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Married to an Alcoholic

Being Married to an Alcoholic. Married to an Alcoholic Wife. Married to an Alcoholic Husband. How to Help an Alcoholic Partner.

Being Married to an Alcoholic

Alcohol or drug addiction affects the entire family. Being married to an alcoholic is difficult – and making your marriage work can be even harder. Sometimes referred to as an alcoholic marriage, this unhealthy relationship dynamic takes a tremendous emotional, financial, and physical toll on the spouse as well as the drinker. Not only that, but it often causes irreparable harm to the very relationship itself which is why marriages where someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) have higher rates of divorce.

A recent review of what has been termed alcohol and the marriage effect [1] concluded that:

  • Alcoholics are less likely to get married than are nonalcoholic
  • If they do get married, it is often earlier or later in the young-adult developmental cycle than nonalcoholic
  • Alcoholics are likely to reduce alcohol use once they are married
  • They are more likely to get divorced than are nonalcoholic

Recognizing the signs that your spouse’s drinking habits have gone too far could save both the marriage and their life.

bpd and alcohol blackouts
Being married to an alcoholic, it’s important to find support for your spouse, you, and any other members of your family affected by the disorder.
Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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Early Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism doesn’t just happen overnight. The process is gradual, so much so that a spouse may not realize that their husband or wife is slowly becoming an alcoholic before their very eyes. Another reason why the development of a drinking problem goes undetected is that the spouse may be an enabler, making excuses for the husband or wife, and is unwilling to recognize the problematic behavior. As being married to an alcoholic, to recognize if your loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, you must understand the tolerance and withdrawal symptoms they might be experiencing already.


  • Does your loved one have to drink more than they used to in order to get buzzed?
  • Can they drink more than other people without getting drunk?

If they answered yes to either question or both, they may have signs of tolerance which can be an early warning sign of alcoholism. Tolerance means that, over time, you need more and more alcohol to feel the same effects.


  • Does your loved one need a drink to steady the shakes in the morning?

If again the answer is yes, they are likely drinking to relieve or avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms, a sign of alcoholism and a huge red flag. When you drink heavily, your body gets used to the alcohol and experiences withdrawal symptoms if it’s taken away. [2]

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Frequently Include:

Anxiety or jumpiness                 Insomnia                  Loss of appetite  

Shakiness or trembling             Depression              Headache

Sweating                                       Irritability                 Fatigue

Nausea and vomiting               

In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can also involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation.

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How to Stay Married to an Alcoholic?

An alcoholic spouse’s habits have negative repercussions that affect household dynamics, finances, and intimacy. These issues then create a domino effect of instability which affects spouses and their children. This is why alcoholism is considered to be a family disease as its effects extend far beyond the alcohol itself. Not sure how to broach the topic with your alcoholic husband or wife? Start with our addiction intervention guide that can help you navigate this sensitive but necessary subject.

Intervention services can be successful in getting an alcoholic person to admit that they have a problem and to realize that they need help.  It does not necessarily increase the efficacy of their treatment or their likelihood of success.   However, social support and family support are significant components in recovery, and intervention can be an asset later on. Addiction intervention services can help defuse tensions and help to mediate the conversation.  This can make interventions much more likely to be successful and result in the alcoholic person enrolling in rehab.

Married to an Alcoholic
How to stay married to an alcoholic? Speaking to an experienced alcohol addiction counselor is the first step in learning what you can do. 

Working with a professional interventionist helps you or your loved one take the edge off of confronting an alcoholic individual.  Not only will you have an expert to guide you through the process of planning the intervention event and coordinating an addiction treatment center;  but you will also have a moderator to make sure the event itself goes smoothly; supporting your loved ones as well.  Sometimes simply having that neutral person in the room is all you need to find common ground and save your marriage and save a life before it’s too late.

Married to an Alcoholic Wife

Being married to an alcoholic wife is likely one of the toughest challenges you’ll ever face. People with alcohol use disorder tend to deny there is a problem, at least for some time. Many are also reluctant to get help until there has been a significant amount of damage.

