Heavy drinking can have a substantial negative impact on the life of someone struggling with an alcohol use disorder. It also impacts loved ones because of the worry that an addiction can cause. Usually, it is already a red flag if you have to ask yourself: is my husband an alcoholic?
You may have concerns that your spouse’s drinking is excessive. You might feel that recently your husband drinks more heavily or more often. Or perhaps you have been worried for some years, but have not known what to do.
Alcohol use disorder is common. Addiction and dependency can develop in anybody. If you are fearful about your husband’s drinking, the important thing to remember is that treatment can help your husband heal. There are many options to treat substance abuse issues, and your husband can live a sober life.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholism is a condition in which the person can no longer fully control their drink intake, despite the negative consequences. An alcoholic spouse might drink throughout the day or drink heavily in the evenings.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines binge drinking as five or more drinks on the same occasion for males and four or more for females. if your husband engages in binge drinking five or more days a month, he may be struggling with an alcohol problem. Drinking to excess within a short period of time is particularly dangerous because of the risk of alcohol poisoning.
Development of an Alcohol Use Disorder
Every person’s relationship with alcohol is unique. However, the development of alcohol dependency and addiction can generally be divided into the following stages.
For many, drinking begins at a young age. In this stage, the person is trying the substance for the first time and is more likely to have multiple drinks.
Increasing Tolerance Levels
In the next stage, the individual’s system gets more used to alcohol and starts to deal better with it, especially if they drink regularly. This means those who desire the feeling of being drunk will start needing to drink more to feel so.
The people close to the person may start to notice changes in that person’s lifestyle. This could be the stage where you begin to wonder: is my husband an alcoholic? Intervention at this stage is crucial to avoid misuse becoming an addiction.
At this point, it is evident that the habit of drinking has become part of daily routine, even in inappropriate situations. Also, at this point, an attempt to suddenly stop drinking leads to experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms after the last dose. This stage requires treatment.
Addiction is a mental health disorder that can exist alongside or without alcohol dependence. Consuming alcohol is no longer a pleasure, but has become a necessity. A person will experience constant cravings and thoughts about drinking and find little satisfaction in sticking to small quantities. Treatment is crucial at this stage.
Contributing Factors to Alcohol Abuse
There are risk factors that can lead your husband to suffer from problems related to drinking. Of course, anyone can develop a substance abuse problem, even without these risk factors.
- Family history. Having someone in your family who suffers from substance abuse increases your chances of developing a substance use disorder yourself.
- Diagnosis of another mental health disorder. Having a mental health issue such as depression may lead individuals to self-medicate with drugs, especially alcohol. Drug abuse also increases the chances of suffering from mental health problems. This situation requires dual diagnosis treatment.
- Age of first use. If someone starts consuming alcohol from a young age, the sooner they will make it a regular habit, increasing their chances of developing an alcohol misuse disorder.
- Trauma and stress. Those who go through a traumatic event or high levels of stress are at risk of developing an addiction if they abuse alcohol to help them cope. In cases such as these, addiction treatment would also include therapy to treat the trauma.
- Family relationships in childhood. Relationships with family, especially in the early developing stages, can represent a risk factor, especially if they entail neglect, domestic violence, or other forms of abuse.
- Peer pressure. Influence from friends, acquaintances, and same-age family members can encourage a person to begin drinking when they are underage.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse
If you are wondering whether you have an alcoholic spouse, look out for the common signs in the list below. The presence of these behaviors strongly suggests that an individual has an alcohol use disorder.
- Using alcohol in higher quantities or more often.
- Despite having the desire to stop drinking, they seem unable to do so.
- Spending an unusual amount of time buying, consuming, and even recovering from the effects of alcohol use.
- Having strong desires and cravings to have a drink.
- Not being able to accomplish major obligations either at home, school, or work because of alcohol use.
- Continued use of alcohol despite it causing negative interpersonal or social problems.
- Giving up previously enjoyed social and occupational activities due to alcohol use.
- Consuming alcohol in dangerous situations, such as drunk driving.
- Continued use of alcohol despite the presence of health issues likely due to drinking.
- Needing to drink larger and more frequent amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effects.
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drinking.
- Showing signs of irritability and aggression.
- Temporary blackouts and loss of memory.
- Drinking alone and in secret and also hiding alcohol.
- Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance.
If you believe your spouse is showing any of these common signs of a drinking problem, it is worth seeking professional help and a diagnosis. Alcoholism is treatable and your husband can enter recovery.
Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
If you are worried about your husband’s drinking, some of your concerns may be for his health. Drinking alcohol carries multiple health risks.
- High blood pressure. A high intake of alcohol can raise blood pressure which ultimately can lead to heart issues.
- Cardiomyopathy. Binge drinking can cause many heart problems, including arrhythmia and diseases of the heart muscle.
- Cancer. Alcoholism can increase the risk of cancer in the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast. The body breaks alcohol down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical can damage the DNA that controls the normal growth and repair of cells.
- Liver issues. Chronic use can lead to liver disease.
- Digestive problems. Regular drinking habits provoke heartburn. When these habits become more common, they can lead to inflammation of the stomach. Someone who is an alcoholic may also suffer from malabsorption and be unable to take in all the necessary nutrients from food.
How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse
If your partner’s drinking is out of control, the best thing you can do is encourage them to seek treatment. It often feels difficult to talk to a loved one about a problem they may be in denial about. Your partner could also know that they have a drinking issue, but feel shame because of the social stigma attached to addiction and mental health.
Beginning the conversation with your spouse may feel tough, particularly if their problem has existed for a long time. The following steps can help to encourage change.
- Avoid enabling behaviors. If you love someone, it may be tempting to make life easier for them by easing or covering up the negative consequences of their drinking. However, this may prevent the person from recognizing that they have a problem. Enabling behaviors include paying bills because a person has spent all their money on drinking or making excuses when they behave poorly due to being drunk.
- Avoid blame. Remember that addiction is a mental illness, and your loved one will require medical support to quit even if he is keen to give up drinking. Encourage your spouse to seek professional treatment.
- Examine your own drinking. If you also drink alcohol, ask yourself whether any of the warning signs of dependence or addiction are present in you. If you have been drinking heavily alongside your spouse, this will not encourage them to quit.
- Help your spouse learn about treatment options. There are many treatments and therapies available to help a person recover from an addiction. One very important treatment is medical detox, where medical staff can help your husband to cope with withdrawal symptoms as alcohol leaves his body. After this, he may also receive one-to-one therapy. Some treatments can involve both you and your spouse. Going to couples or family therapy is a good way for everyone to learn about mental illness and the best ways to support your spouse. Support groups for people with substance use disorders and their loved ones are also helpful. You and your husband can find support from people who have been in the same situation.
Feinberg Consulting is a world-class case management and intervention company that works with those struggling with addiction to support them and provide the best possible treatment plan for their recovery.
Our admissions team will help you figure out the best path to recovery for your husband. This is done by doing a rigorous assessment of your partner’s needs. We then help design and manage a specialized and tailored treatment process for each patient to help them with their recovery and have a happy and healthy life again.
We also implement a strategy in which therapy, treatment, and continued care are provided to ensure the best outcomes of the treatment plan. Get in contact today to find out how we can help you and your husband overcome the impacts of alcohol abuse.