Guidance and Treatment Options for an Alcoholic Spouse
When you have a spouse suffering from alcohol abuse, it can be a very tricky problem to navigate. Alcohol addiction is a common problem in our society, and because alcohol is so socially acceptable, it’s not difficult for people to fall into binge drinking and alcohol use disorder. As the wife of a recovering alcoholic, it took a lot of work and some help from South Shores Detox and Recovery for my husband to address his drinking habits.
You may be wondering: is my husband an alcoholic? In my case, it was a definite yes, but for years I convinced myself otherwise.
The family members of alcoholics usually suffer in silence. In many cases, if you have an alcoholic partner, you may require just as much therapy as them. Addiction treatment isn’t only for the addict. It’s important to educate yourself and know how to help support a loved one in recovery. If you have a better idea of how addiction works, you will be able to assist them in their recovery journey.
Keep on scrolling to learn more about our rocky marriage before reaching out to get support, and how we eventually found help and a new lease on our relationship with the help of South Shores!
Can You Help Your Spouse Quit Drinking?
There are a lot of things that you can do to help support your spouse, but ultimately it is up to them whether or not they quit drinking. My husband hid his drinking really well during his alcohol abuse. His alcohol use disorder got to the point where he needed it just to function. I would often find empty bottles hidden around the house.
Every time I confronted him, he would be contrite, but then the behavior would continue. Sometimes it takes being threatened with consequences for someone to get help. My husband’s drinking got to a point where he was putting our children at risk. He was driving around intoxicated with them in the car.
When Alcohol Abuse Goes Too Far
After getting a drunk driving charge while taking our daughter to school, I put my foot down and told him it was us or the drinking. Luckily, he had reached his breaking point. He was ready to do it for himself as well as us. He saw what his drinking habits were doing to our family.
It was never ‘street’ drug abuse with him, but it didn’t have to be. Things had crossed a line.
He finally sought treatment for his alcohol use disorder and overcame the withdrawal symptoms through detox at South Shores, and things slowly began to get better. If you want to know how you can support your spouse through recovery, I will lay out some of the steps that you can take.
Living With A Person Who Has an Alcohol Addiction
When my husband and I got married, we were both casual drinkers. We would have a good time, but things never got out of hand. Once we began to have children and settle down, the stresses of family life got to him. I cut back on my drinking, mostly due to being a new mother and not having the time or capacity to handle it. I wanted my children to be my main priority.
He was always a loving father, but his alcohol abuse slowly began to get out of control. He was drinking earlier and earlier in the day. Eventually, he was drinking beer before going to work in the morning. I knew this was an issue, but since I had so much else going on, it was hard for me to keep an eye on him.
From Casual Drinking to Alcohol Misuse to Alcoholism
I didn’t know much about alcoholism, but I knew that drinking first thing in the morning was a potential problem. I’ve had people in my family struggle with substance abuse, but I never faced it up close. Alcohol addiction creeps up on you sometimes. When you live with someone and are with them all the time, you sometimes don’t notice a problem getting worse. Either that or you turn a blind eye to it.
I turned a blind eye as much as I could, but eventually, I had to let him know that I was not ok with his alcohol consumption. I encouraged him to attend treatment programs, but there was always an excuse.
He was never violent. There was no intimate partner violence. He was always great with our kids and also was able to hold down a job. All the telltale signs of a functioning alcoholic were there. I feared that things would only get worse if I didn’t put my foot down.
How To Discourage Bad Drinking Habits
I began to talk to other family members about my concerns with my husband. I received a lot of support, especially from his side of the family. They could see that he was having issues. We set up an intervention, and he agreed to stop drinking to help himself heal (and our family as well).
He lasted about a week before I started noticing liquor bottles hidden around the house. Sometimes he would be apologetic, and other times he would get defensive.
Things began to get testy. Our relationship suffered, both personally and intimately. I was watching someone spiral into an alcohol addiction that I couldn’t combat. I felt hopeless and wasn’t sure that the marriage would survive. I began to feel guilty at the idea of leaving him. If I left and took the kids, things might get worse. Maybe he would drink himself to death. I would never forgive myself if that happened. But I still considered taking custody of the kids until he got help, almost every day.
