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Helping an Alcoholic Spouse

It can be very difficult to accept that your husband or wife needs help for alcoholism. Recovery is possible. Learn how to effectively help an alcoholic spouse.

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How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse

If your significant other is suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), there are steps you can take to assist both you and your partner in overcoming the difficulties caused by their compulsive drinking. 

You are not the cause or cure for your significant other’s substance abuse issues, but there are things you can do to help them recover—and yourself heal.

What Your Spouse Is Experiencing

A persistent medical problem characterized by an inability to stop or regulate drinking despite negative health, social, or professional repercussions is known as alcohol use disorder.
An AUD’s effects aren’t always restricted to the person who is afflicted with this chronic medical disease. AUDs can influence not just the person who has a drinking problem, but also their family, loved ones, and people around them.
Living with someone who has an alcohol use disorder can lead to feelings of self-blame, attempts to restrict their partner’s drinking, or encouraging their drinking by making excuses.

However, as Al-Anon points out, you did not cause your spouse’s drinking, and you cannot control or cure it.

You could use some more helpful solutions for each of these situations:

  • Self-blame. Rather than blaming yourself for your partner’s drinking, remember that they are solely accountable for their emotional management and recovery from an alcohol use disorder. If your loved one has an AUD, they have a chronic medical condition, and AUD, like many chronic medical disorders, can be caused by a variety of reasons. If he or she had diabetes or cancer, you wouldn’t blame yourself, so try to conceive of alcoholism in the same sense. 
  • Keeping an eye on your spouse’s drinking habits. You could practice the art of actively releasing control over your spouse’s alcohol use rather than obsessively monitoring their drinking behavior, keeping constant tabs on their whereabouts, attempting to discard their alcohol, lecturing, forbidding them from drinking, or pleading with them to stop drinking. You didn’t start their drinking, you can’t stop it, and you can’t make them stop.
  • Enabling your spouse is a dangerous thing to do. Enabling behaviors include things like “covering” for a loved one. Someone who is enabling their spouse, for example, may phone their spouse’s employment and inform their boss that their spouse is “ill” when they are actually inebriated or hungover. Enabling can also mean bailing your loved one out of jail for a DUI, minimizing the impact of your loved one’s drinking on your family, or avoiding or denying the problem. You need to learn to say no, set healthy boundaries, and stick to your word over time.
  • When you live with a spouse who has an alcohol problem, it is critical to look after yourself. Although it may seem paradoxical to focus on yourself first when your partner is exhibiting concerning addiction habits, it is vital to examine your own feelings and needs before attempting to assist your spouse.

How to Deal with an Alcoholic Husband or Wife

Coping with an alcoholic spouse is a fluid process that is more akin to a journey than a set of instructions. What works for you in one situation or time may not work in another, so having a variety of coping skills in your toolkit is essential.
You can help yourself cope with the experience of having a partner with an alcohol use disorder by doing the following:

  • Peer support groups, such as Al-Anon, were established to assist families of alcoholics. You can learn coping strategies in Al-Anon that will help you detach from your spouse’s behavior and focus on yourself. These groups can help you respond more constructively to your spouse’s drinking while also providing you with support and connections with others who are going through similar situations.
  • Self-care is essential to your ability to cope, whether it be emotionally, physically, or spiritually. It could include things like meditation, exercise, or finding new interests during this difficult period. Making time for these things, and even prioritizing them, might be beneficial.
  • Include friends or family members who will make you feel more supported. Be open and honest about what you’d like to get from them.
  • Keep in mind that you are not alone.
  • You may benefit from therapy to learn how to deal with an alcoholic partner. Even when the alcoholic spouse refuses to get help, research has shown that family therapy can help the nonalcoholic spouse reduce stress and acquire coping mechanisms. 
  • Learn about what your spouse is going through, what alcohol addiction treatments are available to them, and what services they may use when they’re ready to seek help. You may feel more at ease if you are prepared for when they are ready to talk about their difficulty.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Process

Although alcohol use disorders are long-term diseases, many people who suffer from them benefit from therapy and continued recovery attempts. Your partner can pick from a variety of treatment choices that vary in degree of services, length of therapy, and types of therapeutic interventions to help them overcome their AUD.

Inpatient treatment (such as residential rehabilitation), outpatient treatment, individual counseling, medicines, and other therapeutic methods may be available.

It is possible that your partner will choose to go to a rehab clinic or use another therapeutic intervention to treat their alcoholism at some point in the future. If (or when) they occur, you will want to know what treatment options are available for AUDs and what to look for in a provider.
Certain concepts tend to make treatment more effective, regardless of the type of treatment your significant other chooses.
These are some of them:

  • Treatment should be easy to obtain. You don’t want to lose momentum and have someone change their mind about going for treatment. The earlier a person receives therapy for alcohol addiction, as with many chronic diseases, the better the chances of a satisfactory treatment outcome.
  • Treatment should be tailored to the individual. There is no single treatment that works for everyone.
  • Treatment should last for a sufficient period of time. According to studies, 3 months of treatment is required to considerably minimize the likelihood of relapse.
  • Treatment should address a variety of facets of a person’s life, including employment, family, and any legal or financial concerns they may have. Treatment that is personalized to a person’s age, gender, culture, and ethnicity is also essential.
  • Behavioral therapy should be included in AUD treatment. In the treatment of alcoholism and other drug abuse problems, behavioral therapy approaches are most typically used. This option helps individuals enhance their interpersonal relationships, find non-substance-related outlets, develop skills to help them avoid alcohol and drug use, and improve their problem-solving abilities.
  • Treatment regimens at good treatment clinics are not set in stone. Instead, they are dynamic, adaptable, responsive, and proactive. Clinicians should examine and amend a patient’s treatment plan on an as-needed or routine basis to ensure that treatment is as effective as possible.
  • To be most effective, treatment should address any underlying mental health conditions. If your loved one has a co-occurring mental health and drug use disorder, they may benefit from an integrated treatment strategy that tackles both mental health and substance use concerns at the same time.

Your spouse’s treatment will differ depending on their specific challenges and demands. When deciding on the duration of treatment and which modalities will be employed, clinicians and patients evaluate a number of considerations. Some persons who suffer from alcoholism may benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
The following medications have been authorized by the FDA to treat AUD:

  • Acamprosate is a drug that can be used when someone has stopped drinking and wishes to stay sober. Acamprosate can help people stop drinking, but it may be less successful if they continue to drink or use other substances.
  • Disulfiram is an anti-anxiety medication that can be administered when someone has completed alcohol detox or is in the early stages of abstinence. When a person takes disulfiram with alcohol, he or she will have nausea, headaches, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
  • Naltrexone is a drug that can assist people in recovery reduce their alcohol consumption by blocking some of the reinforcing effects of alcohol.

Get Help For Your Spouse Suffering From Alcohlism

If you are looking for treatment for your spouse or a loved one, Addiction Rehab Treatment is here to help. Our caring and compassionate staff members can assist your loved one in developing a tailored treatment plan to help them recover from an alcohol use disorder. Get in touch with us today so we can help you get your loved one’s life back on track.

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