Advice about Alcohol Use & Abuse

Parent Q&A

  • Acupuncture to stop drinking?

    (4 replies)

    I need to stop drinking. I'm doing pretty well so far on my own, but I wonder if acupuncture would help curb cravings and repair the damage I've done to my liver. Has anyone had success with this method? If so, what practitioner did you use?

    Thank you!

    Onw way to find out is to try it! There is actually a free clinic that does acupuncture using points on the ear, hand and head , and it specializes in substance use. At Lifelong Medical's Wellness Center in the Ed Roberts Campus (Ashby BART) is the Ear Acupuncture Detox Clinic . Open Tues, Wed, Thurs 8:30 AM-last treatment at 10:30. Counseling and primary care offered for fee/insurance, but the acupuncture, hot tea and healthy gourmet buffet are completely free! People come in for all sorts of issues, but its original mission when it started 20 plus years ago was to serve those with addictions.  Get the before 10 to get registered, and check it out!

    Acupuncture helps me in many respects.  But for my drinking addiction, only AA worked.  I needed the community fellowship, a sponsor, and working the steps.  Yes, the Big Book is dated, but I learned a lot, even though I'm not Christian nor male.  Good Luck. 

    Not sure acupuncture would is the solution.  Fresh Air had an interview with a women, "A Path From 'Blackout' Drunkenness To Sobriety And Self-Acceptance" who found away to stop.  (Sorry I forgot how she did it.) Here's he link, hope it helps

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Books about alcoholic family members?

Sept 2010

Can someone recommend a recent book about alcoholic parents, adult children of such families, etc.? I'm more interested in family patterns, the underlying psychology, etc., as opposed to AA/Al-Anon handbooks.

Hello! I have read an awesome book called 'Copdependent No More' it talk about the family cycle in alcholic families and gives practical advice on how to break the cycle. Such a great book. Good luck in your search! kristy

Changing custody agreement based on ex's alcohol abuse

Dec 2007

Hi all -- I'm looking to legally change the custody agreement that I have with my ex-husband. After several years of sobriety he has begun abusing alcohol again and I would like to speak with a lawyer who has experience in this type of situation, specifically in changing from joint to sole custody. Other people who have been through similar situations have told me about mandated supervised visits and periodic drug and alcohol testing, but I really don't know anything about the various types of provisions I could put in place to keep my children safe while they are with their father. Also don't really know if this is a no-brainer, as my friends seem to think, or if it is likely to be a very difficult change to make. Any recommendations for lawyers familiar with this type of situation would be greatly appreciated! anon

Alcohol abuse is one of a number of factors that are used by the court to determine the ''best interests of the children'' in making custody awards. If your case was originally litigated, then changing custody generally requires a showing of ''changed circumstance,'' which is a legally defined term. If custody was agreed on by stipulation, then the court will usually make a ''best interests of the children'' determination, also legally defined.

What often makes sense to the layperson as a parent, is not necessarily what happens in court, so be wary when friends say your case is a ''no-brainer.'' Each case is different and the outcome is often influenced by the nature and style of attorney representation, who the judge is, the behavior and actions of the other parent, and ultimately the specific facts in the case.

Changing custody is frequent in family law cases, so most family law attorneys are familiar with this process. I always recommend people shop around for an attorney who fits their needs in terms of goals, style of representation, and budget. These cases can take a long time and it it important to work with someone you like and feel comfortabnle with. A.

How can I escape an alcoholic marriage?

Nov 2007

My husband and I have been together 16 years. We have an 8 year old child. He has had a terrible drinking problem for over 20 years - really terrible. I once believed I could 'cure' him, but 16 years later I know I can't. Though he is a dear soul, his drinking problem is serious and dangerous, and is not a good situation to raise our child in. I need to get myself and our child out of this situation. However, I have no idea how. He makes 3x my salary, pays for our home, car, expenses, and her school. We have credit card debt, which 95% of my paycheck goes towards. He will not leave our home, which we do own. He really has nowhere to go. No extended family, no close friends. We are his life. His drinking problem continues largely because of our codependent situation. He supports us financially (until his employer also gets fed up), and we provide him love and a safe place to land. I don't want anything bad to happen to him, but because his alcoholism is the absolute worst, I feel it is irresponsible to raise my child in this situation. I think I need help, and I have no idea how to handle this. I come from modest means - my parents rent a tiny house, my friends can not support a rent-free roomie. What are my choices? Can anybody tell me what a person in my situation should do? Stuck in a Bad Situation

See what life looks like for me in my posting to Marriage is hard . . . Please go to Alanon. Find your support system there. That way you can keep your child safe and Christmas, Easter and Birthdays do not have to involve your child in a car with a sober - - - or not alcoholic. Life's What You Make It

This advice pertains to a couple of other postings this week ... You need to find a divorce attorney to determine in which way you need to proceed starting right now to maximize your savings and your chance of a share of the husband's money. You need to stop using your salary to pay the credit card debt -- why are you paying this off? Why isn't he, with his huge salary? You need to find the local Al-Anon group, and the local Codependents Anonymous group. AND find a therapist who understands the issues you are dealing with, why do you put up with such behavior, how to avoid it in the future, and for emotional support. And find and galvanize your support system; I bet there are others who have held their tongue but know what's going on with your marriage and would support you. Best of luck to you. anonymous

I am so sorry to hear of what you have been through with your husband, whom you obviously still love, at least in part. Of course you don't want anything bad to happen to him -- but it already has. He is addicted to alcohol and on a destructive course. Writing to this list is a first step, but you need support around you and legal advice. Not so that you can hire a lawyer to fight his lawyer, but so that you understand that that salary of his (3X yours) is partially yours, too. Try to find a good lawyer who also acts as a mediator so that the object is resolution rather than creation of (more) conflict. One good person is Judith Joshel, another is Eva Herzer, there are others in the area. Often a mediator won't act as the mediator for a couple after offering advice, but I still think that it is better to ask a mediator to help, even initially. If you haven't joined Al-Anon, you should try to go. There will be others there who share your situation. Your husband is responsible for continuing to offer support to both you and your child, even if you leave the marriage. I would ask the mediator for advice about how to handle leaving your husband -- what should happen about custody for your son, for instance, and what should happen about your house? It seems clear from your posting that you still feel enormous responsibility for your husband, even as you acknowledge that you are co- dependent. For me, it was a big step to relinquish my responsibility toward my ex (it's a power trip to have that responsility, too) and tell myself repeatedly, ''I don't have to protect him. I don't have to support him. He's a grown-up and has to take care of his own needs.'' You have more means at your disposal, both financial and psychological, than you allow yourself. A good therapist for you would also be key. I wish you luck in your hard journey. a supporter for breaking co-dependency

Please go to Al-anon. Leaving this relationship is going to be hard (I know, I've been there), the support of others that had been down a simular path was the only thing that saved me. Not only did I find an amazing supportive community I also got great practical advise. I also learned how to take care of myself. In recovery

get to an alanon meetng or several and take your kid to some allateen meetings anon

