How to Help an Alcoholic Husband
Living with an alcoholic can be very challenging. When the alcoholic is your spouse, addiction can impact virtually every area of your life together. Men are more likely than women to struggle with alcoholism. That means it is often up to wives to recognize signs of addiction and then take steps to help.
Recognizing the Physical Signs of Alcoholism
Since alcohol is widely consumed as a recreational substance, it can be hard to spot an alcoholic based on how they drink or behave at work, school or a bar. For those married to an alcoholic, however, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up on the signs. Physical signs of alcoholism may include changes in weight, a chronically upset stomach, and redness in the face.
Consistent consumption of alcohol can impact the way that men look in a number of ways. Often, an uptick in drinking can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midsection. However, weight loss is also possible. Many heavy drinkers eat minimally, and a lack of nutrient absorption can contribute to drastic weight loss.
Alcoholics may also suffer from frequent intestinal distress. Once again, this is something that the general public may not be aware of, but wives will see it at home. Gastritis, or conditions similar to it, happens when alcohol continually upsets the stomach lining and the intestines. Redness in the nose and the cheeks, even without physical activity, can also point to alcoholism.
Recognizing the Behavioral Signs of Alcoholism
The signs of alcoholism go well beyond the physical. There are also a number of behavioral signs that can point to an addiction. They may include an increased tolerance for alcohol, an inability to stop drinking and withdrawal symptoms if consumption ceases or is reduced.
Anyone married to an alcoholic may notice an increase in tolerance over time. This is because someone addicted to alcohol will require larger and larger amounts of alcohol in order to feel the same effects. A man who drinks four beers a night for a year, for example, may begin to drink five a night and feel no drunker as a result. Women who notice a growing tolerance and an increased daily consumption of alcohol should be aware of the risk of potential addiction.
Many husbands may admit, in private, that they need to stop drinking heavily. Or, they may say that they will start cutting back. Often, husbands will honestly believe that and want to make a change.
Unfortunately, however, alcoholism is a disease. Wanting to make a change isn’t always enough. Ceasing consumption of alcohol suddenly, or even just cutting back, could result in unpleasant side effects. These are withdrawal symptoms, and their presence indicates a likely addiction.
Monitoring Changes in Your Husband
In addition to being aware of the physical and behavioral signs of alcoholism, wives can recognize addiction in their husbands by monitoring changes. Alcoholism often changes the way that people act, dress and behave, and wives are perhaps best suited to identify and monitor these changes.
Alcoholism can impact people in many different ways. Some men may normally be easygoing and calm. Heavy drinking, however, could make them frustrated and prone to anger.
An alcohol addiction can lead to feelings of shame, guilt or depression. Men who normally wake up early on the weekends and enjoy getting active may no longer function in the same way. Instead of taking children to the park, they might nap on the sofa and want to avoid being disturbed. Individual incidents may not indicate a problem, but serious changes and patterns of behavior can point to addiction.
Identifying Triggers That Necessitate Immediate Treatment
It can be challenging to decide when a loved one, particularly a spouse, needs treatment for alcoholism. Often, wives will help their husbands pick a suitable time that works with all schedules. However, some triggers might mean an alcoholic needs immediate attention.
If your husband is drinking and then driving, for example, he isn’t just putting himself at risk. While intoxicated, an alcoholic might injure or even kill innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Husbands who are putting their children’s lives at risk by drinking heavily should also not be given a second chance.
Alcoholism can impact logic and rational thought. Now is not the time to hope that husbands make the right choice. Instead, take action immediately to ensure that alcoholics get the help needed.
Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
It is normal to want to care for your husband. It is also important to make sure that the entire family gets attention, support and help. Alcoholism can be genetic, in part, so it may be an issue that impacts more than one person.
If you have children, they may be noticing the signs of alcoholism too. Worse still, they could begin to think that heavy drinking is normal. Make sure that alcohol awareness is a top priority in the home.
Confronting an alcoholic about addiction is not easy. Women should take care to keep themselves safe from physical and emotional abuse. Staging an intervention, or asking for help, might be necessary. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Road to Recovery for Men Struggling With Alcoholism
If you have determined that your husband is an alcoholic, then get to know the process of recovery. First, don’t expect to do it alone. Second, be prepared for a process that involves detox, rehab and continuing, ongoing care.
Typically, alcoholics will begin recovering with detox. This lasts approximately one week, and it can be a challenging stage that involves unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Next, alcoholics will begin rehab, also known as addiction treatment. There are several types of programs available. You and your husband can choose from the following:
- Residential or inpatient programs
- Outpatient programs
- Intensive outpatient programs
- Partial hospitalization programs.
Having an alcoholic spouse can be a serious challenge. With the right tools, knowledge and resources, however, sobriety is possible. Recognizing the signs of alcoholism may be the first step towards recovery–yours and his.