How to Handle Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

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If your partner is battling alcohol use disorder – the clinical term for alcoholism – there are steps you can take to support both you and your spouse as you navigate the challenges associated with their excessive drinking.

If you are living with an alcoholic, bear in mind that you are neither the root cause of their substance abuse nor the sole solution to it. Having said that, you can play a constructive role in the recovery journey while also prioritizing your well-being. So, if you are living with an alcoholic spouse, read on to discover how you can cope most effectively and how you can get your partner the help that they need.

What It’s Like to Live with an Alcoholic

What is it like to live with an alcoholic, then? It can be emotionally challenging and demanding dealing with the consequences of their compulsive drinking, which may include financial problems, relationship strain, and emotional turmoil. Family members or partners of individuals with alcoholism may experience feelings of frustration, helplessness, and anger as they witness their loved one struggle with alcohol abuse.

Someone who is living with an alcoholic partner should seek support and education on how to cope effectively as the spouse of alcoholic. Connecting with support groups, therapists, or counselors who specialize in addiction can provide guidance on how to navigate this difficult journey. Additionally, learning about alcoholism, its causes, and treatment options can be empowering.

Understanding that you are not responsible for their addiction and that you cannot force them to change is essential. Instead, offering support, encouragement, and encouragement for treatment can be valuable. Remember that recovery from alcoholism is a complex process, and it often requires patience and persistence.

Ultimately, living with an alcoholic can be emotionally taxing, but with the right knowledge and support, you can play a vital role in their journey to recovery while still prioritizing your well-being.

Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

Living with an alcoholic spouse can have a profound impact on your life and well-being. Here are some of the effects commonly experienced by individuals in this situation:

  • Emotional turmoil: Living with an alcoholic wife or husband can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions, including anger, frustration, sadness, and anxiety. Witnessing their struggle with addiction can take a toll on your mental health.
  • Financial strain: Alcoholism can lead to financial instability. Money may be spent on alcohol, and job loss due to addiction-related issues can result in financial stress for the family.
  • Relationship strain: Alcoholism often causes conflicts within relationships. Trust issues, communication problems, and emotional distance can strain the marital bond.
  • Codependency: Many spouses of alcoholics develop codependent behaviors, where they enable their partner’s addiction in an attempt to maintain the relationship. This can be detrimental to both parties.
  • Isolation: You may find yourself isolating from friends and family due to shame or embarrassment about your spouse’s addiction.
  • Health issues: The effects of alcoholism on spouse often causes stress that triggers physical health problems, including high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and a weakened immune system.
  • Impact on children: If there are children in the household, they can be deeply affected by the chaos and instability caused by living with alcoholic parents.
  • Loss of self: Focusing on your spouse’s addiction may lead to neglecting your own needs and identity, causing a loss of self.
  • Fear and uncertainty: The unpredictability of living with an alcoholic can create a constant state of fear and uncertainty about what each day will bring.

It’s almost always beneficial to seek support if you are living with an alcoholic husband or wife. This may take the form of therapy, support groups, or counseling. Remember that you deserve a healthy and fulfilling life, and seeking help is a crucial step in achieving that.

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How to Deal with an Alcoholic Spouse

Working out how to deal with an alcoholic wife or husband can be frustrating. Understanding alcohol use disorder is the first step. Learn about its causes, symptoms, and treatment options to gain insight into your spouse’s struggle.

Reach out to support groups or therapy for yourself. Al-Anon and Alateen are organizations designed to help family members of alcoholics. Therapy can provide you with tools to cope and make more informed decisions.

Foster open and honest communication with your spouse. Express your concerns and feelings without blame or judgment. Establish clear boundaries regarding acceptable behaviors and consequences for violations. Communicate these boundaries calmly but firmly. Avoid behaviors that enable their drinking. This includes not covering up for them, not participating in their drinking, and not making excuses for their behavior.

Encourage your spouse to seek treatment for their addiction. Offer support and resources to help them on their path to recovery.

Prioritize self-care to maintain your physical and emotional well-being. Exercise, meditate, and engage in enjoyable activities.

