At what point do I stop calling the ambulance every night?



My husband comes home drunk from work most nights. He stops to get a bottle of vodka on the way home, and its gone by the time he pulls in the driveway and stumbles into the house.

I’ve called the ambulance several times, and they usually just ask him if he wants to go to the ER, he mumbles “no.” and they leave. Then I have to stay up for hours watching him to make sure he doesn’t choke on his own vomit or stop breathing.

They actually took him to the ER yesterday because he wasn’t able to tell them what day of the week it was. He told the EMTs and the nurses that he hadn’t had anything to drink. His BAC was .410 - but I’m sure that’s about how drunk he is almost every time he drinks. I followed the ambulance but left him there and came home to sleep. He somehow managed to get home on his own. I found him on the couch this morning, and he got up and went to work, still drunk - i’m sure.

He came home again drunk tonight. Stumbled to the front door and struggled for minutes to open the door.

I know I probably should, but I just can’t bring myself to call the ambulance again, for the millionth time. It seems completely pointless, expensive, embarrassing, and all it does is kick the can down the road one more day. Am I a terrible wife?


@Bumper_Jones You’re not a terrible wife, of course not.

You always have a choice in how you respond to his behavior. You can fully accept him as he is, and keep calling the ambulance and choose to love him anyway. You can create a boundary and let him know what action you will take if he continues to come home drunk (e.g. change the locks, install a breathalyzer in the car, ask him to stay somewhere else for the night, ask him to move out). Or you can remove yourself from the situation completely.

You’re always in control of your decisions, you don’t ever have to feel like you don’t have a choice in the circumstances of your life. It’s always up to you :heart:

Definitely seek out a therapist or coach if you need help defining boundaries for yourself, and if you need help working through your feelings of guilt. What he chooses to do with his life is not your fault. :two_hearts:


Ah, boundaries. I set them, he breaks them. I don’t give in, but he doesn’t seem to notice or care anyway. At this point, calling the ambulance and making sure he doesn’t die is the last thing I’ve been willing to do.

I’ve moved out into our currently-empty semi-attached mother-in-law suite (which I’m grateful to have), I’ve stopped making him meals, letting him eat my food, helping him with any laundry/cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. I don’t help him get changed or help him to bed when he passes out on the floor. The only thing I do is roll him over onto a waterproof shower curtain to protect the hardwood floors from the inevitable vomit/urine. I’ve never made excuses for him or lied for him if anyone asks about the constant sirens, police, and EMTs in our driveway.

I’ve thought about locking the doors and kicking him out of the house, but I’m pretty sure he’d call the cops and they’d make me let him back in. I don’t have a legal right to lock him out of his house unless he’s a danger to me. Plus, he’d just drain our bank account with hotels.

It’s been fairly easy for me to set these boundaries so far. I haven’t feel a bit guilty. I’m almost numb to the situation a this point. I can’t change him, its not my fault, and enabling him doesn’t help him, so there’s nothing I can do but stand by and watch him destroy his life.

Not calling 911 when you know someone is in danger of dying just feels wrong. My brain is rationalizing it, telling me over and over all the reasons why it won’t do any good. But my heart is telling me that if he were to overdose and I didn’t so much as check on him, I’ll feel like a bad person. Because you’re right, its about choices, and while I can’t choose to make him better, I’m quite literally choosing to let him die or not.


Wow… I am so sorry to hear this. My heart hurts for you! First of all, you are NOT a terrible wife. This is his battle and not a reflection of you as a wife. Unfortunately our loved ones have to be in their own window of opportunity to get help. A lesson I learned the very long and hard was that I could not force my mom to get help for her alcoholism, not matter what. She has lost all 4 children to our respective dads, and none of us have seen her in years. She wants to be sober but still won’t get help. It’s incredibly sad. There’s only so much we can do, and we aren’t completely helpless, but it starts with accepting you can’t control him and believing you are not a bad wife. I’m honestly surprised he has maintained a job based on what you’ve mentioned. Are there ways in which you can start to establish consequences for his actions? Not in a negative or mean way, but as a natural consequence for his drinking? For example, covering up for him with work and family, doing his laundry, cooking for him, etc.? Sometimes those are small ways to stop enabling the behavior and allow them to understand the effects of their decisions. If drinking gets to be uncomfortable enough for him, he may start to inquire about why and what changed and how he can begin to get help. Hang in there. You are not alone!


I don’t know what other consequences I can possibly do, besides straight-up tell his boss that he’s most likely still drunk when he gets to work in the morning. I told one of his coworkers that I’ve gotten to know, and she almost doesn’t believe me that he has a problem. She sees him all day, every day in a very small office environment and can’t honestly say she’s ever noticed anything ‘off.’

I’ve even told the cops and EMTs that show up that he ARRIVES home drunk. They don’t seem to care. I’ve even suggested maybe they follow him home from work and catch him driving drunk. No response. I’m not sure which stores he stops at, but I’ve been tempted to borrow a car that he wouldn’t recognize and follow him home from work. I figured that way I could let the police know to watch for him pulling out of that parking lot every day, with an open bottle. But I doubt very much they’d actually do it.

I took all the keys once when he was passed out, and told him he’d have to find rides to work. That lasted about 2 days, until he said that he’d just go buy another car, which he has the means to do, and I can’t prevent. As for a breathilyzer, he drinks the whole bottle on the way home, after he’s already started the car.

I’ve even filled out the paperwork for divorce, and all he said was ‘fine. take anything you want.’ It wasn’t a threat, or a way to make him choose between me and rehab. But what’s the point of filing for divorce to a man I’m very much in love with, who’s on death’s door?


This is so tough @Bumper_Jones. I don’t think there’s a right answer to how you handle it in the moment, it sounds like you do what you think is best at the time and that’s exactly what you can do.

It sounds like you’ve already tried a lot of work around boundary setting, what happens when you discuss his drinking with him? Are there opportunities to talk to him about his use when he’s sober, maybe on a weekend, when he’s not driving home from work?

What is your support system like? Are there friends or family members that could reach out and express their concern to your husband? Do you have people to provide support to you so you can take care of yourself and have a break when you need one? I know you mentioned feeling numb to the situation at this point, but this kind of intense situation can really take a toll on a loved one and without taking care of yourself, I worry about your health and well-being.

Hoping for peace for you in the days ahead.