Perhaps you have seen your husband drink for many years and never considered it a problem – but of late there have been warning signs, and questions about how serious his drinking has become that he may need therapy and medical care. All this may be placing a strain on your marriage or causing you a lot of worry and stress. It is strongly recomended at this time you get some expert advice. A self help group like al anon or talking to a therapist about his behaviours, and the support you need would keep the family safe.
If you are concerned that your husband’s drinking has gone out of control, this blog may help you understand what an alcohol use disorder looks like and what to do about it.
Alcohol abuse refers to unhealthy drinking behaviors that could result in personal and social problems. Your spouse may be engaging in binge drinking- which is five or more drinks for men in about two hours- or developing alcohol dependence by drinking small amounts a lot of the time.
Perhaps their drinking habits cause them to be involved in dangerous or even criminal activity – alcohol misuse causes a lack of inhibitions and increases aggression. When paired with a trigger or a link to mental health issues, the behaviors can instigate physical violence or domestic abuse.
A lack of inhibitions and judgment also commonly causes someone to engage in risky behavior, such as driving under the influence or getting into fights.
As with drug abuse, a substantial increase in alcohol abuse can lead to the development of addiction, an overdose in the form of alcohol poisoning, and even mortality. According to the World Health Organization, 3 million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol.
What Is Alcoholism?
Your spouse’s drinking habits may not seem to be a problem if they are still functioning and fulfilling their responsibilities. But with alcohol, the build-up of tolerance and dependency escalates with time.
A person runs the risk of alcoholism or developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD)when excessive or frequent drinking becomes a norm. If someone has a compulsive or obsessive need for alcohol and uses it despite the negative consequences it causes to their lives and those around them, they may suffer from this chronic brain disease.
While one or two drinks may have been enough in the past, your husband may have built up a tolerance and suffer from AUD if they now need many more drinks to feel the same effects as before or if they need it to feel normal.
They may experience cravings for even a small amount of alcohol or find it very hard to stop heavy drinking or binge drinking. Attempting to stop drinking or not having access to alcohol may cause them to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, insomnia, and nausea, among many others.
Signs of Alcoholism
It can be difficult to differentiate problem drinking from social drinking, particularly as many spouses conceal the frequency of their drinking or hide severe cycles, so it can be common that spouses are not aware of their partner’s drinking problem even if they spend a significant amount of time with their loved one. However, all areas of life can be affected – work, family, and social life.
Importantly, lying about how much they drink or denying that they may have a problem is a red flag for AUD. There are some other emotional, behavioral, and physicalstressors to look out for.
Emotional unpredictability caused by alcohol abuse can cause marital strife and great difficulty in family life. You may experience sudden traits of jealousy from your partner or feel an undeserved sense of guilt or self-blame for his addiction.
The emotional intimacy and trust in your relationship may be affected by the consequences of alcohol use, such as a loss of self-control or increased aggression.
Other emotions your partner may show include:
- Lack of judgment
- Diminished self-esteem
- Emotional abuse
- Mood swings
The strongest behavioral sign is refusing to quit drinking or denying the need for treatment despite the consequences.
Alcohol abuse also clouds a person’s perception, often causing dangerous behaviors. Alcohol consumption disrupts cellular and neural processes, resulting in problems in thinking and movement when someone is drunk.
If you notice a habit where your husband finds himself in risky situations while drinking, it may be a sign. A lack of judgment can lead to self-injury or car accidents while under the influence of alcohol. Hiding alcohol to minimize his apparent use is also a behavioral sign of your husband’s drinking problem.
Other behaviors include drinking alone, or neglecting personal, work, or family responsibilities. You may also find financial problems, erratic behavior in social circles, or impeded social functioning. Physical aggression is also common.
Alcoholism can cause many problems to a loved one’s physical health. People suffering from AUD may develop permanent cognitive conditions, so the sooner your husband starts treatment, the better.
