When you realize your spouse has a problem with alcohol, it can be scary. You’re not in control. He’s not in control. The only one who has any control is the alcohol. But things are about to change. You can help a spouse who is struggling with alcohol abuse, if they want help.
That’s the key to help you move forward. Your spouse must want help in order for this to work. You cannot force anyone to stop drinking, as much as you may like to. They’ll end up finding a way to drink anyway, and you will have wasted your time and emotional energy.
Take Care of Yourself First
Before you tackle helping a spouse who is struggling with alcohol abuse, take care of yourself. Here are a few things you should know.
It’s not your fault
Even if you and your spouse have been having marital problems, her drinking isn’t your fault. It was her choice to begin drinking, and she may have used it as a coping mechanism. But alcohol is a dangerous and unhealthy coping mechanism. If that’s what your spouse was doing, it was a poor choice on her part. Now she has a disease and needs help, but none of this is your fault.
Alcoholism has nothing to do with love
It’s common for spouses to think they wouldn’t be in this position if their spouse really loved them. Or they’ll ask their spouse to stop as a sign of their love. This doesn’t work and it has nothing to do with your spouse’s love. Alcoholism is a disease, which means it is affecting his mind and body without his permission. He may promise to stop, and he may make a serious effort, but faltering isn’t a sign that love is lacking.
You have no reason to be embarrassed
You’ll feel a lot better if you can talk about this problem with friends and family. You may not want to share it with the world, and that’s okay, but you should have at least a small group of people you can turn to. There is still some stigma surrounding addiction, but you should never feel embarrassed. It can literally happen to anyone who drinks alcohol.
How You Can Help A Spouse Who Is Struggling with Alcohol Abuse
And if your spouse wants help, you will play an important role. You cannot control the situation, but you can be supportive through the process. Here are a few ways you can help.
Address the issue
If it’s not already out in the open, address your spouse’s drinking with a conversation. Collect proof if possible because alcoholics have a tendency to protect their disease with lies. Even if your spouse is typically an honest person, she may lie about her drinking. Be clear that your intention is to help. This isn’t an attack and it shouldn’t feel that way. If this conversation goes well, you can start talking about alcohol detox centers.
Keep it simple
Your focus right now is to support your spouse who is struggling with alcohol abuse throughout the recovery process. Avoid getting into deep conversations about why your spouse started drinking – unless you see it going productively. These conversations may be better handed in counseling, especially early on.
Commit to change
You may need to change things about your life as your spouse recovers. This may mean ditching the alcohol at home and having fewer nights out at bars. You may also have to make a habit of checking in with your spouse’s mental health, but this is a good idea for any couple.
When your spouse is struggling with alcohol abuse it doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship is over. If he or she wants help, and you can go through recovery together, you may end up stronger on the other end of this. Just remember to take care of yourself throughout the process.