I would like to hear from anyone who's adhd partner has drinking issues. Either drinking too much, too often, or who seems to totally change into someone/something else when they drink. I am 38, and this morning I came to the conclusion that I have to get rid of alcohol from my life entirely. I've been told by family, friends, and girlfriends that when I drink it's like I'm transformed into someone else; as though I am on the prowl for ANY reason to fight, and if there isn't one then I persist until I get one. It has also ruined me financially over the years. It has taken me so long to finally look this issue straight in the eyes, identify alcohol as a relationship/life destroyer and make the decision to eliminate it. The idea of going for help with it makes me feel so weak and insecure though; like I 'should' be able to just adjust myself inside so it doesn't affect me the way it does, and I 'should' be able to moderate it and govern myself responsibly when it's around... but I can't. I hurt myself, and everyone around me, and it makes every single aspect of my adhd spin even further out of control. I have never seen any good from alcohol, in anyone. Knowing all of this, why do I feel like I'm admitting that I'm a failure by going for help?

If you have stories/descriptions about how you've seen alcohol affect your partner, or if you have adhd and have similar observations, please elaborate on your experiences. I think that by reading other people's experiences, it will help to motivate and strengthen my resolve... this is going to be the most difficult and most important challenge of my life, and I am so afraid of failing at it.

For many years I dealt with

For many years I dealt with alcohol abuse from my husband. He denied to the ends of the Earth that it was a problem, he could quit anytime he wanted...and would go weeks without drinking to 'prove' this to me. However, we found a counselor who finally told him that how you ACT when you drink is just as important in determining whether or not you have a problem as is how often you drink.  

HOnestly, my marriage would not have survived if he hadn't stopped drinking. He drank off and on, extreme binges of drinking until he would puke, trying to hide it, followed by weeks without anything to drink, for about 6 years. I HATED the person he was...although I wasn't typically around him when he was drinking (He would go out with friends and leave me at home worrying and wondering) I was with him the next day when he was irritable, grouchy, hung over, and more irrational than ever. We separated for a few months last fall and during that time he drank himself into oblivion nightly. Again, I was not with him during his drinking, but I was having to deal with him the rest of the time and I can honestly say that I don't even know who he was during that time period. Once we reconciled I told him the drinking had to be cut way back...but he managed to continue to sneak and drink and be irrational and moody. I didn't even have to know he'd been drinking the night before to know the next day that he had been. This all  came to a head one night when we fought (last Feb) and he was angry, would NOT just leave me alone when I begged him to stop yelling and go to the den and sleep, he broke my cell phone, ripped up our wedding picture, and things  happened that night that I am very ashamed that my 12 year old daughter saw (11 at the time). Come to find out, after all was said and done and he finally left, he had been drinking excessively. I didn't even know..I could not tell by looking at him..but it explained the monster I was dealing with for HOURS before it came to physical blows and he finally left. We had never laid our hands on each other in 12 1/2 years of marriage and I truly feel that his drinking spiraled so out of control that it is to blame for what he had become. That was the last night he had anything to drink for a very long time and now he only rarely drinks (maybe once every 2-3 months, if that). It literally took about a month for the 'haze' to lift and him to seem like himself again...but that is when we REALLY started making progress and he really started being able to relate with a clear head for the first time in years.

He is a completely different person since he stopped self-medicating. I TRULY wish you all the luck in the world as you try and make this change in your life. My husband did an amazing job..I am very proud of him. I never dreamed he would be able to stop without rehab...but he did. He just laid it down and focused on his family and his marriage and never looked back. I will remember you in my prayers tonight. I hope your girlfriend appreciates the gesture you're making for the sake of your relationship...and the huge leap of faith you're putting into her when she tells you that you're 'different' when you are drinking...and that you care enough to stop.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Thank you Sherri; those

Thank you Sherri; those examples are the kind of thing that I need to hear; that he could change his habits, and it made an impact on his personality is encouraging to me. Now I just have to decide on some kind of program, or will power.

Yes - I would say my DH could

Yes - I would say my DH could be described as someone who turns into someone totally different when he drinks "too much" alcohol.  He doesn't drink too much very often but when he does he becomes surly, belligerent and verbally abusive - quite unpleasant.  Since he's usually quite fun and upbeat this is a complete 180.  I come from a family of big time alcoholics - entire immediate family including a brother died who of cirrhosis at age 47.  Sometime in my 40's I found alcohol becoming way too big a part of my life and gave it up completely.  I think it's one of the best decisions I've made as I'm sure I was on the same path as the rest of my family.  This move also completely eliminated any alcohol related marital spats because I no longer get drawn into it with him when he's had too much to drink and seems to be looking for a fight.  It's now obvious to me that it's the alcohol talking and I just ignore him.  When I was under the influence myself it wasn't so obvious.

fuzzylogic72's picture

was it easy?

