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Married to an Alcoholic

Married to an Alcoholic, Top 7 Signs My Spouse Might Be an Alcoholic, Alcoholism Symptoms & Treatment

Am I Married to an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism in a marriage will create an unstable relationship that will result in two unhappy adults. Alcoholism is an unhealthy disease and becomes even more unhealthy when it affects others. A person is considered an alcoholic when they cannot stop drinking. They rely on drinking to help them cope with their problems and get through the day. Sometimes they have to drink in the morning before they go to work. Sometimes they have to drink during the day to make it through. All alcoholics drink in excess and cannot stop drinking even if they promise to [1].

The tricky thing about any disease, including alcohol, is that it affects lots of people’s lives. If you’re married to an alcoholic, it will have a negative impact on your life as well as your children’s lives. Emotional and physical abuse and lack of sexual satisfaction are all consequences of being married to an alcoholic. Alcoholic marriages are unstable. This is because the alcoholic is unstable. Constant binge drinking makes a person’s mood unstable. Sometimes they’re happy, sometimes they’re mean, and sometimes they’re indifferent to the people around them. It’s very hard to maintain your side of the marriage if the person who’s in it with you can’t control their own moods.

Married to an Alcoholic
The worst part about being married to an alcoholic is when you need any kind of emotional support. They simply don’t care how many times you’ve set yourself on fire to keep them warm.

Alcoholics also let alcohol take precedent over everything else in their lives. Instead of coming home from work and hanging out with the family, they may go to a bar. When they get home, they may be extremely drunk and just pass out rather than spending time with their kids or spouse. This kind of behavior dissolves a marriage quickly. It’s extremely hard to talk to or interact with a person who appears they don’t care about you or your life. This can have an extremely negative impact on sexual interaction in the marriage as well.

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Top 7 Signs My Spouse Might Be an Alcoholic

When excessive drinking becomes a habit, it’s known as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or commonly known as alcoholism. An AUD poses severe risks to the health and safety of the individual in question and requires treatment at both an alcohol detox center and an alcohol rehab facility. If you fear your spouse might be drinking too much, here are some signs to be on the lookout for.

1. They Drink More than They Should

One big sign of alcoholism is drinking a lot. However, the amount that’s safe to drink varies between men and women. For men, drinking more than four drinks in a single day or 14 drinks per week greatly raises the risk of alcoholism. For women, drinking more than three drinks in a single day or seven drinks per week is enough to increase the risk.

Your spouse might also engage in binge drinking, five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours. If your spouse engages in binge drinking five or more days a week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) [2] classifies this as heavy alcohol use.

2. They Need More to Get Drunk

One or two drinks are enough to get a buzz started for most people. However, one or two drinks are nowhere near enough to get them drunk for your wife or husband. While one drink might have sufficed in the past, now they might need five or six drinks before they feel anything. This is known as increased tolerance, and it happens because their body has adjusted to constantly having alcohol.

3. They Have Withdrawal Symptoms When They Stop Drinking

Does your spouse wake up in the morning complaining of the shakes? If so, they could be suffering alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These show up whenever your spouse doesn’t have a drink for a while. Other signs to watch out for include:

  • Irritability
  • Problems sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Depression

4. They Experience Cravings for a Drink

Craving a bottle of beer after work is normal, but for your spouse, the craving goes deeper than that. They might feel as though they won’t survive unless they get a swig of alcohol. These cravings can come at any time or during any situation, leading them to drink in places where it wouldn’t normally be acceptable.

5. They Spend a Lot of Time Being Hungover

After a heavy drinking session, it’s common to experience a hangover, which is when you feel sick and achy as your body recovers. For your wife or husband, being hungover might be a part of everyday life. As a result, they might constantly feel ill and complain about it.

Married to an Alcoholic
Alcoholism and marriage infused with codependency is a deadly combination where both the partners are unhappy but still want to stay stuck with each other.

6. They’ve Given Up on Hobbies

Has your husband or wife given up on some of the things they love in favor of drinking more? If so, this is a definite sign of alcoholism. Instead of going out with their friends, hitting the gym, or reading a good book, they’d rather stay home and drink alone.

7. They Keep Drinking Even Though It’s Hurting Your Relationship

Is alcohol becoming a brick wall between you and your partner? Unfortunately, that’s a common occurrence when it comes to alcoholism. For your spouse, alcohol might become an essential thing in their life, which could put you on the backburner, damaging your relationship.

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What are the Alcoholism Symptoms?

Healthcare professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), to assess whether your spouse has alcohol use disorder (AUD) and determine the disorder’s severity. Severity is based on the number of criteria a person meets based on their symptoms—mild (2–3 criteria), moderate (4–5 criteria), or severe (6 or more criteria).

A healthcare provider might ask the following questions to assess your partner’s symptoms.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  • Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unprotected sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Any of these symptoms may be cause for concern. The more symptoms, the more urgent the need for change.

How to Stay Married to an Alcoholic?

Coping with an alcoholic partner is a dynamic process. It is more of a journey than a recipe. What might help you in one moment or scenario may differ from the next. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a variety of coping methods in your personal toolkit. Some things you can do to help yourself manage the experience of having a spouse struggling with alcoholism include:

Self-care, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, is key to your ability to cope. It might involve activities like meditation, exercise, or new hobbies to pursue during this stressful time. Making time for, and even prioritizing these activities can be beneficial.

