Substance abuse problems are not only difficult to overcome but they are also often marked with the ability to affect the lives of the people who are around them. While the distress of people suffering from alcohol addiction is often highlighted in research, there is less focus on asking what it is like to be living with an alcoholic, and the damaging effects it can have on their mental health.
Alcohol abuse is an ever-present phenomenon in the United States and one that shows few signs of stopping. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that alcohol is the most frequently used drug in the country. Many people suffer silently with family members having unhealthy relationships with alcohol. However, there are options to deal with it. You do not have to try and cope alone.
You may be confused about how to deal with an alcoholic spouse or partner. You may feel angry, hurt, or even traumatized. There is no doubt that living with an alcoholic is something that can put a lot of emotional strain on your mental health and your relationship. These things are normal when you are caught in the painful cycle that can result from a loved one’s disease. It is important to remember that you are not the cause of someone else’s excessive drinking habits and that you are also at risk of mental illness that may require the assistance of a mental health professional to cope with.
In this article, we will explain what you can expect from an alcoholic partner, the risk factors involved, and what you can do to try and deal with it. We will also talk about how Crossroads Antigua can help your partner overcome their difficulties with alcohol use disorder through our tailored substance abuse and addiction treatment options.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is a pervasive phenomenon in the United States, one that has destroyed many lives. It affects nearly 16 million Americans around the country. Having been fairly normalized in our society, a lot of alcohol abuse goes unchallenged. However, if you are someone who has or currently does live alcoholic spouse or family member, you may be all too aware of the damaging effects it can have.
Despite the fact that drinking alcohol is a normal activity in our society, one should remember that excessive drinking is simply one more form of drug abuse. Alcohol has wide-reaching consequences on your mental and physical health, comparable to many serious substance abuse issues. Aside from the worry that comes from your partner’s drinking possibly leading them to end up as of the 40% of people who end up in emergency wards with possibly life-threatening disorders due to drinking, alcohol has special notoriety for damaging interpersonal relationships.
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorders can be hard to self-diagnose. Dependency on a form of substance abuse means that people often try to come up with excuses for their behavior. It is one of the characteristics of most forms of drug abuse; difficulty in admitting that they have become trapped in their unhealthy habits. However, if you are living with an alcoholic partner, there are a few visible warning signs you can look for such as:
- Excessive drinking habits (including binge drinking episodes)
- Your partner trying to cut down on drinking and failing
- Craving the next drink
- Drinking so much that it affects their job performance
- Marital troubles
- Drinking just to get drunk
- Reckless behavior
- Continuing to drink despite the negative consequences
If your partner or spouse exhibits these behaviors then it is very likely they are suffering from an alcohol use disorder. If this pattern continues you may find that the negative consequences for both of you (as well as for other family members involved) will continue to become worse. The good news is that alcohol addiction does not have to be permanent. With the right treatment options, there can be a way forward for both you and your partner.
Physical and Mental Health Challenges to Living With an Alcoholic Spouse
Living with an alcoholic spouse is a double-edged issue. Not only do you have to cope with watching someone you love degrade physically and mentally, but it also puts undue stress on your own mental and physical health.
Recent studies have shown that the consequences on partners of those suffering from alcohol use disorder can be sorted into five categories: emotional, social, financial, physical violence, and health-related. We can see that the damage alcohol abuse inflicts on the people around it exists in a wide spectrum, and direct family is the most likely to suffer.
Indeed, wives of people with a substance abuse disorder have been found to be the most likely to experience physical, social, or mental trauma as a result. Families where one of the members has an alcohol dependency have also been found to face greater dysfunction.
Having a spouse or partner who is dealing with a drinking problem can open you up to many possible physical dangers. As a result of the increased aggression that problematic drinking can bring about, you are much more likely to face intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is a serious problem for people with an alcoholic spouse. It is one of the reasons that trying to get a partner to stop drinking while they are under the influence is not recommended.
Mental Health Challenges
Coupled with domestic abuse, there often exists emotional abuse as well, wherein your partner may degrade and insult you when they drink. The emotional stress and social embarrassment that comes from being stigmatized as a family unit can emerge as coping mechanisms that are fundamentally unhealthy. These can include:
- Neglecting your children
- Reckless spending
- Overeating or binge eating
- Having an affair
Aside from being unhealthy, these habits can push you towards your own substance use disorder and further exacerbate the financial problems that excessive alcohol consumption already tends to create.
When you are constantly stressed out because you are worried about your partner or spouse’s behaviors, especially when domestic violence is involved, it can have a huge impact on your mental state. Research has shown that having an alcoholic partner can lead to significantly increased rates of mental illnesses such as depression.
These mental health issues not only create an undue emotional burden on you but also can lead to other severe chronic health problems because you tend to neglect your own well-being. In fact, emotional problems are more highly reported than instances of violence in partners of people facing substance use issues.
Aside from all the worry, pain, and broken promises you have to deal with yourself, having an alcoholic husband or wife can also be extremely problematic for any children you may have. Children with an alcoholic parent are much more likely to have mental disorders of their own including ADHD, depression, as well as substance use issues of their own.
If you want to avoid these physical afflictions and mental disorders, your best route should be to seek professional treatment and proper addiction medicine rather than making excuses for your partner. In doing so, you will have the best chance of your partner starting their recovery journey in a healthy manner.
How To Deal With Someone’s Substance Abuse
In order to create more positive outcomes for yourself, there are a few steps and coping strategies you can use. These include:
- Proper self-care
- Seeking assistance from support groups or from a close circle of friends and family
- Learn to step back from your partner’s behavior and realize you are not the cause of it
- Focus on your own well-being and that of those who are also affected in your family
Having a coping mechanism in place to deal with your partner’s alcohol use disorder can do you a world of good. Many people who find themselves in such a situation tend to feel isolated and alone (largely due to the social stigma), so making sure that you have proper social support is critical to deal with your own negative emotions.
If you start with these small steps, you can start to find more concrete ways of dealing with your alcoholic husband or wife. Once you establish a chain of support among your friends and family it can allow you to stage an alcohol intervention so as to plan their possible treatment with adequate assistance from others.
A family intervention can be difficult to do, it may make you feel like you are attacking or betraying your partner. It can feel uncomfortable to directly involve yourself in another person’s life to that degree and to force an ultimatum upon them. However, it is the first step in allowing your partner to heal, even if they may not see it as such at the time.
Coping strategies are useful but they cannot fix all your problems as they only address the symptoms and not the root cause: your partner’s excessive drinking habits. If you want to take a step towards a lasting solution it will require hard work involving proper family therapy and alcohol treatment. In the end, addiction treatment will help lead you and your spouse to a happier future.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Crossroads Antigua
At the end of the day, despite all the strategies involved in coming to terms with your partner’s excessive drinking, the best solution remains proper substance abuse treatment. Whether it is for your spouse or for another family member, there are tried and tested addiction treatment methods for people who deal with alcohol use disorders.
If you are struggling to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial problems that result from someone else’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol, then Crossroads Antigua is here to help. We have a long history of successfully helping people overcome their issues with alcohol.
We provide alcohol detox services, as well as customized treatment plans that take care of a person’s emotional, physical, and nutritional needs as they start their healing journey. Living with someone who has alcohol abuse issues can be traumatizing, but it does not have to be permanent. If you really want to help your partner or family member, then there is no better place than Crossroads Antigua.
We are available seven days a week. Simply get in touch with us at +1 888 452 0091 and we can start to help your loved ones begin their journey to a happier and healthier life, and ease your own burden in the process. For their sake, and your own, choose Crossroads Antigua.