A Family of Addicts

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
A Family of Addicts
4
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 5:17pm

I think I may have found just the right support boards for me! 

Just a little background...

Dh and I are 52 and 50 and married last year after a 2 1/2 year courtship.  I did know when I married dh that he was an alcoholic, but kept faith that he would once again stop drinking.  (He had quit for 8 years prior to meeting me.)  Unfortunately, after 9 months, I had to let him know that if he continued drinking daily that our marriage would fail.  He quit on February 27th and only drinks on occasion (never during the week).  Someone told me he is what is called a "functioning alcoholic".  My step-grandfather was one as well.  Is this someone who can hold a job and control their drinking?  Dh when he DOES drink, drinks to get drunk and it's exhausting to be honest.  He suffers from depression and I have found takes things VERY personally, so when he drinks, it all comes out.  Of course, like most of us who love our alcoholics, I fear every day that he will slide backwards, but hope that he won't.  His father also was a heavy drinker, but now in his older years only has a couple drinks on Friday nights.  I'm hoping dh, too, will take that path and continue to slow down as he ages. 

The biggest stress in dh's life are his 3 sons - ages 30, 29, and 19.  He gained custody of them when he divorced their mentally ill mother in 1997.  She moved to another state and has not been a part of their lives since.  On his own, dh had to deal with his oldest son's mental illness (severe alcohol and drug abuse).  DS29 is currently in rehab for the 3rd time with the VA (he was in Iraq in 2005) and has abused both since he returned.  He was diagnosed with PTSD, but turned to drugs instead of getting help until a couple years ago, so it only got worse.  The oldest lives in a state home and lives on state disability and second son is on partial military disability living at the VA hospital currently.  DS19 ruined his senior year of high school when he, too, turned to horrendous drug use.  Luckily, he moved back home in January after dh had kicked him out 3 times last year, so he lived with DS29 who was in an apartment at the time for 8 months and they used and sold drugs together!  DS30 was also on the streets at that time, so the 3 of them were actually living together for a while.  We're lucky the youngest finally cleaned up and did the right thing.  He did graduate in May, but, since he lost his license and totaled his car during that time, he currently has no way to get either to a job or take classes at our local community college.  It's going to cost dh and me around $5,000 to get his life moving forward. 

So, that's my story...and even just writing that, it's hard to believe that this is my life.  I love dh with all my heart, but the addiction gene in this family is like NOTHING I've ever experienced.  EVER.  Dh has 4 sisters who are all college graduates, are married with totally college-bound kids.  I was married for 25 years prior to dh, have 4 DDs all in their 20's who have graduated college or who are IN college and all are doing well.  Dh hates social situations because people ask him about his children and he hates it.   

The sad thing is...is these boys got the mental illness/addiction gene from both parents.  Dh fortunately is smart and successful.  None of his children inherited his intelligence unfortunately.  Dh and all of his sons also smoke cigarettes which makes me sad.  I have never witnessed addiction so up close and personal.  Luckily, I became very strong 5 years ago during my horrendous divorce, so have handled it pretty well so far. 

Dh's oldest is truly ill and will never get better.  At this time, he's back in the psych ward of our local hospital and will probably end back up in another state institution where he won't be able to get passes and leave.  Poor dh is so sick of the roller coaster ride of his sons, that he gets depressed and gets drunk.  I KNOW this is what's called "self medicating".  I wish he believed in counseling as I've never met anyone who could use it more than him with all he has on his shoulders, but he doesn't believe in it.  His sons are SO dependent on him since they HAVE noone else...it just makes me sad and dh wishes sometimes that he could just run away.  :smileysad:

Thanks all for listening. 

Community Leader
Registered: 10-08-2002
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 11:09am
Yes, you did fall into a pit of addictions. Now for the truth....You did not cause it, you can not control it, you cant cure it. Your choices only apply to what YOU want for yourself. You sound like this is really wearing down on you, as it very well can. What does your family say about all this drama? There is a book called Co-Dependent No More by Melodie Beattie (sp) that is great for helping deal with this type of situation. There is a fellowship called Alanon that can help you deal with the alcoholic/addicts in your life. This will give you face to face support as well. Until and unless your husband and/or stepsons want to get better, you are powerless over your alcoholics. If they choose to find a way to get better, AA is an option. Counselling is not the only option. There is no reason to stick with just one...but remember, none of them will help if the person needing help is not willing to listen and act on the suggestions of them. Truth is, as was so well pointed out to me, that there is no such thing as self medicating. I drank and drugged because I liked the effect produced by alcohol and drugs. Anything else was an excuse. While those types of situations are not pleasant, they are only excuses to drink/drug. The true reason is because I am an alcoholic/addict and that is my solution. I do not know how to live sober and I do not want to make an effort to learn..until my life is so bad that even sober sounds good. Right now, it is about how you plan to live the rest of your life. Try Alanon and do some research into your options. Come and talk to us..let us know how you are doing and ask others how they perceive your thinking to be. Check and recheck yourself thru the eyes of others that have already had to live what you are living through. This will give you a sense of not being alone...and finding solutions to living happy, joyous and free. I look forward to hearing from you again....thank you for posting.
Alcohol, Addictions & Recovery. It's a long way down, but only 12 steps UP
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 2:49pm

