If your spouse has issues with alcohol consumption and is either unable or unwilling to stop drinking, they may be battling alcohol use disorder. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem, hindering many individuals nationwide. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that over seven percent of American adults have an issue with alcohol, a total of almost 14 million Americans. In order to understand how to deal with a husband who drinks too much, it’s essential to learn about the issues caused by alcohol dependency.
Alcohol dependency is a deadly disease that impacts millions each year. If you believe your husband may be suffering from alcohol abuse, getting help sooner can make all the difference. Contact our helpline 24/7 at 855-281-5588.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
Questioning alcohol consumption and limits will always vary for each person. How much alcohol did you drink last week? It’s a simple enough question but answering can still prove difficult. Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) highlights patterns of alcohol consumption, emphasizing that, in reality, routine drinking has highs and lows for everyone. That is, there are often periods of low consumption, interspersed with episodes of frequent drinking. During the holiday season, for example, people’s alcohol consumption tends to increase. However, when alcohol consumption doesn’t follow usual trends, it can pose many difficult questions. Why is my husband drinking so much? How should I deal with alcohol abuse?
While everyone’s relationship with alcohol differs, what is clear is that too much alcohol can be detrimental to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the United States each year, including 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64.
The Mayo Clinic defines heavy or high-risk drinking as having more than three drinks a day or more than seven drinks a week for men over 65. For men under 65, high-risk or heavy drinking is defined as more than four drinks a day or over fourteen drinks a week. Learning how to deal with a husband who drinks too much means first identifying an issue with alcohol consumption.
Why is Alcohol Addiction a Health Concern?
The CDC provides a list of criteria that highlight how much alcohol is considered too much. Additionally, as new information and research on the detrimental effects of alcohol abuse become available, family members must review fundamental health concerns.
Alcohol dependence doesn’t always occur in the same manner. In fact, there are varying degrees of alcohol abuse, and the aftermath can look drastically different from person to person. Alcohol dependence occurs when a person’s need to drink requires larger amounts to achieve the same effect. In many ways, the person may no longer be aware of the adverse effects of continued alcohol use. The reasons for alcohol abuse may not always be clear. What is clear, however, is that alcohol addiction can lead to behavioral problems and major health concerns.
Note that long-term alcohol abuse or binge drinking can lead to health issues including:
- Breast cancer, cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver cancer
- Cardiovascular muscle damage and cardio failure
- Liver disease
- Accidental injury or death
- Brain damage
- Fetal alcohol syndrome (in pregnancies)
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
No one sets out to become an alcoholic, but regular, heavy drinking can result in alcohol dependence and alcoholism. If you’re attempting to figure out how to deal with a husband who drinks too much, explaining these possible negative impacts may be a good place to start.
How Alcohol Abuse Affects Family Relationships
Alcohol abuse isn’t just an individual problem. It often destroys marriages and disrupts relationships among family members, friends, and even work colleagues. American Addiction Centers warn of the marital and family problems related to heavy drinking.
People who drink heavily have a 60 to 70 percent higher rate of spousal abuse and neglect. They often have financial difficulties brought on by excessive spending on alcohol, missed work, lack of worker productivity, and mismanagement of the family budget.
Alcohol frequently causes fights. Because it impairs the health and happiness of the family, other family members like spouses and children may begin to exhibit signs of growing mental health concerns as well. Often, family members develop symptoms of codependency. Children of alcoholics are often:
- Difficulty developing healthy relationships
What’s more, children witnessing and experiencing the effects of alcohol abuse within a given household are more than three times as likely to abuse alcohol as adults. Finding a way to protect children while learning how to deal with a husband who drinks too much is a monumental task. Fortunately, there are many alcohol resources available for spouses and other family members looking for relief from the cycle of alcohol abuse.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Carol Galbicsek pointed out that there are warning signs of alcohol overuse in the Alcohol Rehab Guide.
She suggests the spouse ask the following questions:
- Does your spouse experience temporary blackouts?
- Is he exhibiting short-term memory loss?
- Is he frequently irritable, distracted, angry, and/or impatient?
- Does he have extreme mood swings?
- Does he make excuses for his drinking, like the need to unwind or relieve stress?
- Has he begun to ignore family responsibilities and obligations?
- Has he become isolated or socially distant with family, friends, and colleagues?
- Does he drink alone?
- Has he taken to hiding the extent of his alcohol intake?
- Does he complain of headaches and other hangover symptoms even when he isn’t drinking?
- Have his appearance and personal hygiene deteriorated?
- Have you noticed changes in his group of acquaintances?
How To Deal With a Husband Who Drinks Too Much
Dealing with someone who drinks too much is not an easy undertaking. Depending on how alcohol impacts the individual, it’s important to understand that unsafe drinking habits can lead to unsafe situations within a given household. Dealing with a husband who drinks too much can feel next to impossible, and many spouses may experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
It’s critical to find outside help when looking for support, particularly from those who have experience addressing substance abuse. If you’re unsure how to address alcohol abuse, the following tips may help provide clarity. First and foremost, if emotional or physical abuse occurs, family members must stay safe and are removed from situations where abuse can escalate. Finding helpful resources may be a top priority for people whose husbands are battling alcohol abuse.