Was it easy to quit, or did it take a few tries? Ever slip? Was it an emotional decision to have to make? I was also wondering if you noticed any changes in your general health level/overall state of mind, and also if you noticed it financially. Thank you for your input!

It wasn't difficult for me

It wasn't difficult for me but everyone is certainly different.  Once I decided to do this I just did it.   The hardest thing was getting through explaining to everyone why I was no longer drinking alcohol.  I wasn't a raging alcoholic, didn't go through treatment, etc. and too old to be pregnant (in my opinion any way) so people were pretty mystified about it and I think somewhat uncomfortable.  One of the things that inspired me to do this was a couple of sharp elderly ladies I knew.  I admired how physically active and mentally sharp they were in their mid-80's and realized neither one of them drank alcohol.  So I kind of just told people that after 30 years I was tired of alcohol and as I was getting older thought avoiding it was probably a healthier lifestyle for me and then diverted the conversation to these older ladies.   Sometimes I drink NA beer or NA wine - if I'm in the mood to hoist a bottle or wine glass of something.  I completely do not drink at all though - rather afraid of it now because of my family situation.

In terms of my health it's been good because in my opinion alcohol makes you "lazy".  So now instead of having dinner and a couple glasses of wine after work I have dinner and 40 minutes of exercise - something I rarely did in the past.  Good for offsetting my family history of heart disease.

ebb and flow's picture


My partner had to give up alcohol because he was drinking like a total loser! :(

We've made some rules and try not to drink at home and I myself have given it up all together just to show him that people can have fun and live without booze completely. (this step is not for everyone, of course)

He seemed to stop when he started meds as they helped with the feelings he was trying to cope with by boozing.

It'd be a good idea to gage just how important booze is to you compared to happiness with your friends and family. Whenever you're going to take a drink think "will this action contribute to the happiness I want for my life... or the opposite?". The answer is pretty clear most times, and you just have to be honest enough with yourself to hear it!

My partner did not want to go to any 12 step program to "stop drinking". He felt VERY embarrassed about it and didn't want anyone to know he had a "problem". He actually ended up going to an addictions counselor to talk it out... and it worked! The counselor helped him straighten it all out in his head again... Prioritize again and put all the things that matter most FIRST before alcohol.

The counselor also stated right from the start that my partner come up with a few goals he wanted for his life and the counselor would help him get there... For example: my partner made a point to not drink at home anymore, not drink alone and not at all before or during work (he works from home). And he allowed himself to drink at parties and during social events.

With only a couple of rules to follow... it made it simple for him!

Don't be afraid to "fail". My partner "fell" a few times! I learned to accept that "falling" is part of the process of change and that we were still moving in a forward direction because he was still interested in reaching his personal goals of slowing the drinking riiiight down. It was ok... It's like being on a diet but then cheating and eating a cookie... It doesn't mean you have to give up the whole new healthy lifestyle, it just means you slipped up! Acknowledge and keep going on the road towards your goal!

So, he used to drink like an a**hole and now he's pretty capable of pacing himself while we're out. His drinking used to be our main issue and now it's so far away... like it never existed at all! :)

Mind you, I think the fact that he isn't an 'alcoholic' helps. He was using it to self medicate and was abusing it. 

I think 'alcoholics' MUST avoid alcohol all together as they've sort of crossed that invisible 'line', so to speak. Period. I've had experience in my life with both types of drinkers.

So, be honest with yourself and where you're at! If you think you're the type who can't touch it at all then work towards that goal. If you think you can drink casually at social functions only or here or there then work towards that. If you do go that route, ask your partner to let you know to slow down if you're going over board for the first little bit... till you get the hang of it yourself. Have a signal or something. That will also make him/her feel like they're helping you make this positive change... (feels good!)

I really wish you all the courage to make the changes you need to to be happy with the people you love. Life is so short, at least enjoy the people around you who love you! 

Remember... don't be afraid of "falling"... You can reach your goal! I know it!

ps- You're advice is really great! Thank you so much for helping me with my partner. I really appreciate your perspective. Thanks :)


I also wanted to mention that his drinking nearly cost him his job more than once. If he hadn't had a VERY understanding boss, who sympathized with him and was very, very patient with him, he more than likely would have not been able to hold down a job during the time he was drinking heavily last fall. Not only was his performance on the job quite sloppy but his attendance was HORRIBLE as well. His irritation and moodiness associated with his daily drinking was pouring over into every aspect of his life.