Help - my husband is a drinker

October 2006

Four years ago I married someone I thought was a dream - affectionate, athletic, smart, fun, successful, and wanted children. In a year and a half of dating, I barely saw him drink. To my shock, on the honeymoon, he had about a dozen drinks a night. And he's had four to eight drinks a night since. Now we have a child together, and the drinking is the source of constant tension and fighting between us. It has impacted me in every way - I'm not attracted to him sexually, I sleep horribly as he wakes me up when he comes to bed late and drunk, I don't have a life outside of my daughter since I feel like I'm solely responsible for her care in the evenings and middle of the night since he's drinking. We've had many, many confrontations about it. At one point, I banned drinking in the house, and he hid his alcohol in the closets and basement and drank after he thought I was asleep. He says I exaggerate how much he drinks and shouldn't care if he has an ''occasional'' late night out. He says his drinking has no impact on our daughter because she's asleep. He says that he makes plenty of money for me to hire a sitter and go out and do whatever I want at night if he's out. (Since I don't know when he's going to be out, I can't plan for sitters). I've taken him to five marriage counselors - all disastrous. One was a ''specialist'' in getting men in denial of drinking to acknowledge the problem. A thousand dollars later, he said my husband is a cement wall and there's nothing he can do for him. I can't or won't leave my husband. To me, that looks like living in an apartment taking care of my daughter by myself 7 days a week (or far worse, losing partial custody and worrying about her in his care). It would be worse for her since now she gets daily interaction with her dad during the day, but I make sure she's okay all night. It would mean going back to work to get health insurance and leaving her in daycare and then after school care five days a week. I would lose the thing I value most in life - being able to stay at home to raise my child. He does a large portion of his drinking at home at night so most of his friends do not know there is a problem. Please share advice and experience. Out of answers

Al-Anon is a lifesaver! Find local meetings at: Anon

I grew up in a similar, not so dramatic, environment, and can easily say that as the child in the parent relationship - don't deny your daughter of her needs, whether emotional, spiritual or physical (hugging and kissing). Also, by keeping her around your husband it's likely she'll grow up thinking that you're endorsing his behavior, so she can do it too, and/or that you're accepting being with a man like that. Your husband won't change, but you should for your daughter's benefit. I think you're unaware of what you can gain and not aware of what you're losing as time flies by, fast. David

My heart goes out to you. I've been with my husbsand for 18yrs. I even knew he had had a drinking/drug addiction problem before we got married! So I can only imagine your surprise and shock when the ''honeymoon'' so to speak was over. It seemed to me when we were dating that the partying was part of our youth. But when we had our 2nd child and the staying out late or not coming home at all became the rule as opposed to the exception I nearly lost my mind.The program that has brought me back to life is Alanon.

It is a 12-step program that helps families deal with those affected by alcoholism. It has helped me find serenity among the complete chaos that the disease of alcoholism brings. When things got really bad, we did separate. And yes, I had to go back to work f/t, put the kids in daycare and try to do what I thought was best for my kids. All along I went to my meetings and got support. My husband was doing better, realizing the loss of his family was huge and worked hard at getting us back. We slowly started to reconnect and I became pregnant with twins! What a mess-not only wasn't I sure if this was the relationship I wanted, now we have 2 more kids to add to the mix. I leaned heavily on my faith and my program and accepted my husband back into the house and gave birth to our amazing twins. Over the past year my husband has continued to use, be unavailable at critical times, but being strong in Alanon has helped me keep the focus on me, and to take care of myself and my kids first.

Over the past several months he has again done better by not using and is trying be more present in our lives. I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop tho. I just live my life for the kids and me and for their best interest and safety first. I can't control him, only myself. I can choose to leave but I have 4 kids with this man and he will will always be in our lives. He is kind and loving and a great dad when he's not using. So my net is, if you are choosing to stay with him get the help YOU need to be sane and happy. Get involved with others that have been there and can support you. Make a life for your daughter and you - Check out to find meetings in your area. Good luck. Mom who's been there and still is

You need to join AlAnon to find a way to deal with this; There are meetings all over the east bay. Note that until your husband understands that he is an alcoholic, your situation is only going to get worse; and the older your daughter gets, the more messed up she is going to be. aa member

You have described a horrific situation, but the most important thing I read in your posting is: ''I can't or won't leave my husband.'' Can't or won't -- you're not sure which??

Maybe no one has told you this yet, but actually, you CAN leave your husband. By law, he is obliged to support your daughter, and I would think she will still be covered by his health plan. So you will not be destitute.

Yes, you will become financially poorer, yes, your daughter will probably have to spend some time in daycare, but worse things can happen, like growing up in an alcoholic-enabling family.

After four therapists, you know that this situation is not going to change. Your husband is not going to change. That means that all change is in your hands.

You must first know for sure that you want change. I can't think of any reason that you would want to stay in this situation, and I also can't think of any way you can change it short of getting out, at least temporarily. (Maybe he will ''hit bottom'' if you go and will stop drinking -- but don't hold your breath for that one.)

If you really think that none of his friends or family know that he drinks (and he seems to be very good at hiding it), you probably should start documenting it. Take note every night (or the next morning) of how much he drank, if you can, and KEEP YOUR NOTES IN A SAFE AND HIDDEN PLACE. This important documentation will help you keep your daughter safe from his alcoholism if you split up.

Take it one step at a time. Decide that your daughter is worth protecting. Take steps necessary to get out.

Good luck -- One of Thousands of BPN Friends

I first want to give you a big hug through this machine.I really feel for you and your situation. My husband wasn't a drinker, but he is an addict. I knew he was an addict before we got married.We got pregnant first, and I got really scared. He began therapy on his own and of course addiction came up. But when there were relapses during the pregnancy, I laid it all out on the table. I already felt irresponsible for bringing an innocent child into such a situation...that was my poor judgement and poor choice.

But I knew that I still had power over how the rest of mine and my child's life could be more relapse and we're gone; simple as that. This meant he had to continue seeing a therapist weekly and began a 12 step program, whether he thought he had a problem or not; it was not up for negotiation. I am so proud to say that he's been sober for almost three years. Today our marriage is strong.

I think you are boxing yourself in here. You do have options. If you left your husband because of the drinking you could get supervised visitation, so you wouldn't have to worry about your daughter. Also, you'd get alamony which would help with you still staying home with your daughter. Do you have relatives you could live with so that you could stay home with her during the day and maybe work in the evenings? Even if your daughter was in childcare a few days a week...this is all FAR better than her growing up in an alcoholic home...I beg you..don't do that to her. She's already got the addict gene, she doesn't need to learn the behavior of either the alcoholic or the alcoholic's partner as well.

You need to be strong and firm about this. I know it's scary, but that is temporary. You have to think about the long term best interest of your daughter and it's not living with an alcoholic father.

I suggest you or he moves out and he goes into rehab. Once he's been sober for AT LEAST 6months, then you guys can start dating again and see how it goes from there. If he is willing to give up his family for drinking, let him. But don't make your daughter live with the consequences of both your bad choice to stay and his bad choice to drink; it's just not right and fair to her anon

I am sorry that you have such a tough burden at this time, but I admore your committment to your husband. It sounds like he likes to drink and you cannot stand alcohol at all? Some folks like to drink, but that doesn't make them alcoholics... they just like to drink.

I think that you perhaps need to be more open with your dislike of alcohol than labelling you husband an alcoholic--I am not saying that you need to accept it, but just ask him why he wasn't more open about it while you were dating.

