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Need advice, alcohol abuse after surviving

Dinacakes
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

My husband has been cancer free for quite a few months, his CT Scan/PET Scan is on Jan 5. I have always bent over backwards and forwards because it's what you do for a loved one. I'd run across the world back and forth if I had to. But, he has been having a hard time coping with the aftermath of being laid off, cancer, and the rest of what cancer brings. Everything changes and it only made us stronger. I just can not handle the alcohol issues. When he drinks, it is a fake happiness and things get worse. My whole point of writing this is because I need some guidance, he doesn't think his drinking is an issue, but it effects me a ton. He watches our 3 year old while drinking a lot and I just don't like it. This drinking habit feels like it's second to none, and I know it isn't, but it really did put a void in our relationship. I understand the cancer is life altering and I understand that just because he is cancer free it doesn't mean he is going to get back to normal soon, I completely understand that, I'd wait an eternity just to see him get better and be happy. So it's really contradicting for me to hate that he drinks too much. Today was the last straw and I don't know what to do. We have had counseling but not extensive and we are currently trying to manage his pain pill intake. What do I do to fix this? Do I just let it be and wait for him to stop? Or do I do what I think is right of trying to persuade him that it really isn't good for him? I am not asking for him to get better in a split second I just want to see that he is being productive and gaining life back, no matter how long it takes. He can stay home for the rest of life or take up tons of hobbies, I just want him to be happy, without alcohol.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1315
Joined: Aug 2010

I do know how incredibly difficult this is for you, Dinacakes, but would rather discuss in a more private forum.

If you want to email me to discuss, my email is AngStvns@aol.com.

Hugs, Dinacakes. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pennymac02's picture
Pennymac02
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2010

My husband (cancer victim) and myself (caregiver) are in 12 step recovery. I work in the treatment field. PM me anytime. And definately find Alanon in your area. It won't help you fix hubbys drinking, but it will teach you how to cope. You are not alone.
Penny

Noellesmom
Posts: 1315
Joined: Aug 2010

Agree, agree, agree.

hope0310's picture
hope0310
Posts: 324
Joined: May 2010

I think if you guys have advise for Dina, perhaps you should post it. She was open enough to post on the forum, but some may not be.

Your advise could help someone else as well!!

Just a thought....

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

Our caseworker warned me about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) - this sounds like a classic case. Just like the war vet who comes home and everyone expects him to be "normal" your husband is not going to get over the stress just by recognizing that he's clean. He's going to need some help.

AA and Al-anon can help but this is not just about alcohol. If you can, see if you can find a counselor to work with him on the PTSD issue and take the alcohol issue off the table for now. He might be more willing, especially if you can get a nurse, caseworker or other cancer professional to explain that PTSD is seen a lot in cancer survivors.

Cancer PTSD and war PTSD have some similarities - both survivors have trouble with "reinsertion" into normal life; they both see snipers/tumors everywhere; they both turn to self-medication to deal with the symptoms; they both feel like aliens in their own world; they both find little in their old world that gives them any comfort.

The first week after treatment ended, my husband and I both noticed that we missed the routine - those hated 2 hours of commuting and 1 hour waiting/getting irradiated really left a hole in our lives; it was almost as if we missed it.

ACS should have some resources; we have not yet had to explore that avenue as we are only 1 month post-treatment and still have a ways to go, so I can't give any advice there. Others on this list might be able to, however.

Dinacakes
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

I didn't realize that I had any replies, I wanted to thank all of you for the advice. I do believe that this could be a post trauumatic stress disorder and we have been going through counseling. It really just sunk in recently that he really does have a substance abuse issue. Today was the toughest days in my life, I got home and smelled alcohol so I automatically ask why and things escalated from there, after 30 minutes of not talking, he came to me with a gun to his neck and I immediately called 911. They took him to get evaluated. I'm just lost and ready to tackle the issue. He's been through way too much and I just don't know what else to do or say to make him feel happy without having to overdose on medication or alcohol. I can't talk to any of my friends bc they don't know and they are all my age of 23, so they haven't had to deal with anything like this. I'm hoping that extensive therapy will help, I just need to learn how to cope with all of this. I am still just at a lost.

ketziah35
Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

Time to leave. The next time it could be your daughter or yourself being killed. He is trying to control you. Leave if you want to stick with him go back after everyone has finished counseling. IT IS NOT SAFE FOR YOU! You don't have the problem he does. I encourage you to goo see the movie For Colored Girls. Now it is time to be the big girl and look out for yOur daughter's saftey. If he does any crap like that again, because you realize he is trying to control you, call 911 as you are walking out the door. Always keep your purse and car keys near you and in one place.

