Why don't I understand my husband's addiction to alcohol?

Posted , 8 users are following.

Hi to everyone. I have been working at reducing my valium daily for several months now. I haven't always been successful but I'm still on track.

A week ago i also stopped smoking.

PROBLEM - my husband is dying due to alcoholism and I really don't understand why he has to drink it at all. He's been to three rehabs, walked out of two (pne after only 12 hours) and successfully stayed dry for six months in one. Needless to say he bought six cans on the way home once discharged.


Someone must be able to explain to me why people like alcohol. Peersonally I think it tastes disgusting and causes multiple social problems and violence, so what is the attraction?

All answers welcomed, even those telling me negative things about myself. I'm quite used to hearing them from my husband, anyway....

1 like, 97 replies

Report / Delete

97 Replies

  • Posted

    I can't understand why people got hooked on valium. I take it to detox from alcohol and then want it no more.

    I can't see why people start smoking, it is a nasty dirty smelly habit that tastes like the bottom of an ash tray, what enjoyment is gotten out of that. And it starts killing you from day one.

    Now, drinking, I'll grant you, if you have a sweet tooth, is an acquired taste. But some alcoholic drinks are nice without having to acquire the taste, such as wine.

    Alcohol is great for socialising, breaks the ice and in moderation isn't actually bad for you.

    After a time, when certain people usually with a different gene type that are susceptable to alcohol, steadily increase their intake beyond safe levels. Or people in stressful lifes/jobs use it to cope. Over time the alcohol changes their neural pathways  and they can't stop drinking, just like a drug addict - prescription or non prescription can't.

    Very few people really understand it properly, even the medical profession and the alcohol recovery charities don't really understand it properly. They think a bit of good old fashioned willpower will do it.

    Well, you have seen it first hand, where someone has been through detox and reverts to type. No one has explained what is wrong with them to them and helped with mdication and the right counselling.

    I attend an alcoholic recovery centre, voluntarily, I told them what medication I wanted. I have had to explain to my counsellor what medication I am taking and why it benefits me, because she knows nothing about it and said so.

    I have more knowledge in my little finger about alcoholism than she does in her whole body. But to get the medication, I had to go there, my GP will not help. TBH, I get no counselling, because they don't really know what to do with me. I go there monthly get my prescription and have 10 minutes with my counsellor to arrange my next appointment and leave.

    Luckily I understand my problem and I can deal with it, those that can't end up like your husband.

    None of this is meant to be negative, you'll will be surprised how many non judgemental people are here and just because your husband says negative things, doesn't mean we will.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

      i agree that smoking is smelly, disgusting, expensive and kills you - just like alcohol, really...............I have yet to find an alcoholic drink that i like the taste of, but then again, maybe that's me.

      I believe that you are absolutely right about counselling, but nobody can force people to have it - and indeed, you yourself want it, and can't get it, so where does that leave all of us.

      Sorry - I'm having a horrible, angry day. I am using willpower to stop smoking and even more willpower to reduce and hopefully stop taking valium. So why doesn't willpower work for alcoholism? Or does it, for some people? Please, aomebody explain this to me before I go mad.

      I'm not surprised to find non-judgemental people here - I was expecting and hoping to find some. You weren't exactly non-judgemental but you didn't become self righteous, and I thank you for that.

      If the people helping alcoholics don't understand how to help them, what hope is there at all?

      Except good old-fashioned willpower.....I am sick of taking second place to a revolting can of beer. I am a human being, not a tin of an addictive substance which makes me violent.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      People are slowly to beginning to realise that alcoholism is a disease.The pathways in the brain have been changed by years of drinking and the more we abstain the more we want a drink.There are now drugs available that slowly over time put these pathways back to how they were pre alcohol
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      RHGB very well said. We all have our own addictions. We don't pick and choose. And we have to understand and to be non judgmental to ALL addictions. No matter what they are. I was addicted to smoking. Thank God I quit that 10 years ago. One down and one to go. I loved your answer!!!
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I think, Nicole, that it is too late for my husband. He has almost run out of time. Thank you for replying. I hope you are doing ok. I am not doing ok. I am very angry right now, which is not at all your fault, but you took the time to write to me, Thank you again.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I am very sorry to hear your husband doesn't have much time left.He has been greatly let down by the NHS.