Married to an Alcoholic Husband

Alcoholism is considered major health as well as a social problem. Often the family members of alcoholics suffer intense psychological, physical, and social trauma due to the core drinking problem of the family member. Most deeply affected are the wives of alcoholics. [3]

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How to Help an Alcoholic Partner

There are many reasons to support a loved one who is willing to go to rehab, but there are also valid points why you’re at the point of thinking about how to let go of an alcoholic. At We Level Up, we offer family therapy to help couples and families work together to overcome their struggles. We understand that the impacts of alcoholism never stop with the alcoholic. Family therapy creates a safe space to talk honestly and for each member of the family to gain what they need to repair the unit as a whole. [4]

Al-Anon Meetings

Family members that are supportive and knowledgeable in the recovery world (especially with help from Al-Anon or Nar-Anon) will be extremely beneficial. For instance, offering practical help like taking you or a loved one to addiction treatment, therapy, or meetings. They can also encourage you to attend a 12-step program and even attend meetings with you. This type of help is essential in making you or a recovering loved one have a sense of importance and usefulness.

Inpatient Treatment for Alcoholism

If a loved one is an alcoholic, encourage them to talk to their primary care doctor. It can be easier to have this conversation with a doctor than with a family member. Not all alcohol rehab centers require long stays in residential treatment centers. For someone in the early stages of a substance use problem, a conversation with a doctor or another professional may be enough to get them the help they need. Doctors can help the person think about their drinking, understand the risk for alcoholism, and come up with a plan for change.

If you or a loved one is dealing with alcoholism, especially if you have experienced multiple relapses in the past, then look no further. With an incredible success rate for long-term recovery, We Level Up treatment centers offer one of the most comprehensive addiction recovery programs available in the U.S., bringing hope to families every day.

Find Alcohol Treatment for a Spouse or Husband

The We Level Up treatment center can help with inpatient therapy programs exclusively. Because each client is different and requires unique, comprehensive care according to their situation, our staff of well-trained physicians and nurses first begin the client relationship with a detailed one-on-one assessment.

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Detox Program

Withdrawal from alcohol is an important first step to overcoming addiction. However, withdrawal isn’t an effective treatment by itself. You’ll need further treatment and support to help you in the long term.  [5]

Often, alcohol can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. However, proper care and medical supervision will greatly reduce the chances of developing these symptoms and ensure a safe medical detox process.

Morphine and Alcohol
It may be hard to tell whether a person is high or experiencing morphine and alcohol overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat it as an overdose—you could save a life.

Once fully admitted and evaluated, the 2nd stage of detox gets underway:  stabilization.  Based on the data provided during the admissions process, patient feedback, and the symptoms observed;  our experienced team of medical addiction professionals will provide care to keep the patient stable and as comfortable as possible. [6]

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction to help individuals identify negative thought patterns, emotions, and problematic behaviors and learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes that decrease the urges to drink alcohol or use other substances; paying particular attention to symptoms of psychosis, depression, and other co-existing mental health-related problems or dual diagnosis that are exacerbated by stress.

Counseling Services

Individual, group and family counseling services are offered in the majority of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs to “get to the root of the problems”, improve communications and relationships, and motivate the abuser toward positive changes. . The structured guidance of a counselor helps the patient stay on track and in the right perspectives as they strive to achieve their potentials and goals of recovery.

How to stay married to an alcoholic? Our FREE 24-hour Hotline can help you with the resources for alcohol treatment. Get a free consultation now for the best-fitting treatment programs along with free rehab insurance verification. Call We Level Up today and speak with one of our addiction specialists to check your rehab insurance coverage and benefits.

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Begin with a free call to an addiction & behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

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[1] For better or for worse? The effects of alcohol use on marital functioning – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[2] Warning Signs of Alcoholism – Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services TN
[3] Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[4] What It’s Like Being Married To An Alcoholic – Level Up Lake Worth
[5] Alcohol Misuse –
[6] Stabilization Treatment Program – We Level Up New Jersey

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