Dear Rae: What to Do When He Abuses Alcohol?

he drinks way more couple arguing

Dear Rae: He drinks way more than I thought!

I am embarrassed to say I met a guy 3 years ago online and I fell in love. Yes, he drank, but I was not aware of the degree. Trust is an issue with me, but I tried to be open. We married 2 years ago, and he moved us away from everything I knew – family and friends. And he manipulated my money right out of my hands. Now I’m all the way across the country, and I know no one. We have been in our new home not even one year, and he incessantly lies and drinks way more than I thought. When he gets really drunk, he kicks me out. It has happened several times, he says he does not need me or the drama. I have no family, I am on a fixed income and scared.



Dear PC:

I am so sorry you are going through this. It is not surprising that you feel isolated and afraid. Addiction and isolation go hand in hand. And your husband’s alcohol misuse, is causing him to want to be alone with his addiction. It is why he “kicks you out”. That way he can avoid conflict, hide his shame, and allow his alcohol use to run the show. Addiction is a disease, and it affects both the brain and the behavior.


Living away from loved ones, and the COVID-19 pandemic is even more reason for you to self-advocate in this situation. I’m sure it feels impossible, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself. First, if you are in danger, you should call a local hotline, or local authorities. If you have family/friends who live away from you, rekindle relationships, call, text, email, or zoom and share your situation. Ask for help if you can.


If it is safe to do so, talk to your husband when he is not under the influence of alcohol and address the problems in your marriage calmly. There are always free, local organizations that can help you and your husband with his drinking. If he is not willing to go to a meeting, Al-Anon is an organization for those who are worried about someone else’s drinking. Al-Anon will help you to determine patterns of behavior, triggers to his drinking, and provide coping skills for you.


Focus on your personal needs …

The family collapse, resulting despair and inability to “fix” out of control behavior, has likely begun to pervade all of your life’s activities. The general pattern for those living with addiction in the home is to take on additional responsibilities in an attempt to control dysfunctional behavior. These efforts are sincere, but do not make the situation any better.


The only way to begin to emerge from this cycle is to make a concerted effort to focus on YOUR personal needs. Let go of the embarrassment, this is not your fault. Seek out a community or support system that understands your situation. Only when you implement self-care will you begin to overcome the fear and feel empowered. Remember, it’s his disease that is lying and if you begin to lose your resolve his disease will remain in the driver’s seat.

Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC


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Rae Allyson Green, JD, MA, LPC, CAADC, is the Founder & President of Sanford Behavioral Health. After extensive experience working in residential treatment centers, Rae sought a new treatment approach for addiction and co-occurring disorders. Together with husband, David Green, she established Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers in 2015. Their mission was to elevate the effectiveness and availability of treatment for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders (SUDs). Today, Sanford is an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving the state of Michigan and beyond.