There are actions you can take if your significant other is struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It can be beneficial for both of you through the many challenges posed by their drinking addiction. You must remember you are not the cure or the cause of your partner’s addiction or substance abuse issues. Although, there are still many ways you can positively help influence them towards their recovery, and your own healing as well.

Living With Alcohol Use Disorder as a Spouse 

Despite social, professional, or health consequences. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is known for its inability to control drinking or even stop. AUD is not just about the one suffering from the disorder most of the time. In fact, their family, their loved ones, and others around them tend to suffer too.

Being triggered with thoughts of blaming yourself, trying to control your spouse’s drinking, or even enabling your partner’s drinking by making excuses is easy to do when living with someone who has AUD. 

Here are some constructive solutions for each of these experiences.

  • Self-Blame. 
    • Instead of blaming your partner or yourself for drinking, understand that they are responsible by themselves for who they choose to handle their emotions and their recovery.
    • If they have AUD, it’s a chronic medical condition. Just like other and many chronic medical conditions it has various contributing factors. For example, you can not blame yourself if he/she had cancer or diabetes. Therefore, try to think of addiction and substance abuse in the same circumstances.
  • Control.
    • Obsessively monitoring your partner’s drinking behavior, or keeping constant tabs on their whereabouts, lecturing them, discarding their alcohol, forbidding them to drink, pleading and begging them to quit drinking, you may choose to simply release control. 
    • “You did not cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it.” That may be the mantra you need to repeat to yourself over and over every time you get the urge to control your partner’s drinking.
  • Enabling.
    • Behaviors like, “covering,” for them when they go on a drinking binge and cannot get up for work the next morning. Instead of them calling in for work, or not calling in at all, you call in for them and tell their boss they’re “sick.” Another example of enabling can be constantly helping them out of legal trouble, such as jail for a DUI, pretending the issues of alcohol doesn’t impact your family negatively.
    • You in time can learn to say no, set healthy boundaries, and follow through with the consequences.

Taking care of yourself is very important when you are living with a spouse who has AUD. It may seem illogical and counterintuitive at first to focus on yourself when your partner is out of control. However, it is critical to take moments to reflect on your emotions and your needs prior to taking steps to help your spouse.

alcoholic spouse

Coping with an Alcoholic Spouse

It is tough to handle an alcoholic spouse. It is more or less a journey versus a straightforward path or recipe even. 

What can be helpful in one moment or situation may be completely and totally different in the next. Therefore, it is important to have an abundant wealth of coping methods and mechanisms in your personal toolkit.

Things you can do to help yourself cope with dealing with the experience in having a spouse or partner with AUD are:

  • Self Care.
    • It can be emotionally, spiritually, physically, or a combination thereof. It is key in honing in on one or many to help in your ability to cope. 
    • Activities such as meditation, new hobbies, and exercise. Ensuring you make time for them, prioritizing them, and keeping active in these activities can be very beneficial. 
  • Peer Support Groups.
    • Support groups like Al-Anon, which had been founded to assist the family members of those who abuse alcohol. In their support group they help teach you which coping skills to use so you can detach from the behaviors your spouse is portraying and take care of your own needs
    • Many of these peer support groups help you learn how to respond properly to your spouse’s drinking in more positive and constructive ways. It also helps give you the support and connection with people who are going through similar situations.
  • Therapy.
    • Beneficial in learning how to cope with an alcoholic spouse or partner. In addition to having someone you can talk to in private about your struggles with your spouse or partner who is trained, professional, and a neutral party.
    • Research has revealed that family therapy can be beneficial of the nonalcoholic spouse by reducing stress and learning coping mechanisms, especially if your alcoholic won’t get the help they need. 
  • Trusted Family or Friends.
    • Confide in trusted family and friends. Let them know what they can do to help you to feel more supported. Remember you’re not in this alone. 
  • Educate.
    • Educating yourself on what your spouse or partner is going through is highly beneficial. Finding out what treatments are available to them, and what resources they may be able to have access to will be paramount for when they are ready to get help. Preparation for when they are ready to talk about their problems will help ease tensions and help make you feel more at ease.

Get Help for Your Non-Alcoholic Spouse Today

There are a lot of negative behaviors that can put a wedge between you and your spouse that can trigger a family conflict that surrounds AUD. Behaviors such as deceit, angry outburst, broken promises, forgetting important responsibilities, and neglecting the needs of others even. These are just a small amount of negative behaviors that take a toll on the nonalcoholic spouse or partner in a relationship. 

As you can imagine, these negative behaviors are not only deeply hurtful in themselves. Though, they are even more hurtful coming from someone you love. In addition, it can be even more triggering to other past traumas for the nonalcoholic spouse or partner especially if they have had a difficult childhood, adolescence, or even issues amidst their adulthood. 

At Harmony Recovery Center, in Charlotte North Carolina, we understand the complexity of AUD, and the need to support the nonalcoholic spouse or partner’s needs as well. This is why we have an intrinsic family therapy program to help support the non-alcoholic spouse and the rest of the family. We focus on how to improve communication, end enabling, and also encourage self-care.

If you have a loved one who is addicted to alcohol or has a substance abuse issue and they’re not ready for treatment. However, if you are ready to receive treatment and support, we are still available to support you! Even if they are not ready to be actively involved in treatment at this time.

Contact Harmony Recovery Center to learn more about our family therapy program, today!