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Loved One Sneaking Beer Round the Clock

couple talk on couch man leaning back

Allies Member AnneRussell writes in for guidance with her Loved One’s drinking. She has begun to implement CRAFT but so far he seems to drink even more when she removes herself from the room on seeing use. When he’s not at work, he’s drinking almost round the clock.. He lies and sneaks beer all the time. How do we handle all of this?

My husband drinks every day. He starts as soon as he leaves his job in the afternoon and drinks until I get home and then he sneaks alcohol the rest of the night (there is a wall of beer cans in his closet and empty/half full beers in every corner of the yard and crevices throughout the house.) On the weekend the drinking frequently starts in the morning when he “goes out for coffee.” I have tried for the past 4-8 years to get him to not drink and drive, but he continues to sneak. I worry about this all the time. I’m trying to spend time with him/give him positive regard when he is not heavily under the influence and ignoring him/stay in my bedroom when he is under the influence, but it is not making a big impact. He drinks a lot more when I “recognize his drinking” and then remove myself. He lies all the time. I’m struggling with how to handle this all. The ideas in the website do give me hope and I have been trying them for the past three weeks. I haven’t heard a lot of spouses on the website so I thought I would add my voice.

Your husband drinks when he is not working – pretty much around the clock. It starts when he gets home from work and on weekends around “coffee time.”  You have been trying to remove yourself from the room when he is drinking, but this urges him on and he drinks more.

I once worked with a spouse in very similar circumstances. Her first “success” with CRAFT was meeting her husband at the door as he came home from work with a small bag filled with sugary snacks and the suggestion of a brisk walk. They came home from the walk and the husband didn’t drink until after dinner that night, a whole 5 hours later. This tactic gave them a whole afternoon together without alcohol and a nice time together that they sorely needed.

This doesn’t sound like much but it was to them. She managed a couple more episodes like this. It softened how she thought about him, and the husband, in turn, found a small pleasure in their time together. When he drank so much on one weekend that he fell off a ladder, she didn’t come to the rescue. Once it was clear he was all right, she went out for the rest of the day. He drank to the point of a terrible hangover that next morning, and she left again. She didn’t make him any coffee; she didn’t offer any assurances that “it will be okay.”

After 8 or so weeks of her behaving this way, she orchestrated a planned conversation (as described in the segment entitled Video: The Planned Conversation, in Learning Module 8.) He said yes. Part of the conversation entailed her laying out the limits of what she was willing to endure moving forward. In her case, she had to really think about whether she wanted to continue to live with her husband.

Much of CRAFT is in the details. After three weeks, your husband hasn’t shifted much. In fact, he may be drinking more now that you are leaving him alone when you see his use. This is still the right thing to do from CRAFT’s perspective. Removing yourself is removing a reward: it is changing up the normal setting in the house. Maybe your husband would drink more if left to himself. Maybe he needs to experience the removal of your influence and really take that in. Keep it up. Maybe he needs to drink more to experience a more total loss of control…

I am very concerned about the drinking and driving, though, as you clearly are as well. If you see this happening, you throw CRAFT out. This is not a practical time to allow natural consequences, unless you are willing to call the police as he pulls out of the driveway.

Perhaps it’s time to state these concerns in a planned conversation. Something like this:

“I married a man I love very much and still do. You are my husband, you are my world. I want us to be together and I want us to be happy. This isn’t the case right now. Today I am announcing my war on beer. I see how hard it is going to be for you to stop drinking. I appreciate that you think about it (he almost surely does think about stopping).

Please stop hiding your drinking from me. I want you to drink in front of me. I want us to be more honest with each other. I am done with this dancing around the drinking. I am getting some help for myself around this. I want us both to be happy again.

Pause….let this sink in

There is one thing I need for us to change immediately and that is your driving after drinking. I am so scared for you and for others. What can we do about this? Can I drive you where you need to go (this would even include taking him to the liquor store). What else can we do so that you don’t need to drink and drive?

It’s a new day. I am going to fight for us, for our marriage, and our happiness. Thank you for listening to me.”

We do have partners and spouses on this site and I so appreciate you writing in. By adding your voice, you are helping us find new ways to be here for each other. Please write in again and tell us what you are finding as you apply CRAFT. You’re only three weeks in… Give it another 8 or so weeks. Tell us about your successes and failures – we can all learn from them. The CRAFT principles are universal but their application in any relationship or situation is very specific. I hope that through sharing these specifics, as well as finding what is universal in our situations, this blog is teaching us all how to apply CRAFT.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. My question, concern, is unrelated to this post. I’m fairly new to AIR and not sure of question protocols.

    Our addicted son has been in two treatment programs, IOP’s and sober livings. He never makes the full 90 days of sober living without relapse, which, as I become more educated through counseling and support groups, I am realizing that the actual relapse has happened long before the drug use in his thinking process. He’s been addicted to Adderral, Xanax and I think meth. He lives with a friend who has a good job and owns his home, I don’t think he is an addict, nut not certain. I know his family and have known the young man for 10 years. My son is 25, cannot hold a job and is constantly going from one place to another. He is a gifted strength and condoning coach when he’s focused and not on a bender. He has no car, no insurance and considerable debt. He has stolen, lied and frightened my husband and I, physically, when high.

    After the last treatment program, our counselor encouraged us not to have anything to do with our son until he had a year of sobriety. That lasted 6 months, until he knocked on our door and got down on a knee and toldus he missed us. My husband tried, but did not see our son making any amends or showing a changed heart, so pulled back.

