Have you noticed that your husband’s alcohol use has gone way beyond a couple of beers with dinner or a celebratory glass of wine? While your husband may be the one consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, substance misuse doesn’t only affect him—heavy alcohol consumption is also a family problem.

But there’s good news: If you suspect your spouse may have alcohol use disorder (AUD), there are things you can do to help. Although you are not the cause or remedy of your husband’s alcohol issues, you can play a supportive role in his journey toward recovery while also creating a healing environment for yourself.

Come along as we discuss the impacts of living with an alcoholic, how you can contribute to his recovery, and more.

The Effects of Living With an Alcoholic Husband

Living with an alcoholic often has profound impacts on both the individual with AUD and the family unit. So, it’s important to discuss what you may experience if you have someone in your life who is misusing alcohol.

Emotional Toll

Living with an alcoholic husband can lead to constant worry, anxiety, and stress regarding his well-being and behavior. You may feel helpless and frustrated when your “interventions” don’t help. This struggle often leads to emotional distancing because trust and communication deteriorate under the strain of alcohol misuse. 

As the spouse of an alcoholic, you face an increased risk of depression and low self-esteem. You may also struggle with trying to control the situation or attempting to cover up for his drinking. For instance, telling your family he is sick when he’s really hungover.

Remember: You are not at fault and should never blame yourself for your spouse’s alcohol use. AUD is a disorder that typically requires treatment to overcome.

Financial Burden

As your husband’s alcohol use becomes more problematic, your family may experience financial strain. You may notice he is spending too much money on alcohol, or there may be extra costs related to medical expenses or legal fees. You also face a potential for loss of income if your husband’s alcohol abuse keeps him from working or if he’s been fired from his job for coming to work drunk.

Social and Relationship Challenges

Alcoholism often leads to strained relationships with family and friends, as social activities become affected due to the addiction. You (or your husband) may feel tempted to withdraw from social circles because you’re embarrassed that he smells like alcohol or has erratic behavior. This can deepen your feelings of loneliness and alienation. Not to mention, increased tensions at home can negatively affect your children’s well-being, further complicating the overall situation.

Physical and Health Consequences

Chronic health conditions may emerge or worsen due to your husband’s alcoholism. There is also an enhanced risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgment while under the influence of alcohol. Why? Everything becomes more risky when alcohol is involved, from changing light bulbs to taking showers.

Lastly, there is unfortunately a higher probability of domestic violence. While you want to believe it could never happen to you, alcohol abuse can lead to aggression, unpredictable behavior, and loss of control. 

How to Help Your Alcoholic Husband

If you think your husband may have AUD, you probably feel overwhelmed, scared, or unsure of how to approach him about his issue with alcohol. Here are five tips to create a smoother conversation:

  1. Learn About AUD

Educate yourself about alcohol use disorder (AUD) by turning to reputable sources. Learn everything you can about addiction, its effects, and available treatment options. This knowledge will help you approach your husband with more understanding.

  1. Talk to Your Spouse

Initiate a non-confrontational conversation about your partner’s alcohol use. Plan what you’ll say ahead of time and look for the right time to talk to him, which will be when he is not intoxicated. Focus on expressing your concerns and emphasize your desire to help him overcome his addiction.

  1. Approach with Empathy

When you talk to your spouse, remember to be kind and supportive, avoiding judgmental remarks. Instead of saying, “You drink too much!” say something like, “I want to understand what this experience is like for you and help you in any way I can.” Your compassion may help your husband to be more open to receiving help.

  1. Cultivate Trust

Build trust by being a consistent, reliable, and understanding force in your spouse’s life. Demonstrate your commitment to supporting him through his recovery journey, and avoid making promises (or threats) you cannot keep.

  1. Discuss Getting Help

Encourage your partner to seek help, such as counseling, residential treatment, or an outpatient program. Provide information about treatment options and be prepared to offer support, like booking appointments or taking care of his at-home duties while he’s away. Let him know he is not alone, and you are there to help.

Options For Treatment and Recovery 

Treating AUD typically involves a multifaceted approach tailored to your husband’s needs. Here are several options commonly used in treating the condition: 

Detoxification (Detox): This initial phase involves managing withdrawal symptoms as your spouse’s body clears itself of alcohol. Detox is usually conducted under medical supervision to ensure safety and alleviate discomfort.

Residential and Inpatient Treatment: Residential treatment programs offer comprehensive care in a structured environment, with individuals residing onsite for 45-90 days. These programs typically include medical supervision, therapy sessions, and group activities.

Intensive Outpatient Programs: IOPs provide a structured treatment approach while allowing your husband to live at home. Participants attend therapy sessions and support group meetings several times weekly, offering flexibility for those with work or family commitments.

Individual Therapy: One-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist can allow your husband to explore underlying issues contributing to his alcohol abuse. Therapists help participants develop effective coping mechanisms, balance emotions, confront addictive behaviors, and more.

Group Therapy: Group therapy offers a supportive environment where people share experiences, receive feedback, and gain insights from peers facing similar challenges. Group sessions promote accountability and provide the social support crucial for recovery.

Experiential Therapy: This approach utilizes non-traditional methods like art therapy and outdoor activities to help with emotional processing and personal growth. Experiential therapy will encourage your husband to explore feelings and behaviors beyond verbal communication.

Family Therapy: As mentioned, alcohol abuse impacts not only the individual but also their loved ones. Family therapy addresses relational dynamics, communication patterns, and codependent behaviors within the family unit. It is an excellent way for you and the rest of your family to process the emotional trauma that stems from your spouse’s alcohol abuse.

You Don’t Have to Go Through This Alone

Going through life with an alcoholic husband can be incredibly challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. Remember, there is hope, and help is available. 

At Longbranch Recovery and Wellness in New Orleans, LA, we offer comprehensive treatment programs tailored to the individual needs of your loved one, providing them with the support and tools necessary for recovery. 

Our family therapy sessions are designed to strengthen the family unit and guide everyone toward healing and restoration. You deserve support and guidance as you navigate this difficult journey, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Contact Longbranch today to take the first step towards a brighter, alcohol-free future for you and your family.

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