My husband drinks 4 to six drinks (beers or glasses of wine) on most nights, but I don't consider him an alcoholic. But this is partly because I've always had drinkers in my family and am fine with it... he isn't making himself sick everynight or reckless. If you have totally different views about something, though, it is bound to cause tension. If you cannot stand this but enjoy all the material benefits he provides (like a nice house, being a SAHM) it sounds like you are perhaps being a bit unfair to him--like you want to change him without looking at yourself drinkers are just folks, too

My husband is also an alcoholic and I found a lot of solace and hope in attending Al-Anon meetings. These are for families of alcoholics and you will find that you are not alone. You will also find a community that will embrace you warmly. You won't learn how to cure him (as they say, you didn't cause it, you can't control it or cure it) but you will learn how to live with it. Here's the website, where you can find a meeting, some even have babysitting: happy member of Alanon

My heart goes out to you with your problem. I am sure you will get many posts and all sorts of advice. I just want you to know that I respect your decision to stay in your marriage. I, too, am married to an alcoholic and know the many problems that accompany such a marriage. And I, too, have chosen to stay, at least for today, for the sake of my children. It's not that I believe that a marriage is necessarily better for children than single parenthood--it's that I believe my husband, with his disease, is unable to care for the children, physically and emotionally. As the primary caretaker, I also believe that my children depend on me greatly for both logistical and emotional support-- perhaps more so than in a non-alcoholic marriage.

Like you, financial considerations also play a role. I do work part-time, but both my husband and I would suffer, terribly, in the event of a divorce and that would not be good for the children.

This may not be the decision I keep to next week, or next month, or next year, or five years from now, but for now, yes, I do stay.

I strongly urge you, however, to find an Al-Anon group to go to. It is the only thing that has kept me sane over the last three years. It has taught me to find serenity despite my circumstances, to focus on myself and my children and not my husband, and to take care of myself (financially, emotionally, spiritually), so that I don't get totally sucked into the family disease of alcoholism. It has also taught me a tremendous amount about the disease of alcoholism, which is crucial is you're going to live with an alcoholic. I have grown so much through this program and, most days, actually feel comfortable, even happy, with my life and my decisions.

I wish you strength, peace, and hope--believe me, many of us have walked in your shoes Grateful Member of Al-Anon

I hear and appreciate the tension between two different pulls -- one to be there for your child and the other to escape the misery of being married to an alcoholic. I think you do best by yourself and your child by getting support for yourself, either through Al-Anon or CODA, or individual therapy (or both) so that you have a nonjudgmental ally in this terrible situation.

Your husband is doing what one would expect of someone who drinks that much -- denying, minimizing, justifying, lashing out defensively. That doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong. Please, get some support for yourself so you can survive this. The limits you set are reasonable but you're in a situation that many would find untenable. Are there any support systems outside the marriage you can access? Friends or family? People who would not say ''I told you so'' or ''leave him now!''? He may need to reach his own bottom by losing his job or his friends, and when he does I hope he finds treatment. If you reach the place where you deliver ultimata, make sure you are prepared to back it up. Otherwise, you may wind up feeling worse about him, yourself, and the whole situation. Try to set a good example for your daughter -- think about what you would want for her if she were in this situation herself. I think that in time, with enough support, you can find the strength to do what's right for yourself and your family. But please don't try to do it alone. It's like trying to plug up a dam with your thumb -- there's just too much pressure for one person to do it all alone. Lisa

If you have enough money to do so I would hire a sitter for whatever evening activity you want to do regardless of whether your husband will come home or not. Since you have decided to stay with him I would think that you could behave as though you are a single parent and stop revolving all of your decision making around your husband. He is an alcoholic and in denial and won't change until he decides that he needs to. Try and accept that you can not change him. If he had a physical disablilty that made it impossible for him to care for your child, what would you do? Be thankful that you have enough money to work around his poor behavior. You might also want to consider going to Al-Anon or some other type of group to get some support anon

I have no experience with this but contact Al-Anon to meet others in your situation and to help figure out what to do. Don't wait! Anon

I am very sorry that you and your child find yourself in this situation.

I know that you said you do not want to leave your husband, but I thought I would share my perspective, which is that of a grown child of an alcoholic father. Like you, my mother never imagined that her husband would become an alcoholic, yet he did, and he was not willing/able to get better. When I was three, she told him to leave; she said she felt he would either destroy himself with his drinking, or destroy all of us.

For a while both before and after the split, my dad was able to keep drinking and hold a job-but eventually that became untenable, as it often does for addicts.

When I was six, my father died from an alcohol-related accident.

I am nothing but grateful to my mother for making the decision she did. It did mean being raised by a single mom, being in day care while my mom worked, being a latchkey kid. But I consider that a far better fate than being raised in a house with an alcoholic (especially one not getting treatment or not willing to admit to his addiction).

My mom has always said that leaving my father was the hardest decision she ever made. It was not at all part of her plans or her dream for us. I have told her how thankful I am to her for being that strong. I know it was the right choice for us.

I don't know what the right choice is for you. But I do think that as you hold on to your ideals/plans of being an at-home mom in an intact family, you should also consider what that might cost you and your child.

I strongly recommend that you attend Al-Anon meetings. They are for the loved ones of alcoholics. Sad but also grateful

my heart goes out to you. Having had a similar experience, I can tell you that leaving is probably not as bad as you think it might be. I don't know how you can stay. You really need to consider what is best for you and your child- daycare is not the worst thing that can happen. Best of luck to you been there-

First let me offer you my sympathy. I know what it is to live with an alcoholic. As the adult daughter of an alcoholic dad, I would like you to suggest that you reconsider your decision to stay with your husband. If it is indeed the case that he is in total denial and refuses to do anything about his drinking, staying with him (even if it is more convenient in terms of $$, childcare, etc) might be psychologically and emotionally manageable for you, but could well be disastrous for your daughter.

I love my Dad, but the rage and unhappiness and lack of joy that led him to be an alcoholic worked their way into my life and destroyed much of my self-esteem, ability to function well in my own relationships, etc. Believe me, there are worse things for a kid than spending a lot of time in daycare and worse things for a mom than taking a financial hit. Having a mom and dad who did not especially show love and affection for one another was not particularly helpful. Just recently my sister and I had a long heart-to-heart with my mom, and when she said that she stayed for us, we were devastated. Give divorce another thought or two, I would say. still struggling with co-dependency

I can't stand my alcoholic husband!

Jan 2006

I really want/need to find a therapist/counselor who specializes in alcoholics and the ones who love them. I checked out all the recommendations and was unable to find one this specific. I know there are other women out there who are experiencing the life that I'm living. Married 2 kids and one functioning but bad alcoholic. Our communication is shot, our sex life is zilch, our time together is awful... But I love him and want to make it work for us, and the kids. I am reaching out for help, in part looking for other women to come forward so I don't feel so alone, and also just for a name of a therapist who understands alcoholism. A man or a woman who will talk with both of us and help us help each other. I'm getting numb to his insanity and i need honest and experienced suggestions...
ready for change!

Dear Can't Stand,
Do you have Kaiser? If so, Kaiser has a wonderful chemical dependecy program. One goes three nights a week and attends Saturday education classes for a minimum of three months. They are wonderful and are saving my life and my marriage. That said, no amount of therapy is going to help the two of you if he does not want to stop drinking. If he is not yet willing or is unsure if he has a problem (we all like to think if we just had the will power, we could drink or use like ''normal'' people) try attending the Saturday classes on your own or with him. You don't have to be a Kaiser member for the Saturday classes. They are open to the public and purely education. They are wonderful for family members who want answers. The next class I will be attending in Walnut Creek is about parenting and addiction. I don't when they have classes in Oakland, but I know they do have them. If you live in Oakland and are afraid you will run into someone you know, then go to Walnut Creek. That's what I did! Good luck to you both! Anonymous

Your husband needs therapy, but be aware to cure an alcoholic husband most therapists or group therapy will recommend a separation from the spouse or even divorce. Most alcoholics are co-dependants to there spouses and will not find the answer to his problems by stayng in the same home environment. You need closure and he needs help. It is not healthy for the children to see his father everyday drunk. Answers

I would recommend Rebecca Woolis (510) 525-3153 925 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707 who has a great deal of experience with families, such as you describe. Good luck. Hope this helps!

