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Addiction to Alcohol/Supporting my Recovering Boyfriend


Dear Clyde,
Thank you in advance for your time. My boyfriend recently returned home from a 30 day program for alcoholism (plus a week in a detox facility before that.) Before he went in, our relationship was strained and we had separated because of his addiction; however, during thee time he was in the facilities, we were in contact often and everything was rekindled. Now that he's home, we are spending a lot of time together and are functioning as if we are a couple, in every way but physically because he has no sexual desire right now.

I'm concerned about several things. For one thing, he seems emotionally cool and a bit distant, but he wants to spend a lot of time together. He has spent the night several times, but there is ZERO sexual contact. He has no drive at all now, and he barely even kisses me. This is difficult for me, although I understand his body is probably going through a lot so I feel selfish for being unhappy about this. Is this normal? How long does it normally last?

He was always so good at making me feel loved and cared about, but now it's different. There's a detachment or something.

Also, I am concerned because he doesn't have a job, and although he has gone to a few AA meetings since he got out, he still doesn't have a sponsor and just isn't moving as quickly as I think he should be. He said he didn't want to start looking for a job until he got a good handle on recovery at home, but I just don't think he's doing enough. I'm having a hard time releasing responsibility over this, and I don't know how to encourage him without seeming like a nag because at the end of the day, it's his life. Also, the other day he lied to me about attending a meeting. I thought he was lying because I can read him like a book, and after telling him firmly several times that I knew it was a lie, he finally admitted it and apologized. That seems like a really bad sign.

I feel very hurt by that dishonesty and I am just not happy about any of this. But on the other hand, I do love him very, very much and am in love with him, so I want to stand by him if I can. I'm hoping things get better after some time passes. I just don't know what role to play. And the lack of sex makes this seem more like a friendship, and I'm just confused and sad and unsure about everything.

If you have any advice for me about how I can support him during this time without going crazy myself, I sure would appreciate it. I've considered Al Anon and may attend a meeting at some point in the near future.

Thank you very much.

   Thank you for your questions and for giving me some information and your perception of his behaviors.  This is helpful to try and give you an answer.
   First, thank goodness and thank God he is sober today.  That is a true blessing for anyone who gets a day clean and sober of drugs and alcohol.  But, there is a long road to recovery and it is not taken overnight by most people.
   You describe the lack of sexual drive; I cannot address the medical issues that this may signify but let me say that in my early recovery I did read a book the title of which I do not recall.  It was a book written by an recovering alcoholic doctor so it had some rather interesting information on the physiology of the body of a recovering person (i.e. enzymes, organ function, blood chemistry) and in some cases the recovery of the body to reach normalcy was days to months in length of time.  From that I took it to be that I would be in for whatever came my way because of my 20 years of drinking.  So, this is something that is real - the body needs time to heal.  I do know of people who have difficulty with sex drive during early recovery but I do not know that it is common.
   Let me tell you one simple truth which I found in my own life - two months into my sobriety my then wife gave me a bottle of bourbon and said, "I want the old Clyde back, I do not like a sober one!"  My recovery was solid enough by that time that I told her the old Clyde was dead.  Now, the old person you knew as the drunk is hopefully dead as well and he will be discovering his "real" self.  The old self is more or less a "false self" which he needs to jettison in order to succeed in life as a sober individual.  The truth for you to hear, and it is not going to be easy to accept, but he is a new person and he may not like you as before and you might not like him either.  That will mean that some decisions may need to be made in the future that will impact your relationship.
   That being said, you will also need to be discovering who the "real" Jennifer is and that can be done by your willingness to enter the alanon program which is designed for those affected by alcoholism.  You will work the same steps and have a sponsor and do the work to recover from the effects of the disease.  Only by your looking into yourself honestly will you be comfortable with the decisions that may come down the road.
   Think of it this way, if you discover that you are not willing to remain in a relationship as it currently exists and make a decision to part company it COULD and I say COULD very cautiously, cause him to become even more willing to work a more serious program in order to win you back.  You see, this thing is a "God" thing and it is spiritual in nature meaning no one knows how life now unfolds as a sober person.
   My first marriage ended in divorce at the 2 year mark; she simply would not, or could not, accept me as a sober individual for a number of good reasons, looking back in hindsight.
   For me, I LOVE who I found myself to be!! and I absolutely will not give up what I have found for anyone.  My life based on my spiritual understanding has given me too many wonderful things and personal insights to recount in this short space - I would need to write a long long book.
   I hope this may have helped somewhat, and I hope it may prompt you to do what you have already considered and that is Alanon.  
   Keep in touch if you'd like and let me know how things unfold.
Grace and peace,

Addiction to Alcohol

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I can answer questions on the recovery from alcohol addiction as I am a recovering alcoholic with 22 years of sobriety. I can also address the spiritual aspects of the 12-Step program as I have a Master of Divinity degree; serve as a pastor in the Quaker church; and, serve as a hospice chaplain. I have also served as a prison chaplain for one year and currently volunteer as a mentor once a week, working with two inmates one-on-one as they work towards reentry into society as free persons.


I am a recovering alcoholic with 22 years of continuous sobriety.

Master of Divinity awarded in 2000 from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

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