How to Get Help for an Alcoholic Spouse

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Determining how to help an alcoholic spouse can be frustrating and demanding. That said, if your partner is facing challenges related to alcohol use disorder, there are steps you can take to support both yourself and your loved one in dealing with their compulsive drinking. While are not responsible for causing or curing your partner’s substance abuse issues, there are ways in which spouses of alcoholics can make a positive contribution to their recovery and your own well-being. Read on to learn how to deal with an alcoholic husband or wife without compromising your mental health.

Dealing With an Alcoholic Spouse

When working out how to deal with an alcoholic spouse most effectively, it is imperative to approach the situation with empathy and a clear understanding of how to provide support. Here are some pointers to help you cope with this situation:

  • Seek professional guidance: If you are the spouse of an alcoholic, encourage your partner to seek professional help for their alcohol use disorder. This could include therapy, counseling, or addiction treatment programs. Professional guidance can help inform recovery.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about the effects of alcoholism Understanding the nature of the disorder can help you be more compassionate and informed in your interactions with your spouse.
  • Open communication: Have honest conversations with your spouse about their alcohol problem. Choose a time when they are sober and receptive to discussing their drinking habits. Express your concerns and feelings calmly and without judgment.
  • Set boundaries: The husband or wife of an alcoholic should establish clear boundaries regarding alcohol use in the home. Discuss what is acceptable and what is not. This may involve specifying when and where drinking is allowed.
  • Support groups: Consider joining support groups like Al-Anon designed for families of individuals with alcohol use disorder. These groups provide a safe space to share experiences, gain coping skills, and find emotional support.
  • Self-care: Taking care of your own well-being is crucial. Ensure that you have a support system, engage in activities which you enjoy, and consider therapy or counseling for yourself to cope with the stress and emotional toll.
  • Avoid enabling: Be mindful not to enable your spouse’s alcohol use. This may involve not covering up the consequences of their drinking or making excuses for their behavior.
  • Patience and understanding: Recovery from alcoholism is a journey with potential setbacks. Be patient and understanding throughout the process, offering your ongoing support.

Remember that you cannot control your spouse’s choices, but you can be a source of encouragement and support in their journey toward recovery. Encourage them to seek professional help, communicate openly, and prioritize your own well-being as you navigate this challenging situation.

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Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

Living with an alcoholic husband or wife can have profound and wide-ranging effects, both on the individual and the relationship.

Spouses of alcoholics are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. Alcohol can lead to aggressive behavior and living in an environment where alcohol is abused heightens the chance of physical and emotional abuse.

The emotional toll taken on the spouse of alcoholic can be significant. It can lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, anxiety, and helplessness. Constant exposure to erratic behavior and addiction-related issues can take a severe emotional toll.

Individuals living with alcoholic partners may neglect their own health due to the stress and emotional strain. Health problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive issues can arise as a result.

Dealing with the challenges of an alcoholic spouse can lead to social withdrawal. Spouses may isolate themselves from friends and family to avoid embarrassment or judgment, further affecting their emotional well-being.

Alcoholism can result in financial difficulties due to the cost of alcohol, legal issues, or job instability. This can put additional stress on the family and the relationship.

Children in the household can be deeply affected by living with an alcoholic parent. Witnessing alcohol-related problems and family discord can have long-lasting emotional and psychological consequences on children.

Alcoholism can strain marital relationships to the breaking point. Frequent arguments, broken promises, and trust issues can erode the foundation of the marriage. Alcoholism can lead to a loss of intimacy and emotional connection in the relationship. Couples may become distant and struggle to maintain a healthy, loving bond.

Individuals in such situations should seek support for themselves and their spouses. Professional help, support groups, and individual counseling can provide guidance and coping strategies to navigate the complex and challenging effects of living with an alcoholic spouse.

Help for Spouses of Alcoholics

Support for spouses dealing with a partner with alcoholism is essential. Here are some specific resources and strategies to assist spouses in coping.

Couples therapy

Consider couples therapy or counseling specifically designed for individuals with alcoholism and their spouses. This form of therapy can address long-standing habits that contribute to alcoholism and help repair damaged relationships. It equips couples with tools to support each other in the recovery journey.

Support groups

Seek out support groups that focus on partners of people with alcohol use disorder. Groups like Al-Anon provide a safe space for spouses to share their experiences, gain coping skills, and find emotional support from others who understand what they are going through.

Online resources

Explore online resources dedicated to helping spouses of alcoholics for information and guidance on how to cope with the challenges of living with an alcoholic.


Prioritize your well-being. Engage in self-care practices such as maintaining your social connections, pursuing hobbies, and seeking individual therapy or counseling to manage the emotional strain that often comes with having an alcoholic husband or wife.


Foster open and non-judgmental communication with your spouse. Encourage them to discuss their alcohol problem and share your concerns calmly and empathetically. Choose moments when they are sober and receptive to conversation.

Setting boundaries

Establish clear boundaries regarding alcohol use in your relationship. Ensure that both you and your partner understand what is acceptable and what is not.

Remember that seeking help for yourself and your relationship is a crucial step in supporting your alcoholic spouse. These resources and strategies can provide guidance, emotional support, and tools to navigate the challenges you face together.

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Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment for an Alcoholic Husband or Wife

If you require alcoholic spouse support, reach out to Ohio Recovery Centers and we can help you and you partner get back on track.

We specialize in treating alcohol addictions in an outpatient setting, providing your husband or wife with most flexible and affordable pathway to recovery. We offer IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) if your spouse needs more structure and support than a traditional outpatient program offers.  

All treatment programs at our Cincinnati rehab blend medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, family therapy, and holistic therapies for a whole-body approach to alcohol addiction recovery.

When living with an alcoholic spouse becomes unmanageable, call 877-679-2132 right away.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn