Coping with an Alcoholic Spouse

Marriages are frequently derailed because of an alcoholic spouse.  Even when the partners stay together, the sober spouse instinctively develops defense mechanisms to counter the negative effects of alcohol abuse. And, in cases where the alcoholic spouse is allowed unlimited access to monetary resources, the financial security of the family inevitably suffers.  Unfortunately, due to the medical complexity of alcoholism, random efforts to get a spouse to stop drinking typically fail.  Studies show when dealing with an alcoholic loved one, a strategic approach is necessary to achieve a positive outcome.

Many scientific studies now validate the fact even if the individual is genetically predisposed to alcoholism through family history, alcohol abuse can be deterred with the right coping skills.  Outcomes of studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) reveal that the determining factors for alcoholism in families are strongly influenced by risk factors and the coping skills employed. It has also been shown that people who take a strategic approach to cope with an alcoholic in the family were less likely to become alcoholics themselves.

Strategies for Coping with an Alcoholic Spouse

  • Because drinking is such an integral aspect of society, many people ignore the warning signs of a budding drinking problem.  Others, ignorant of the dangers of quitting “cold turkey” often put their alcoholic loved one at risk by insisting that they never drink again.  Learning about the dangers associated with the abuse of alcohol as well as what happens when an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking enables the spouse of an alcoholic to…
  1. Be cognizant of what unhealthy drinking looks like. By recognizing the developing signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence, it is more likely to prevent full-blown alcoholism.
  2. Create a greater understanding of the difficulty of overcoming alcohol dependence.
  3. Understand the significant medical risks associated with abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption.
  • Break the silence. Many spouses and children are manipulated or threatened into silence. Long-standing silence about alcoholism creates emotional trauma and stress. Dealing with these toxic emotions over time can segue into physical or mental illness or some form of substance abuse. It makes sense to communicate your situation so that you can get appropriate help for yourself as well as your spouse. Breaking the silence means talking to a professional, a family member, or friends that can support you in your efforts to cope or get help for your partner. This is an important strategy because it immediately relieves the stress level and garners support for those desperately trying to cope with an alcoholic spouse.
  • Know the difference between supporting and Enabling Behavior. You may be enabling your spouse if you:
  1. Repeatedly overlook unacceptable behavior.
  2. Blame yourself for your spouse’s drinking problem.
  3. Have lied on more than one occasion to cover for your spouse’s drinking.
  4. Take on the alcoholic’s share of responsibilities or always offering to help them.
  5. Consistently putting aside your own needs or desires in order to appease the drinker.
  6. Suppress your emotions or feelings about their use of alcohol for fear of getting them angry, being abused, that they may leave you or cause them to drink more.

If you believe you may be an enabler, it is important to seek help through an alcoholic support organization or through a treatment center.

  • Join a Support Group. Victim advocate groups provide spouses and families of alcoholics with important resources, places of safety, and support. There are hundreds of organizations such as Al-Anon National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and alcohol treatment centers that can help you to find the right support group or program for you and your loved one.

  • Practice Self Care. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is vital to coping with the unpredictable and sometimes chaotic circumstances created by alcoholism.  Being proactive about self-care means taking time to nourish, nurture and support your goals as well as setting boundaries against intolerable treatment or behavior.
  • Safety Precautions. Based on your particular circumstance, planning ahead will put safety measures in place that will help you to…
  1. Avoid being driven by an alcoholic spouse.
  2. Quickly remove yourself from overly aggressive or violent behavior.
  3. Put monetary plans in place to be self-sufficient if temporary separation from your spouse becomes necessary.
  • Stage an Intervention. Make arrangements with family members and an alcohol treatment center to stage an intervention.  Professional interventionists help family members properly plan and implement an effective alcohol intervention to help their loved ones get the treatment they need.
  • Participate. Once your loved one is in a treatment program, it will be beneficial to participate in the recovery process.  Participation will help you to better understand the alcoholic condition and develop strong support mechanisms for relapse prevent that enable long-term sobriety.

If you are dealing with an alcoholic that puts you or your children in danger, it is important to seek help immediately.

Coping Skills – West Palm Beach

We at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers believe alcoholics and addicts can and do recover. Recovering from active addiction does not have to be a long, painful process. With the help of Ebb Tide’s caring and experienced staff, you and your loved ones will learn, and take proven steps necessary to achieve success by maintaining lasting sobriety. The goal of Ebb Tide Treatment Centers is to restore lives and families. With our help, you can regain control of your life from addiction and start living happily again. Your new life is just a phone call away. Call us today at 561-508-8330 or visit us at.



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