How do I help my partner with anxiety & rising alcohol dependency?

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I’m brand new here. I’ve found the site having done a google search for anxiety with symptoms of alcoholism.


To try and give you the full picture…

My wife has suffered from occasional anxiety and panic attacks for some years now. They seem to have subsided in recent years following some therapy but now they’re back and she has been showing worrying signs of using alcohol to cope with it.

She had been having bad stomach & chest pains up until recently which the doctor believes was from a potential stomach ulcer however before that diagnosis, the pains would trigger panic attacks which in turn would make the pain worse etc etc. She’s due an endoscopy later this week but the symptoms seem to have subsided to a large degree.

She’s currently on prescription pills to deal with the anxiety

Before kids she was a well respected graphic designer working on some quite well known magazines. We now have 2 children (aged 9 & 14) and she runs a small business from home and is alone most of the day which I think has caused her to feel somewhat lonely, worthless & lacking in purpose. She gets heavily involved in the PTA which she enjoys but often ends up being quite stressful.

We both like a glass or 2 of wine of an evening but recently her volumes have increased quite sharply.

A few months back I was looking for some stationary in her office and found 2 small empty bottles of Vodka and when confronted she admitted to having an occasional drink in the late afternoon before I got home from work or sometimes in the evening if she fancied ‘another one’ without feeling like I was judging her.

She assured me that it would stop and we discussed a few issues around that.

Just before Christmas I noticed odd things such as a bottle of wine that I was sure was left half full being emptier by mid-morning and while we were at their parents over Christmas, I was sure a bottle of gin had been left more full the previous evening, but I began to question my memory!!

When we got back after xmas I put a mark on a bottle of wine and when I looked the next day, the level was actually higher and a bottle of whiskey that I’d carefully closed the box of has now ajare so I confronted her and it all came out.

She seemed actually relieved that I’d noticed and admitted she needed help which we’re now making sure she gets via therapy and she says that due to all this she actually feels much closer now and is certainly being more affectionate and has assured me that no drink is hidden in the house and she promises to try not to drink secretively.


I had initially removed all the alcohol from the house in an attempt to remove all temptation but her therapist advised us that it wasn’t the right way of dealing with things and it had to come from ‘her’.

My problem now (apart from all the above) is that I keep looking for signs of her sneaking a drink and am very worried that, having lied to me and having been secretive about her drinking problems, she’ll continue to do so. And is she also lying about feeling closer to me & being more ‘huggy and affectionate’ in an attempt to put me off the scent so to speak. I’m paranoid that I can smell alcohol on her breath and when she goes upstairs for something of an evening I’m paranoid she’s sneaking a drink.

Last night I could have sworn that there was just half a glassful of wine left in a bottle but she managed to squeeze 2 out of it. I could also have sworn that I left a small glassful of gin in a bottle but I managed to get 2 out of it. Had she had some and watered it down?? I asked her but she denied any wrongdoing but remained quite calm which I thought a little strange.

I desperately want to feel like I can trust her and return to how it was. I don’t want to keep feeling like I should watch her with my suspicions but this has all left me feeling like the trust we had has been shattered and I’m feeling really very down about it. I don’t know where to turn or what to do for the best!

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Martin....Sorry to hear about your sensitive situation...I strongly recommend you touch base with Al-Anon,they will be hugely supportive and helpful to you.I am not sure where you live but if you google them I am certain you will sort something out.She is obviously is a big worry but you also need help in dealing with this before it  (apologies for me saying this) drags you down.All the best,Sally
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  • Posted

    Hi Martin 

    I'm are recovering alcoholic and from what you have said then your wife has all the classic symptoms of alcoholism. The problem is with alcoholism is that the person will not stop drinking until they realise they have a problem and no matter how much people tell them they a got a problem they will deny it. The thing with this problem is that it will only get worse in time. She has to admit the problem to herself and to you and that when she will be ready for help. I myself started off using drink because it relieved my depression and anxiety, it just started of as a few pints after work and before long I was drinking all evening then I got to the point were I was craving drink as soon as I woke in the mornings so to cut a long story short I ended up drinking 24/7. Lost my job my marriage and my house and ended up living in a caravan in my mums garden. My mum found me out cold one morning and was rushed to hospital with acute blood poisoning. I was told that if I didn't stop drinking I would die before long as I had early signs of disease caused by alcohol. I made a promise to my mum that I would never drink again and started going to AA meetings and have now been sober for 7 years. There are so many people in AA that just started to drink because of depression but its a doward spiral. You  could call  the AA helpline and speak to someone about your wife and they will give you some advice on what to do. Ps I can forward the phone number to you if you need it but I'm sure you would be able to find it on the Internet or phone book. If you need anymore help and advice your more than welcome to message me

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  • Posted

    I think Sally is right you need to tell here to visit Alcoholics Anonymous, if she refuse then you do have a problem.

    The GP can I belive prescribe something if its seriously bad that will kerb the feeling to drink

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  • Posted

    Thanks everyone. i really appreate your input. She's admitted there is a problem so that's hopefully a good start. The ideal would be be able to get to a 'normal' level of drinking if possible with therapy to help her realise why she's resorting to booze and be able to manage that- or am I being very naive??

    I think I also need to speak to someone (AA For example) to get their guidance and I guess support.

    Not the happiest start to the year sad

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    • Posted

      If she has a drink problem then she won't be able to drink to a normal level. Total abstinence is the only way I'm afraid. Its a bit like expecting a cocaine addict to just have a bit now and then. If she is an alcoholic then just one sip of drink will set off the craving again and then she is back to square one in afraid 
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  • Posted

    Martin...That's exactly what Al-Anon is there for...AA will be a help too,but Al-Anon is especially for people affected by a loved one's drinking.It is an ideal wish to hope that your wife may be able to  "drink sensibly"...But put into practice not so simple...It's an addiction whereby you cannot stop yourself from having "just another drink"...Very hard to control and very often people who suffer from alcoholism must stop drinking completely...But do please check out Al-Anon...They will help big time ....
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  • Posted

    It is of the same "family"as AA.(12 steps)..But the difference is it deals with people directly affected by another person's drinking.A A is great but it is more geared to the alcoholic him/herself seeking help.It would be great if your wife attented a few A A meetings.However for you to get what you need support wise,Al-Anon is what you need.
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  • Posted

    Hi Martin, I do truly feel for you, I am a recovering alcoholic, I was sectioned four times into a mental health hospital, damaged every organ, weighed 5st 10lbs and was two weeks away from death.... I have been well for ten years, but I still sooo! Remember that appalling craving for a drink, I drank 22 hrs a day, also the terrible nausea and horrendous shakes...

    The worst thing to do is to make her feel guilty and secretive ( I hid bottles in a compost heap... buried them....under floorboards... in toilet cistern s......I hid so many I would forget where they were..... I am sure what would really help is the NHS ALCOHOL COMMUNITY is run by specialist nurses and staff, you can refer yourself, just walk in and ask to talk to someone... they are very.very kind and will put no pressure on her, but they will look after her alcohol problem and her physical and emotional family used to pour my alcohol away and the sheer panic was unbelievable... I you talk to her and tell her that you will go to CAS with her and in the meantime you will not put any pressure on her... I am sure that she is terrified and haunted by what she is doing.... I SINCERELY WISH you both well, it can be beaten.... the number for CAS will be in your local phone directory... good luck both, you sound like a lovely, caring and understanding man... DEIRDRE xx

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