Trying to save wife


Trying to save wife


your avatar   Russ

This is about my wife, Renee. She has a dual diagnosis, and has been in several rehab centers and outpatient services. I can't keep staying up with her, I'm afraid I'm going to lose her when she chokes on her vomit and I don't wake up.

We were in the emergency room yesterday. For the first time in 3 years her potassium levels were okay, but she has been hospitalized for having a 1.3 PPM last year. At least 4 of the last ten days Renee has had a blood alcohol level well over 4 %. I don't know where to turn. She has been in La Hacienda in Hunt, TX 2 times, Wilmington Treatment Center in N.C. 2 years ago, Outpatient at Solutions in Austin, Outpatient with Charter in Charleston S.C., and worked with Dr. Malcolm for a year. He heads Psychiatry at MUSC in Charleston. Renee also went to Harbor View Medical Center for 30 days in San Diego for Bulimia.

Please tell me where we can go for help. AA can't do it. I don't want to bury Renee.


    John B. Houck, Ph.D.

My first reaction to your letter is tremendous empathy. Your love and care and concern for your wife is amazing! It must be taking all of your energy to stay with her through all this! You seem to have taken her to the best treatment centers to no avail. You must have heard many times that nothing will change until Renee somehow makes up her mind that she wants to change. But how to help her make up her mind and stick with it?

Sadly, your last statement has a lot of truth. Neither AA nor you nor any treatment center can help Renee unless she helps herself. You may wind up burying her.

This is hard to convey over the Internet, and I would prefer talking with you in person. But the core issue is, first, what does it take for Renee to hit bottom, to realize that she can't keep on this way, and become ready to make use of the help she gets. The second issue is for you, for you to hit bottom, to realize that you can't do anything to make Renee change unless she is willing. Because as long as you try to help her when she is not helping herself, she can just take that as support for her not to take responsibility for her own health. So maybe your getting to the point of thinking that this might come to your burying her may lead you to get help for your own codependency with her, and that just might lead her to assume responsibility for herself.

But there is always the possibility that she may not, so you need to get help for yourself, to let go of your codependency and start taking care of yourself. You have some very tough decisions in front of you, and I recommend that you see an experienced addictions therapist to help you with them.

Feel free to contact me by email if you have any questions.


John B. Houck

This question was answered by John B Houck. John B. Houck, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist licensed in Illinois and practicing since 1970. He sees each person as having infinite worth and value. His task as a therapist is to help people see the best in themselves and to access their own inner wisdom. He is especially trained and experienced in working with couples, families and groups. He has had advanced training in addictions counseling. With his wife, they are authorized by John Gray to lead Mars Venus Workshops in the Chicago area and do Mars and Venus counseling together for couples and singles. They also lead workshops in Germany and in England. John B. Houck also offers coaching for people who do not want therapy but need some help and support in achieving their goals.For more information visit:


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