Girlfriend Triggers His Alcoholism
Q: I'm almost three months sober and the only reason is because of my girlfriend. She was there for me when no one else was, even though I didn't deserve it. If it wasn't for her I might be dead and that's no lie. But now that I'm back and we're spending time together, I realize that she's one of my triggers. She's a bartender, we always used to drink together, and I feel like a beer after every time we fight, make love, eat a meal, just about anything. I owe it to her to stay with her, but I owe it to myself to stay sober. What should I do? — Kevin, 47
Dr. Susan: First, good going so far! Three months of sobriety is an accomplishment. Now, if the only reason you're staying with your girlfriend is because she stuck with you when you were in need, then that may not be a good enough reason. You'll have to decide how much you love her, and what kind of relationship you have when you subtract all your former drinking activities. What you do owe her is a frank discussion of how this relationship may be getting in the way of your sobriety. Obviously, liquor is a big part of her life, as it's how she makes a living. If she's not willing to consider cutting ties with her job and possibly giving up drinking also, it's going to be a constant challenge for you. I hope you have a sponsor or a counselor or a sober friend to call upon whenever the urge to drink strikes. Unfortunately, starting over sometimes means REALLY starting over. Yet, if she loves you as much as you suggest, and you love her too, it's possible the two of you can work on this trigger stuff together and both of you come out on top.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.