Learning to be independent of drunk hubby

Learning to be independent of drunk hubby

He was an alcoholic but it was his wife, Laura (not her real name) who felt responsible.

"I was wracked with guilt. I kept thinking I had failed him in some way," she says.

Laura, who is in her 40s, adds: "I couldn't stop blaming myself. I kept thinking my inadequacies as a wife led to his dependence on alcohol."

So she would make excuses for him.

If her husband was too drunk to go to work, she would call his boss and tell him he was sick.

"We barely had a social life because all he wanted to do was to stay home and drink," says Laura, who has two teenage children.

"And I'd be the one telling our friends that we can't make it because he is stuck at work and that was never the truth.

"I was pulled into his world and I started enabling his addiction. I felt like I was going down a spiral as well."

Her husband is now sober after going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but she admits that it was a long road to recovery.

Laura says that he had tried to get clean many times before, but could not stick to it.

Realising that, she decided to get control. She went to meetings at Al-Anon, a group for family members of alcoholics.

"I needed to learn how to be independent from him. I also needed to know that we, as family members, don't have control over a loved one's illness. Only they could help themselves," says Laura.

The group helped her because she was able to talk to other people who faced the same problem.

"It was extremely easy to relate to one another," says Laura. "And I had more control over how I felt."

Through the group, she started to gain more confidence and her husband noticed this.

"Suddenly he realised that I could be independent, that I could live happily without him.

"And this motivated him to be a better husband and father," says Laura.

Her two children also attend Alateen, a similar support group for children of alcoholics.

"With the help of the group, they, too, understood the disease better and we can communicate with each other better," she says.

The whole family still attend their respective meetings regularly, even though alcohol is no longer a problem. Laura says: "Just because you do not drink, it does not mean you are no longer an alcoholic. Everyone still needs constant support to keep it at bay."

Of course, it is not all smooth sailing, she says.

"There are good days and there are the bad ones.

"But that's what family is for - we help each other out."

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