How to Help an Alcoholic Husband

Tools and Guidance on How to Help an Alcoholic Husband

When alcoholism impacts a marriage it’s destructive effects can cause significant disruption within the family home.  Regardless of which spouse is struggling with the disease of alcoholism, the damage permeates all aspects of the marital relationship, causing feelings of fear, shame, guilt, blame, distrust, and anger.  When the spouse of an alcoholic eventually realizes that they have no real control over the other’s drinking, no matter how much they may plead with them to stop or what drastic measures taken, the sense of powerlessness can be devastating.

When the alcoholic is one’s husband the impact to the marriage and the family may be more pronounced than when it is the wife who is alcoholic.  This is because, generally, a family is more dependent on the financial support of a husband.  When compulsive alcohol use becomes a chemical addiction, the damage can quickly seep into their job performance, threatening financial security.  In addition, an alcoholic husband can be more dangerous physically to a woman and children.  Learning how to help an alcoholic husband is the first step in getting them on the road to recovery.

Ways Alcoholism Can Harm a Marriage

Alcohol abuse and addiction is not only toxic to the body, but it is toxic to one’s marriage as well.  Some of the negative effects of alcoholism on a marriage include:

  • Erosion of physical and emotional intimacy between partners
  • Increased erratic, risk-taking behaviors, causing stress on the family
  • Increased health problems associated with alcoholism, placing strain on both partners
  • Negatively impacts job performance putting family finances in jeopardy
  • Alcoholic spouse loses interest in activities once enjoyed with spouse and/or kids
  • Increasingly unable to carry out family obligations and responsibilities
  • Alcoholic spouse becomes negative and depressed, impacting family dynamic
  • Possible escalation of physical abuse
  • Alcoholic spouse stops caring about physical appearance and grooming habits

In addition to these consequences of an alcoholic spouse, divorce rates among alcoholics are higher than couples that do not have alcohol abuse or addiction present.  A recent study, “The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions,” was published in a 2014 edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.  The study compared divorce rates over a three-year period, finding them markedly higher—48.3% versus 30.1%–in couples where there was alcohol use disorder present.

How to Help an Alcoholic Husband

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) involves a range of disordered behaviors related to alcohol, from alcohol abuse to alcohol dependency, or being chemically addicted to alcohol.  When a husband is struggling with an AUD there are some ideas for how to help an alcoholic husband:

  1. Recognize the common signs of alcohol addiction
  • Difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol consumed
  • He is increasing obsessed with drinking, obtaining alcohol, and recovering from excessive drinking
  • He seems to need larger quantity of alcohol as his tolerance increases
  • He begins avoiding social gatherings and seeks to isolate
  • He becomes increasingly unable to keep up at work, at home, or with social and family obligations
  • He is secretive about his drinking and hides alcohol
  • He displays signs of withdrawal in the morning, such as nausea, tremors, vomiting, fatigue, foggy thinking
  • He has attempted to stop drinking but was unable on more than one occasion
  • Even with negative consequences of his drinking piling up, he continues to drink

2. Resist the temptation towards codependency or enabling behaviors

3. Research treatment options.  Have at least a few concrete options to present to him, including what insurance coverage he has for treatment

4. Discuss the problem when he is not intoxicated, and calmly explain how his drinking is affecting you and the children, and then introduce the treatment options

5. Avoid a heated discussion.  Keep the conversation focused on his health and the impact of his drinking on his family members

6. He may not yet be open to receiving treatment, so be prepared to join a support group, such as Al-anon, to help you during his active addiction

7. Take care of your own health.  Until your husband is in recovery and stabilized, the family will be depending more on you.  Get regular exercise, get enough sleep, and eat nutritiously to keep up your strength.

Phoenix Rising Offers Effective Treatment for Alcoholism

Phoenix Rising Addiction Center is an intensive outpatient addiction rehab and alcoholism program in Orange County, California that offers treatment options for how to help an alcoholic husband and family support.  Our compassionate clinical staff has decades of experience in the field of alcohol addiction and dual diagnosis treatment for those struggling with an alcohol use disorder.  For more information, contact Phoenix Rising today at (949) 518-0345.