Supporting Your Alcoholic Spouse

No matter how big or small your family is, chances are that you know someone who is fighting a substance addiction. That catalog may only expand after marriage, and it’s possible that the person fighting an addiction may be your newly-wedded husband or wife.

When it comes to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), over 6% of adults abuse their drinking habits. On top of this, Tennessee deals with some of the highest divorce rates in the country.

Watching your soulmate fighting an addiction can be especially painful. You live with them every day, you know who they are behind the shot glass, but you are also facing the brunt of their problems in the process. Your spouse’s alcohol addiction can be sensitive and painful for both you and your partner, and how you both handle the problems that come with it can make or break your relationship.


Educate Yourself

If you’re going to help an alcoholic loved one, the last thing you want to do is talk down to them as if you know everything about addictions, when you really don’t. It’s important to be aware of the real dangers, the signs, and the solutions for your spouse’s addiction. The fact that you’re reading this means you are already on the right track.

There are plenty of resources to research addictions and therapy regarding them. There are many websites and blogs, as well as books and magazines, that hold a wealth of information. You can also reach out to professional therapists and psychiatrists if you prefer more specific information and want direct answers.

Reaching out to friends or family who have experience in dealing with addictions—whether first-hand or second-hand—can also be a valuable resource.


Do Not Neglect or Enable Them

Giving your husband or wife the right support under such hard, pressuring times is crucial to helping them heal. Even if your knowledge of alcohol or substance abuse is minimal, neglecting your spouse is the last thing you want to do. By neglecting them, you not only further damage your relationship, but neglecting them will only bury them further into their addiction as they look for some form of coping.

At the same time, you do not want to encourage or enable their addiction. Even if having a drink calms them down in a tough situation, you do not want to give them the idea that it is the right solution. However, you should not force your partner to quit suddenly and abruptly—this can be damaging to them and even cause a relapse when the addiction seems to be magically gone.

You also want to avoid inadvertently enabling them. Do you give them money, knowing they might use it to buy more drinks? Do you watch out to make sure if they are lying about what they have been doing? Don’t be afraid to sit down with your partner and try to have an honest, open discussion with them. It may help them more than you think.


Don’t Give Up on Them

The last thing you should have to do in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction is to give up on them. If your spouse is clearly making some effort to cut off their addiction, you should be willing to try to work with them to improve each other.

Consider enrolling your partner in a recovery program or therapy sessions to help them recover. You can also join or attend these programs with them, in order to give them the support they need and encourage them to try harder. Dedicate personal time and schedule exercises to help them practice and stay on target with letting go of their addiction.

As long as you are willing to work with your partner, communicate well with them, and support them in their rough times, it is possible to get them through such a crippling condition.


If you have a spouse who is dealing with alcohol or substance addiction, consider looking for local programs such as a Tennessee Recovery Retreat or one of our programs at Discovery Place, such as our 30 Day Residential Program or Long Term Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call today at 1-800-725-0922 or consider looking at our contact page.

Supporting Your Alcoholic Spouse

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