Living with an alcoholic spouse can be difficult, but knowing what to do can help you both. If your wife is an alcoholic, treatment is available and should be sought after.

Knowing what to do and what to look out for can help you take the appropriate steps. Dealing with an alcohol use disorder can be sensitive.It is important to have patience, show compassion, and understand the addiction for what is truly is; alcoholism is a disease and requires treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Before doing anything to help your spouse, you’ll need to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. Recognizing the warning signs can help you decide if and when your wife needs help.

Not all alcoholics show the same symptoms. Your wife may show some or all of these signs:

  • Lies about drinking
  • Drinks by herself
  • Drinks at specific times
  • Becomes upset when unable to drink
  • Stores alcohol in strange places around the house, at work or in the car
  • Blacks out sometimes from alcohol consumption
  • Drinks only to get drunk
  • Unable to hold down a job
  • Your relationship is suffering
  • No longer cares about activities she used to love doing

Some people are at higher risk for alcoholism than others. Family history, genetics, frequency of use and mental health can all contribute to alcohol use disorder.

Functioning vs Non-Functioning Alcoholic

Some alcoholics are more functional than others. Your wife may be a functioning alcoholic, which can make it difficult to recognize a problem.

Functioning, or high-functioning, alcoholics are able to hold down a job, maintain good relationships with others, and hide many of the effects of their drinking. Your wife, for example, might only be drinking in the evenings so that her alcoholism doesn’t interfere with her job and personal life.

It can be easy to excuse their problem because they seem to be responsible and productive. It is, however, still a problem.

It is important to remember that functioning alcoholics are still alcoholics, and still need help. Your wife’s tolerance is likely growing, and with time, she’ll need more alcohol to achieve the same effects.

A non-functioning alcoholic is someone who can’t hold down a job, struggles maintaining personal relationships, performing everyday tasks and who is unable to take care of herself. A non-functioning alcoholic may not be able to drive, pay her bills in a timely fashion, keep a schedule and meet personal obligations.

Both non-functioning and functioning alcoholics might be unaware of their problem. They can both be unaware of how serious it is as well.

Things to Do

You’re not powerless to help your wife. With treatment, she can go on to have a full and productive life, but she’ll need the help of a quality rehabilitation program.

Some helpful things to do are:

  • Know your options. Research rehabilitation programs in your area. Visit facilities and talk to program managers. Get a sense of the timeline, how much care your wife will need and what you can do to help your wife while she seeks treatment.
  • Talk to an addiction counselor. Have a conversation with an addiction counselor to get advice on the best ways to approach your wife about her problem.
  • Make a plan. Work with an addiction counselor on ways to approach your spouse. Knowing what to say can help the conversation go as smoothly as possible. The addiction counselor can help you make a plan. With some coaching from an expert, you’ll be able to help your wife get the help she needs.
  • Have a conversation. Once you know how to approach the subject, have a compassionate conversation with your wife about her problem. Be prepared to let her know about potential treatment options.

Things Not to Do

Don’t Excuse Her Behavior. You do not have to accept your wife’s behavior or make excuses for your wife. Enabling your wife by making excuses only hurts the both of you in the long run. She has an illness and is won’t get better without help.

Don’t try to cure your wife on your own. Alcoholism is a disease, and requires treatment from an experienced healthcare professional. Attempting to help your wife without help from a professional could be dangerous for her. If your wife has a severe addiction, she may experience serious withdrawal symptoms that could be life-threatening. You may also do more harm than good, if you try to cure her yourself.

Don’t waste time seeking help. An alcohol use disorder gets worse over time. The more time passes, the more alcohol your wife will need, and the greater her tolerance for alcohol becomes. If your wife is a functional alcoholic right now, she may not be functional in a few months. The best thing you can do for her is to get her into an alcohol addiction treatment program.

Get Help Now

If your wife is suffering from an addiction to alcohol, help is available. If you don’t know where to get help, browse through our directory for treatment centers in your area.

Going to rehab is the only way to ensure your wife detoxes safely and gets the care she needs. A quality treatment program will also improve her quality of life as well as yours. Don’t wait any further. Find a treatment center near you and call today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5248422/
  2. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Alcohol-and-Drug-Addiction-Happens-in-the-Best-of-Families/SMA12-4159

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