I would start by going to alanon-they have a website with all the meetings. There you will hear others who are or have been exactly where you are. I have found it so helpful, I encourage you to give it a chance. I do not know of a therapist specializing in alcoholism, but alanon should definitely be included in your considerations. anon

I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma with your husband's situation. I have a therapist in mind, who I think would be able to help you (on Solano Ave in Albany): Dr. Ghazi Kaddouh 510 229-9704 He is an extremely talented therapist who has had some experience working with alcoholicism. In his training, he has co-taught Family Therapy in graduate school. His post-doc was at UC Berkeley's Counseling Center, where he had much exposure with alcohol and drub abuse. I know that he is open to counseling both spouses, either individually, or in couple's counseling. Try calling him, and he is very open to talking with you and seeing what your issues are. If after a preliminary conversation he feels that you might be better matched to somebody else, he is very upfront, and would give you a referral to another doctor. In my mind, he's one of the best out there: it's more than just training, it's intuition, patience, skill, and compassion. He has more heart than anyone I know. buttah

Gordon Holleb has handled a similar issue for my family and we were very pleased with him. He's in N. Berkeley. anon

I'm only writing back to let you know that I empathize and that you are not alone -- I struggle with the same kinds of issues. I'm sorry to hear that you and your children are stuck in the madness -- it can feel very lonely and overwhelming, I know. Keep persisting in finding the right therapist(s) for all of you. Don't give up on that route -- say if you find a therapist that doesn't seem to be helping, then keep looking and look more into it. Likely chemical treatment is going to have to occur along with the therapy. I have been to Al-Anon meetings and found them to be quite a relief -- and I didn't feel so alone. With Al-Anon, I went to the Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, & Alameda meetings to find one that I felt most comfortable with. As far as the right therapist, I don't know yet. Don't try to have discussions with him while he is intoxicated or hungover, but try to remember or write down what you want to say during those periods and then persist in discussing while he is sober (and not hungover).

I can't refer you to a therapist, but there is hope and help available for you and your children within the walls of the meetings of Alanon and Alateen/Preteen. Here's the website:

You will find that you are not alone, everyone is there because their lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. I hope you will try it - it takes a while, you may feel really emotional at first but eventually you WILL SEE that we are there for each other. anon

Have you tried Al-Anon? It's free and provides a community of support and education from people going thru the same thing you are. ACA

go to a few al-anon meetings
good luck
been there

Try Dr Bob Matano. His office is in the Market Hall complex. If his practice is full, he'll know who else out there is good in the field. He's a psychologist. Another option is to call the California Society of Addiction Medicine (in SF) and ask them for a referral. Their members are M.D.'s. anon

I was married to an alcoholic who drank before we were married and was a ''dry drunk'' while we were married for 7 years. After I left he began binge drinking and has been for the last 6 years. Alanon was a great help. It's good for any one who's with some one who's logic makes no sense. It's basically a support group for helping you keep your own logic clear while dealing with someone else's behavior that makes you crazy. it helps put things in perspective. It's also very important to learn how to explain your husband's behavour to your kids. I say that your Daddy's mind tricks him to think it's okay to drink, and then he can't stop. His body doesn't take alcohol well yet it tricks him to think it's what he needs. I did have a great therapist who helped me leave and create a stable environment for my child, who was 5 when I left. Her name is Terry 510 496-6060 and she sees people in Albany and San mateo. Good luck. Anon

Late Night Drinking Husband

May 2005

My husband has a drinking problem. He doesn't drink at all during the day, and often not even during dinner, but after the kids are asleep he starts drinking beer and then doesn't stop until he falls asleep (often sitting at his computer, sometimes in front of the tv, sometimes spilling a beer on the couch/bed). He's an insomniac, and even when he's exhausted will spend hours tossing and turning unable to sleep, and that's his excuse for staying up late and drinking. I'm not really sure of the amounts because he hides some of the bottles, but he drinks at least a six pack every night. He's been this way (better and worse) since I met him ten years ago. In the past I've found him sleeping standing up in the corner of the room, stumbling drunk. Before we had kids he used to stay up late drinking and working, and come to bed around 3 in the morning. Now I sleep upstairs with the kids, and he rarely manages to come up to bed. In addition to being woken up by kids several times per night, I often get up to check on him and ask him to come to bed. The other night I found him asleep at his computer and told him to come up to bed. I went back upstairs and listened for him; next thing I hear is a beer being opened downstairs. He is simply unable to stop! I angrily went back down, emptied his beer down the sink and ordered him up to bed. By 5:30 in morning he couldn't sleep any more and had to get up, rather than lay awake in bed. I don't doubt his problems with sleep, but I'm tired of not getting enough sleep myself. I am the only parent ''on duty'' at night, and in the morning he's usually cranky when the kids wake him up. Also, he stinks from alcohol, and I'm embarrassed by his lack of control. Thankfully, he's not abusive when he's drunk, and he's not into harder drugs, but I think he's unwilling to recognize that he has a problem because it's ''just beer''. In the past year he's started smoking pot again, and I think he also smokes that every night. He's developed a hacking cough at night that I think is caused by smoking. When I was given a prescription for codein after oral surgery recently, he finished off the bottle. Strangely, he has a prescription for sleeping pills but doesn't take them because he doesn't want to mix them with alcohol.

Two incidents recently were particularly embarrassing. First we visited my sister, and he went out to the bar with her boyfriend. They came home, already pretty drunk, and her boyfriend went to bed while my husband stayed up drinking in the bathroom. I guess he tried to stumble to bed at 4 in the morning and crashed into some furniture, waking everyone up.

The second is the other night (he claims he wasn't drunk, but I have my doubts) he was walking back to the house from a studio that we are building and tripped over a garden tool left near the door. He fell and smashed his face on the blade of a garden hoe, cutting his cheek and causing his face to swell up like a chipmunk. He seemed okay, but suggested I take him to the emergency room the next day. The doctor knew he had been drunk, even though he denied it again. When she asked if he passed out from the fall, he said ''he wasn't sure''. I felt like all the nurses were smirking at us, and then he asked if she could give him ''something for the pain'' (which she didn't give). I feel like he's out of control.

I've tried to talk to him, asking him to come up to bed earlier. I've phrased it in the context of concern for his health, wanting him to sleep with the rest of the family, being angry with him, being disgusted by the smell of liquor etc., and that he has a drinking/ drug problem. He cuts these conversations short, and says he'll try, but he doesn't change. I've calculated that we spend $400-500 per month on beer/wine, and I don't even know how much he spends on pot. I'm at a loss as to how to help him, or how to get him to stop/ change this behavior. If anyone has any suggestions or insights I'd really appreciate it. feel like I've put up with it for too long

Hi, I just want to say that I really feel for you. It seems like your husband is an alcoholic and I know how painful that can be. I grew up with an alcoholic father. My mother just coped with it for many years and tried to keep the family together.

Finally, last year, my sister and I decided to have an intervention. Many people had been suggesting it for years but we had never done it because it seemed like my dad just wasn't the kind of guy who would respond to an intervention. Anyway, things were spiraling down fast, so we tried it. It was the most frightening thing I have ever done..finally confronting my dad about his drinking. And amazingly, it worked. He agreed that day to go to a month long rehab. We drove him there. And he has been sober ever since. Its like a new life for my dad and mom. The only sad thing is that they are both in their late 60s. I just wish we had done it sooner.