In addition, alcohol recovery specialists offer the following suggestions:
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Voice your concerns calmly and lovingly. It’s important to choose a time when your spouse is sober and approachable. A clear mind usually makes it easier to discuss issues arising because of alcohol abuse. By keeping the lines of communication open, your goal is to bring attention to the detrimental effects of alcohol and remind your spouse that they have your support when they’re willing to seek treatment or rehabilitation care.
- Discuss Contributing Causes to Your Spouse’s Drinking.
Those who drink heavily seldom enjoy drinking. More often, they drink due to life situations that can cause anxiety, fear, depression, worry, and other negative expressions. Addiction specialists should begin treatment by addressing alcohol misuse and mental health concerns that may cause or contribute to ongoing drinking habits. By acknowledging these cycles, treatment and care can prove to be more effective.
- Provide Concrete Examples of a Drinking Problem.
Be prepared to share specific instances with a person with a drinking problem. At times, alcoholism can have profound effects on complex structures within the brain, according to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
- Don’t Present Ultimatums
If you insist on hard options like, “Stop drinking, or I’ll leave!” be prepared for the possibility that your partner will choose alcohol over the other option. This will increase stress, frustration, and pain in the relationship. Offer advice or options for help.
Do your research ahead of time. Learn about effective programs. Find ones in a format your husband might consider.
- Don’t Be Judgmental or Accusing
Alcoholics may already feel shame and low self-esteem. Alcoholism is a disease. Its lure is powerful. Don’t judge or berate. Shaming an addict is likely to increase their denial, anger, and further drinking.
- Make Wise Use of Resources
Perhaps you know someone who is a successful recovering alcoholic. Find out how they did it if they are open to discussing it. Ask for advice. Discuss the best way to approach your spouse. Ask if that person would be willing to talk to your spouse. Sometimes, information from someone who has been there can be more compelling.
- Find out about Treatment and Recovery Programs
Be prepared to offer local and online sobriety and recovery resources. Be ready to support your husband in making initial contact and undergoing treatment and recovery.
- Be a Good Role Model
If you believe your spouse has an alcohol problem, it is inconsiderate and unsupportive to drink alcohol in his presence.
- Avoid Enabling Behavior
Don’t provide your spouse with alcohol. Do not put him in social situations which encourage drinking or trigger episodes of mental health. Additionally, avoid making excuses for problematic drinking habits and behavioral changes. Instead, take these changes as possible signs that alcohol abuse is causing major relationship issues. Curious to learn more about enabling behavior and how to avoid it? There’s a major difference between support and enabling. Identifying how to deal with a husband who drinks too much can begin here.
- Be Present. Understand. Be there for Detox and Recovery.
Educate yourself and other family members about alcohol addiction. Encourage your spouse in his efforts to get sober. Tell him you know how hard this is and how proud you are of his efforts. Support your husband through every stage of getting clean and sober. Attend support group meetings. Get support for yourself and other family members. Continued support is crucial to rehab and recovery.
Options for Treatment, Care, and Family Support
No single treatment center or program is ideal for everyone. To assess which program is right for your partner, you need to investigate what is available.
There are several treatment options and support groups. Become familiar with what they have to offer.
Alcohol Addiction Support Groups
- Alcoholics Anonymous is a free support service. It is widely available and often led by recovering alcoholics. AA relies on a faith-based twelve-step program. There are several advantages to support groups like AA and SMART. Whether in-person or virtual meetings, they allow your husband to meet others who are striving for a sober life. The group explores skills that will conquer cravings. Support groups provide a place to go and people to talk to during difficult emotional times. Support groups help others realize they are not alone in their struggles. They also hold group members accountable for their actions.
- Self-management and recovery training—SMART—support group focuses on self-empowerment. The facilitator is often a licensed counselor. This person leads group discussion and guides participants through a four-point program.
- Al-Anon is a branch of AA. Al-Anon provides support for spouses, partners, colleagues, or friends of a recovering alcoholic. Through group discussions, facilitators teach how to avoid enabling habits. They also teach how to avoid blaming a loved one for their addiction and let go of anger and grudges. They also teach how to acknowledge and change behaviors that might have contributed to a partner’s alcohol use. It is vital to your husband’s success that family members understand what he is dealing with and how he is coping.
- Alateen, like Al-anon, is a branch of AA. Its intended audience is a youth whose family member is battling alcohol addiction.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
AspenRidge Recovery centers offer various alcohol addiction services and delivery models, from intensive in-patient detox programs, alumni after-program support, and online REACH virtual counseling services. One is just right for your husband’s alcohol addiction needs.
AspenRidge’s board-certified, licensed therapists, addiction specialists, and counselors are there to help. Give them a call any time, 24/7. Our experienced, empathetic intake staff will help your family find the right treatment program for your husband. Call 855-678-3144 for more information on our alcohol addiction programs.