Disabled husband's alcohol problem makes caring impossible!

I am the full-time carer for my disabled husband of 35 years. For the last 3 years as he has become much less able and I have spent several hours every day helping him to get up, use the toilet, wash, and dress, without any help or a break. I prepare food, look after most household chores, go to medical etc appointments with him and at the end of the day help him to undress and get back into bed. He calls me in the night if he has any problems. This leave me with little time to myself, I usually need to ensure I am not out of the house beyond 2/3 hours, shopping for instance, as this is the maximum time he can manage before he is likely to need to use the toilet. However, the real issue that has caused me much distress and has brought me to the end of my tether is my husband’s drinking. Having suffered with chronic pain for many years, he frequently used drink alongside his powerful painkilling medication to ‘smooth the pain off’, in his words. Now though he is at least fairly drunk most evenings by 9pm and frequently paralytically drunk and insensible by bedtime. He is often garrulous, swearing at me, rude etc and/or really difficult to support, e.g., hoist into bed, undress etc as he is barely aware and either a dead weight or uncooperative. I have tried to discuss this with him, we’ve had rows and tears, he has promised to address the drinking issue and broken this promise on many occasions, twice within the last weeks leading up to Christmas and just after. So now after 3 years of wrestling with this I have come to the end of the line and have decided I am not going to spend a fourth-year wrestling with what is a drink problem which exacerbates the physical and mental stresses of caring for a disabled spouse. I have looked at support sites for those dealing with alcoholic problems within the family and this site for those dealing with the demands of caring. However, I have not found any advice for trying to manage alcohol problems within the caring context. Without a doubt, if my husband was not disabled, I would have left him because of his alcohol misuse. Obviously, this is not an option when he is dependent n me for much of his practical care. I am determined to make some changes this year though and not continue in this endless, awful cycle. Any suggestions anyone?

If he cannot go shopping how on Earth is he getting the booze ?

You do not have to deal with all this by yourself.
The marriage vows are “a two way street”. It’s not just you who should be helping him, but he should be appreciative of everything you do for him! Instead, he’s destroying you as well as him. The drink is more important than you. You sound completely and utterly exhausted, having done too much for too long.
Is your GP aware what is going on at home?
Have you asked Social Services for a Carers Assessment?
Next time he’s so drunk you struggle with the hoist, consider calling an ambulance.

Hi Annie, and welcome!

I’ve worked with a few people who were in the situation of wanting to leave, but feeling trapped by caring. So, just to be clear:

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARE FOR HIM. You can choose to say “no more.” It’s a legal right and one you can exercise by informing social services of the situation and saying “I am leaving on (date). From then on, he’s your responsibility.”

There is no obligation on you to provide care or to stay. So you have the option of getting your ducks in a row (somewhere to live, finances, etc.), and getting his care organised so you can get out of the situation.

IF that’s what you really want. If you’re not sure, at least do what Bowlingbun has suggested and get a Carer’s Assessment to get some of the caring load taken off. In fact, you could do that anyway to make it clear to social services what you’re planning and that in the meantime you need help with the caring; one, to reduce your stress levels; two, to help your husband get used to the idea that others are going to do some of the caring.

Getting out of what is, effectively, an abusive situation is difficult for many reasons. You may find it difficult to do. But if it’s what you do choose, then remember that although you will naturally feel some guilt, you’ve no reason to feel guilty. You’ll be doing what you decided is right for you.

I suggested calling an ambulance and saying you need help because you can’t move him, because if he goes to hospital (at very least to investigate if they can get his pain relief sorted) then YOU stay in the home, and he can be cared for somewhere else.
He is the guilty party in all this, not you. Don’t feel guilty, in fact it’s time you stopped being “Superwoman” and started yelling “HELP” very loudly to anyone and everyone.
What is the cause of the pain?

You have my total sympathy but remember alcoholism is progressive…and it will get worse unless he seeks and is prepared to accept help. What ‘quality of life’ do you have?

I agree with the others comments you are under no obligation to look after him especially if he gets mentally abusive.

If he cannot manage on his own, why do you have to leave? Could you not see if he can leave as it sounds as if he need more care than you can give? Are you risking your own physical health by helping him if he is drunk. When my husband rolled off the sofa, the Surgery Nurse told me to get him back on it but I refused because I weigh 7st and he weighs around 9.7st so I was NOT going to risk my back to try and help him up.

If you left, it would leave him on his own, he wouldn’t be able to manage and would have no option but to move into residential care.
If something happens to you, a stroke, heart attack or even worse, he’d have no option again.
So surely it’s better for him to move into residential care now?

First though, you have to take control of the situation, and that’s possible the most difficult part of all this, I suspect he thinks he’s the man and in charge etc. etc.

So maybe the first step is to talk things over with a counsellor, who will not tell you what to do, but talk things through with you so that you find the solution you are most comfortable with.
When I was on the verge of a breakdown, too many demands on me when I was newly widowed and newly disabled, counselling was life changing for me.
If you can afford it, go privately, as the NHS will only allow you a fixed number of sessions.