How To Live With An Alcoholic Spouse (And When You Should Leave)

alcoholic spouse

Over 14 million American adults have Alcohol Use Disorder. However, it’s important to note that there are countless others who never report their problems or seek treatment for addiction. Realistically, the number is much higher. 

The question is, what do you do if you think you have an alcoholic spouse? How can you support them and love them without enabling them or turning a blind eye to their addiction?

A more difficult question to answer is, what do you do if you’re being physically, mentally, or emotionally abused because of their alcoholism? At what point should you leave?

Keep reading for some guidance on how to deal with an alcoholic spouse.

Understand Their Addiction

First, you need to accept, as hard as it may be, that their addiction is a disease. Though there is always a choice to drink or not drink, they may be helpless in the struggle. 

While we understand you probably feel exhausted and frustrated, it’s important to understand that it’s not entirely their fault, and it certainly isn’t yours. Addiction can be linked to genetics, underlying mental issues, circumstances, and more. 

Avoid Enabling Their Drinking

However, there’s a difference between understanding/empathizing with an alcoholic and enabling their drinking. Learning how to help an alcoholic spouse means being open and honest with them. You need to confront them about their problem and tell them hows it’s affecting you. 

Try to help them cut back on their drinking and encourage them to seek counseling. 

Be Able to Recognize a Dangerous or Unhealthy Living Situation

As the partner to an alcoholic spouse, you should do everything in your power to help them get sober and come out on the other side. However, you can’t sacrifice your own happiness, safety, or well-being in the process, nor that of your children’s. 

Learn how to recognize the signs of a dangerous or unhealthy living situation, such as:

  • Verbal, mental, and emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Physical destruction (punching walls, trashing the house, breaking items)

If you have any doubts, seek help for spouses of alcoholics. There are groups that can provide emotional support and help guide you to make the best decisions for you and your family.

Set Boundaries for Yourself

When living with an alcoholic spouse, you must learn to set boundaries for yourself. This means having the courage to talk to them about the potential consequences of their continued alcohol abuse. They need to understand that they could lose you if they don’t get control of their situation.

If you have children, it’s just as important to set boundaries for them. If your spouse gets loud, vulgar, destructive, or violent when intoxicated, your children don’t need to be in the house. Let your spouse know if they choose to drink, you’ll take the kids and get out of the house for the night. 

Reach Out for Help

Finally, remember that dealing with an alcoholic spouse doesn’t have to be something you do alone. You can reach out for help in a myriad of ways. For example:

  • Get other family members and friends to help
  • Host an intervention
  • Talk to your spouse about treatment programs
  • Look into in-patient and out-patient facilities

Remember, even though you feel alone, you’re not. There are people around who can help.

Are You Living With an Alcoholic Spouse?

If you have an alcoholic spouse and you’re beginning to fear for the future of your relationship, it’s time to do something about it. Talk to your spouse about getting treatment and don’t do it alone. Get the support of friends and family members who care about your spouse. 

And if you have any questions about treatment options or how to proceed, please contacts us today and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.