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Is My Partner An Alcoholic?

by Landmark Recovery

April 18, 2019
A husband and wife talking about alcoholism

When it comes to family members and spouses, it can be easy to overlook problems that they might be going through as it may seem normal; Things like excessive drinking may lead you to wonder if your partner’s an alcoholic?

One big issue that can sometimes not be seen by family members, especially husbands or wives, is a drinking problem. This is especially true if the drinking problem has been going on for some time, it may just seem like everyday life at this point.

However, alcoholism is a serious issue that can lead to a number of health problems and, if something is not done in time, it can lead to early death and can have consequences on the remaining family members, especially children.


Signs of Alcoholism

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 million people in the United States live with an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is also the third leading cause of death in the United States. Alcoholism is a problem that affects millions of people across the country and there are a few telltale signs that point toward the issue.

You may think that your loved one is dealing with some sort of alcohol problem, but knowing what you’re looking for can help you determine if there is actually an issue.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are some cautionary signs that can help to determine if someone has an alcohol use disorder. Some of these include:

  • Drinking longer and more alcohol than intended
  • Trying to stop or cut down drinking and not being successful
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or feeling sick from a hangover or other effects
  • Impeding daily life and relationships because of drinking
  • Cutting back or stopping hobbies altogether

The full details about alcohol use disorder can be found on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.


Drinking Problem

Just because your loved one may not be suffering from full-blown alcoholism does not mean that they don’t have a drinking problem. Simply put, if a person’s alcohol use gets in the way or causes problems in the family environment, at work, physically, or elsewhere they likely have a drinking problem. And, like alcoholism, if your partner’s an alcoholic, it is best to speak with them about seeking treatment before the problem gets too out-of-hand or poses too much of a health risk.

After learning if there is a problem, what is the next step? How do you talk to them about the issue without alienating them or causing hostility?


Talking With Your Spouse

A husband and wife talking about alcoholism

Beginning a conversation with a loved one, especially your husband or wife, who may be an alcoholic can be difficult, it is necessary if you want to ensure their safety and longevity. It is best to choose a time to talk with your spouse when both of you are calm and sober. Bring the subject up gently, talk about a time in the recent past that you were worried about them. Maybe they drove a car when they shouldn’t have.

Let them know that you are coming from a place of love and you want them to do what is best for themselves and your family. It is not out of the ordinary for your loved one to get defensive as a result of you being critical toward their lifestyle.

It is important to remind your loved one why you are talking about this. Bring up the fact that you care about their safety and if something were to happen with them it would be devastating. If you have kids, bringing up kids can help to illuminate the problem.

The first time you bring this up to your spouse, they may deny the problem and might even make a false promise. It is important not to alienate them at this time and instead listen closely to what they say and thank them for listening to you. It is likely that you will have to have multiple conversations similar to this before treatment is a serious consideration.

Returning to the conversation and encouraging treatment can be the push that your loved one needs to enter into a rehabilitation facility and achieve sobriety. Be sure to work with your partner to find a treatment center that will provide the proper path forward for not only your loved one but your entire family as well.

After agreeing on a set of actions, whether it be treatment or something else, make sure that you loved one acts on this, don’t just let it go.


Helping After Rehab

It is important to support your spouse after going through treatment, it will help to encourage sobriety and prevent relapses. Couples can help support each other during this time by participating in activities that reinforce sober behavior. Participating in activities like hiking, swimming, working out, creative activities, and more can go a long way toward promoting sobriety and keeping your loved one healthy. Avoiding going out to bars and similar high-triggering social events, at least at the beginning, can help your spouse avoid relapsing.


How Alcohol Affects the Body

If your loved one is an alcoholic, treatment needs to be sought out to help avoid major health problems that can occur from overusing the substance.

Along with the short-term effects of alcohol that can lead to things like drunk driving accidents, there are many long-term problems that can arise from overusing alcohol. Drinking for a prolonged amount of time leads to many effects on the multiple body organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart.

Likewise, an alcoholic is at increased risk of a number of different types of cancer including oral cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, and more. This occurs because when you drink alcohol, the body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde which damages your DNA and prevents the body from repairing the damage. When the DNA is damaged, a cell can start to grow out of control and create a cancer tumor.

Overall, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to an array of medical issues. If not taken seriously, alcohol use disorder can cause early death. Seeking treatment is the best available option for an alcoholic loved one.


In Conclusion

Approaching your loved one with and talking with them about a drinking problem can be difficult but it is something that needs to be done to keep your spouse healthy and around the family. Knowing how to bring the topic up with your loved one and how to talk about it is important to avoid hostility and problems. While talking with your loved one be sure to mention that you are worried because you care about them. Deciding on a treatment center can be hard, but it is important to find one that will support not only your spouse, but your entire family as this new chapter begins.

At Landmark Recovery, we offer a personalized treatment path forward for our patients. Our inpatient treatment begins with detoxification and moves on to a series of group and individual therapy sessions for patients to learn how to maintain sobriety for years to come. If you would like more information please visit our website and reach out to our admissions staff today.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.