      I hope you can find some peace.

      There is a drug called campral that you take when you have stopped drinking and it helps take away the craving,your husband should at least be told about this drug as it is available to be prescribed in the uk

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Kelly, may I ask what the 'one to go' is?

      I don't think I'm judgemental - how could I be, really, with my history? I'm just hopping mad!!!!!!!!

      Which isn't in the least helpful, of course.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      This made me cry so much!

      'Let down by the NHS'  -  oh, yes, they let him down, all right. He was 'just another alkie' and he still is.

      Nobody has helped him. I have taken him to so many appointments and rehabs. He has to get very drunk before he'll attend any of them so it's all a waste of time.

      That's another reason why I'm angry - this could have been stopped years ago before he got irreversible liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, an enlarged heart etc etc etc.

      He has stopped eating.

      All he does is drink. And drink. And drink. This is tearing us apart. I will be glad when he's dead because then I won't have to listen to that horrible sound of a ring-pull being opened ever again. Ugh Ugh Ugh DRINKING IS DISGUSTING AND SO IS THE NHS.

      How kind everyone is being. Thank you, all of you. I feel so alone.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      One to go means I need to quit drinking yet because I quit smoking 10 years ago.  I'm Pennsylvania dutch in the USA.  Sorry for any confusion.  I quit drinking for 11 years and started again 3 years ago.  For the past year I've been trying everything I know to quit drinking again.  I feel for you.  Maybe try an alnon meeting to help you better understand alcohol addiction.  We don't ask to be this way.  Apparently with your valium and smoking you understand how hard it is to quit something.   I say to go try an alnon meeting in your area to better understand what people go through who have loved ones addicted to alcohol.  

      I lost a good friend to alcoholism.  I wondered how he could be so dumb to keep drinking and lose his life when he had doctors tell him he had one year and he'd die if he didn't quit.  Then I realized how difficult it was for me the second time around to quit.  

      I can only pray you find the answeres youre looking for as like I said - we do not ask for this addiction.  Best of luck! 

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Yours is actually a common problem, Tess, as is your husband's. People that don't like alcohol or that drink sensibly don't experience what people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) experience. Even people that successfully use AA or plain willpower to achieve abstinence (about 10% of those that attempt it) do not understand what those with AUD are going through, they're simply not wired the same way. Those with AUD are often told to "just stop drinking", but there's a powerful programming that happens when alcoholics drink, one that gets stronger every time a drink is taken. That programming, that reinforcement happens in a part of the brain that stores habits, a part that is called the Striatum. That part of the brain isn't conscious and it doesn't know the difference between a good habit and a bad habit. It just remembers that alcohol = reward and it remembers how to compel one to go after that reward. If you look around at all the stories of people in your life or those that you've heard of that have a drinking problem, you'll see that the compulsion is very real and very, very effective. 

    Many with AUD have tried to quit a number of times, but the craving that drives the disorder is not extinguished and abstinence often results in relapse, often resulting in even harder drinking at higher, more damaging levels than before. This tendency is described by the "Alcohol Deprivation Effect" first studied in rats. If you google:

    Alcohol Deprivation Effect sinclair

    you'll find more info on it. 

    For these people (myself included) straight abstinence through willpower (even with social support) is a dangerous path that will likely end in failure. There are, however, alternatives via Medically Assisted Treatment. One such alternative (and the one I use) is The Sinclair Method, outlined here:


    There are others as well, certainly there's some alternative that will get the job done for everyone that wants to escape the death-grip of AUD. Have a look at this link, there's a book that goes over various options and lists the studies that support them. The book is mentioned in the last post in the thread:


    So, AUD can be overcome, but none of the treatments will correct an underlying problem that started the drinking in the first place (if that turns out to be an issue), but at least the drinking will be out of the way and so treatment for the problem will be far more effective. But in a nutshell, if your husband would like to get rid of the drink or at least get it under control, he can do so. I've cut my drinking by 75% over a 4 month period, no willpower involved. The medications used basically blunt the craving and silence the compulsion so one is no longer driven to drink.

