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BEL MOONEY: How do I deal with shame of my addict husband?


Dear Bell,

I don’t know where to go and feel helpless, alone and isolated. My husband of almost 25 years is a drug addict. He doesn’t use every day, but drinks three or four times a year, although painkillers have been abused for a long time long after the need for them has passed.

Lockdown 2020 has been terrible. He spent most of his time taking benzodiazepines – which forced me to manage everything: homeschooling, shopping, bills, and isolation from my parents and family.

I know addiction is a disease and this sounds selfish but I can’t do this anymore. I’m living a lie and can’t talk to anyone because of the shame I feel of being married to a drug addict.

He joined Narcotics Anonymous two weeks ago after his last binge and went to two meetings, but there doesn’t seem to be any momentum to attend a third. I’ve kept this from my kids, often at the cost of them blaming me when they see us not talking.

I desperately want to protect them. He has also started drinking most nights and came home so drunk last night he fell. Then he fell out of bed and to my shame I left him on the floor and slept downstairs.

I loved him so much and always thought I could fix him but know I can’t. He is in his fifties and I fear that one day I will come home and find him dead from whatever he took this time, or worse, my children will find him. It’s harder to hide now that they’re in their late teens.

I think I want him to leave and feel so angry because no matter how I look at my future it’s lonely. I have a job that I love, but that’s all. His behavior has cut me off from all friends. I pretended everything was fine and that he’s a good man (which he essentially is: kind, funny, and caring) but I’m tired of double life. I’m even starting to doubt if I still love him.

I’ve accepted that I can’t help him, but I still really want to. I don’t want to abandon him, but am I making him worse? He tells me to talk to someone from the outside about this, but I can’t. I really can’t.

I don’t want anyone to think badly of him and I’m embarrassed too. I often wonder how I would help if someone came to me with this problem. My overriding feeling would be, “Why are you still with him?”

So I think I should be strong and give him his marching orders. The whole thing is a vortex of emotions and I am exhausted and defeated. I don’t know if it is still the right choice to stay in this vicious circle.


You say you’ve never written to a newspaper before, but you feel at your wit’s end, and I really feel that your husband is absolutely right in saying that you should talk to someone outside the family.

Since you have two kids who are still teenagers, it’s vital that you don’t let this horrible situation continue until you have a breakdown.

Thought of the day

And all the opposites in the universe are present in each of us.

Therefore, the believer must meet the unbeliever who dwells within.

And the unbeliever must get to know the silent believer in him.

From The Forty Rules Of Love by Elif Shafak (b. 1971, Turkish-British novelist)

The pressure on you is doubled because of your own secrecy and shame, so I think we need to explore those feelings first and convince you to change your mindset. (On this subject, I would always recommend trying cognitive behavioral therapy; local therapists can be found through the websites of welldoing.org or the British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy).

But first, you mention your husband’s addiction to prescription drugs used for the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic. Presumably these were obtained through your GP, so I wonder how he managed to accumulate enough to ‘binge’. You seem to suggest that there were other substances besides alcohol.

My first question should be whether you have ever spoken to your GP on your own behalf, confided in your desperation about the situation, and warned the doctor about your husband’s misuse of what he was prescribed. I’m afraid you haven’t acted because of the ‘shame’ that seems to have paralyzed you.

You have to see that you have nothing to be ashamed of, right? You blame yourself throughout the email (that word “selfish” jumps out), but why?

You say (part of your long email I had to cut out) that you’ve tried to help him, and that you’re so sorry for the abusive childhood he doesn’t resent, but you don’t really explain why you’re ‘the disgrace… to be married to a drug addict’.

I’m sure this would be good to explore with a therapist.

Keeping it a secret and telling lies to everyone, including your own children, must be an incredible effort. And no matter what happens to your marriage, you must not continue the charade.

Surely your late teens are old enough now to understand that their father is a sick man and their mother cannot continue to hold him.

If this situation gets worse, they won’t thank you for cheating.

You’ve protected them and also protected your husband (“I don’t want anyone to think badly of him”) from the truth, but those lies mean he can’t be helped or encouraged (with some determination, by demanding that he go to NA goes , for example) to help themselves. Yes, I agree that you need to be stronger regardless of the final outcome.

See turn-point.co.uk/services/drug-and-alcohol-support. html and at Families Anonymous (famanon.co.uk) for advice and support on many levels.

You are clearly still deeply emotionally involved with the man you married and I hope that maybe you can find him again by seeking help yourself.

