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How To Help An Alcoholic Wife: Path to Recovery

Dealing with a spouse’s alcohol addiction can be overwhelming and painful. Maybe they’re neglecting responsibilities, or they’re showing up to the relationship intoxicated and with a lack of accountability. Maybe you’re wondering where your wife went, and how you can get her back.

On your journey to healing, it’s important to understand the nature of addiction, recognize the signs, and provide the necessary support and resources to help your wife overcome her struggles—if she’s willing to get help. In this article, we’ll offer some compassionate yet practical advice for those seeking to help their alcoholic spouse.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction, also known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a long-term condition where a person struggles to manage their alcohol intake despite facing negative outcomes. There are many different kinds of drinking issues, from occasional excessive drinking to serious addiction. People with AUD frequently have physical cravings, emotional dependency, and withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit drinking.

When it comes to addiction, there’s a lot going on in the brain. Quitting alcohol without assistance can be a huge challenge because of the combination of physical and psychological dependence. Alcohol affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, which can make a person more tolerant and dependent. From a psychological perspective, people sometimes turn to alcohol as a way to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges. 

Alcohol addiction has a profound impact on not only the person struggling with it, but also their loved ones. It can cause significant disruptions to family life and relationships. It’s important to recognize that AUD is a medical condition, not a moral failing. This perspective encourages a caring approach and highlights the importance of professional treatment and support.

How to Know if You Have an Alcoholic Wife

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I think my wife is an alcoholic,” it’s a good idea to pay attention to her actions and look for any signs of alcohol abuse. 

Signs to look out for include:

  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Using alcohol as a way to deal with stress or emotions
  • Neglecting important tasks or duties
  • Having blackouts or memory lapses
  • Building up a tolerance to alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating, and nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feeling down
  • Changes in appearance
  • Unexplained injuries

These signs can help you figure out if her drinking habits might be a cause for concern and if it’s a good idea to seek help. Try to have a candid and upfront discussion with your wife about your concerns. It can be tough, but it’s a necessary first step.


The Fallout

Dealing with an alcoholic wife can greatly impact your life and the lives of your family members. It can be tough and leave you feeling helpless, frustrated, and sad. It’s totally understandable to be concerned about your wife’s health and safety. Remember that constantly worrying about these things can take a toll on your own well-being, too.

There can also be a significant financial impact, as money may be spent on alcohol and potentially on legal or medical expenses resulting from alcohol-related incidents. In addition, your family dynamic can often be negatively impacted, with children being particularly affected by the instability and tension at home. They might go through emotional and behavioral difficulties, have trouble in school, and feel guilty or ashamed.

Marital relationships often deteriorate due to broken trust, frequent arguments, and a lack of communication. The stress can also result in physical health issues for the non-drinking partner, like high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and feeling down. That’s why it’s important to tackle the issue as soon as possible.

How to Support an Alcoholic Wife

Being there for your wife dealing with alcohol addiction calls for understanding, compassion, and taking proactive steps. Take some time to learn about AUD, including its symptoms and treatment options, so you can offer well-informed support. It might be helpful to suggest that she consider seeking professional help, like going to a doctor or therapist or joining a support group. 

Listen without judgment, and show your concern for her well-being. Establish some boundaries to take care of yourself. Just let people know what behaviors you won’t tolerate and what will happen if they keep it up. And hang in there: recovery can be a long journey with some bumps along the way. 

How to Talk to Someone Battling Addiction

How to Talk to Someone Battling Addiction

There’s an art to having tough conversations. Pick a time when your wife is sober and in a good state of mind and you both are relaxed and focused. Share your concerns openly and honestly, using “I” statements to explain how her drinking impacts you and the family. Be a good listener and let her speak without interrupting. Show that you understand and care about her feelings. Try to steer clear of pointing fingers and passing judgment, and instead, show care and provide support.

Encourage her to seek treatment, emphasizing the positive outcomes and letting her know you’re there to support her every step of the way. It’s really important to keep things friendly and understanding. Let your alcoholic wife know that you care about her and that it’s okay to ask for help. Seeking support is a brave thing to do, not a sign of weakness.

Options for Treating Alcohol Addiction

Treating alcohol addiction involves a combination of medical, psychological, and social interventions. Medically supervised detoxification helps manage withdrawal symptoms safely, and it’s a crucial first step in getting sober.

Once your wife has detoxed, you’ll want to consider inpatient or outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehabilitation provides a structured environment with round-the-clock care and intensive therapy, while outpatient programs offer more flexibility to balance daily responsibilities. 

Treatment centers like Her Harbor provide counseling and therapy, whether it’s for individuals, groups, or families, to help tackle underlying issues and offer practical strategies for coping. Treatment with medications like naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can be really helpful in reducing cravings and preventing relapse.

Post- treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides a space for people to support each other and follow a 12-step program for recovery. Yoga, meditation, and nutrition counseling are all great ways to support your overall well-being. 

By combining different options, your wife can achieve the best possible results. It’s really important to work closely with healthcare professionals or a treatment center to develop a plan that’s comprehensive and personalized. 

Finding Treatment for My Wife with Alcohol Use Disorder

When it comes to finding the right treatment for your wife, it’s important to do some research. 

It’s a good idea to have a chat with a healthcare professional about your concerns. They can give you some recommendations and referrals. When you’re searching for treatment centers to help with AUD, it’s important to find ones that have a good reputation and plenty of experience. Take into account things like where they’re located, how much they cost, and what services they offer.

Ensure the center offers a comprehensive approach, including medical care, therapy, and family support. If possible, visit the treatment center to assess the environment and meet the staff. Seeking recommendations from others who have had similar experiences can also be helpful. 

Recovery is a challenging process for the whole family, but with patience, empathy, and the right support, it is possible to achieve lasting change. The road to recovery may be long and difficult, but the rewards of a healthier and more stable life are well worth the effort. 

Reach out to our admissions team at Her Harbor to get the process started.

How to Get Help

If you or someone you know is seeking trauma-informed care for mental health and substance abuse, Her Harbor provides a compassionate and comprehensive approach to recovery. Our dedicated team is trained in trauma-informed practices, offering a range of services from residential treatment to outpatient support. Contact Her Harbor today to learn more about how we can support you or your loved one on the path to healing and recovery. Together, we can navigate trauma and substance abuse with care, understanding, and hope.