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Alcoholic Wife

Signs Your Wife is an Alcoholic

If your wife drinks a lot, you might wonder if she’s an alcoholic. There are plenty of reasons why someone could become an alcoholic.

Stressors like trauma, depression, or loss can be reasons for alcoholism. Having a history of alcoholism in her family could also be a reason.

But even without physical or mental dependence on a substance, there could still be a disorder.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) isn’t just about how much someone drinks. It occurs when someone’s drinking problem interferes with their life and the lives of those around them.

Some of the symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Tremors, weight changes, dry skin, brittle hair, unexplained injuries, and malnourishment
  • Drinking in response to stress
  • Blackouts or memory loss
  • Irritability and hostility when drinking
  • Distant or inattentive behavior
  • Missing work, social functions, and other responsibilities
  • Drinking and driving
  • Being unable to stop after one alcoholic drink
  • Reluctance to attend social events if there is no drinking involved
  • Being unable to abstain from drinking
  • Attempting to hide her drinking or lying about it
  • Unexplainable personality and mood changes
  • Hostility or defensiveness when asked about her drinking

It’s important to know that not all these things mean your wife is an alcoholic. All of these factors don’t need to be present for someone to have an AUD.

If you suspect a problem, consider seeking professional support, especially if one or more of the things on this list are an issue. 

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How to Talk to Your Spouse About Alcoholism

It’s only natural to express concern about your spouse’s drinking. But it’s also very common for people to lash out when confronted.

First and foremost, it’s crucial that you speak from a place of love and caring. Acknowledge the difficulty of quitting and empathize with her struggle.

Make sure to broach the subject from a position of understanding and patience. You should also talk about the harmful effects of alcohol on her body, life, and relationships.

Here are a few things you should avoid when bringing up the subject of alcoholism:

  • Speaking to her when she’s drunk
  • Starting a conversation when you’re angry
  • Blaming or shaming her about the problem
  • Lecturing her
  • Avoid terms such as alcoholism or being an alcoholic
  • Accusing her of being sick or having a mental illness

Lastly, speak with a healthcare expert in substance abuse treatment before approaching your spouse.

What to Expect Living with an Alcoholic Wife 

Living with an alcoholic can be a traumatic experience because it doesn’t just affect one person. It causes a profound negative effect on relationships.

AUD has a significant impact on loved ones and family members. When a loved one develops a problem with alcohol, their well-being suffers. This is why alcohol use disorder is also called a family disease.

Here are a few common issues you can experience while living with an alcoholic wife:

  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Displaced anger toward other members of the family or outsiders
  • Children
  • Sleeping difficulties or insomnia
  • Feeling mentally ill 
  • Neglecting personal health
  • Lack of socialization
  • Financial problems
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional or mental abuse
  • Suicide
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How to Deal with an Alcoholic Wife

Dealing with an alcoholic spouse is likely one of the toughest challenges you’ll ever face. People with AUD tend to deny there is a problem, at least for some time.

It’s important to remember that you have to be patient when dealing with someone with AUD. The conversations you have with your spouse should be from a place of warmth and caring instead of anger.

Anger is a normal emotion when someone you love is an alcoholic, but it doesn’t help anyone.

Here are a few tips for dealing with an alcoholic wife:

  • Seek professional support for you, your spouse, and your children
  • Speak calmly and pause the conversation if things get heated
  • Point out facts about her alcohol use without embellishing the circumstances
  • Explain how her behavior makes you feel and how it affects the family
  • Offer at least three different options for treatment, including family therapy
  • Do not tolerate physical, emotional, or mental abuse
  • Be supportive, caring, and concerned

It’s also important not to let negative opinions from other people affect you. Don’t let others prevent you from doing what you think is right.

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How to Help Your Alcoholic Spouse Seek Treatment

You can do several things to help your wife get the treatment she needs. Speaking to an alcohol addiction counselor is a good first step. 

Speaking to a counselor can help you learn more about alcoholism. They can also help you understand your role in her recovery. 

Encourage your wife to examine the key issues that led to her problem with alcohol. Working on these issues separately helps resolve conflicts and improve communication.

You can also help your wife with her recovery by getting support. You can’t help her by ignoring your own needs. With that in mind, you should find ways to keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy.

Consider seeking therapy or counseling. If necessary, find a counselor familiar with co-dependency. This can help you sort through your issues while your wife is working on her recovery.

Best Addiction Treatment Options

Treatment options include:

Consider participating in a medically supervised detox. This can be the best option for someone who has been consuming alcohol excessively for some time.

This is a dangerous phase of recovery, so having 24/7 medical care ensures the person is safe. Being monitored in this way reduces the risks of detoxifying as much as possible. It also enhances the chances of a successful long-term recovery.

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Updated on August 12, 2022
8 sources cited
  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “Women and Alcohol.” nih.Gov, 26 Apr. 2019.
  2. H, Bob. “Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage.” Al-Anon Family Groups, 1 Jun. 2015.
  3. Steinglass, Peter. “A Life History Model of the Alcoholic Family.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 6 Aug. 2004.
  4. McCrady BS, Flanagan JC. “The Role of the Family in Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery for Adults.” Alcohol Res. May 6, 2021. 
  5. Nace, Edgar P. “Therapeutic Approaches to the Alcoholic Marriage.” Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Elsevier, 18 Jun. 2018.
  6. O'Farrell, Timothy J., and Gary R. Birchlery. “MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS OF ALCOHOLIC, CONFLICTED, AND NONCONFLICTED COUPLES*.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 8 Jun. 2007.
  7. Sharma N, Sharma S, Ghai S, Basu D, Kumari D, Singh D, Kaur G. “Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients.” Ind Psychiatry J. Jan. 2016.
  8. Cranford JA, Floyd FJ, Schulenberg JE, Zucker RA. “Husbands' and wives' alcohol use disorders and marital interactions as longitudinal predictors of marital adjustment.” J Abnorm Psychol. Feb. 2011.

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