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

It is very hard when you don't have friends you can relate to - if you haven't been there, you just can't get it.

Yes, your guy really needs help - it sounds like he is mostly a danger to himself, but you don't want to be around if he decides to end his pain but can't bear the thought of leaving you behind. People who are in such deep despair do not think straight and you can't predict what they will do, no matter how well you know them.

What's the situation now? Is he still in for evaluation or did they let him go? When my brother was taken in for evaluation (he not only slit his wrists but held his boss hostage - the boss had just fired him - for about 6 hours until he passed out) he had the option to voluntarily commit himself during the evaluation period. This meant that he could sign himself out at any time - great system. Laws are different in other states, however - if there is anyway you can keep him in a psychiatric hospital or similar place for at least a week, you'll be able to feel safe and get the help you need.

Keep posting - a lot of us have been through similar stuff and we'll try to help.

Dinacakes
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

He was just transferred to a psych ward by court order, so this will give me time to "re-coop" all in all even though he didn't try to hurt me and my daughter physically, we are in danger when he is in that state of mind. We have never ever had anything like this happen. We are a loving hardworking couple and I am just in total shock and denial. Our daughter comes first and I'm gonna do everything I can to make sure she is safe. I'm hoping that this will all be fixed so that we can return to our normal lives, but I'm sure this is going to be the toughest battle ever.

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

This may be a tougher battle than the one against cancer - it will depend on his willingness to work on getting better, and right now, he doesn't have any of the basic tools he needs: a clear mind, incentive to change, and faith that he will get better. The alcohol abuse took much of that away, but the chemical imbalance brought on by his illness and treatment is the root cause and will continue to make it hard for him to get better.

The good news is that he is in a place where they can help stabilize his mood for a while, and he might be able to get enough of a handle on his life that he can participate in the process of healing. The tough part is reversing the spiral downward - the first few weeks are painful and frustrating.

Mental illness is very democratic (like cancer) - it does not care if you are good people or bad. However, the fact that you are a loving, hardworking couple will help you beat this. Your safety and that of your daughter comes first, but your guy's recovery will be made easier by whatever support you are able to offer him.

BTW, he was due for his checkup back on January 5, I think - how did that go?

Dinacakes
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

He's cancer free, just trying to get his life together. This is going to be a long journey and its going to be tough. Just wish it didn't have to happen this way. I was opposed to going to visit him tomorrow during visiting hours but I need to see him and make sure that he is okay. I thought that surviving cancer was the last step, totally oblivious.

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

When you visit - he might be calm and under control, especially with the help of meds. On the other hand, he may be going through bad alcohol withdrawal and be edgy (at best).

My brother was very quiet when I went to see him - he'd taken advantage of the 24 hours or so and done a lot of thinking. He was a bit ashamed about the suicide attempt - he had never thought of himself as mentally ill, despite obvious signs of depression for over a year. Still, he had to face what he'd done in order to move on with life (in fact, he had to appear in court within another day or so as his boss wanted him in jail).

Your husband has been through hell and survived - he may be as mystified as you about why he is having problems dealing right now. Pointing the gun at himself was an obvious call for help - part of him knew something was wrong but didn't know what to do about it. Try to help him see that the psych doctors will be able to show him how to get past this part of his struggle.

BTW, make sure you get the help you need, also. It's easy for parents (women, especially, I think) to put their own needs aside for their children, but you've also been through hell and had this recent trauma to top it off. When you see him today, ask the folks at his place about recommendations.

Dinacakes
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

Thank you for all of the great advice, he is now going through an outpatient rehab for a month and I am joining an Al Anon group along with communicating with our therapist. That night was the worst night I've ever had, but it was the beginning of healing and now we can move forward and do what's right. Cancer really set us back but we have learned from it and survived. I truly did learn that as a caregiver, you really do have to take care of yourself as well. There are so many resources and so many people that has guided us through our darkest days, it just amazing to know that people really do care and really have walked in our shoes.

Take care,

-Dina

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