Ask Katie: Can I Trust my “Recovered” Partner to Drink in Moderation?

for The Fix**

Hi Katie!

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my partner. We’ve hit milestones with our relationship, but we’ve also both individually matured emotionally.

When we met, John* had a problem. He’d drink liquor heavily when out with friends, which resulted in him being an asshole to me and one time he even threw up all over me. (I know, this was difficult to forgive.) He finally confronted the problem when he got arrested for drunk driving earlier this year. 

I’m cautious about his “recovery” from the incident since he suffers from anxiety and other mental health issues. (Quality mental health care is inaccessible in his rural town, not helping the situation.) He doesn’t drink like he used to at all and even told himself he wouldn’t drink for years after the incident. However, he hasn’t kept his promise and he drinks beer occasionally, sometimes alone. 

I’m nervous about him having a single drink. Should I trust him to drink in moderation? How do I not be anxious? Is there anything I can do?



*name has been changed

Dear M,

Thanks for writing and I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve been on both sides of this equation: the person struggling with substance use and mental health issues, and the person who cares about the person dealing with those things. It’s a tough situation no matter which side you’re on. (continued)

**I am not an expert or a mental health or medical professional; I’m a sober person offering my experiences and advice about sobriety. Every other Tuesday I will one recovery-related question posed by Fix readers, based on my experience. Send your general advice questions to me at with the subject “Ask Katie.” 
By submitting a question to this website, you grant The Fix permission to publish it on its site. All questions will remain anonymous. Due to the large number of questions received, The Fix cannot guarantee a response. But they do check back frequently!

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Katie MacBride is a freelance journalist, essayist, and co-founder/associate editor of Anxy magazine. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, Vice, Playboy, and Buzzfeed, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @msmacb

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