How To Help Your Spouse Through Alcoholism

Having a beer after a long day to unwind and relax is something a lot of us do. Some studies show that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol can actually be beneficial to cardiovascular health. However, excessive amounts of alcohol can be severely detrimental to health. Nearly 15 million people in the United States suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). People with this disorder can often recognize how drinking is negatively affecting their lives, yet they find it incredibly difficult to curtail their drinking. Moreover, the impact of alcohol abuse is not limited to the person with AUD. It usually spills over into other areas of life and can negatively affect their family, loved ones, and colleagues.

It is important to understand that an alcoholic is not acting out of malice.  They are addicted to the alcohol. This addiction can be both psychological and/or physiological. When someone is physically addicted to alcohol, if they suddenly cease drinking, they could have severe physical effects such as nausea, anxiety, irritability, and trembling. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the nuances of alcoholism in order to be able to help someone with alcohol use disorder.  For more information on alcohol withdrawal click here Alcohol Withdrawal (

Watching a loved one suffer due to their alcohol addiction can be very painful. If your spouse has alcohol use disorder, it may have already seeped into your relationship. Your spouse’s behavior may have started disrupting family life as they neglect their responsibilities, fall behind on paying the bills and taxes, get into legal difficulties, or even mistreat you or others close to you. You may be experiencing health issues yourself as you spend more and more time and energy trying to care for your spouse. If they have a habit of drinking heavily even at social events, you might also find yourself avoiding friends and family out of shame and embarrassment. Partners of alcoholics are also more likely to suffer verbal, emotional, and domestic abuse. In severe cases, this can cause anxiety and depression.

It is supremely important for you to address this issue as early as possible. You can take certain steps to address your spouse’s alcohol addiction in a healthy way and begin the healing process for yourself and your significant other.

How To Approach Your Spouse About Their Alcohol Use Disorder
1. Start the conversation
This is certainly an uncomfortable topic to broach, but you cannot alter the situation or help your spouse if you evade this conversation. Ignoring your spouse’s behavior can serve to enable them, because they might think nothing is wrong. The goal here is simply to bring to their attention the concerns you have. You should also frame the conversation around an honest desire to help them.
2. Don’t enable their behavior
If you are constantly making excuses for your spouse or getting them out of trouble, this could reinforce the thought that heavy drinking is okay because you will always be there to help them. You may feel a strong desire to stand by your spouse in every situation, but for them to get better you will need to reign in that desire so your spouse can get a realistic idea of the consequences of their drinking.
3. Hold an intervention
Many people with alcohol use disorder deny that they have a problem. They minimize how bad their drinking is and they tend to blame everyone else for their problems. If you have had a frank and gentle conversation with your spouse, explained to them how their drinking affects you and others, stopped enabling their drinking habit, and yet they refuse to seek help, then it might be worthwhile to hold an intervention. You can ask your spouse’s friends, family members, and co-workers to join you. Having others share how your spouse’s drinking habit affects them can help your spouse feel the urgency and seriousness of seeking treatment.

An intervention can help break through your spouse’s denial and help start them on the road to recovery.  It can be very daunting for an alcoholic to imagine a life devoid of alcohol. Alcohol has been their tool to suppress certain thoughts and emotions. Without its support, life could seem insufferable to them. An intervention can help reassurance your spouse that there is hope and that there are treatment options available to them.

Treatment Options
Some of the treatment options that are available include:
1. Attending a 12-step program
Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that brings together people who are addicted to alcohol. Spending time with others who are facing the same problem alleviates the sense of isolation an alcoholic might feel. The group also provides advice on how one can stay sober and resist the temptation of the bottle. The social cohesion that groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous provides can help your loved one build their confidence and stay true to their goal.  To learn more about the 12-Steps of AA, click here 12 Step Program (
2. Therapy
Psychotherapy can help your spouse develop the tools they need to cope with depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health issues that may be contributing to their alcohol abuse. Therapy can also help them repair the relationships that may have been damaged due to their alcohol abuse and help them develop the skills they need to get sober and deal with triggers that may tempt them into drinking again.
3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Intensive Outpatient Treatment can help your spouse develop the skills they need to create a lasting sobriety.  Intensive Outpatient Programs, such as those at New Dimensions, are structured to allow your spouse to receive treatment during the evening hours, which allows them to remain at home and continue to work and be with the family every day.  To learn more about Intensive Outpatient Treatment, click here Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Programs: New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (
4. Rehabilitation treatment
Rehabilitation facilities combine multiple treatment methods to help an alcoholic recover from their addiction. These facilities require your spouse to reside there for 30 to 90 days. This level of care allows clinical staff to monitor your spouse more closely and can be necessary if your spouse is unable to break the drinking cycles in an outpatient setting.

How To Support Your Spouse Through Recovery
Treatment is a very crucial part of the recovery process, however, the recovery does not stop there. After your loved one completes the abstinence program, they will need support and encouragement so that they don’t fall back into old practices. Here are a few things you can do to help:

Encourage new hobbies and interests
Once drinking is eliminated from the daily lifestyle, it is bound to leave a void in the person’s life. You could nudge your spouse to pick up new hobbies. They could take up a sport, or if they have artistic inclinations, they could pursue writing or painting. It is also a good idea to pick up an activity that is spiritually meaningful, such as volunteering for a cause that they believe in, or regularly attending church. It is important, however, that your spouse does not indulge in activities where alcohol is present, especially when they are new to recovery. This helps immensely in cutting the temptation to drink.

Help them with coping strategies
If the drinking was a manifestation of a deeper problem, help your spouse find healthier ways to cope with them. These issues will be present despite the sobriety, and for long-term success it is important to address them. Continued therapy can help in this regard, and, if needed, psychiatric treatment could be added.

Encourage better stress management
Alcohol is known to dampen mental activity, and, in this way, it acts as a stress reliever. Your loved one might experience increased levels of stress after quitting drinking. This would be a great opportunity for them to learn healthy techniques to manage stress. Exercise and meditation are wonderfully adept at this. Better and honest communication can also help with worries.

Prepare a Plan-B
Sobriety will inevitably face challenges. Your spouse will find themselves in social situations that trigger drinking, or they will generally feel a craving for alcohol at times. It is important for them to have a plan for such situations. They could go for a walk, listen to music, call someone up, or do anything that would take their mind off the urge to drink.

It is extremely difficult to see someone you love succumb to an addiction of alcohol. But with the right resources you can help them assess the situation accurately so they could seek help. As a spouse, you are in a special position to help them through their recovery. However, you must always remember that the path to sobriety is ultimately the responsibility of the alcoholic. While taking care of your loved one, you should not let self-care fall by the wayside. If you need guidance or would like to know more about the process of recovery, contact New Dimensions at 1-800-685-9796.

New Dimensions Can Help!
New Dimensions provides Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs for adolescents and adults with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.  We have programs in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas.  We also have virtual treatment programs that are open to anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Austin, College Station, and Lubbock.  To learn more about our programs contact us at 1-800-685-9796 or visit our website at

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11 February, 2022

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