  Thank you so much for your response.  I have read some of your other postings and you truly ARE an inspiration! 

  I also like your saying "Happiness is an inside job, etc..."  I also know this to be true.  The old saying, "THAT that doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."   certainly applies to me.  I suffered a breakdown during my divorce, but with God's strength and the support of family, friends and a phenominal counselor, I came back ready to take on the world...and I think I DID! 

  My family probably thinks I went off the deep end by marrying dh and into this family, but I became VERY strong after my breakdown , so have deep faith and great strength.  Make no mistake...I have my days when I question what I've done, but no doubts.  I am committed to dh as I was to my first husband (I take my vows VERY seriously), but dh also knows my boundaries.  IF he started drinking heavily again, I'd be gone.  If he ever let his DS29 move back in, I'd move out.  He knows all this and accepts it.  I also no longer live in fear.  I can only control what I do, not dh...this I know. 

I almost did go to Al-Anon once, but the meetings here are not close to home and in the evenings.  But, if I ever felt I needed it, I would absolutely go.  I have always maintained that  "Noone knows what you're going through unless they've walked a mile in your shoes." 

I will definitely read the book you recommended.  I don't THINK I'm a co-dependent, but I might find out differently. 

Thanks again for your input and God Bless.  :smileyhappy:

Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Fri, 10-05-2012 - 2:41pm

Brenda certainly did not steer you wrong!

How are things going?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 5:07pm

As for me, I take it one day at a time.  :smileyhappy:

Dh and I had a long talk this weekend.  We drink usually once or twice a week (on the weekends) and he limits himself to a 6 pack of beer.  My biggest concern these days is his smoking which has gotten worse.  Dh is the LAST person who should be smoking as he only has 1 1/2 lungs and has had 2 aneuryisms.  He KNOWS he needs to quit, but, honestly admitted he sometimes thinks he has a death wish.  (He also suffers depression.)  He suffers chronic chest pain as a doctor during his lung surgery 12 years ago punctured some nerves on the side of his chest.  Add all that to the pain his kids addictions have piled on him as a single father (mother is a mentally ill addict who lives in another state), one can almost understand it.  His life has been anything but easy, so I feel as long as we're together, my goal is just to bring him some happiness.  I find MINE with GOD.  :smileyhappy:

As for his sons, the oldest...well...he'll never get better.  He assaulted an employee at the state home he lived at recently, so, last we knew was in the psych ward at our local hospital.  His social worker is having a hard time finding him another home to live in as he's burned his bridges about everywhere in the state.  He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 23, but dh knows the doctors just did that to get him on state aid. He's basically just a really bad drug addict.  With him, we know there's no hope. 

DSS29 has 45 more days at the VA hospital (3rd time he's been there for rehab.)  Dh said he sounds like he's doing well.  I don't know what will happen when he gets out as he's burned his bridges here in our small city...broken 2 apartment leases, got kicked out of the halfway house he lived in after his last rehab, but he knows he cannot live with us. 

DSS19 is doing well, but basically just existing.  He isn't home much...just goes to a friend's to play video games and hang out.  Dh paid his DOT fines last week ($2700), so the next step is for him to get his license back, buy him a used car and get him in some kind of training program in January at our community college and then a job.  The sad thing is is that we know even after spending all this money, he could go south again and it would be all for nothing.  But, if we don't, he'll never be able to get his life going...EVER. 

On a positive note...I have 4 DDs who are perfectly normal and doing well.  :smileyhappy: THAT has been the hardest part of dh's and my relationship...the fact that my children are college graduates doing well and his kids...I'm sure my kids think I went off the deep end marrying into this family.  I sometimes wonder if God made me strong FOR dh because I can't imagine any other woman having done what I've done by marrying into this family.