I hope you are doing well..was just wondering how things are going. Keeping you in my prayers.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Things are going well

Hi Sherri, happy new year! Things are going great. Got over the problem drinking thing. Still have the odd day (holidays) with a bit too much, but its no longer a regular habit, and doesn't impact me socially. Getting out of that relationship was a big factor; I was using booze to escape the fact the relationship wasn't a healthy one. How have you been?


I was happy to see you posting...thank you for the update! Awesome to see that you're 'winning' some of the battles. That's fantastic news! As shitty as it is, getting out of an unhealthy relationship is best for everyone.

Sorry to read about the problems you're having with school and finishing up. If you're anything like my ADHDer, he works fantastically well under pressure, so maybe this month will be your time to shine and really get going.

Things are going pretty good here. He started medications late Oct...and it there have been some hairy moments, but hopefully he's finally adjusting and things will settle down. He tried Concerta and it made him really argumentative and irritable. He's now on Vyvanse and although he is still defensive and moody, as time goes on it seems to be getting better. We're doing individual counseling sessions right now to work on our own separate issues (I realized through the trial and error of meds that I actually make his behavior/moods WORSE by my reaction...can you say co-dependency???). Anyway, still hanging in there. Thanks for asking!

alcohol is a problem

I have an ADHD spouse who sporadically takes his medication.  He thinks he can control when he needs it or when he doesn't.  Unfortunately, I feel like he self medicates with alcohol.  He's not a complete drunk, but he drinks every day at least 6 if not more and it is a real problem for me.  He doesn't get out of control mean or anything, however, he never has money for anything but he always has money for beer somehow.  Also, he has an incontinence problem when he drinks.  He will wet the bed or the couch, where ever he falls asleep and I am the one who gets to deal with the mess.  I am so tired of having to deal with it and he WILL NOT quit drinking.  We have been married for 13 years and this has been a constant battle since day one.  He has quit for a week or so when I have been at my rope's end and about to leave, but it doesn't last.  He refuses to believe that an alcoholic can be anyone but a person who gets completely wasted and can't make it to work.  He does not think he has an alcohol problem.  My feelings are that if it is a problem for one spouse, it is a problem.  Period.  And it is a problem for me.  I'm not opposed to a drink every now and then, but drinking that much every day is not the lifestyle I want.  I will not let my child ride with him and she doesn't understand.  I just tell her that she needs to come with me because it is my job to keep her safe and that explanation seems to work for now, though she picks up on what's going on.  I really hope for you that you can quit the drinking and/or get some help.  It will make a difference. 


My husband is 40 and has just been diagnosed with ADHD by a phsychologist who new right off the bat what has been plaguing him for years. We've been to marriage counceling on and off for several years now discussing alcoholism and to doctors, but no one has ever suggested until 3 months ago that he might have ADHD. We've been married for 19 years and he's been a drinker since I first met him but it didn't become a problem in our relationship until we started to have children. His diagnosis has explained sooooo much of the distress we've had in our marriage. He has been self medicating with alcohol from the beginning. The sad part looking back at his life is that so much pain could have been eliminated for him, and for us, had he been diagnosed as a child. He is currently taking Aderal which he started less than a week ago.  We already notice a huge, huge change.  I am excited for what our future holds, but a little apprehensive that it is too good to be true.  My husband doesn't want to drink because he now sees the pain that it causes, him, me and our 3 kids. The medicine takes any urges he has away. Time will tell, but I am hopeful for the first time. When we went to the phsychologist 3 months ago we were at our braking point. Learning more about ADHD has given me a new empathy for my husband who I've been resentful and angry at for so many years now.  My son, who is now 15, was diagnosed and given medicine 5 years ago for ADD. When this happened my husband told me I was crazy and that he didn't need medicine, he just needed to learn to behave. Because I believed in my gut feeling I gave my son the medicine anyway and today my husband, who has a similar diagnosis, is much more empathetic to our son and in time hopefully their relationship will improve.

Your husband is me (Almost)

I don't have much time to respond, because I'll be late to work, but I was not diagnosed until age 43. I did not drink too much, because I always feared becoming an alcoholic. I self-medicated with food.

Be optimistic! Two years later, I'm down 100 pounds, hardly drink because it wrecks my Adderall and I don't ever like feeling the ADD Fog. I've owned my ADD from the start and will continue to study and post. I'll try to add more later, but it sounds like your husband is on the right track!