How To Take Charge When An Alcoholic Feels Remorseful

long fence

Does your alcoholic husband straddle the fence?

One day he wants to drink, the next day he wants to get sober.

You may not believe him when he talks about sobriety, but it’s probably the truth. He also tells the truth when he says he wants another drink.

Here are some ideas how to deal with both of his “truthful” statements.

Plan for His Remorse

The guilt and remorse usually comes when he wakes up after a drunk.

I don’t mean to say “kick him when he’s down,” but it’s a good time to present him with a plan that you can act on immediately. This is when he’ll likely be more receptive to get help.

You don’t want him to change his mind if he hints at a need for help. And you certainly don’t want to give him a chance to have another drink.

Know where you can take him to get detoxification. Or you can take him to the emergency room where they treat alcoholism. In the United States most hospitals will keep the alcoholic when their BAC is over .08. Have a bag packed and ready so you can get in the car and go.

Contact an alcohol and drug treatment center today. Have a person you can call immediately when your husband mentions a desire to quit. Make sure the treatment center understands that an assessment needs to happen that very day.

We both know if it doesn’t happen right away he’s going to be drunk again.

Words of Encouragement

These three sentences can help motivate him to move to your side of the fence.

When he expresses remorse simply say, “Never forget how you feel right now. You don’t have to feel that way again. Let’s do something about it together.”

Pain is a great motivator to change. Your alcoholic husband’s remorseful because he feels it physically (hung over) mentally and emotionally. His usual way to deal with that is to drink.

Remind Him of What Happens

Your husband, like all alcoholics, drinks to change the way he feels. The only way he can deal with reality is with alcohol.

When he’s hung over it may be a good idea, in a gentle tone of voice, to bring up his behaviors the last time he drank and the guilt and remorse he felt. Remember, he doesn’t have to feel like that again. He may need to hear that from you.

Take advantage of the situation. You never know when he’ll be receptive, and if so, he may commit to your plan for immediate help.

His remorse the “morning after” may help him chose to stand on the side of the fence where there’s a path that leads to recovery.

Has something different worked for you when your alcoholic husband shows remorse? Please let us know in the comments.


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Here’s What 11 Other People Thought...

  1. Lorri

    This is good and I really wish I had checked my e-mail earlier than I did. My husband and I had to go to court for a domestic violence issue that occurred a few weeks ago. He is not a violent person, please understand that. My therapist explained to me that I wanted him to stop so bad that I actually provoked his hitting me (no acceptable I know). After much discussion and thought she is right. I did provoke him and refused to stop badgering him until something happened. I realize know that was not the thing to do and that the situation could have gone horribly wrong. Since that date we have spoken and he had agreed to get help, I told him it was the only way that he could come home. See my children ages 14 and 19 have gotten quite tired of an alcoholic step dad hanging around, as have I. We went to court to resolve the domestic violence issue and I thought that was it until we left the court and I smelled the alcohol. He had had a few before coming to court. We went to get a bite to eat and he was in a hurry to go his own direction. When I asked him to be honest he hesitated, only to tell me minutes later he was going to go get more alcohol. Very sad :( He called and came home right after seeing that I was not happy. Yesterday I thought it was going to be different for some reason. He knew I was going to check out an in patient facility at the VA because he is a vet and they treat them for free. Upon arriving home and to my dismay he was not drunk but had again had a few drinks. I told him he could not come out of our bedroom to lay down but things had to stop because my kids were not happy about the situation. He got up and said he would leave and that he understood, then started to talk about how he did not have a problem. At first when I brought up the fact that I had checked out the facility it seemed that I had his attention and in a split second he said he changed his mind. I knew things were out of my control at that point. I mean really deep down came to the realization, as if I had any control all along. I told him to be careful and that if he found himself in danger to call and that I love him. Not sure what to do now, this is all so sad and scary and lonely for me. I guess I should just focus on myself. Wondering if he will ever come back or get better. I just wanted to share this and to say again I wish I had read this earlier, as I feel I may have said the wrong things last night or was not as supportive as I should have been. Feeling a little down.


    • Tom

      It sure appears he’s “straddeling the fence.” He’s going to have to make the decision all by himself on what side he’s going to stay on. Maybe it’s time to let him do what he wants to do…and maybe that will cause enough pain to make the decision to change. In the meantime, continue to focus on yourself and your kids. Will he get better? That’s up to him. Regarding your questioning if you were “supportive.” The only thing you can do is help him when he shows a desire to help. Other than that…you have the right to focus on you and the family. It might be best to let him suffer the consequences from his behavior. Here’s a question to think about. What would you’re life be like if he wasn’t in it? Maybe that will help you make yourself and family a priority?

  2. Marina

    I’ve been down that road 3x, he has gone to rehab once, and we’ve spent alot of $$$$, but he has reverted back to the same old ways. I have tried being patient, angry, guilt. Now I have left him in our home, on his own. He wants to quit,has gone to a few AA meetings, but that’s it. He is not working and I am the only one paying the bills. I know he wants to stay sober, but he has not come to that realization that he needs help and to stick with it. I am not sure if I am doing the right thing by staying away, but I have to do whats right for me. I pray to God for strength, that’s all I can do for now. If anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears.

    • Tom

      The first thing that came to mind was if you’re the responsible one by taking care of bills, keeping the house in order, etc., why is he there and you’re not? Don’t you think he should be suffering the consequences for his behaviors. Do you think he’s just sitting around the house drinking? Until he suffers the consequences from his behaviors…he probably will not be willing to get help. Wouldn’t it be nice to be in your own home? What would your life be like if he wasn’t in it (at least for now). Just felt I needed to ask these questions and give yo somethings to think about.

  3. Marina

    I agee with you, he should be out of the house but he won’t leave. How can I make him leave?
    Any suggestions? I am stuck!!

    • Tom

      Well…it’s apparent you want him out so you can focus on yourself. That’s a step in the right direction. Good for you. If you have any documentation,like past police reports…or anything else that proves his unacceptable behavior,you can get a restraining order. But but make sure you’re living in the house at that time. If there’s any abuse make sure you call the law immediately. Or you can pack a bag for him and change the locks on the house. I’m just trying to give you a few ideas. Is there a mission or homeless shelter in your area where he can go. Maybe that’s what he needs to realize he has to make changes.

    • Tom

      I can understand your frustration because you probably don’t have any peace in your life. Here’s something to think about. Documentation may be important. Write down everything he has…maybe that’s alot…but focus on recent weeks. Especially if he’s verbally or physically abusive. Also consider going to the police station and getting a temporary restraining order. If the police want to know “why” you may want to show them your documentation. But I’m not even sure if you’ll need it. He’ll have to find a place to stay…that’s on him. It may give him a chance to look how he has almost destroyed your marriage. Don’t you feel he needs to suffer the consequences from his behaviors?

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