My S/O is leaving rehab tomorrow. He has suffered from alcoholism for 30 years. He is basically at a point with his addiction and withdrawals where it’s either he gets sober or he will die or end up homeless. I’m scared. I love him so much and want him to be sober so bad. He says he’s ready and wants it too. He says he wants to walk side by side with me and finally enjoy life. He’s done all of the work inpatient that he can and had a great attitude the whole time. But his track record is pretty bad. What can I do to support him and help bring his odds of staying sober up? Any thing I should not do? Tomorrow I am picking him up and we are going to sit down and figure out a recovery schedule for him. I’m so excited to see him, hug him, and talk to him at length. For the past month it’s only been two visits and brief phone conversations. But I’m beyond scared. I don’t know if I can mentally handle another relapse. They are getting bad. But I know that’s the nature of this horrible disease. I want to help, but I also don’t want to go down a path of co-Dependency where my happiness is conditional of him being ok. I was actually handling myself ok before he went into rehab and I’ve been doing well since he’s been there… I don’t want to fall if disappointment strikes.
It’s been a few days since your post, how are things going? My husband came home in December and I can definitely relate to all the emotions you were experiencing before he came home. So excited and SO scared. How did it go with figuring out a recovery schedule? Meetings have been tremendously helpful for my husband and one thing I’ve done to support him is to go with him on occasion when it was an open meeting. Meditation and yoga were parts of his treatment program that he enjoyed so we’ve been to a couple in-person meditation events, we found a free online 40 day challenge that we do every night, and we’ve been practicing yoga together at home. This has helped me feel like I am a part of his recovery and it’s also helping him to keep up some of the good practices that were helpful in treatment. I think initially I thought we were going to have all this time together, almost to make up for lost time, but his recovery and work takes up a lot of time. That was an adjustment at first, but I’m so very thankful he’s willing to put in the effort.
Also, I think continuing to take care of yourself is key. I know for me, it was easy to let the addiction take the forefront and I could see how easily it would be to let recovery do the same, but I make a point to do things just for me. I think it’s good for them to see that we can do that for ourselves and it really helps to take some of the pressure of “will he/won’t he” relapse. And I’m trying really hard to just be present. It is not my nature! I find comfort in planning and even worrying, but that’s not helpful because I’ve realized that worrying about relapse will not make it any less hard on me and it’s taking away my joy in the moment. I am thankful for every sober hour and trying to enjoy this time, this newness, for as long as it lasts.
Hugs to you!
Thank you for the response. I’d say I’m kind of where you are. I’m trying to live in the moment and soak up every amazing moment we have sober. We had a great first week. He’s attended a meeting everyday. He’s including me in his recovery this time. Him and I attended a recovery dharma meeting together which involved meditation and is based on Buddhist principals. We also attended a family against narcotics meeting this week. We’ve had amazing sober talks. We even got intimate a couple times which hasn’t happened in quite a while. I didn’t expect that at all. But he seems to be getting his feels back. Last time He tried to get sober, he did everything on his own, got very distant, and overdid the AA thing. He also had a sponsor that wasn’t a great fit. He said he got burned out, but really I think he wasn’t ready yet. This time he said he has no reservations and he wants me to be involved in his recovery every step of the way. I feel extremely hopeful and very happy, but my mind still wanders to the negative thoughts. One of my biggest fears is when he starts earning money again. He goes back to work on Monday. I’m also fearful for myself if he relapses. This last time before he went inpatient was awful and i believe I may have some PTSD from it piled on top of My PTSD from the past. I’m scared that I’ll go off the deep end if he relapses. I’ve come far in my recovery from co-dependency and my own issues with substance abuse. I’m trying to balance being there for him, taking care of myself, and setting up a plan for how I will handle it if he decides to go back to drinking. It will be a huge blow but I’m trying to not think negatively and really live in the moment. It’s so difficult due to his history.
This sounds so great @Jess! I’m sure it’s helpful to be able to see the difference in his approach and attitude towards recovery from the last time. It’s great that you’re able to see that. My husband is a huge fan of recovery dharma too! It’s been so nice that there are a variety of options available to him so if he doesn’t like one group, he’s been able to find something that fits a little better.
We were fortunate that he came home during the holidays so he had a few weeks home before returning to work. I was very worried about that as well, mainly because I felt stress would be a trigger and it gave him more time alone so a better opportunity to drink if he slipped. The negative thoughts are still there for me too. I see something on the bank account or get an urge to check a hiding spot for empties and I very much feel like those are trauma responses. That’s my work and my healing and like you, I’m doing the best I can. Being present and not trying to control the future has been the absolute hardest part for me too. I think we just keep trying and give ourselves grace that we haven’t perfected it yet. It took a lot to get us to this point and the undoing process will take time too.
