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Alcoholic Husband

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Signs Your Husband is an Alcoholic

There are several telltale signs your husband has developed a problem with alcohol. Some of these include:

  • If your husband is exercising poor judgment, lacks inhibitions, and seems different to you. Alcohol consumption could be the cause.
  • If he has erratic and unpredictable mood swings or is dealing with depression or anxiety.
  • Alcoholism isolates both parties in a relationship. You might feel you cannot trust your husband or that he treats you disrespectfully.
  • Reduced physical coordination, sexual function, and overall health.

If you know your husband drinks a lot, and these symptoms are also present, it could be a sign of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you’re wondering how to help an alcoholic husband, understanding whether he has a drinking problem is the first step.

It’s also important to note that not all alcoholics are unable to maintain their daily responsibilities. Living with a high-functioning alcoholic husband has a different set of challenges because it might seem to the outside world that there is no problem.

If you are in this situation, you still need to know how to deal with an alcoholic husband.

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How to Deal with an Alcoholic Husband 

AUD puts a huge strain on a marriage.

If you are living with an alcoholic husband and you want to improve your marriage:

  • Don’t launch conversations about his drinking while he’s drunk or hungover. Discuss these issues when he's sober.
  • Don’t enable him or make excuses for him. This ranges from calling in to work for him to bailing him out of jail.
  • Be honest about how his drinking affects you and the rest of the family.
  • Don’t make threats, but explain the consequences of his drinking and follow through with those consequences.
  • Tell him you want him to get help and that you will help him get treatment, but don’t nag him about it.
  • Get help for yourself. Consider attending Al-Anon meetings or participating in other support groups that offer support for loved ones of alcoholics or begin therapy.

How Does Alcohol Ruin a Marriage?

Alcoholism has devastating effects on a marriage.

Verbal aggression in marriage is twice as likely to occur if either partner has consumed alcohol in the last two hours.8 Moreover, marriages in which one or both partners abuse alcohol are 20% more likely to get divorced.10

Other ways alcohol abuse harms marriages include:

  • Interferes with communication
  • Creates a lack of trust
  • Increases the risk of infidelity and sexual problems
  • Interferes with family bonding
  • Creates financial problems and legal problems
  • Increases the risk of domestic violence
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How Do I Stop Drinking When My Husband Drinks?

Many couples bond over drinking. It is part of their social life and something they enjoy doing together. But when one spouse develops a problem with alcohol, enjoying a drink together is no longer a healthy option.

If your husband drinks too much, you might want to stop drinking as a way to discourage his drinking and support his recovery.

If you’re ready to give up alcohol, it helps to:

  • Remove all alcohol from your home so nobody is tempted by convenient access to drinking.
  • Create a backup plan for social settings where you know there will be alcohol or alter your social life completely to avoid settings with alcohol.
  • Set boundaries for yourself with drinking and explain them to your spouse.
  • Be patient with yourself – if drinking alcohol is something you’ve enjoyed for years, it might be difficult to completely change your behavior, even without AUD.
  • Focus on yourself and on improving your overall health. You’ll be setting a good example for your spouse when you take care of yourself and establish that you deserve respect.

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How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse Stop Drinking

Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. This is especially true when that loved one is a spouse.

There are things you can do to help an alcoholic spouse and improve the chances of recovery. 

If you’d like to help your husband stop drinking, consider:

Effective Confrontation

Confront him and let him know how his drinking affects you and other family members. Avoid blame and focus on using “I” statements, such as “I feel hurt when you drink too much and neglect our relationship.”


Consider planning an intervention with the help of an addiction professional.

An intervention brings together everyone who cares about the person who's drinking too much to respectfully confront them. That specialist serves as a mediator and resource and helps everyone deal with a difficult situation.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-step program that has helped many alcoholics deal with recovery. It’s a community program that allows people to speak openly and honestly about their AUD and get support from their peers.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment programs or inpatient treatment offers a full-time option for people struggling with AUD. These programs provide medically supervised detox and round-the-clock care and attention from addiction specialists. 

People in residential treatment programs focus entirely on recovery, away from the stress and challenges of their everyday lives.

These programs are ideal for people who have attempted recovery in the past or who have the option or need to make recovery their full-time focus.

There are many treatment options available for alcoholics and their family members, including personal and family therapy. If you have an alcoholic partner, you can speak to an addiction specialist about the various resources available to help families dealing with substance abuse.

Paying for Addiction Treatment

Both the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) require health insurance providers in the United States to pay for addiction treatment.

This includes all types of programs, including time spent at a full- or part-time treatment facility, prevention programs, early intervention, and treatment for co-occurring disorders. 

People who do not have health insurance coverage also have options for treatment. Community programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous are free to attend.

Many programs offer scholarships or sliding pay scales that make them affordable for uninsured and/or low-income people. It’s also reasonable for some people to ask for financial support from friends or family members. 

Is Alcoholism a Reason for Divorce? 

For some couples, yes. Ideally, it isn’t the first option if you are married to an alcoholic, but if you’ve tried everything to help your spouse and nothing has worked, divorce might be your only option. 

The important thing to remember is that your safety and the safety of your other family members are your main priority. For many, the solution for dealing with an angry, drunk spouse is leaving the marriage.

If an alcoholic spouse poses a threat to you or your children, physical distance from him is appropriate and justified. The thought of ending a marriage with an alcoholic and starting over can be overwhelming. But it might be the best decision for you and your family.

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Updated on March 25, 2022
9 sources cited
  1. Does Drinking Affect Marriage?” www.Buffalo.Edu.
  2. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).” Nih.Gov, 2017.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Effective Treatment.” Drugabuse.Gov, 2018.
  4. H, Bob. “Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage.” Al-Anon Family Groups, 1 June 2015.
  5. Steinglass, Peter. “A Life History Model of the Alcoholic Family.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 6 Aug. 2004.
  6. Steinglass, P. “The Alcoholic Family at Home. Patterns of Interaction in Dry, Wet, and Transitional Stages of Alcoholism.” Archives of General Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 1981.
  7. Nace, Edgar P. “Therapeutic Approaches to the Alcoholic Marriage.” Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Elsevier, 18 June 2018,
  8. O'Farrell, Timothy J., and Gary R. Birchlery. “MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS OF ALCOHOLIC, CONFLICTED, AND NONCONFLICTED COUPLES*.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 8 June 2007.
  9. Deniker, P., De Saugy, D., & Ropert, M. . "The alcoholic and his wife. "Comprehensive Psychiatry, 5, 374–381. Caces, M F et al. “Alcohol consumption and divorce rates in the United States.” Journal of studies on alcohol vol. 60,5 : 647-52. doi:10.15288/jsa.1999.60.647

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