If your spouse’s drinking leads to dangerous situations or violence, prioritize your safety and consider seeking help from law enforcement or a domestic violence shelter.

In some cases, staging an intervention with the help of a professional may be necessary to motivate your spouse to seek treatment.

Depending on your situation, you may need to protect your assets or consult an attorney for legal advice, especially if alcoholism has triggered financial duress.

Remember that you can’t control your spouse’s actions, but you can control your response and seek support for yourself. Your well-being is essential, and by taking care of yourself, you can better support your spouse on their journey to recovery.

How Can I Get My Alcoholic Spouse Help?

These are some steps you can take to get help for your alcoholic spouse:

  1. Educate yourself: Learn about alcohol use disorder, its signs, and its impact on physical and mental health. Understanding the condition is the first step in helping your spouse.
  2. Open communication: Open a frank and non-confrontational dialogue with your spouse about their alcohol consumption. Express your concern and emphasize your support for their well-being.
  3. Choose the right time: Find an appropriate time to talk when your spouse is sober and when you both have time to discuss the issue without distractions.
  4. Offer support, not judgment: Let your spouse know that you are there to support them in their journey to recovery. Avoid blaming or criticizing them.
  5. Provide treatment options: Research treatment options for alcohol addiction, such as counseling, therapy, or rehabilitation programs. Offer these options to your spouse, but let them decide which one they are most comfortable with.
  6. Seek professional help: If your spouse is resistant to seeking treatment, consider involving a professional interventionist or therapist who can guide the process.
  7. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries that you are willing to enforce if your spouse continues to drink excessively. Ensure that these boundaries are realistic and enforceable.
  8. Support groups: Encourage your spouse to attend support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery. These groups provide a supportive community of individuals in recovery.
  9. Involve loved ones: Engage other family members or close friends who can provide additional support and encouragement.
  10. Self-care: Take care of your own physical and mental health during this challenging time. Seek support for yourself through therapy or support groups like Al-Anon.

Remember that ultimately, your spouse must be willing to accept help and seek treatment. You can provide information, support, and encouragement, but the decision to get help lies with them. Be patient and persistent in your efforts, and prioritize your well-being throughout the process.

Taking Care of Yourself Too

Self-care is essential when living with an alcoholic spouse. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups like Al-Anon, which is specifically for those affected by someone else’s alcoholism. Talking to others who understand your situation can be immensely helpful.

Consider individual therapy or counseling. A therapist can provide you with strategies to cope with the challenges of living with an alcoholic spouse and help you manage your own emotional well-being.

Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from the negative effects of your spouse’s drinking. These boundaries might include limits on behavior, time spent together, or financial arrangements.

Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and de-stress. This may include exercise, meditation, hobbies, or simply taking time for yourself.

Nurture healthy relationships outside your marriage. Spend time with friends and loved ones who support and care for you.

Continue to educate yourself about alcoholism and addiction. Understanding the disease can reduce feelings of blame or guilt.

Designate areas or times in your home where alcohol is not allowed, providing you with some respite from the constant presence of alcohol.

If you ever feel unsafe due to your spouse’s drinking, prioritize your safety and the safety of any dependents. Reach out to a domestic violence hotline or seek legal advice if necessary.

If your spouse’s drinking becomes unmanageable and is causing severe harm to you or your family, consider seeking legal advice or exploring separation or divorce as a last resort.

Remember that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself – it’s essential. By maintaining your own physical and emotional well-being, you’ll be better equipped to support your spouse if they choose to seek help, and you’ll also be more prepared to make decisions that serve your best interest.

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Get Help for Your Alcoholic Spouse Today at Ohio Recovery Centers

If your alcoholic spouse needs professional help, we can provide this at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH. We specialize in the intensive outpatient treatment of all types of addictions, including alcohol addiction.

All alcohol addictions are unique, so all treatment programs at Ohio Recovery Centers deliver a personalized array of therapies, blending medications, psychotherapy, counseling, and holistic treatments.

Call 877-679-2132 and get help for your alcoholic spouse 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