    Congratulations, on quitting smoking and cutting back on the valium! Too many doctors prescribe benzodiazepines for extended use when they weren't meant to be used that way. Quitting them can be quite difficult and it's a task that may need to be taken rather slowly. Do you have a doctor's help for this? 


    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you for taking all this time to reply.

      Yes, I have a very good, expert doctor's help with the tapering off. The smoking I just decided was disgusting and expensive and unhealthy so I just stopped.

      I do not understand one point, though, that you raised (ALCOHOL = REWARD)

      Er.........what is the reward, exactly? Having arguments with everyone? Being embarrassing in public places? Having violent rows with people you allege that you love?

      That doesn't sem like a goal worthy of attainment. Some Reward!!!

      I must be missing a vital piece of information somewhere.

      My husband has so many alcohol-related health issues that his death is not far away now. So he drinks more. Why? Is the 'reward' he seeks actually death?

      Forgive me. you have freely and kindly taken the trouble to explain things to me but OH I AM SOOOOOOOO ANGRY WITH HIM. Why didn't he just stop when he came out of the only (marginally) successful rehab? What reward did he think he'd get when he arrived home to his wife and four children with SIX CANS OF BEER IN A BAG? We wanted to welcome him home and celebrate his success, but he preferred beer to us.

      That hurt and it still hurts.

      I must go - I've just found another supposedly hidden can of beer which is so important that I really must throw it away - or hurl it as far as I can while screaming WHY IS THIS HORRIBLE STUFF SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?????????????????

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      HI Tess...you are right WILLPOWER is all...he should NOT have come home with beers and 4 children and he is now dying..he should have had more willpower.....i stopped when i had hit rock bottom and could have destroyed my family..that was 3 1/2 yrs ago and I seriously doubt that I will EVER have a drink again....harsh reply but the truth....Robin
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      "Why didn't he just stop when he came out of the only (marginally) successful rehab?"

      Because people with this disorder can't "just stop", and if they try, they end up drinking harder than ever. The rate of failure for that approach is about 90%. For the 10% that can do it, that's what they should do. The rest must seek some kind of Medically Assisted Treatment if they are ever to be free of this disease.

      The "reward" is triggered by the endorphins released by alcohol and it is this mechanism that results in the reinforcement of this powerful habit. The habit is formed in an unconscious part of the brain that cannot be accessed by logic, willpower or reason. That part of the brain has no use for such things. If you look back, can you see anything logical or reasonable about your husband's continued self-destructive behavior? This is something you can't talk away, pray away or reason away. Your husband is not alone in this, there are millions like him, many of them are aware of their predicament and would give anything to be free, though they've tried and tried and tried. There are millions in your shoes too, Tess. Only small portion of alcoholics and their families have educated themselves to understand what they're really up against, and have come to understand that there is real help available. 

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted


      I wonder how much stick you're going to get for your honesty?

      Oops - apparently willpower isn't possible. I'm glad to read that you've conquered your problem with willpower. That's what I'm doing with my problem. It'ss hard, isn't it????

      Thank you so much.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Robin won't get any stick from me, because I recognise that everyone is unique.

      A method that works for one may not work for another.

      That doesn't mean either of them are wrong biggrin

      Robin got recovered using his willpower.  I got sober using medication as I found that after 20+ years of trying willpower, it wasn't working for me.

      Does the way we got sober invalidate our recovery?

      Or are we both successful?

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      You're both successful, of course. You just became successful by different methods. And dof course the way anyone becomes sober doesn't invalidate their recovery - but one or two replies have suggested that willpower is totally impossible. I do not believe that is true in every case and neither do you, or Robin.

      I'm just glad you both recovered. Truly. Whatever worked for you was the best thing you could have done. Trebles all round?

      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up