Physical elements include:
- High blood pressure
- Lowered immunity
- Digestive problems
- Alcohol poisoning
- Excessive tiredness
- Cognitive issues, such as difficulty learning or memory loss
- Withdrawal disorder
- Liver and kidney damage or failure
- Risk of developing several types of cancer
How to Help Someone Stop Drinking
It can be very upsetting and hurtful to see your partner misuse alcohol or develop an addiction to it. Whether you are in doubt or have spotted symptoms of addiction, addressing the issue and having a conversation with your partner when they are sober is important.
Learn about Addiction and Addiction Treatment
You can educate yourself about alcoholism and possible treatment options. This will help you better understand your partner’s behavior and provide a lot of understanding as to how to help him accept and embark upon treatment. An estimated 82% of adults in the UK in need of specialist treatment for alcohol did not receive it in 2019-2020.
Treatment programs often include detox to safely break the hold that alcohol has on a person. Withdrawal symptoms from AUD can be challenging, even life-threatening, depending upon the severity of the addiction, so it is best undertaken with medical supervision to manage the process and give the best possible chances of recovery.
A treatment program can be effective at any stage of a person’s willingness to stop drinking. This means that even if your partner is not motivated or currently denies treatment, help will still be available if he decides to begin treatment later.
Undergoing treatment not only provides detox, but importantly it includes uncovering the underlying or any possible co-occurring causes or contributors to the addiction. This means that addiction treatment can help someone develop tools and skills to respond to triggers healthily and sustain long-term recovery after rehab.
Avoid Enabling and Set Healthy Boundaries
While not intended, many family members and friends enable those suffering from addiction to continue their alcohol use.
Being aware of enabling is the first step, so set healthy boundaries to help avoid it. You may be giving your husband money for drinking, perhaps offering to drive him home after nights out drinking, or making excuses for his social behavior or absence at work. These attempts to help may actually be enabling his drinking. So setting healthy boundaries is crucial for the well-being of both you and your spouse.
If your partner’s drinking habits place the entire family at risk, such as when an alcohol use disorder encourages domestic abuse, you should talk to professionals immediately.
While it is not easy, and many people stay in such relationships because of logistical or economic barriers – like concerns about a place to live or the custody of children as well as a constant emotional belief that the situation could change you may have to leave the relationship for the health and safety of those involved.
Take Care of Yourself
It is common for spouses of those suffering from AUD to develop mental health issues themselves such as anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts. Out of shame or embarrassment, partners of those with AUD may avoid family and friends and become socially withdrawn. Quite often, their health deteriorates as they spend most of their time and attention on their spouse.
Make sure that you find support, which includes keeping in touch with family and also reaching out to professional help and support groups like Al-Anon, where other people struggling with spouse addiction can provide understanding, peer support, and insight into coping mechanisms.
Individual counseling can also help a great deal. But as the whole family is usually affected by alcoholism, family therapy allows members to share how they are affected by an alcohol-related problem, helps to set limits in relationships, and improves communication and can help to reduce stress and for all to learn coping methods. These factors can positively alter family dynamics, providing stability and strengthening the family unit, which ultimately becomes better support for the person recovering from AUD.
Contact Us Today
If you or your spouse have recognized an alcohol issue and are seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, Crossroads Antigua can help.
Thecaring and compassionate staff at our treatment center will provide 24/7 support as they undergo detox, counseling, and aftercare. Our various treatment programs include individual and group therapy, trauma therapy, experiential therapy, mindfulness-based relapse prevention, and cognitive behavioral therapy, ensuring the best treatment according to physical, emotional, and mental needs.
Crossroads Antigua believes a lifestyle change supports abstinence and promotes personal growth in recovery, so complimentary therapies are provided to promote physical and mental health. These include yoga, acupuncture, fitness training, seaside therapy sessions, art therapy, and massage therapy, among others.
Please contact us to start the long-term recovery journey and regain your life.