How To Approach Your Spouse About Alcohol Abuse

If you have an alcoholic spouse, your first reaction is a feeling of guilt. You think that you caused the problem. You think that you should have been a better mate, have been more vigilant to recognize the onset of the problem and have done something to stop it from escalating.

What can you do to help? An increasing number of people are opting for home-based treatment and intervention. There are numerous ways to deal with alcohol abuse in a spouse. You need the right mix of ways that will work best for you.

  1. Be informed.  You need to understand the cause of the problem. Do your own investigation.
  2. Keep your house clean.  Check cabinets, pantry shelves and other places where alcohol bottles may be concealed.  Avoid occasions when alcohol can be present. Explain to friends and family the reason why you want to avoid serving alcohol. 
  3. Learn to cope.  Accept that your husband has a drinking problem. Seek all the information that you can gather about alcohol abuse. A good site to get information from is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
  4. Adopt a positive approach. An alcoholic will not accept that he has a problem. Expect to encounter resistance initially. Do not expect too much the first time you approach your spouse. You may not get a response from him or he may simply ignore you. Do not feel angry or disheartened. Take it at its face value and come back another time.
  5. Know when to approach.  Approach your spouse when he is sober. Ask him if it is all right to talk. Tell him that you have something important to discuss with him. If he is receptive, then sit down with him and talk. Avoid distractions so you can talk freely. Be honest and frank. Keep calm while you are talking. Let him know how his alcohol abuse has affected you and your family members. Cite instances when those actions occurred.
  6. Exercise patience.  Do not expect immediate results. It will take time to recover from alcohol abuse. Continue doing all the approaches that bring positive outcomes.
  7. Establish open communication.  Let him know that you are willing to discuss his problem whenever he wants. Tell him what you expect from him as a parent and as a spouse. Ask him to do the same. Show him love and understanding. Boost his confidence and highlight whatever progress he makes. The desire to change must come from him. Let him know that you will be there to support him.
  8. Obtain proper support.  Enlist the help of family members and seek assistance from peer groups. Find out if there is a support group in your community and join. It helps if you are able to talk to other people who are undergoing the same dilemma as you. You can also gain valuable tips and options that work.
  9. Seek counseling for the both of you.  To strengthen the resolve to change and prevent the problem from happening again, it is advisable that you seek professional counseling. As you and your spouse travel the road to recovery, there will be inevitable slip-ups along the way. It would be helpful if you learn to recognize these slip-ups early and provide remedial actions.

There are no easy and quick solutions for recovery from alcohol abuse. Time, patience, a positive attitude, love and compassion, faith, your spouse’s desire to change, keeping informed as well as a good support group are your allies to help your spouse recover from alcohol dependency.


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