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How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents


If you’re asking yourself how to help an alcoholic spouse, you’re likely already exhausted from dealing with the challenges of living with a partner abusing alcohol.

You are probably tired of shouldering extra responsibilities, and you might be angry or depressed about your disordered domestic circumstances.

On top of these feelings and the resultant fatigue, you’re likely also concerned about the health, wellbeing, and future of all members of your household.

Learning how to get an alcoholic help is always valuable if someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder. When that person happens to be your partner, you should take action immediately.

The good news?

You can only change yourself and the way you interact with a partner abusing alcohol. There is little you can do to change addictive behavior without professional intervention.

Here’s what you can do to help an alcoholic husband or wife, though.

5 Ways to Help an Alcoholic Spouse

1. Stop blaming yourself and stop viewing the situation personally

2. Don’t squander your time and energy trying to control your partner’s drinking

3. Refuse to tolerate unacceptable behavior

4. Get outside support for you and your loved one

5. Keep your expectations reasonable

1) Stop blaming yourself and stop viewing the situation personally

You may find your partner blames you, suggesting that you are the only reason they drink.

Reject this for the faulty reasoning it is. If your loved one is a full-blown alcoholic, they will drink regardless of what you do or don’t do.

Keep in mind that your loved one is behaving in this way due to changes to brain structure induced by alcohol abuse. Stop viewing the situation personally, and accept that your spouse may not be in control of their actions.

2) Don’t squander your time and energy trying to control your partner’s drinking

If you accept that your partner is unable to control their alcohol intake, stop trying to take control of it yourself. This is simply a waste of energy.

Beyond this, abruptly withdrawing from alcohol can be dangerous, possibly even deadly, so refrain from imploring your loved one to stop drinking suddenly and without medical assistance.

3) Refuse to tolerate unacceptable behavior

To avoid becoming trapped in an abusive relationship, stop tolerating any forms of unacceptable behavior. Being intoxicated is not an excuse for poor behavior, so don’t stand for it.

This is especially important if you have kids. Protect them at all costs from any negative behaviors coming from your spouse.

While it may seem tough to establish firm boundaries, you’ll be doing your partner a favor in the long run.

4) Get outside support for you and your loved one

Make sure you get outside help for you as well as your loved one.

Your partner may benefit from attending AA meetings, while you could find the peer support of Al-Anon invaluable. You’ll be surrounded by the family members of alcoholics undergoing broadly similar experiences.

Therapy and couples therapy are also worth exploring if you need a helping hand.

5) Keep your expectations reasonable

Even if your loved one promises you faithfully they’ll stop drinking, don’t have too much faith in this promise. Alcoholism is a disease, and as such it needs treating like a disease.

So, keep your expectations reasonable and help your partner to engage with an alcohol addiction treatment program here at Renaissance Recovery Center. When your loved one is ready to make a change, call admissions at 844.912.2284.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

Paige R

“Renaissance Recovery truly changed my life.”

Courtney S

” I’m grateful for my experience at Renaissance, the staff are very experienced, they gave me the hope I needed in early sobriety, and a variety of coping mechanisms that I can use on a daily basis.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country