I want to find love, but I don’t want sex

Dear Bell,

I am 63 years old. My husband passed away three years ago, aged 58. A year ago I was very confident to start a new relationship, but there is a huge stumbling block.

Due to a cancer condition several years ago, physical sex is uncomfortable and pretty much a non-starter for me.

My husband and I were married for 27 years and the last three years have been community free because of this.

Fortunately, the love we built up over those years and his incredible understanding allowed us to have a different kind of intimacy and it didn’t spoil our relationship.

But I realize that sex is an important part of a relationship for many men, so it’s the “elephant in the room” when you start again. There are dating sites for people who can’t have sex, but they all seem to be American.

The two potential relationships I could have had ended because of this problem. I don’t blame the men.

I understand. I would like the physical aspect if it were possible.

There must be many women (and men) who cannot have physical sex for medical or other reasons. Do they have the same problem? How do I meet someone who understands this?

It’s definitely a conversation stopper because you can’t move forward in a relationship without bringing this up. Any advice would be gratefully received.


This honest email addresses an issue that affects far more people than one might think, given that we live in a society quite obsessed with sex – and an ever-expanding range of sexualities.

I’m not specifically talking about a medical condition like yours that makes physical sex uncomfortable, but a lack of interest in physical sex that can develop as people age.

But the loss of libido is not always associated with age; I’ve met a lot of younger people who just shrug their shoulders and explain how they’re so comfortable in their long relationship that sex just doesn’t feel as important anymore.

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

As I’ve pointed out many times in comments on this page, it really becomes a problem when there’s an imbalance in desire: if one half of a couple still feels like sex is necessary and the other doesn’t, that can be deep pain, a sense of rejection, anger and infidelity.

You could, of course, meet a man who feels the same way as you and thinks that having a good conversation and having fun with a warm, cuddly lady would be an ideal. Why not? Such men exist, but you are more likely to meet a real “friend” by trying volunteer work, walking groups, U3A, evening classes and so on.

This is old advice, but it gives people a chance to be friendly and get to know someone without the emotional pressure of a dating site.

I recognize that luck plays a big part, but often I wish people were more relaxed in relationships, rather than needy. If you don’t really look, you can be surprised with joy.

Like you, I searched online and found the US sites.

Then I discovered this interesting piece on the BBC website (bbc.com/worklife/article/20220401-plps-platonic-life-partnerships). After all, does a new asexual partner have to be a man? Maybe readers have ideas, in that case let me know.

In the meantime, I’d really spread your friendship-and-activity net as wide as possible. Do we really have to be stuck with a male+female=gender equation?

To be (in Dickens’s sense) “a comfortable bunch” and not worry about sexual performance, but instead love the idea of ​​tiptoeing into old age with a soulmate. . . Well, for many people that would be great.

And finally… Who knows how we really feel?

Three weeks ago I printed off a letter from Lee with the headline: The world has gone completely mad! That reader released some of her frustrations and could have added much more.

Like me, she is of an older generation driven to distraction by people who take offense at everything, make a fuss where it is not necessary, pretend it is fair for great male individuals to call themselves women and win trophies in women’s sports , and so forth. .

Please contact Bel

Bel answers reader questions about emotional and relationship problems every week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk.

Names are changed to protect identities.

Bel reads all the letters, but regrets that she cannot engage in personal correspondence.

(Mind you, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that many young people feel the same way.)

It should come as no surprise that so many of you agreed with Lee. I’ll pick two to quote.

Alan K was typical in writing: ‘I always read your column because there is so much common sense in it. Lee’s letter is a good example of this. I could have written it myself, and did come close a few times. Thank you for publishing and for your comment.

“I hope you are right and that this madness passes before it does lasting and irrevocable damage. The stupid thing about all this is that the people who claim to be kind and inclusive are so determined to exclude anyone who disagrees with them.’

Then, among other things, deploring the power of the civil service, John and Jan add, “Ordinary millions of people here hate the goings-on of the waking world and the insult that many take for nothing! Where is their backbone, where is their loyalty to their country, where is their ‘heart’? . . . The current activities of so many demonstrators, eco-warriors, disrupters of all things do not inspire a good feeling for their cause and only fuel further anger and ultimately hatred.”

Reading all the comments I wondered if our political, media, sports and charity elites have any idea of ​​how real people think and feel.

Do they realize that much of the country sadly feels alienated from what is happening?

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