We hired a professional ''interventionist'' who helped us prepare. He was great. His name is Bryan Bowen. He lives in Petaluma but travels all over the country doing interventions. He explains the whole process, meets with the whole family beforehand to get you prepared and provides mediation and support. And he's a really cool guy, down to earth and trustworthy, definitly not a weirdo. He also arranges the rehab bed, etc. His services cost about $2000, but it was the best money we ever spent. His number is 707 778-1543 and his email is bryan[at] It really helps to have a professional help you thru this.

good luck

I have trouble getting to sleep a lot. (I'm still adjusting to an operation to relieve apnea). I usually take 5 mg of Ambien at night. It works wonders and there is virtually no hangover.

It sounds to me like you husband needs AA (and possibly NA). Here's a basic AA test.

Can he, on his own, stop drinking completely for a week? Stop the pot at the same time.

Can he, once he's had a beer or two, stop drinking without drinking enough to get very drunk or passing out?

If the answer to either or both is no, he should strongly consider a program. 12 step programs are really great, IMO. They've substantially changed my life for the better. anon

Good lord!

Stat! KB-

Your situation sounds challenging, but there is hope! The hope is for your peace of mind, and may not have anything to do with your husband changing his behavior. Al-Anon is a 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics or ''problem drinkers.''

There are many, many people who have found relief in this program, whether or not the alcoholic stops drinking. If you're interested, you could attend a few different meetings to see if any feel right for you. You can go just to listen, or you could share at the meeting, or talk to people after the meeting. In Al-Anon we share our ''experience, strength and hope,'' but we do not give advice. I have been in Al-Anon for more than a decade and I can honestly say that it has totally transformed my life and attitude. Some meetings have childcare, but not all. Check the website for Northern California: or call a local district: West Contra Costa, Berkeley, Albany: (510) 528-4379 Oakland, Hayward, Freemont: (510) 276-2270 San Francisco: (415) 626-5633 Marin: (415) 455-4723

You can also ask for a member to send you some pamphlets about Al-Anon. And don't worry: the return address will not say Al-Anon. We are very careful about protecting members' and potential members' anonymity.

Taking the step to go to the first meeting can be challenging, I know, but if you're like me, you will feel incredible comfort in being with others who have had experiences similar to yours. Best wishes to you! A Grateful Al-Anon Member

Hi - You'll probably get tons of advice but I just wanted to say I'm sorry for your situation. I had a similar situation that, thank god, finally got fixed after 10+ years. My husband wasn't as far along as yours but I too suffered in silence. With the birth of our kids he finally faced his problem and fixed it. He did it without AA, all on his own, and he still drinks. For him it was a matter of cutting back to a normal amount which he was thankfully able to do.

You know that the bottom line is your husband is the only one who can start the process of healing. He has to be the one who wants to change. Of course you don't have to sit there and deal with it - you can leave too and thats ok.

Would he go to counseling? My husband went to one session with Leo Kidd (Kidd Leo F MFCC, 510) 525-8903, 1035 San Pablo Ave Albany, CA 94706) who specializes in alcohol/drug problems and that started him on the road to recovery. My husband is the type who needs a third party (someone besides me) to tell him how it is. It was like a bucket of cold water on him to hear someone totally objective confirm what I'd been telling him - he had a problem with alcohol that was not normal and he needed to deal with it. We definitely had bumps in the road after that meeting, but we were on the road to recovery.

Good Luck. Again, I'm sorry you're going through this. It really sucks. Been there done that

Your first line said it all: My husband has a drinking problem.

My heart goes out to you because alcoholism is a family problem. Alcoholism is an illness that requires lifelong management, like any chronic illness. The good news is that you are not alone.

There is help for you and I strongly recommend Al-Anon, which is a support group for families of alcoholics. I don't know how old your children are, but there are support groups for children, too. I can't emphasize enough how important it is that YOU take care of yourself, learn as much as you can about alcoholism and learn what you can do to help your children.

There are many Al-Anon meetings in the Bay Area and there is even an online chat for families of alcoholics at where you can talk about how you are doing and find out more about what it's like to go to meetings.

You are not alone. If you need to talk please feel free to write. gmc

If I were you I would run to the very next alanon meeting and make a commitment to myself and the kids to do that for me. Interventions are popular strategies but require extensive counseling support and family members other than spouse to step out of denial and literally confront the drinker with the evidence of how destructive it is to family relationships. you won't 'get' him to recognize the problem if a hoe to the face didn't. you have my sympathy, empathy, and whatever support can be conveyed via this. focusing on fixing him and not caring for yourself could be a sign of codependency. It's not a great trait to model in families and pass on to the next generation. We did it around anger/mood control in our house, but it's not too different from the alcholic model. anonymous

It seems to me you have two options: give him an ultimatum (you know what I mean even thought I can't spell). Tell him he needs to get help and stop this behavior or find another place to live. Then if he chooses to get help you can try to stand by your man. Or you can just tell him you are done and he needs another place to live. This cannot be good for you or your children, and I can imagine how many hours of evey day you spend angry and resentful. This energy would better be spent on productive things. I think your life as a single parent, though difficult, would be better than your life now with your real children and this man-child. Believe me- my children's father was a drug addict and I gave him an choice once- he went to rehab and then relapsed- and I kicked him out when I had a 2 year old and a 6 week old- but it was such a relief!! You don't deserve to be treated like this. been there

I am sorry for your frustrations and difficulty in your marriage. This must absolutely be heart wrenching for you and your relationship. Have you considered an intervention including family members/ friends? Sometimes your health insurance will cover something like this. Or maybe you can look into services that provide free interventions in the Bay Area. I believe interventions usually call for the addict to go into rehab immediately following the ''surprise'' meeting. You would be completely counseled on what it is to expect from an intervention. Rehab not only helps with addictions, but also provides counseling. It sounds like rehab may do wonders for whatever your husband is going through. It sounds as if he is hiding from something that is bothering him by using barbituates.

Perhaps the sleeping problems also stem from whatever it is that is causing him to drink/ get high. It sounds like he's got to get to the root of the problem and he'll never do it while using. Good luck and please know that you are not the only person suffering from watching a loved one with addictions. You are not alone. Your husband is not alone in this battle; you are also suffering! Consider seeking counsel through a therapist/psychologist or even through AL-ANON. Their only requirement is that you have a friend or loved one with a drinking problem! And it's free! You'll find you're not alone and you'll get first hand advice and professional advice on how to live with the pain! anon

There is one place just for people in your situation, and luckily, it is wonderful and effective: Al-Anon. Here, you can learn from countless others about what is universal about living with an alcoholic, and find actual help for the misery and stress it can cause. You can be happy. You can get a meeting schedule by calling 528-4379. It's free. It works. Anon

Long story short, consider going to Alanon meetings.They have ones with childcare provided. They are free ( or you can opt to give a small donation to help cover refreshments and room rental-like $1.00-if you want)They won't tell you what to do.They won't tell you to leave him or to stay with him. They will not focus on how to change/control him because you can't control another person. They will talk about how to return to a sane life and thereby give your kids a sane life. There will be people there who have made great steps towards bettering their lives and you can listen to them and consider if you'd want to try what they tried.

Consider a women's meeting. Consider a ''beginners,'' ''speaker,'' or ''speaker/discussion'' meeting.

