When someone that you care about begins to abuse alcohol, it can have a powerful negative impact on your relationship. When that “someone” is your spouse – and when their alcohol abuse turns into an addiction – the effects can be devastating. Connecting your alcoholic spouse with the care they need can save their life and preserve your marriage.
Signs Your Spouse Is An Alcoholic
If you suspect that your spouse has become addicted to alcohol, here are some signs to watch for:
- They undergo dramatic and unpredictable changes in mood, attitude, and energy level.
- They find it difficult to celebrate successes or deal with setbacks without using alcohol.
- You have found alcohol hidden in their car or in various places throughout your house.
- When they can’t drink, they become agitated or irritable.
- They have begun to use alcohol in especially hazardous ways, such as by combining it with other drugs or by drinking and driving.
- They have missed work or school, or failed to meet other responsibilities, because of their alcohol use.
- They need to drink more than they used to in order to achieve the same level of intoxication.
- They have lied to or otherwise deceived you about how much and how often they drink.
- They continue to drink even after experiencing problems (such as losing their job or being arrested for driving while intoxicated) that are directly related to prior alcohol use.
- They have tried to stop drinking, but they’ve been unable to do so.
It is important to remember that alcohol abuse is a behavior, but alcohol addiction is a disease. Once your spouse has developed alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcoholism) they are no longer drinking because they want to – they are drinking because they have to.
The Effects of Living With an Alcoholic Spouse
Addiction affects each person in a unique manner. Similarly, the impact on loved ones can vary widely from one family to another. In other words, it would be impossible to list all the ways that living with an alcoholic spouse could possibly alter your life.
With that in mind, here are some examples of how your relationship, your own health, and your children’s lives can be influenced by your spouse’s struggles with alcohol addiction:
Effects on Your Relationship
The behaviors that are characteristic of active, untreated addiction can quickly erode trust. Someone who becomes dependent on alcohol will not be in full control of their thoughts and actions, so they won’t be able to be an honest and fully present partner. This can be a source of ongoing conflict, which can lead to the end of the relationship if it is not resolved.
Finding the “right” way to deal with your spouse can be quite a challenge. If you become overly critical of your alcoholic spouse, you risk driving them away. If you try to cover up for their problems and attempt to shield them from the consequences of their continued alcohol abuse, you can become codependent.
Effects on Your Health
Exposure to overwhelming stress can be a risk factor for several mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. It is no exaggeration to note that trying to keep an alcoholic spouse safe until they get the help they need, or attempting to keep your relationship alive when your partner refuses to get necessary treatment, can be extremely stressful.
Your emotional well-being is not the only aspect of your health that can be threatened by your alcoholic spouse’s continued substance abuse. Sadly, violence is far from uncommon in relationships that have been affected by addiction. If your spouse has begun to exhibit aggressive or violent behaviors, you need to find a safe place where you will no longer be in danger.
Effects on Your Children
If you have children, your spouse’s struggles with alcoholism may predispose them to myriad mental and behavioral health challenges, both now and later in their lives. Several studies have found that children of addicted parents have an increased risk for concerns such as:
- Memory problems and other cognitive deficiencies
- Poor grades and conduct problems in school
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders
- Future substance abuse and addiction
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
The best way to minimize the negative effects of living with an alcoholic spouse is to get your loved one into a treatment program. Depending on the severity of your spouse’s struggles with alcohol addiction, they may need detoxification, residential care, a partial hospitalization program, and/or an intensive outpatient program.
While they are in treatment, your spouse can accomplish goals such as:
- Learning about the disease of addiction and the recovery process
- Identifying their triggers (or the circumstances that could derail their recovery)
- Developing vital relapse-prevention skills in areas such as effective communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution
- Receiving help for any co-occurring mental health concerns
- Sharing support with others who are working toward a similar objective
Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts
If you have been researching effective treatment options for an alcoholic spouse in Massachusetts, Lake Avenue Recovery may have the solutions you are seeking. Our alcohol rehab in Massachusetts offers customized outpatient programming and close personal support for adults whose lives have been disrupted by alcoholism and other substance use disorders. With our help, your spouse can end their alcohol abuse and begin to live a healthier life in recovery.
To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call us today.