It’s no secret that alcohol can have significant impacts on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In addition, families and spouses can be deeply affected by their loved one’s struggle with alcohol.
Even though it may be difficult, it’s important to talk to your spouse about their alcohol addiction. By communicating your concerns, you may open the door for them to inquire about treatment. Alcohol addiction is highly treatable and can be addressed at an inpatient rehab facility like Swift River.
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug worldwide — and is also the most socially acceptable. While some people can drink moderately and never experience an issue, an estimated 16 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
AUD is defined as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use.” People with alcohol use disorders are sometimes referred to as alcoholics. When someone suffers from AUD, their spouse and family members are likely feeling the effects of the disease as well.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alcoholism?
AUD can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on their alcohol-related behaviors. Alcoholism affects people from all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, in the U.S., men are almost twice as likely to experience alcoholism.
Signs that a person may be struggling with alcoholism include:
- drinking more than intended
- spending a lot of time, money, or energy on alcohol
- cutting back on activities that you used to enjoy
- getting into legal trouble
- trying (unsuccessfully) to stop drinking
- a strong mental craving to drink
- experiencing short-term memory loss (“blacking out”)
- continuing to drink despite social or emotional consequences
- experiencing alcohol-related health issues
- needing larger amounts of alcohol to get the same effects
People struggling with AUD may also experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. As the effects of the drug wear off, people who are alcohol-dependent may feel anxious, depressed, shaky, or irritable. For most people, the only thing that relieves the symptoms is another drink.
How To Talk With Your Loved One About Their Alcohol Addiction
If you are married to someone struggling with alcohol addiction, you may already be familiar with the signs of alcoholism. The next step is to approach your spouse about treatment options that are available.
While this can be an emotionally loaded conversation, your spouse needs to hear about your concerns directly. Alcoholism is unique in that it can affect the whole family. Spouses may become very skilled at minimizing the issue or covering for their spouse’s negative behavior.
To break the cycle of denial, it’s best to face the problem head-on. This type of supportive confrontation is often called an intervention. The goal of an intervention is to tell your spouse that you are worried about their alcohol intake and that you are willing to help them find treatment.
Types Of Interventions
Every family is unique, and only you know the best way to approach your spouse. If you choose to stage an intervention, there are several ways to move forward, including:
Spouse And Family Interventions
In this type of intervention, the spouse or significant other approaches the person suffering from addiction. The conversation may also include children or other supportive family members. Interventions should not be done alone, and you may want to consider bringing in one of your spouse’s friends.
Once everyone is gathered together, a designated person will bring up the person’s drinking. Others may share how the person’s alcoholic behavior has affected them personally. These conversations can be very emotional, so it’s important to only have one person speaking at a time.
Your spouse may state that they feel attacked. They may become angry or blaming. Try to remember that their response is not a reflection of their true feelings for you. Alcoholism is a complex disease and can cause people to feel afraid and defensive.
As a group, communicate your support for the person’s recovery. Let them know that relationships will remain intact, so long as they enter into treatment.
In many cases, family interventions don’t go as planned. Perhaps a family member lost their temper, or the person suffering from addiction stormed out of the room. Due to these possibilities, some families are more comfortable having a therapist present during the intervention.
Ideally, this would be a trained counselor that specializes in addiction interventions. With expertise and an objective viewpoint, intervention specialists can steer the conversation and keep everyone focused on the solution.
It can be overwhelming to confront the reality of addiction head-on. At Swift River, we provide guidance throughout the intervention process.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Alcoholism can be a life or death situation. It’s estimated that 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes. This makes alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Fortunately, we now know how to effectively treat this disease.
At Swift River, we provide comprehensive treatment for alcohol addiction. Our treatment facility is equipped to help patients recover from AUD and rebuild lives in sobriety. We offer on-site detoxification services, as well as a blend of traditional and alternative therapies.
During an inpatient program at Swift River, patients have access to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mental health counseling, and recreational and adventure therapy. Our programs also place a high value on partner participation and support, which promotes healing for the entire family.
If you are concerned about the cost of treatment, there are several ways to reduce the financial portion of rehab programs. Using your public or private health insurance is one of the best ways to minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
How To Support Your Spouse During Treatment
Once your spouse enrolls in treatment, it’s important that you realize that recovery is a process. Both of you may experience a mix of emotions. Fortunately, having family therapy sessions can help you and your spouse work through any communication issues that may arise.
While your spouse is in treatment, it’s important that they know how much you care. That being said, it’s key to also attend to your own needs. Consider attending a 12-step meeting such as Al-Anon, which is a support group for people who have a loved one that suffers from alcoholism.
How To Support Your Spouse After Treatment
Most treatment programs last at least 30 days. Once your spouse has completed treatment, you may want to continue therapy sessions. It’s vital to discuss expectations, boundaries, and communication after treatment. You may have specific rules or requirements, and your spouse may also have certain requests (for example, keeping an alcohol-free home).
Committing to an aftercare plan is an integral part of the recovery process. At Swift River, we pride ourselves on being available to alumni and their families.
To learn more about how to get help for an alcoholic spouse, or to explore treatment options near you, contact a Swift River specialist today.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol Use Disorder
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol Facts and Statistics
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)