Spouse is Self-Medicating

We've had such a stressful two years while my husband (he has ADHD) was very ill. He's now recovering. While ill he didn't drink any alcohol. Now when he feels stressed out he'll have a drink and it only takes a very small amount for him to get "buzzed." I think in his mind he's thinking that he's only had two drinks so how could I possibly be upset?   If he calls me on the way home from work I can tell on the phone if he's stopped for a drink -- the tone of his voice changes and he speaks in a sloppy way, not quite slurred but almost. At these times I don't know what his blood alcohol level is but if I can tell over the phone that's he's had a drink, I don't think it bodes well if he got pulled over.

I have approached the issue directly and very firmly -- one time his answer was that the place he stopped at was only two blocks away. What  kind of reasoning is that?????????????  After talking about things he agreed with me that driving like this is dangerous, irresponsible, illegal, with only negative consequences for all of us and anyone he might hurt -- he doesn't disagree with me. For a few months the issue did not come up and I thought he had come to his senses. Then it happened again. The next morning I told him that if he drinks and drives and gets pulled over not to call me because I will not help him in any way.

A few months went by with no issue, then it happened again last night. I felt truly stunned. As soon as he walked in the door I knew he had stopped for a drink -- and when I asked him, he admitted to stopping for "a drink or two." He had those almost-slurred words, the glassy eyes, the goofy responses that weren't related to what I was saying, asking a question and then asking it again a few minutes later...................what to do what to do what to do.



I'm very sorry your husband's impulse control problem is rearing its ugly head in a very dangerous manner.  I wish there was an easy answer. Usually people don't stop until something bigger than their wife makes them. You could try getting him to sign an agreement with you that if he drinks at all that he will take a cab, walk home, or get a ride. Shrink it to credit card size, laminate and put on top of his credit cards. Or glue it to the steering wheel. Or get the car fitted with one of those must blow into it in order for car to drive contraptions.  Such a stressor for you to wonder when it will happen again. Good luck.

carathrace's picture

we had this problem too

And I told on him to his psychiatrist and our counselor.  Both of them were VERY firm that people with ADHD who take meds should not take alcohol, as they don't mix and can be harmful.  The effects are different on each person.  If your H takes ADHD meds he should not be drinking, period end of story.  My H resented me for a while, but I brought up his resentment at the counselor, and the counselor told him to google alcohol + his medications.  That shut him up.

I might add that before my H was diagnosed with ADHD, he was just on antidepressants.  He has always suffered from sleep disturbances, and in an effort to self-medicate to get to sleep, he drank several gin & tonics and took benadryl.  He went into what they called an antihistamine psychosis, and tried to hang himself.  So I guess that's why I feel pretty strongly about alcohol mixed with mood-altering chemicals.


Not to mention, if you are married and own joint property, he is also putting you at risk. If he hurts or kills someone driving under the influence, he could be sued and they could take everything you both have. He could go to jail and rack up enormous legal fees. He could lose his license and you might have to chauffeur him around for months or years (happened to someone I know, not pretty).

This is a hard one- it sounds like he knows you don't approve and is sneaking. I am thinking that if the only consequence is your disapproval, he might be willing to put up with that to be able to keep having some drinks. Can you make him promise that if he is going to do this he will at least call a cab or call you to pick him up? Zero tolerance, even for two blocks?

Best of luck to you.