Can You Force Professional Help?
I tried many times to force him into recovery. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t hold a lot of power in the situation. If he was going to seek treatment, he needed to actually want it. Either that, or I had to create healthy boundaries and give him an ultimatum.
When he was arrested for drunk driving, that was it. I was calm and didn’t overreact initially. When he got home from jail, I laid it all out. I was going to leave him if he didn’t get his act together.
The warning signs had been there all along, but it took something drastic like this for him to see that I was serious. Although I was initially afraid of leaving him and causing his drinking to get worse, I realized that if that did happen, it was not my fault. His alcohol addiction wasn’t exactly his fault, but it was his responsibility to address it.
Seeking Help For Alcohol Use Disorder
My husband decided to seek treatment and entered detox for alcohol at South Shores Recovery Center. Although I felt relief, I was also extremely worried. If it didn’t work, I knew I had to stick to my words. Seeing him make an effort softened me, but I had to think more about my kids and their well-being.
We visited him in rehab a couple of times, but I didn’t want to distract him. I wanted him to focus one hundred percent on getting better.
He learned a lot in recovery and finally began to see the destruction that he was causing. He knew that his heavy drinking was resulting in negative consequences. All the signs were there and he knew it.
Hiding alcohol, lying, and the physical signs, it was obvious he was powerless. He told me the first week was the hardest. Having to adapt without alcohol while also facing the issues he had been avoiding was tough, but he stuck it out.
Dealing With Mental Health Issues In Recovery
As my husband worked on his coping skills and mental health issues, I began to notice a difference in his attitude. The more he learned about alcohol addiction treatment, the more I noticed a significant amount of changes. As he accumulated more and more sobriety time, the physical signs of his heavy drinking began to fade.
He lost weight and simply had more life in his face than when he was drinking. It was a drastic difference, and I was hopeful that he would continue on the right path. I believe that his dealing with his mental health issues played a big role in his recovery.
When Addiction Treatment Starts Working
I noticed he had developed more self-control and wasn’t reacting emotionally like he used to. He took steps to work on his depression and our whole family began to heal. There was no more drinking alone and hiding empty bottles. No more drinking in front of us. I didn’t believe it at first and began to look around the house in places where I thought he would hide it.
I never found hidden bottles again. Finally, I stopped looking for them. I realized that if he did begin drinking again, I have enough knowledge now to know the warning signs. The more you learn about addiction, the more likely it is that you will notice your partner’s drinking problem.
The Power Of Addiction Treatment
Once my husband was out of rehab, he continued to work on his recovery on his own. We attended family therapy, and he attended al-anon meetings on his own. There are so many treatment options out there for recovering addicts, and not all of them are the same. Individual therapy differs quite a bit from support groups. He attends both. The support group he attends has given his life new meaning. He is willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
As much progress as he has made, I don’t wear rose-colored glasses. I know that the possibility of relapse is there. Not every day is the same. Some days he struggles. I fear when he is having a bad day that he might go back to drinking, but so far that hasn’t happened.
He tries very hard to keep a good head on his shoulders, and I try to be as supportive as possible. We are in this together, after all.
Lasting Recovery From Alcohol Abuse
Family therapy has gone a long way in helping my husband deal with his alcohol abuse. Although I can offer as much help as possible, it’s still up to him whether he continues on his recovery path. Recovery is a personal thing and it requires a lot of individual therapy. The wonderful thing about family therapy is that we have a better idea of what makes him tick and how we can support him in his continuing sobriety.
We have more set healthy boundaries now, and if I watch my husband drink again, he is clear on the consequences in our relationship.
When we go to family therapy together, we are as honest as possible. I let him know that even though I believe in him, I still am afraid of him relapsing and choosing to abuse alcohol. There are times when we have uncomfortable exchanges, but there is always mutual respect. I know he is doing his best, and I applaud him for it whenever possible.
Get Support at South Shores for Your Husband’s Drinking
No two stories are exactly the same, but if anything shared above strikes a chord with you and your man, it may be time to reach out for help.
The kind and caring staff at South Shores took excellent care of him, and our family as well, as he got the tools and resources needed to stop drinking. They helped us tremendously. Give them a call, and you can get options for your family today too!