You do everything you can to keep up the appearance that everything is okay. Behind closed doors though, the weight of wondering if your husband is an alcoholic crushes you. Recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse in a loved one, let alone your husband, can be a gut-wrenching realization full of fear, anger and hesitation.
Alcohol addiction is a subtle and nefarious disease that has the potential to rip apart families and destroy the life of the alcoholic. Dealing with alcoholism, and all its misconceptions, can feel like walking on eggshells and the majority of people are unsure how to handle such alien terrain.
Are you questioning if your spouse’s relationship with alcohol is unhealthy? Then this blog is for you.
Recognizing The Signs
Societal norms around alcohol consumption can hide what could be a serious problem. Misconceptions around alcoholism can blur the lines between who is a heavy drinker and who is a bona fide alcoholic. If you’re concerned about your husband’s drinking, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of alcohol addiction.
- Increased Tolerance: If you’ve noticed your spouse drinking more alcohol to achieve the same effect, they have developed a tolerance to alcohol. Consuming large amounts of alcohol without getting drunk may be another sign of increased tolerance.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: Easily the best indicator of alcoholism are withdrawal symptoms. If your spouse is drinking to the point of going into withdrawal when they are without alcohol, they need to seek immediate professional help. Alcohol withdrawal starts with emotional symptoms (anxiety, irritability, insomnia, mood swings) and soon turns into physical symptoms (tremors, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures).
- Neglecting Responsibilities: Alcoholics put their drinking above all else. Have you noticed your husband neglecting family or work responsibilities? Has his personal hygiene suffered? Is he no longer interested in hobbies or outside activities? These are all signs that he may be struggling with alcohol abuse.
- Secrecy & Deception: Lying about his drinking or the amounts he is drinking is a red flag. Sneaking alcohol. Hiding alcohol. Becoming withdrawn and isolated. These are all signs of alcoholism and should be taken seriously.
Approaching The Conversation
Talking with your husband about his alcoholism and your concerns is a delicate conversation. Approach the topic from a position of empathy and love; not judgment or guilt. Choose a time and place that is conducive to open and honest communication. Avoid accusations or blame. Speak from your point of view talking about what you’ve witnessed and how you feel. Don’t dominate the conversation. Allow your husband the space and opportunity to talk freely. Remember this isn’t an argument. It is a conversation. Try not to place expectations on the outcome.
Getting Professional Help
Employing professional addiction help is a crucial factor in treating your husband’s alcoholism. If, after your conversation, he is unwilling to admit he has a problem or refuses to do anything about it, consider finding an addiction counselor or interventionist. They can help facilitate another conversation and act as an objective mediator. This also shows that you don’t intend to let your husband off the hook about his drinking. On the other hand, if your husband is open to treatment and wants help, working with a substance abuse facility to safely manage his detox and start his journey to recovery is your best bet. It is extremely difficult to overcome alcoholism alone. Alcohol treatment programs exist for a reason and they work. Make use of them.
Supporting Your Spouse
Supporting a partner in their recovery can be a difficult but rewarding experience. It involves a lot of patience, understanding and setting boundaries. This is not only for him but also for yourself. Support does not equate to enabling. It’s important to take care of yourself during this process so you are able to be there for your husband. Recovery is a journey and there may be setbacks along the way. Relapse is not a failure. It can often be the foundation from which long-lasting recovery is built upon.
Alcoholism is a scary and overwhelming issue to deal with in a marriage. If left untreated it will affect everyone in its vicinity. Knowing what to look for and how to deal with it can make all the difference in the world.
If you believe your spouse is struggling with alcohol addiction, call Owl’s Nest Recovery today. We can help you navigate the uncertain waters and answer any questions you may have about the disease, treatment, and what life looks like after treatment. Recovery is possible.