I’m really glad to hear things are going well for you
Also, how does your husband feel about AA?
Thank you! It’s so nice to know I am not alone. I’m really struggling today. I gave him $20 to take for dinner after the AA meeting. I felt like crying as the emotions ran over me of the horrors that even $4 will do if he wants to drink. As he left for AA I was left feeling an empty pit in my stomach. Instead of reveling in this amazing day which was wonderful, I’m left feeling scared and sad. He went to AA this morning and then we went around together doing things we once enjoyed (thrift shopping, Costco, bought a windshield wiper for my window). The little things I so wanted back. We laughed and had so much fun like we always do. Then tonight he left for a second meeting. As I drove away, I felt scared. Scared shitless as I know he has $20 in his possession. Money has always been a huge trigger with his addiction . But he’s done it before. He went 60 days earlier this year going to meetings and carrying cash without a problem. His mindset is even more different this time around, but I still feel a sense of fragility. It’s only been 30 days. This is his very first week in the real world. But I also feel I have to stop trying to control the future snd situation. Im trying to remind myself that I have nothing to do with whether he drinks or doesn’t. But it’s tough. If he really wants to go destroy himself with $20 I guess that will be his choice. But I sure love having him back.
Oh, I so get it! How was it after he left last night? Something his therapist told me when he was still in treatment that has comforted me is that if it happens, the relapse starts before he takes a drink. She told me I’ll see changes in his behavior, mood, attitude towards recovery, all of that, before he slips. Now, I don’t have anything to compare his recovery to, this is his first length of time with any sobriety under his belt, and I don’t know that this is true for everyone but it’s helped me to be able to stop myself, look at all the evidence that he’s doing well, and remind myself that the worries about him slipping are just stories I’m telling myself. And of course, I know that thinking about his relapse won’t prevent it and won’t help me from feeling upset if it does happen.
We had a similar day yesterday and there were so many times when I thought how much I love this little life of ours right now. On paper, it would look so boring to some. (We too, went to Costco yesterday ) but this little bit of calm after years of chaos is just bliss. I still worried yesterday and I’m sure I will today too. I’m leaving to go out of town next week and that was a huge trigger for him. So I remind myself of all the things that are different now-- we both have different tools and he’s got momentum in recovery. And the most important thing I tell myself is that I would be so pissed at myself if I let my worries take away from me experiencing this calm. Because ultimately, if he slips, enjoying this time is going to make me better able to handle it because I’m reminded of what’s possible, of what life feels like without alcohol as the third person in my marriage, and that he can get help and we can do it together.
About AA… he’s been surprisingly open to it. He isn’t religious and for a long time the idea of AA kept him from getting help. He’s learned that he can always take something away from a meeting, even if he doesn’t agree with some of the teachings. He’s read the big book and the NA book and we talk about the things that seem off to him, I appreciate the books for this reason. We’ve had some great discussions about the programs and although I didn’t struggle to the same extent that he did, I also quit drinking last year and the books have helped us talk about our separate experiences with each other. I don’t know that AA will be a long-term part of his recovery, as he’s finding more groups like dharma, but serving a purpose for now, for sure!
Everything you talk about sounds so similar to my experience. He did exactly as he had intended. He went to a meeting, ate with the guys, and came home. He’s heading to a 1pm meeting today. Later on him and I are checking out a free art therapy session at the recovery center. He found art therapy to be very helpful in inpatient. He feels the same about AA. Not very religious, but he changes the word “god” to “universe” and tries to take something away from every meeting. He has been in and out of this for years, so he knows all the AA people. But sometimes it would burn him out. This is why he’s now including me more and we’re checking out other types of recovery. Last night he did mention that he felt a bit awkward at the Saturday meeting being this is the first time he’s seen some of these people since he relapsed. He felt everyone had become a bit cliquey. My heart kind of dropped for him. I thought I’d this a sign of relapse? But then I realized what a big step this is for him acknowledging these feelings without running off to the store or doing something destructive. So I did let him know that I think talking about those feelings is a huge step. Last year he would have pretended everything was ok or buried those feelings down.
You mentioned you going out of town being a previous trigger for him. He too would get triggered by me leaving. I’m going to take my kids on a two day trip in a couple weeks and that is on my mind. But i have to keep reminding myself that a lot of that was always excuses to relapse and drink. The three C’s always help me. I can’t control it, I can’t cure it, and I don’t cause it. So I’ll try my best to put most of his recovery in his control and carry on with things that make me happy such as taking my kids on trips and doing things for myself.
