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Desperate from Husband’s On-Again, Off-Again Sobriety

29 Nov


I love your tapes. I use Anger and Forgiveness in dealing with my feelings concerning my husband’s ongoing battle with alcoholism. He is sober for 8 or 9 months and then back out again.. I wonder if you have any other support for the person married to or dealing with an alcoholic? I am in desperate need of more support... I use Panic Attacks and Depression, but wonder if you had anything more specific or would be doing something like that in the future.... Thanks.


Dear Selina,

I understand that sometimes it’s harder emotionally with a spouse going on and off the wagon than it is with somebody who’s constantly using – the disappointment is so crushing after you get a taste of what living normally with a sober guy feels like.

At the risk of suggesting something obvious that you’ve already checked out, have you ever tried going to an Al-Anon meeting?  Because if ever there was a support group that knew exactly what you’re dealing with, and had some tried and true responses for dealing with these exasperating issues, Al-Anon is it.  Sometimes you need more than just a recording!

You maybe could use some help with setting some serious limits on this dude, and stick him with some hard core consequences for drinking again – like kicking him out of the house.  Maybe an intervention is in order the next time he starts drinking again – that way you’d have some back-up from his friends, family and co-workers, and the consequences would be spelled out before they carted him off to dry out.

Or, if that seems impossibly harsh to you, and his drinking behavior isn’t too abusive or destructive, you may need some coaching and guidance to help you detach from him when he’s drinking, so you aren’t so affected by it.  What’s nice about Al-Anon is, they don’t try to corner you, preach and commandeer your responses – they respect your timing and don’t push too hard.  That’s because they get the difficulties, not to mention the guilt and overblown sense of responsibility that most people in your situation feel (whether it’s rational or not).

If this behavior is getting impossible, then you may be doing yourself and him a disservice by trying to constantly cope with it and adapt to it on your end. You may need to use some muscle to stop the behavior.  He’s probably plenty dependent on you, and that’s power you’re not using.

That said, if what you’re after is more guided imagery, then Relaxation & Wellness might be a good alternate for you, as well as Self-Confidence  – either one can help you stay centered and strong as you deal with this.  And you might consider giving your guy a little motivating gift of Alcohol & Other Drugs in his stocking for the holidays!

Update: We’re thrilled to introduce this extraordinary resource for people in recovery: Inner Peace, Outward Power by Charles & Patti Leviton. It is a a powerful guided imagery program to supplement and enhance any 12-step program.

I hope this helps.  Good luck and keep your mind open – you have far more clout than you know, and maybe it’s time to do a little push-back!

All best,


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award