Good luck! JM

My heart goes out to you. Your husband needs detox. Try to get him in something that also has an AA program and you should go to an Al Anon meeting. My father had a serious drinking problem all his life -- until his firm forced him to check into a detox program. He tried to stop on his own with AA but it was too hard. He succeeded with the program and went to AA for years. It's hard -- but it can be done. Anonymous

It sounds like your husband is an addict. 12 step programs define addiction as being something that you can't control and makes your life unmanageable. Unfortunately you cannot change him, he has to do that himself. However you can help him, and yourself, by to Alanon or Nar-anon meetings. Those are the family support groups that coorespond to AA(alcoholics anonymous) and NA(narcotics anonymous). Either would be good- it is rare these days that someone only uses drugs or alcohol or drugs. Pot and perscription pills are commonly abused together with alcohol.

You can get more information about addiction and how other people deal with similar situations by going to the meetings.

The BPN archives has a listing for these groups: Been on both sides

Wow, your husband sounds just like my father. For most of my childhood, he too drank \x93only beer\x94 after dinner until the time he stumbled into bed. He too was never abusive, and was in fact a jolly, funny, gentle drunk. (A very confusing situation, as might know.) But today, at age 71, after two near-fatal heart attacks and on serious meds that are mostly incompatible with alcohol, he still often drinks to excess \x97 falling down and smashing his face on the sidewalk being a recent incident. He was a successful executive and excellent monetary provider for my family of origin, but his alcohol addiction has had serious emotional consequences. My mother chose to stay with him, but that has meant nearly 50 years of struggle \x97 times of no drinking and times of heavy drinking, times when he would go to counseling and more times when he would not deal with the problem at all. To this day (I\x92m 40 years old) my dad thinks that I don\x92t know about his drinking \x97 that\x92s how delusional alcoholics can be. I mention all this to give you an idea of how life with a late night drinker can be.

You don\x92t say how old your kids are, but believe me, they are aware of the tension, stress, anger and anguish in the household, however well you are able to hold things together. It\x92s a terribly difficult situation, and I think the hard news is that there is nothing you can do to \x93help him\x94 or \x93get him to change.\x94 AA is a great resource, as is counseling, but he has to want to do it.

With that in mind, you will have to make decisions based on what is best for you and what you feel is best for your kids and your family as a whole. Al-Anon and counseling (for you and your kids) can be extremely helpful in sorting these questions out. It sounds boring and cliche but your husband won\x92t stop his behavior unless he wants to \x97 and given the level of drinking you describe, he\x92ll probably need professional help to do so. If you leave or take other decisive action he may be jolted into confronting his demons. But the bottom line is, however much you love him, you can only make things better or different for yourself, and then wait and see what he will do.

A book that might help you \x97 not related to drinking, but really helpful in dealing with anger and making changes in relationships \x97 is Harriet Lerner\x92s The Dance of Anger. She\x92s very good at taking apart \x93overfunctioning\x94 (sounds like you, taking care of kids, on night duty, etc) and \x93underfunctioning\x94 (sounds like hubby, checked out on beer) dynamics and helping you let go of patterns that don\x92t work anymore.

By the way, after lots of therapy I have come to have a reasonably good relationship with my father, despite the drinking -- he is also intelligent, funny and a very loving grandfather. But when I was 10 years old I used to lie in bed at night and wish that he were dead. It would be great if you could spare your kids that feeling. I wish you all the strength and courage to do so. anon

Ok, I know this is going to sound sort of cruel but, this really works. And I know from experience:

Take pictures of him while he's drinking. Then take pictures of him after he's passed out. Make a week long or longer project of it so, you have enough photos. Then show them to him in chronological order.


That it's tearing you apart and you fear it will tear apart the family. That it's emarrassing, hurtful and you've become lonely in your desperation to cope and just accept it. You shouldn't have to accept it. He NEEDS to change. And there are plenty of outreach programs than can assist you.

Now, the reason I know that this works is that my best friend of 10 years and I shared and apartment. He meant everything to me! We partied a lot and drank a lot... like early-20-somethings do. But, quite a few times it got really out of hand. He'd pass out in the front doorway with the door still open--- meaning he made it home but, not all the way in. He passed out with his face in the water of the toilet bowl... really sad. So, I started taking Polaroids and I made an album and dated every picture. I did this for a month. I had about 20 pictures!! From ONE month! That means that he drank himself into a stuper 2/3 of the month! Anyway, it helped a lot because my approach was out of concern and love. And those pictures were not all. Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Wow, your husband sounds just like my father. For most of my childhood, he too drank only beer after dinner until the time he stumbled into bed. He too was never abusive, and was in fact a jolly, funny, gentle drunk. (A very confusing situation, as might know.) But today, at age 71, after two near-fatal heart attacks and on serious meds that are mostly incompatible with alcohol, he still often drinks to excess - falling down and smashing his face on the sidewalk being a recent incident. He was a successful executive and excellent monetary provider for my family of origin, but his alcohol addiction has had serious emotional consequences. My mother chose to stay with him, but that has meant nearly 50 years of struggle - times of no drinking and times of heavy drinking, times when he would go to counseling and more times when he would not deal with the problem at all. To this day (I'm 40 years old) my dad thinks that I don't know about his drinking - that's how delusional alcoholics can be. I mention all this to give you an idea of how life with a late night drinker can be. You don't say how old your kids are, but believe me, they are aware of the tension, stress, anger and anguish in the household, however well you are able to hold things together. It's a terribly difficult situation, and I think the hard news is that there is nothing you can do to help him or get him to change. AA is a great resource, as is counseling, but he has to want to do it. With that in mind, you will have to make decisions based on what is best for you and what you feel is best for your kids and your family as a whole. Al-Anon and counseling (for you and your kids) can be extremely helpful in sorting these questions out. It sounds boring and cliche but your husband won't stop his behavior unless he wants to - and given the level of drinking you describe, he'll probably need professional help to do so. If you leave or take other decisive action he may be jolted into confronting his demons. But the bottom line is, however much you love him, you can only make things better or different for yourself, and then wait and see what he will do. A book that might help you - not related to drinking, but really helpful in dealing with anger and making changes in relationships - is Harriet Lerner's The Dance of Anger. She's very good at taking apart overfunctioning (sounds like you, taking care of kids, on night duty, etc) and underfunctioning (sounds like hubby, checked out on beer) dynamics and helping you let go of patterns that don't work anymore. By the way, after lots of therapy I have come to have a reasonably good relationship with my father, despite the drinking -- he is also intelligent, funny and a very loving grandfather. But when I was 10 years old I used to lie in bed at night and wish that he were dead. It would be great if you could spare your kids that feeling. I wish you all the strength and courage to do so. anon

Depressed, postpartum, and drinking too much

March 2005

I have been having a hard time lately. I cannot say why it has happened, but I have found myself DRINKING. Sometimes I just drink more than I like in a public way, and end up grouchy or argumentative with my (very forgiving) husband. But other times I have drank by myself during the day, been TOO drunk, and kept it a secret from everyone. I really beat myself up about how anyone could be a good mother who allows herself to drink during the day, too much or in secrecy. I have been speaking to a psychiatrist about it and also trying to do all I can to stay busy and active during the days, knowing that too much loneliness and lack of structure can be hard on my mood. I imagine that the adjustment to not working any more is part of it (although I WANT to be at home, I just need to figure out a lifestyle that is good for my mental health). Plus, I am still recuperating from a serious illness, postpartum, that leaves me unable to drive, which limits me to walking and adds to my sense of isolation. I feel desperate for support, advice, company - if anyone has any of these to offer, it would be so appreciated. Thanks... Desperate for support and advice

