking- he is more argumentative and filled with hate towards others (but not me). I ended the relationship over a year ago largely due to his drinking. He has expressed to me repeatedly how much he loves me (and I believe him) but has repeatedly indicated that I am being unrealistic by believing he drinks excessively and often tries to persuade me into thinking I am in the wrong. I have a daughter who I worry will be negatively affected by his drinking. I believe I cannot rely/trust/depend on someone to be a member of my family unit who drinks to this level, but it is very difficult for me to turn my back on him and his love for me and my daughter. I guess I am hoping for feedback indicating others’ opinions on whether or not I am overreacting or he indeed has a problem. Thank you in advance!

  • clairsey

    Hi I am worried about my father. He’s 64 and has always been a big drinker. I grew up with alcohol being a big part of my life and my father drinks every night of the week (Mon-Sun) and on a Sunday he drinks all day and most of the night. He usually drinks around a minimum of 5 cans of Carling a night but on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday he will drink around 10 to 15 cans a night (and that’s being an estimate, I’d say more like 15 plus)! He’s 64 and very thin. And lately he’s not eating much, he’s had problems with his appetite before, but now he started eating a little more. Now it’s happening again and he goes a couple of days with no food, just alcohol. Some days he manages a few mouthfuls of food. During the days (Monday to Friday) he won’t drink. He drives a car to work or shopping with my mother etc.Come the night time, he’s cracking open the Carling cans like they are going out of fashion. Its an every night occurrence with the weekends being the worst. He’s done it for years (ever since I can remember as a child and I’m 39). Why is he unable to eat? He makes up excuses by saying the meat looks uncooked or the foods too tough or not very nice, but it all boils down to him just not wanting it! He’s a smoker too. He has a chest issue and was told around 5 years ago to stop smoking. He was told he had a chest condition caused from smoking. They told him if gives up smoking it won’t get any worse but won’t get better, however if he continues to smoke it will get worse and kill him. Hes on inhalers for his breathing problems. My mother and I have told him to go the doctor but he won’t go. I’m worried that his appetite loss is a sign that his drinking has finally caused him irreversible damage. I’m worried he’s going to die soon if he’s not helped. Why is he losing his appetite is it because of his drinking? He says he’s not an alcoholic because he doesn’t drink all day and night. He doesn’t present himself as an alcoholic because he works and is busy during the days. He says he is entitled to a few cans of a night time because he works for them and enjoys them. But he’s not having a few cans! He’s drinking way too many and is very argumentative and sometimes quite aggressive when he’s drinking 

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