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PTSD and Drinking


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My spouse of 30 years is now seeing a psychologist to help her resolve some issues that have built up over the years. Most seem to stem from an accident that our boys were in about 6 years ago. We almost lost the older one (the driver) but now both are now doing well. The problem stems from the fact that my wife buried her emotions so deep (felt she needed to be strong for everyone) that she has not been able to cry since that time.

As I said she has been seeing a psychologist once a week for about 3 months. The reason I'm writing is to get an opinion on what I should do about a drinking problem I recently discovered. About 3 months ago I found out she was secretly drinking for about the previous 6 months, she said "to help her cope when she was feeling really down". When I found out she is still sneaking alcohol about a month ago, I asked her to stop and she promised she would stop. I believed her because I NEVER knew her to lie to me in the previous 30 years - she has always been a very loving and considerate person. So, as I said, she promised, then about 2 weeks ago I found out she was drinking again. Lots of more stuff was discussed but bottom line, she knew this really hurt me (the lying) and I asked her if she could promise to let me know the next time she felt she needed a drink and we could drink together. Ok, tonight I found out that over the last 2 weeks she has drunk 6 of our "special occasion" bottles of wine that we bought on vacation. This is so out of character that I still can't believe it happened. When I confronted her again, she can't explain why she is doing it, and still won't cry even though she knows how much it is hurting me. She still insists that she loves me, but can I believe it when she lies to me?

So what I need help with is this: what should I do? Get her into alcohol treatment before this escalates into something more serious i.e. drugs? I don't want to negatively affect any strides she's making in therapy but at the same time, I'm scared that if I don't so something that I'll lose my sweet heart.

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Hi peloqt1

First I wanted to say that you sound like a very loving and supportive partner and she is very lucky to have someone like you keeping and eye on things.

I don't know much about addictions but I do think that she needs treatment for her addiction to alcohol. I would think that she needs that very soon if she is drinking that much and in secret. I also think that her lying and being secretive is part of the addiction and not part of her personality. I think she has just got stuck in the emotional cayos and is trying to cope as best she can. Which is in a negative way, but I think she is still just trying her best. I think that if she has not told you about this mabe she has not told her Pdoc. and so mabe he doesn't even know that this topic is a problem and so mabe you should tell him so that in therapy they can address it all. I hope you will continue to stand by her side like you have been because I'm sure she needs you very much to be there for her, supporting her to recover, and just loving her for her. And hopefully she will get better quickly and be herself again. Your support I think will make a huge difference in her recovery...Please take care of you too.:D

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Hi Peloqt1-

Thanks for opening up and sharing your story. I want to echo forgeting's comments- you certainly do sound like a warm and loving spouse. And, your concern is certainly warranted- lying and drinking large quantities in secret is certainly a red flag that she has (or is well on her way to having) a serious problem with alcohol.

I think that the best strategy would be for your wife to bring up this topic with her psychologist. Hopefully, this mental health professional can get a better handle on why she is engaging in this behavior (or recommend someone else who can) and offer a treatment plan. It is quite common for people with PTSD to drink or use other substances to cope with their anxiety feelings and/or feelings of depression. In my experience, some people who are being treated for PTSD seem to get worse before they get better. They are actively dealing with a whole bunch of emotions and experiences that they have been avoiding, so it's a shift that can feel very stressful and scary.... even though they are on the way to getting better.

I think you should raise the issue again and advise her to share all of this with her therapist. You could also volunteer to tell the therapist this information and help the therapist with the treatment plan for drinking behavior (keep in mind, though, that their relationship is bound by confidentiality, and the therapist cannot share information with you unless your wife has agreed to the disclosure).

Try to avoid the discussions/arguments that revolve around having your wife promise not to drink, and then breaking the promise, feeling like crap, and then lying. These types of interactions typically don't go anywhere and can actually make the problem worse. I am certain that your wife isn't doing this deliberately to hurt you- it's just a coping strategy (albeit a poor and unhealthy one) that she is currently relying upon.

Does anyone else have suggestions?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi peloqt1 and welcome to our community,

I agree with Forgeting that you wife has an alcohol problem. However, you are going to discover that there is not much you can do about it except ask her or encourage her to talk to her psychologist about it.

Even though you have been married many years and seem to be very close to one another, you are making a common mistake in believing that you can get your wife to stop drinking. You cannot. That is something you are goint to have to accept. I suggest you read the many books available on the topic of alcoholism and addiction so that you can learn more about it.

Also, most psychologists will not talk to family members without the express permission of the patient. It would violate your wife's legal rights for you to call the psychologist and report the drinking. The only exception to this is if you know she is threatening to commit suicide or murder.

In addition, if you called the psychologist I am quite certain that your wife would be quite angry at you. She is an adult and her therapy and even her drinking are her responsibility. I know that these things are difficult to accept and are painful.

What you can do is express to your wife how her drinking is upsetting, worrying and alarming you and that she should ask the psychologist about getting help for this as ways to relieve the stress and anxiety on you and the boys.

By the way, there is now medication that removes the desire to drink and it has been quite successful. Her regular Medical Doctor could prescribe the medication if she speaks to her MD about her drinking.

Can you tell us more about your marriage, your self and about your wife keeping her feeling hidden?


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Hi peloqt1,

Please check out www.livingthetruth.com This site can be definitely be beneficial to your situation with your wife. It is also a great way for you to go and vent YOUR feelings about the situation. The fact that you are showing your concern so early on in your wife's addiction will hopefully make it easier for your family to move past this. You are very courageous and a loving husband. Best Of Luck

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Your comments have been very helpful. I know she feels terrible about how she's disappointed me . . . and actually that is a relief for me. I was wondering if she even cared anymore.

I have talked to her about sharing this problem with her psychologist and she said she would. I sure hope she does.

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