Okay.....please understand that I'm not diagnosing you. But if you feel like you have a problem with alcohol, are drinking in the day by yourself AND keeping it a secret, there's a chance that you could be alcoholic. Generally speaking, people who are not alcoholics don't give their alcohol consupmtion a second thought. Nor do they keep it a secret. I can say these things because I've been there. I quit drinking over 20 years ago. My life was NOT in shambles, and I wasn't living on the street. But I did recognize that I had seen others in my family go down a long hard road, and I didn't see a reason to have to make that my story. I've also learned over the years that for some reason, there are pschiatrists, psychologists, and therapists who seem to be blind to alcoholism. That said, I strongly encourage you to call Alcoholics Anonymous. They are in the phone book. When you call all you have to do is ask for a time and location for a meeting in your area. They don't have caller ID and they won't bug you in the future. But please give it a chance. If you go to a meeting and don't like it, try another. My first meeting was a bunch of blue haired ladies eating cookies...I could not relate. I found other meetings where I could relate to most if not all that was said. If you want to talk to me privately about this, please e-mail me. I'll be happy to talk with you. Incidentally, I don't go to meetings anymore, having stopped many years ago. AA does not suggest that, but it works for me. lori

You are not alone!! After my son was born I had a VERY tough time and my preferred coping mechanism is also to self medicate with alcohol. I was also at the mercy of loneliness and lack of structure. I would very often say ''so this is my life now?'' I couldn't possibly imagine a time when I would feel better, couldn't possibly imagine ever being ''good'' at this mom thing. Couldn't imagine ever being able to bond with my son. And OH the guilt! PPD is an exceptionally difficult thing to deal with, not only do you feel like crap all the time, you also beat yourself up for feeling like crap, and then when you do something, anything, to try and feel better, naturally you beat yourself up for that, too. It's a no-win situation. I think PPD is one of those ''not to be talked about'' issues, especially around here (Berkeley) where it feels taboo to ever say anything about your Postpartum experience except ''breastfeeding was so easy!'' which is SO unfortunate, because talking about it is the cure for it.

I read an article back then which said that when women talk to other women, oxytocin is released in their brain (the same feel-good hormone that's released when you breastfeed) and makes us feel better. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was desperately craving people I could talk to, and unfortunately I was rather isolated and didn't have anybody except for my husband who worked all day. If you can't find anybody around you, there are websites with message boards and chat rooms; it might not be face to face contact, but it's better than nothing. I found myself a wonderful therapist (Alisa Genovese, 286-7599) who specializes in PPD and who helped me immensely. I had joined a mother's group, but the other women there seemed to be adjusting so well, it actually made things worse for me.

Now my son is three and I'm expecting #2. You CAN get through this! You CAN! YOU CAN!! If you want somebody to talk to, please email me and I'll give you my phone number. Remember, talking about it is the best thing you can do for yourself right now. Jill

first of all, it is great that you are posted your message. it definitely sounds like you could use some extra support. postpartum is difficult for many new moms with 'perfect' situations, & your sounds difficult-- not being able to drive, recovering from an illness, etc. you did not mention how old your baby is or if you have struggled with alcohol use before. I would suggest joining a new moms group (I facilitate groups in Berkeley, Lafayette & El Cerrito/Richmond). but most groups meet during the week & if you do not have access to a car it would be hard to get to one unless it happens to be in your neighborhood. there is also a great group on Saturdays at Waddle & Swaddle- maybe your husband or a friend could drive you?- that focuses on postpartum stress. the woman who facilitates the group, Lee Safran, is a therapist who specializes in postpartum issues, & even if you do not end up doing her group I'm sure she would have many referrals for you. her number is 496-6096. best of luck, Virginia Duplessis, MSW, CD (DONA) MOST: Mothers Outreach & Support Team Support for New & Expectant Parents (510) 287-8789

Postpartum depression can be a serious condition, and you should seek good psychiatric help. People often compulsively ''self-medicate'' with alcohol or drugs when they have an underlying disorder, but as you are finding, it doesn't really work. It is not in the control of your will, nor is it shameful or a character flaw! There is often a genetic component to severe postpartum depression, a particular category of depression, as there is to all mood disorders. This is not your fault. You have been through a lot.

Beating yourself up, or even looking just for lifestyle solutions, is not going to solve it. You are doing the best you can at the moment in trying to keep busy and in looking for structure, and you deserve much credit for that. You also deserve credit for asking for help. Now, ask for medical help!

If treated properly, this will likely be a temporary condition for you. However, if you continue to self-medicate with alcohol, you are likely to develop true alcoholism, and believe me, you don't need that on top of dealing with a new baby and your recuperation- in fact, you don't need it at all!

When you are feeling better, you will have the ability to deal with the other important issues such as your isolation. When someone is seriously depressed, they just don't have the wherewithall to deal with everyday problems.

If your health insurance does not offer you sufficient resources, a good resource for excellent, sliding scale psychiatric help is the Mood Disorders Clinic at Langley Porter Institute in SF (part of UCSF). You can get there by public transportation. Stress to them that you are in crisis and need to be seen ASAP.

Take care of yourself, and seek the help that you really need. anon

1) Be careful if you are breastfeeding. There is no safe ''dose'' of alcohol for a baby in utero or thru breast milk. There is clearly lots of data that heavy exposure in utero leaves the child effected for life ( funny ears, odd facial structure, learning/ attention problems) The brain is still developing and growing in infancy and, if you are still breast feeding, if you can't get a handle on your drinking, switch to formula. That would get you more time to solve the drinking/life problems and you don't need to heap super-guilt on top of your other problems.

2) AA is really, really good. Consistent attendance to groups for years is the best ''treatment'' known for alcoholism. Have your paychiatrist read Valiant's studies out of Boston...long range studies with over 30 year follow-up. It also helps with the loneliness. To start, just call the East Bay AA number in the phone book and listen to the recording of the meetings. You could also ask them to send you a flyer of meetings. Odds are that there's at least one meeting a week walking distance from your home. The best meetings are ''beginner meetings'', ''speaker meetings'' or ''speaker discussion meetings'' for someone starting. Just go! Take the baby with you! You don't need to talk, just sit and listen. If the baby cries, just step outside 'til he/she stops. A meeting for all women would be nice.

3) Keep it up with your psychiatrist.

4) Keep trying to help your life change. This'll mean new friends, new supports, new daily schedule, learning to balance what the baby needs vs when your needs must prevail etc. It's a slow process. As the baby gets older, the park will be a great way to meet other parents.