Also, I love what you said about relapsing. That made me really think. It is so true. A lot of times when he is about to relapse, he will get very distant or stop talking to me. So there are definitely signs. At this moment in time, none of that is happening so for today I’m going to celebrate that!
Thank you for all of these very helpful comments! This has not been an easy road.
He started back at work today and I’m scared shitless. He said he had a lot of anxiety this morning. I’m sure it’s embarrassing coming back after being drunk and missing work for so long. I just prayed all the way to work that everything will go smoothly for him. Luckily for him his job had been very supportive and his boss is a recovering alcoholic himself. Today is day 32 of him being sober. He tends to struggle once he gets back to work with the balance of work and recovery. Ugh.
He’s doing great! Day 47 sober. I’m counting, he’s not. He said he doesn’t like to count until he’s past what he refers to as the 30, 60, 90 day shuffle. For him it’s one day at a time right now. He said he’ll start counting at 6 months. But to me it’s huge. This is the longest I’ve seen him sober in a year. I have a ton of anxiety still mostly revolving around how he will handle money and certain situations. He’s gone to a meeting everyday and we are still going to Recovery Dharma together. Tomorrow we are going to an Alanon/AA meeting at the same time and place. He really seems to want it, but I’m always scared of relapse. I’ve been through a ton of trauma so I know many of my thoughts and anxieties are a result. But him sober is my perfect match in this life. So it’s always tough when he’s not at his best.
Next week we are going on a trip together. The place we are going is not really the best place for sobriety…New Orleans. He really wanted to go for his 40th to see his favorite band 311 and New Orleans is his favorite city. I’m scared, but he’s mapped out the AA meetings. We are planning on doing tours, eating great food, going to concerts, and also hitting up Dharma while there. It’s his 40th birthday and he’s alive and sober. So in a way, I’m excited we get to have this experience. And I look at it as if he’s truly in recovery, then we can go anywhere and make it work. But it’s still scary when I think about the what-ifs. What if he gets triggered, what if he sneaks and drinks behind my back, what if he Completely relapses, what if he relapses before we leave, what if he gets drunk before we get on the plane, etc. All possible outcomes. So it’s a bit unnerving. I literally pray And thank the universe out loud everyday as I drive to and from work. Life is good today and I am beyond grateful for the 47 days I’ve had with him.
Thank you for reaching out. It’s nice to talk to people who get it. How is your husband doing??
I’m just seeing this, how have the last two weeks been?
47 days is amazing!!
That trip is exciting! And yet, I totally understand how scary that can be too. We went away for a weekend to Disney with my family and although you might think that would be a “safe” place, we have plenty of drunken memories at Epcot and in the area in general, so I had those same worries. But it’s so different now. I probably take it overboard but because I’ve also quit drinking, I make note of how much better I feel without hangovers and how much more I like the food and we’ve really bonded over those talks. You guys already have a really good plan for New Orleans, but I bet if you needed to look up other ideas there are probably blogs on how to do New Orleans sober. I did that when we were planning a trip to Vegas last year and got a ton of great ideas I wouldn’t have thought of. I think of those types of experiences as flexing a muscle and it gets easier with time, but also , what a great opportunity for them to experience the positives of sobriety and see how great it can be. My husband hasn’t had many of those, hardly ever before now, so it feels like a big deal every time.
I totally get your fears. I had those same thoughts and in a couples session, the therapist asked me “and what if he doesn’t?” and I ask myself that every time I’m going down that road. I think about ways I’ll take care of myself if it were to happen, to try to make my worry proactive. And then I meditate because holy shit, is it exhausting to think of every possible outcome, most of which will never happen.
He’s doing great! Just got to 90 days on Friday and we are both really excited about that. Still active in meetings and has found a therapist he likes. It’s funny you mentioned he’s your perfect match when sober. I used to tell him if it wasn’t for addiction, it wouldn’t be fair how great we work. And I am thankful every day that we’ve gotten to have 93 days of experiencing what this life can be
That is all so true! And I know that if he wants to drink, he’s going to do it whether I’m in the next room or a different state. I think it’s good you’re still taking your trip! I think if this trip was optional, I would have canceled it out of fear, but that might not be a good message to send him either. We can’t build trust if he’s not given chances to do so, right?
I’m glad we’ve been able to connect. It’s always nice to know we’re not alone in this.