Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

SZ and Alcoholism

My husband is an alcoholic and also has schizoaffective disorder. He had drank and quite a few years ago but now has stated again. We had an agreement when he moved in with me about a year ago that he would pay for the food and I would pay the rest of the bills. So now he goes out drinking when he gets his disability check and he doesn’t have money for food. He keeps telling me that he’s losing his money and now today he decided to tell me that he thinks I’m stealing from him. His drinking is creating turmoil in our home. My son is upset that he’s doing this and me, I feel like I really don’t care other than the fact that he has no money for food. In all other aspects of his mental illness, he seems fine except for this. Schizophrenia has robbed me of my marriage and I can accept that but what I can’t accept is him not pulling his weight in our home. He cleans the house and does the laundry. Every Monday when I’m off from work I cook a huge meal like a Sunday dinner type meal. So this past Monday he decided he was going to go for a walk at like 4 in the afternoon. Now I’m not stupid I knew he was going to the bar and wouldn’t be back in time for dinner. The sad part is that my son knew it too. there is nothing I can do about this, I’ve asked him to leave the house because I really don’t want to live with him anymore. He tells me he won’t leave until I file for divorce. He says he won’t be able to get Medicaid unless we’re not married. We are fighting all of the time and most of it is because he’s not pulling his weight financially. My poor son is having to listen to these arguments and I feel bad. I don’t know if I have it in me to divorce him because he has no other family to take care of him. But I also know, living like this is not healthy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Alcoholism is a permanent disease.
One drink can undo years of sobriety and personal responsibility.
And one drink can turn an otherwise good person into a chaotic, harmful force.

I have been friends, coworkers, and employees of alcoholics in the past. When they are sober and walking the straight and narrow, they are fantastic people.
But I’ve seen just one drink turn into a desperate hunt for more. I’ve seen the out of control behavior and the rage when the drink runs out. I’ve seen the danger when it doesn’t run out, too.

Alcoholism is extremely serious.
It robs the victim of all self control and all of their moral standards.

For an alcoholic,
One drink means all that matters is the next one.
No matter if they have to lie to get it.
No matter if they have to hurt someone they love to get it.
No matter if it will kill them.

Sobriety isn’t something that can be put off to tomorrow.
It is a matter of life and death.

Thanks for your reply. I am well aware of what great lengths the alcoholic will do to get a drink. He has been lying to me and I told him I wasn’t born yesterday. When I reminded him that he is an alcoholic, he seems to not believe it…like he totally forgot. Again I know better than that, that is just him being in denial. The part I don’t understand is why now? I feel like every time we get to a point of some kind of peace between us, he throws a wrench into the spokes and it just amps up my frustration and the tension in the house. I feel like he can’t live without drama.

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I would suggest to try to look at the situation from different perspectives. Imagine how your son perceives what is okay within a marriage and what is not. If he were in the same situation with a spouse. Would you advise him to stick out the turmoil and chaos and lack of support indefinitely because his spouse didn’t have anyone else? Or would you advise him to make a clean break and get a fresh and much healthier start? Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to let the person you love find his own way. You can give him resources, You can tell him you wish the best for him. Your first obligation is to yourself (I say first because you have to be okay for your son to be okay) Second obligation is to your son. He can still learn from you and from your spouse. Better the lessons be from a sober and sensible parent than a disabled and unwell one. Just my two cents. Take care.

The last sentence, I think really identifies your problem. Some people do sabotage their life when it is “normal”. I have lived with an alcoholic and empathize with you. While I am not a divorce proponent as it causes other issues, there comes a time when everyone has to decide “is this situation safe?” And only you can decide

Alcohol is like poison to my sz ex husband. He was never a drinker. When he suddenly started, he became abusive and delusional.

Now, 6+ years later, he is in AA, and no longer drinks. The daily meetings are helpful for him.

How does he react when you tell him that you need him to quit drinking? Can you threaten to evict him?

As I look back, my former husband self medicated with pot and graduated to a variety of street drugs, with the exception of heroin. He entered rehab and never did drugs again…but changed his self medication to alcohol. He entered rehab the second time and said he never planned on staying sober. Given the choice of sobriety and family or drinking, well, we lost.

Fast forward our son began to experiment with drugs about the same time the sz symptoms started. Was it to self medicate or did they kick start scz? Will never know. But we do know two things: 1. Alcoholism killed his father. 2. When he drinks his symptoms skyrocket. He then rages against his perceived injustices, has to find the truth of his delusions and is a general pain in the ass. But he still can walk and talk when most would be passed out.

Recently he decided he will quit. The problem is and always has been his “f it” moments. Stress causes his delusions go into overdrive. Then he has the “f its”. He will always have schizophrenia, but he is oh so much more pleasant sober sz than drinking sz; even unmedicated. Not that I am a proponent of that, but that is what we have.

After decades of watching family members battle mental illness and substance abuse, I have come to the conclusion our societal acceptance of drug use plays a part. The brain is a very tough yet fragile control center. There is no such thing as benign recreational use. Some escape undamaged, but so many others do not. Oh I know many will disagree with me, but that is my conclusion of 40 years of observation.

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