Peer support groups, such as Al-Anon, which was founded to help families of individuals who abuse alcohol. In Al-Anon, you can learn coping skills that help you detach from your partner’s behaviors and take care of yourself. In addition, these groups may help you respond to your partner’s drinking more constructively while giving you support and connection with people who are going through something similar.

Involve family or friends that help you feel more supported. Be honest about what would be helpful to you from them. Remember that you’re not in this alone.

Therapy can be valuable for learning how to cope with an alcoholic partner. Research studies have shown that even when the alcoholic spouse refuses to get help, family therapy can help the nonalcoholic spouse reduce stress and learn coping methods.

Educate yourself on what your partner is going through, what treatments may be available to them, and what resources they may be able to access when they’re ready to get help. When they are ready to talk about their problem, be prepared for it may make you feel more at ease.

What Can You Do When You’re Married to An Alcoholic?

Denial that there is a problem, or blaming others, is one of the defining characteristics of alcoholism. First and foremost, it is crucial to avoid letting alcoholics blame you for anything. It’s also crucial that you avoid letting them make excuses. When you’re married to an alcoholic it is very important to take care of yourself. Take time out to do things you enjoy, and consider joining a support group for people who love alcoholics.

A support group will help you share your feelings, and build a social network which is so vital to avoid becoming depressed because of your stressful situation. When you’re married to an alcoholic and looking for ways to help the problem, one of the best is to have an intervention. When you have an intervention, the closest loved ones of the alcoholic come together to talk to that person about getting help. In this situation you will likely have already selected a treatment center, and prepared everything so that if the addict accepts help, they go almost immediately.

You might also talk with a professional therapist who is experienced in issues of addiction. Seeking professional help is really the only option you have. There’s no way you can talk an alcoholic out of their addiction to alcohol or argue or shame them out of it. The more you try to do this, the more frustrated and worn down you’re likely to become. You may ultimately have to consider divorce if nothing else works, but before that think about finding a support group, planning an intervention, and speaking to an addiction therapist or counselor.

Married to an Alcoholic
When you live with a spouse who has an alcohol use disorder, taking care of yourself is important. It’s critical to look at your own emotions and needs before you can take steps to help your sp

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When is it Time to Leave an Alcoholic Husband or Wife?

There are times when enough is enough, which is not uncommon with a marriage where one person is addicted to alcohol. It is never an easy decision to make and one that only you can make. However, it is not a sign of failure or weakness. Instead, it is a sign of strength. Many people stay in loveless marriages that resulted from alcoholism. If you can relate to that, utilize your support to figure out what a good plan for you would be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There are also times when it becomes necessary to leave an alcoholic spouse.

When you are suffering abuse

  • Abuse can take many forms. There is verbal, physical, emotional, even financial abuse. If you are a victim of physical abuse then get out as quickly as you can. I know that it isn’t that easy but there are people and places you can turn to for help.

When you are not the only victim 

  • If there are children or other dependents involved (that is living in the family unit). Then it is crucial to take their welfare into consideration. Nobody likes to break up a family. But better a safe, broken family than an unsafe family that doesn’t work.

Will My Alcoholic Spouse Ever Get Better?

People in relationships with alcoholics often find themselves attempting to either hide it, control it, or solve it. Unfortunately, all three of these are impossible in the long term. Everyone wants to believe the best in the people they love, so by consequence, loved ones of alcoholics often try to help them get sober and will continually give them second chances.

In reality, no one can control another person’s drinking problem. Nor can alcoholism be cured by any known medicine. Alcoholism can be hidden, but only for so long before it takes its toll on their alcoholic and their spouse. Attempts to stop a loved one from excessive drinking can only go so far, as it is up to the alcoholic to ultimately get treatment.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If your spouse refuses to acknowledge a problem or continues to deny getting help, it may be worth considering the professional assistance of certified interventionists. If your spouse agrees to professional help, there are a number of options you can choose from. Do some careful research ahead of time to ensure that they get the kind of support they need.

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of alcohol withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to alcohol use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of alcohol withdrawals.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for alcohol use disorder and mental health disorder are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Integrated Mental Health Care

Alcohol affects mental health, so people may use it to self-medicate undiagnosed disorders. Rehab centers typically provide mental health screenings, diagnoses, and integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders. In addition, holistic and therapeutic approaches are often used to treat recovering addicts with these conditions.

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Behavioral Therapies

Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can improve addicts’ behavior. CBT targets negative and maladaptive thought patterns as it promotes positive emotions and beliefs, while DBT helps clients address conflicting impulses so they can make healthy choices. Both therapies treat substance abuse and mental health disorders. Therapy also empowers clients to identify, avoid and mitigate cues that trigger drug cravings.

Individual and Group Counseling

Addiction and mental health counseling occur in both individual and group settings. One-on-one treatment sessions may address unresolved trauma, unconscious conflicts, and specific struggles, while group sessions often involve training in life skills, stress management, conflict resolution, and social connections. Group counseling also gives clients the chance to share their thoughts and experiences to develop social support, which is essential for lasting recovery

No matter the reasoning behind the drinking, the only solution is to understand the disease of alcoholism, the nature of alcoholics, and to encourage your loved one to find treatment. Please, do not allow your spouse to detox on their own because the detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. If you’re married to an alcoholic, it is important to intervene early. We Level Up NJ has addiction specialists that are standing by to help. 

Married to an Alcoholic
You do not want to become codependent, which means that you make up excuses for your spouse in order to protect them.

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Sources:

[1] NIAAA – https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder

[2] SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt35313/2020_NSSATS_FINAL.pdf