5) You might want to try to find a new mom's group thru this network or a local storefront like Waddle and Swaddle, Alta Bates Hosp etc. These are an investment in the future. I wish I'd done one. Good luck, JM

First of all, you need to not define yourself as a bad mother because you have been drinking. This parenting thing is really stressful as well as the adjustment to not working!! It sounds like you are just struggling to find the right thing to help you cope. I also suffered from postpartum depression and there were times when I drank during the day or too much during the seemed it was too hard to resist as a way to help me relax and just deal (and of course I felt like a total failure of a mother after...not really the result I was hoping for!). Between a fussy baby and the depression I felt completely isolated and I didn't want to be around others because happy people and easy babies only made me feel worse.That is great that you're keeping yourself busy and you know, I hate to say it but fate may be doing you a favor by limiting the car and forcing you to walk. What I did both to conquer the depression and make it so that I wasn't tempted to drink during the day was walk, walk, walk. I've read about exercise being just as effective as an antidepressant and at first, I hated it and didn't want to do it. But I just kept forcing myself to do it and now I feel really healthy again. I also told myself that it was okay to have say, two glasses of wine a week-and only with dinner (do whatever number you're comfortable with)...I tried to make it be a minimal number just so that I felt I was in control of it. That way it became a treat again and not something to rely on. And I know it's not as simple as I made it sound (therapy is good!!) but at least those were some steps that I took that worked for me. If you think this is just connected to the PPD then it's just finding other things to help you cope with the hardest job ever and help you regain control so that you can feel good again. You must not beat yourself up- taking the steps to recognize that this is not how you want to be and talking to a psychiatrist is HUGE. I felt a ton of pressure to do this mothering thing ''right'' because since I left the working world I felt like this WAS my job - my one responsibility- how could I be failing so miserably?! Give yourself some credit- you will get through this. And please know that you really, absolutely are not alone. anon

Hello. Thank you for reaching out for help. That is an important first step. I am no expert on the subject at all, but I do understand depression since I, too, suffer from it. My primary concerns are you and the new baby. I have heard that Alcoholics Anonymous works well for people trying to quit drinking. I hope other people write to you with this or other suggestions for the drinking problem. What about the baby? Who takes care of the baby during the day? Does your husband know about the drinking? I am glad to hear that he is supportive/understanding. Together, you two should approach this dilemma. Than, you can find solutions together. Of utmost importance are: 1) You getting specific help for the drinking; 2) The welfare of the baby during the day. I am praying for you, your baby, your husband, and your family. Please take care of yourself, the innocent little lamb, and this extremely important issue. Thank you for writing. There are people out there who can help you and your family. Anonymous

I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. I didn't turn to alcohol when I was suffering from post-partum depression, so I can't begin to understand or advise you on what to do about that aspect of it. But, I do know how frightening and alienating post partum depression can be. My only advice is to seek out anyone who can support you (or just hang out with you) without judging. I joined a mom's group which I credit with saving my sanity. If you can't drive, ask someone to take you or just invite friends over(best if they are recent moms). Just remember that you are not a bad mother and you are not alone! The more you can surround yourself with support and especially with people who are experiencing the same or similar things you are, the better! Please feel free to e-mail me if you want to talk. You will get through this! Nancy

Although I am not much of a drinker ( I use food and TV), I could relate to your post- I too am struggling with Depression (not just post partum) and how to function as a stay-at-home mom- I quit my professional job 6 months ago. I often feel isolated and unsure how to structure my time. Would love to speak with you in person or via email and share what has worked for me (although it doesn't always work!). Please ask the moderator for my name and email. Hang in there and keep reaching out for support- anon

Dear New Mom, I?m really glad you are reaching out for support, which is essential with a new baby. Isolation can be very profound, both socially and emotionally. Hopefully, the MD that you are seeing is helpful.

Additionally, I would like to mention that on my website I list Postpartum Community Resources. I do my best to keep them up to date so that a fairly comprehensive listing is available in one place. It is so hard to search for resources while caring for an infant.

There is a section specifically for Postpartum Stress

The people listed here are reliable professionals who have worked with new parents for years. It sounds as if your postpartum has been even more challenging with illness which makes it even more stressful than the usual.

If you would like to talk further, call me. Sherry Reinhardt Support Groups For Mothers 510-524-0821

Your message could have been written by me some time ago. You will be amazed at the support and clarity other moms can give you at AA. There are lots of us. I would recommend calling the hotline & ask for some women's meeting times. I think they are all ''closed'' meaning only for those struggling with alcohol personally. The liveliness, hopefulness, truth, & peace of mind that you may be trying to find with alcohol are all there at a meeting. Going to a meeting doesn't make you an alcoholic. As a (non-drinking) alcoholic mom, I'll tell you I felt a tearful and giddy relief after my first meeting. hang in there

Family member needs help turning her life around

Feb 2005

I am looking for a book that I can pass on to a family member of mine. She is in her early 40's with a history of drug/alcohal abuse, in addition to a stint in prison. I believe that her self esteem is very low despite her verbal statements of wanting to find a career and have a ''normal'' life. The problem is that she is drinking again, though not on drugs, and often reverts to her old ways of showing brash and inappropriate behavior for someone who wants to change their life.

Are there any books that I could possibly get for her that might offer her tips or information to help raise her self esteem and let her know that it's never to late to start over. I think that she often sabotages any help that she gets because internally she doesn't think it is possible for her. She has received a lot of help from family but it seems like she can't take a step for herself, as if she keeps needing help. And then when help isn't offered she feels sorry for herself. She is a good person and I would like to provide any assistant that I can but am not sure where to start. Thanks for any recommendations.

I'd suggest the best book around for the alcoholic/drug abuser still using. ''Alcoholics Anonymous'' the book... and the program. And for someone trying to change the drinker/addict I'd suggest the Al-Anon program. The best of luck to you both. Chuck

Hi-I would like to suggest the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not an alcoholic, but have been in 12 step programs before, and read most of the book myself(trying to place my own problem/self/recovery in the place of the alcoholics who wrote the Big Book). This is also the tool my best friend used, combined with meetings, to arrive 10 years later at long-term sobriety.

The Big Book speaks directly to the alcoholic. It is written by alcoholics who have found a better way to live their lives, and tells their stories-both from where they have come, and how they have arrived at their present state of recovery. It seems to me it would be the exact thing you are looking for. You can purchase it at an AA meeting, and probably most 12 step meetings. Good luck. Your friend is lucky to have you-- jm

It sounds to me like your relative's drinking is bothering you. I also have a problem with my husband's drinking and have found so much comfort in a group called Al-Anon. I used to think that HE had the problem, not ME, but the only person who can change your family member's behavior is her. And when she is ready, she'll look for the books and groups. In the meantime, I needed help in learning to let go of my worrying and despair. Through Al-Anon, I met others who knew how I felt and who shared their experiences, strength and hope with me!

The website is at and their site tells it better than I ever could. There are also online groups you can visit beforehand:

Alcoholism is a family disease. The disease affects all those who have a relationship with a problem drinker. Those of us closest to the alcoholic suffer the most, and those who care the most can easily get caught up in the behavior of another person. We react to the alcoholic's behavior. We focus on them, what they do, where they are, how much they drink. We try to control their drinking for them. We take on the blame, guilt, and shame that really belong to the drinker. We can become as addicted to the alcoholic, as the alcoholic is to alcohol. We, too, can become ill.It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people... alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone elseC-s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship. anon

Hi. I understand how hard it is to live with a sister with that has trouble with alcohol and drugs. My sister is in her 30's and has just had a year+ sobriety from alcohol and drugs. According to her she had started drinking when she was 13. I only knew that she had a problem with alcohol when she was 16. The thing is that she had to hit her bottom on her own. No amount of talking or books got her to get sober. I didn't know if she would ever get sober. I had to stop contact with her for a number of years. I couldn't hear another story of her drinking, losing a job, etc. I hope you have an open mind and will consider going to Alanon. Alanon is a 12 step group for people that have friends or family that are alcoholics. The website for Alanon is anon

The first step is for her to deal with her addiction. She needs to be in a support group like AA and individual therapy to work on her personal goals. Books that come to mind are Feeling Good and Ten Days To Self- Esteem by David Burns. I would also recommend the authors Harriet Lerner and Claudia Black. They both have tons of great stuff! Best wishes, Michelle