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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

How to Make Your Loved One Stop Drinking and Drugging

ear Dr. Steve:

Without rehashing the bloody details of the last three years of my life, let me just say that I believe that my husband is an alcoholic and is addicted to marijuana. My question to you is how can I get my husband to stop drinking and drugging?

The simple answer is that there is not much you or anyone else can do to force somebody who is either abusing or dependent on alcohol and other drugs to stop drinking and drugging.

I know that’s not what you want to hear. In fact, you’ve likely fought hard not to accept what I’ve just said for much of the past three years. Emotionally, this must be a very difficult time in your life as you desperately seek a way out of the hell that the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction creates in your family’s life. I can imagine that your emotions run the full gamut from helplessness to hopelessness to out and out rage as your life continues to deteriorate and spiral out of control. And all the while, as you find yourself feeling more and more sick, as you feel yourself getting more and more crazy about your husband’s drinking, he remains oblivious to those who are suffering around him.

That is because your husband is in denial about his drinking and the associated consequences of his drinking and drugging. It’s likely that your husband has an explanation for each and every problem associated with his drinking and drugging. He can explain away any evidence of the problems that his drinking causes through rationalization and minimization. No matter how obvious his drinking problem may be to you and to others, your husband’s denial is fortified by blaming other people or circumstances for his drinking. Sadly, your husband’s denial of his problems with alcohol, his ability to rationalize his behavior, his reliance on blaming others for his problems enables him to keep drinking as everyone who cares about him feels helpless about how to help him.

Unfortunately, what experience has taught me is that your husband won’t quit drinking and drugging until the consequences of his drinking creates enough emotional and circumstantial discomfort to force him to look more honestly at his drinking. I assume at this point that the negative consequences to your husband and your family from his drinking, whether they be legal, financial, family, interpersonal, occupational, physical, emotional, and spiritual have done nothing to slow your husband down. So until your husband is ready to stop drinking and drugging, until the pain from the consequences of his drinking and drugging overwhelms his denial of his problem and the fear he has about doing something about his drinking and drugging, there’s little anyone can do to get your husband to stop drinking and drugging. In fact, as you may have already discovered, family pressure applied on your husband to stop drinking and drugging may actually make the overall situation worse.

Not very helpful, am I? That’s because the answer to your problem does not lie in your ability to change your husband’s behavior. The answer to your problem lies in your willingness to take care of yourself. In other words are you willing to put less energy in to forcing your husband to stop drinking and drugging and more energy in to taking care of yourself? Taking care of yourself entails the following:

1.) Learn about the disease of chemical dependency
2.) Learn about the unhealthy role(s) that you may be playing in the life of your husband
3.) Learn about the tools of Recovery that will empower you to detach from the problems created by alcoholism and drug addiction
4.) Actively engage the help and support of others

Where does one go to learn about chemical dependency? The best place to start is a support group called Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a support group for family members who have been and/or continue to be affected by family alcoholism. It’s a safe place for you and your family members to go and be with people just like you who have been affected by the disease of alcoholism in much the same ways that you have.

But Al-Anon is more than a place for support. Through your involvement with Al-Anon, you can learn more about the family disease of alcoholism. You can learn effective coping tools for dealing with the disease of alcoholism. Most importantly, you can learn how to detach from the problems of alcoholism.

To get more information about how to best cope with and confront your loved one’s use of alcohol and other drugs you can contact Alateen at Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.:

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, Va. 23454
Tel # 757-563-1600
Fax # 757-563-1655
1-888-425-2666 for meeting information
Monday-Friday, 8am to 6 pm ET except holidays

Just remember it is your God-given right to go through what you’re going through all alone but you don’t have to.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

Pathfinder’s Checklist

1.) Do not minimize what is going on in your life.
2.) Start attending Al-Anon meetings.
3.) Seek out the services of a qualified mental health professional who can help facilitate the changes you need to make before your situation can start to get better.
4.) Stop pouring your energy in to getting your husband to stop drinking.
5.) Put more of your energy in to taking care of yourself and your family emotionally and spiritually.
6.) Check out Al-Anon. Give it a fair chance. Don’t be discouraged.



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