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Teenage Problems/Husband's obsession with rum.... what to do?


Hiya, I'm 41 and my husband's 43, we're from the North Midlands, United Kingdom.
For the past few weeks my husband's started to drink rum.
Breakfast, dinner, tea and supper - he feels he can't start or end the day without it. He even put rum in my cup of tea as a "joke" - I only noticed it when the tea tasted horrid!
He's already on suspension from work for 2 weeks for drinking rum in the office and ordering it online delivered to his workplace (via a local online alcohol shop), and banned from his local gym for a week for consuming rum whilst using the machines which meant he had to go to hospital.
Normally he's a loving kind person and a great husband and father, but now he's just obsessed, and I mean obsessed with rum, he wants to go on holiday to the Caribbean to see it being made and buy some, hell, he's even tried to get our 16-year-old daughter to give people some 'rum cupcakes' in school but she's having none of it.
I mean, such is his obsession with rum, he's got the downstairs toilet filled with bottles of the stuff - he claims it's good for Christmas time as presents, hell, he even gives away some of it to friends and people who come round!

Is he an alcoholic? I'm not so sure, as he never used to be into drinking this much, he was always a social drinker.

Asking him where he got this interest from did get somewhere - he admitted it was when he met this new mixologist friend of his, John (not his real name), who experiments with different drinks and cocktails. John's a former engineer/lorry-driver-turned-mixologist and charity fundraiser.

What should I do about this? I don't want to divorce him as this is the first time he's ever had such an 'obsession' and it's so out-of-character for him, but what would you do if you were in my situation?

****sorry for the length, session on PC will expire soon.***

Hi there Jana,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.

From what you have described to me it does sound like your husband has an unhealthy obsession with rum but it does not yet sound like he is at the point of becoming an alcoholic; but he may yet to this point if he does not change his behaviour.

Alcoholics are people who have a psychological dependence on alcohol which means that they cannot physically cope without having a drink of alcohol. Their bodies react to the lack of alcohol if none if provided by causing profuse sweating, hot and cold spells, shivers and sometimes convulsions as their body fails to cope with the falling alcohol in the blood. Alcoholics are also incredibly protective of their drinking and this includes hiding evidence that they are drinking, as well as prioritising drinking over real essentials, such as food and health. Alcoholics, in general, also get defensive if the issue is taken to them that they may have a problem and it is only in the latter stages of getting treatment will they eventually admit that they do have a problem. These generalised symptoms present over a course of months and years and are typical (not always present) of someone who does have a problem with alcohol. At this point, from what you have explained to me, it does not appear that your husband is at this stage yet but it is worrying that his drinking is beginning to take its toll on other aspects of his life, including his relationships and his work and this highlights the necessity to get this sorted as soon as possible.

We all have something that we enjoy or are passionate about and with some guys this can be sport, where they can tell you every match a player has played and when they made their debut etc to the point of having an obsession. The difference between enjoying something and knowing a lot about it and having an obsession is that with the latter, it affects not only the individual concerned but it begins to detriment all of the different aspects of that person's life; which is what I mentioned before. Obsessions can vary from objects to people and they are difficult to deal with because it is not something that can really be remedied by just telling the person to stop having the obsession.

The first stage is to try and find the trigger and you mentioned before that this could be because of his mixologist friend introducing him to some kind of new experience or taste. It has given him something to be excited about in his life that he may have felt he was lacking or it could be the fact that it is creating a bigger social atmosphere around him that he is enjoying. Whatever the reasons for the behaviour it is important to find the trigger and go from there.  

The key to tackling this behaviour to reinforce the negativity that the behaviour is having on others around him and his life in general. Hit home hard that this is not just something that is a joke or something to be laughed at and that it is actually breaking your heart watching him becoming so obsessed with something so minor in his life. Suggest that he limits how much rum he drinks to a reduced level per week then per month and explain that if he does not change his behaviour then he is putting himself and the future of his relationship at risk. If none of this works then give him an ultimatum of either accepting your advice and adhering to it or sleeping on the couch.
This obsession is behavioural which means that it can be changed; if it gets to the stage where he is addicted to it, then it becomes harder to tackle and interventions from the GP may be necessary.

Most obsessions tend to fizzle out after the novelty of the original obsession has worn out but some people do have obsessive personalities and tend to replace one obsession with another; and as long as this is healthy then it is fine otherwise you end up running into problems.

Being firm but fair with him is the only way to tackle this and this does not mean that you have to divorce him or separate but it does mean continually making sure he understands that his behaviour is affecting not only him but also his family. If everyone sends a clear and consistent message (including his mixologist friend, John) that having a laugh is fine but taking to extremes is not then he should realise that what he is doing is pushing people away and begin to withdraw from this behaviour. It will take time but it may just work if this is a passing obsession. If it isnít, then hit him hard and get him barred from anywhere that sells him rum and see if this sends the message home. All you are trying to do is look out for him and love him and he it wonít realize this through your actions and appreciate this, then that is when it becomes a longer term problem to which the solutions become more extreme.

I hope that helps and good luck.  

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)


My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.


I have volunteered for for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with, and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

The Albert Kennedy Trust

Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients Connexions Direct

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