    I have been keeping my boundaries but am carefully choosing to see our son for lunch or working out together occasionally. If he is high, I tell him I can’t see him. But I have tried not to ask the questions, are you sober? Are you working the Steps, are you getting paid, are you paying your bills, are you thinking of going to school etc., and talk about things we can laugh about or that stay away from the edges of confrontation, and am trying to accept and love him in his better days.

    I know that I cannot help him or fix him, only he can do that. And I feel it’s important for him to feel loved and encouraged, but I’m not sure if I’m enabling him by sort of tacitly accepting….? I never give him money or anything, except to buy our meal. As a mom, my heart breaks thinking I may not see him alive next week, He has had some seizures, induced by drugs, and I know every day that he is not pursuing recovery is a gift.

    My question is, am I sending the wrong message to my son? I understand and respect my husband’s feelings and his pain and I am not trying to change his feelings, which are legitimate. I know my son has manipulated me in the past, and I am trying to simply be loving and encouraging but firm. My greatest wish is for him to pursue recovery. He recently told me he was smoking pot and that was “helping”. I am not a believer in this but I am trying not to advise him as he will never listen to me about drug use, as I barely drink, and have never tried any drugs.

    I am very skeptical and believe it’s just another drug. Please, if you have any insights, I am most appreciative. I can step away in a a loving manner, I have done so before. I’m questioning whether it may help my son seek recovery. It did not work previously, but maybe we should not have answered our door after 6 months……

    1. You have come to a site that does not believe in tough love. We also prefer to see the term “enabling” as a neutral term that can be applied to enabling sober behavior as well as not enabling drug use. We would have had you answer the door the day after you received this advice. If your son had looked straight, it would have been a moment of light and happiness on your part to see him that way.

      Having the family stay away is based on the belief that families are not helpful in this process. Old schoolers would see you as enablers of use, exclusively. In their eyes, the family = bad news.

      We actually think the opposite is true. The family is an important, largely untapped, resource. They can play important roles as an early warning system, bridge builder, and interventionist. Read my full response to this family member here:

    2. Hello mandybrownaz,

      Thank you for your post and welcome to this community. Allies has been invaluable to me in learning how to help deal with my son’s 6-year journey with opioid addiction. He is now 1 1/2 years into recovery. There is hope for all who struggle.

      Bravo for having a counselor for you and your husband. Self care is so important on this journey as is education. There are multiple ways to view addiction and the role of the family in helping their loved one. Our initial shock kept us locked into the black and white thinking of the typical AA view of addiction for a long time. But like you I couldn’t turn my back on my son. I began to explore alternative views such as this site, went to a variety of different kinds of meetings, and found other support when my counselor continued to insist that the AA model was the only valid view and I was enabling. The book “Beyond Addiction” is based on the CRAFT method and scientific research and was an eye-opener and immensely helpful.

      Your family and your son are in my thoughts and prayers. May you keep learning and growing.

      1. Thank you! I’m ordering this book immediately!!

        I so appreciate the comments about diverging from the trusted AA model. If I’m honest, I have felt a little guilty for venturing beyond what counselors and many support groups advocate for tough love.

        I also think CRAFT is harder for my husband. With tough love, it’s painful, but you remove yourself until your loved one comes to recovery and the addiction is supposedly in the rear view mirror. Even as I write this now, it feels wrong.

        Loving someone with an addiction is a roller coaster and learning how to best support and love without being manipulated or enabling is a process,which I’m discovering, is taking just as long for me to navigate as it appears to be taking my son to recover.

        It’s a wild ride. But I see how many people I’ve touched through my own trials and believe it’s all for a reason. I do have hope for my son. I just pray I am able to encourage and love him and not cause further withdrawl into his addiction.

    3. HeyMandy

      I love your question and it is one that I have asked many times. My daughter has been struggling for almost 6 years now and I feel I have tried my best to educate myself but there was always this tough love approach and letting go theory that AA seemed to pitch that left me felling very hopeless. My daughter relapsed on her 21st birthday after having 8 months of sobriety and it was a hard summer for us all but the more I looked at CRAFT the more I thought it was worth a try so when she reached out to me I looked for the opening to offer help. She was living 6 hours away but when I felt she might be open to listening I would make the drive so I could buy her a meal and sit and visit with her. The first time she said no but the second time I went to see her she did finally agree to get help. She is sober 5 months today and I feel it is due to CRAFT. I still had pretty firm boundaries but I also looked for the light and instead of pushing her away I embraced her. I think that made the difference and I think what you are doing is a good balance.

      I do think family is very important and if you can have radical acceptance of your loved ones disease and not take their choices personally then you will be able to be there for him when he asks for the help. Just keep the hope and don’t give up. Miracles happen everyday.

  2. I could do that on the weekends when we are home together. He is a teacher and is done working at 2:30 and I don’t get home til 5 so that eliminates that opportunity during the week because I don’t want to include my older adolescent in the solutions. She finds ways to get another ride to events and doesn;t let him drive if she sees him drinking but i worry about the other times when she pretends he is fine. I will try this during this weekend.

    1. And PS. I found my spouse drinking on the toilet with the door locked ( I was going outside to check on a pet and saw him through the window). I feel like he is so out of control and he gets pause again Wednesday so he will have money again for alcohol…….

      1. You have children. Can you get yourself and them in to see a counselor? They may benefit from a safe space to air what is going on with their father. Your husband is ill. Addiction happens to have a large behavioral component that is responsible for so much shame and stigma. Like heart disease, addiction is a disease: your husband’s brain has been hijacked by alcohol. Unfortunately, people with addiction do dangerous, hurtful, and illegal things. People with heart disease don’t typically go through the neighbor’s window looking for jewelry. The stigma and shame makes addiction doubly hard on the family. Children often know more than we credit them for knowing; they also can carry shame and stigma. Read my full response here to AnneRussell’s comment here: