sun kentucky

24 Hour Crisis Stabilization

Alcoholic Spouse

alcoholic spouse

Your spouse didn’t always drink, but since their mother passed away a year ago, you’ve noticed they have been drinking a lot more. They told you they could stop “whenever”, but you hadn’t seen it happen. They often came home late with alcohol on their breath, even though they told you they were at a business meeting every night. 

After confronting your spouse, they became defensive and denied they had been drinking alcohol. However, later, they admitted they needed help but didn’t know what help would look like. They were worried about what treatment would look like and whether or not they could handle it.

In 2019, 5% of people in Kentucky were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. At SUN Behavioral Health Kentucky, we offer a no-cost care assessment that will let your spouse know their exact care plan before starting treatment at our facility. They will meet with a representative to determine the care level they need. Caring for an alcoholic spouse can be a challenging experience, but today, we are going to discuss how you can get through it in healthy ways.

Are You Living With an Alcoholic Spouse or Partner?

Relationships can be challenging to navigate without the added component of one partner having an alcohol use disorder. When an alcohol use disorder comes into the picture, it can often feel like alcohol has become a wedge between the two of you. You might feel like your partner is choosing alcohol over you. They might have a difficult time controlling their alcohol use, which has led you to wonder if you can still live with them and their behaviors. 

Warning Signs Your Spouse Is Living with an Alcohol Use Disorder

There are some other signs your partner might exhibit if they have an alcohol use disorder. For example, your partner may feel like they need large quantities of alcohol to feel “normal.” This feeling can lead to them drinking alcohol to ease withdrawal symptoms or spending their time thinking about when they are going to have their next drink of alcohol. They might also become anxious if no alcohol is at a social gathering. Perhaps they have given you an excuse for each time they drink. 

They might also have behavioral changes, such as becoming angry if you question their drinking habits or hiding or denying their drinking habits from you or others. Your spouse or partner might act as if alcohol is more important to them than you. These actions often isolate your spouse from the people in their life.

treatment for your spouse alcohol addiction in erlanger ky

Impacts of Living With an Alcoholic Spouse

Living with a spouse who has an alcohol use disorder can be a challenging experience. You may feel like you have to take on more responsibilities regarding the housework or children, or you might be experiencing financial burdens because of the amount of alcohol your spouse buys. Perhaps people have stopped inviting your family to social events because of your spouse’s drinking habits. Sometimes, an alcoholic spouse may become abusive or unfaithful when they are drinking, which may lead to feelings of instability. You may find yourself trying to control your spouse, blaming yourself, or making excuses. Having a spouse who has an alcohol use disorder does not mean you will experience these experiences; they only make them more likely. 

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic spouse isn’t just draining – it’s lonely. However, you are not alone; having people you can rely on for support can be empowering.

The Dos and Don'ts of Living With an Alcoholic Partner

There are several things you should and should not do when it comes to living with your partner if they have an alcohol use disorder. One of the most important things to remember is to put yourself first. If you are in danger, getting to safety in whatever way that means for you is what you should do. If that means leaving your partner, it is okay. It would help if you continued to do activities that make you happy. Take time to do what you need and want to do because living with a partner who has an alcohol use disorder can be taxing on your mental health. 

You should also always use person-first language when discussing your partner’s alcohol use. Don’t call them an alcoholic or accuse them of abusing substances. They’re managing an alcohol use disorder, and it likely isn’t something they’re “choosing.”  It would be best if you also approached your spouse with a willingness to understand them – never blame them for their alcohol use. Their alcohol use disorder is neither your fault nor theirs. If you place blame, you may only create more division between you. 

It is also important to remember not to enable your spouse. While you might be trying to help them by making excuses for their behaviors while intoxicated, it might be doing more harm than good. While offering your support to your partner is essential, they must also understand the consequences of their actions to seek the help they need. 

How to Cope With an Alcoholic Spouse

Having someone you can talk to, such as a therapist, friend, or support group such as Al-anon, can help you understand the emotions you feel surrounding your spouse. Your love for your spouse does not prevent you from experiencing other emotions, such as bitterness and frustration. 

Know it is okay to tell your loved one “no” when they ask you for something. Setting boundaries for yourself might look like having a separate bank account only you have access to, or when their alcohol use has resulted in a DUI or unpaid tab, not bailing them out. 

How to Talk to Your Spouse About Alcohol Use

Here are some things to remember when you discuss with your spouse about their alcohol use:

  • The person you love is still there. Even though it can be challenging to separate your loved one from their alcohol use disorder, remember the person behind the disorder still exists.
  • Let them know you still care about them and will not judge them.
  • Approach them with respect and kindness.
  • Don’t forget to show them how their alcohol use is impacting their life. 
  • Be honest with them and express your boundaries and emotions when it comes to their alcohol use. 
  • Offer them your emotional support in receiving care. 
  • Suggest a facility that can help them. 
  • Know there might be some resistance or denial after one conversation. 
  • Multiple conversations about their alcohol use might be needed. 
  • If your safety is in jeopardy, remember: leaving is okay. 

How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse 

You cannot “cure” your spouse of their alcohol use disorder. Caring for your loved one can be a challenging circumstance. It is important to remember that a return to use is possible, and your loved one might have to go through the recovery process more than once. By keeping your expectations low, it will save you emotionally. Celebrate their accomplishments, as well. If your spouse seeks help, it is a positive thing. People recover every day.

cope with an alcoholic spouse

Treatment for Your Spouse's Alcohol Addiction in Erlanger, KY

Encouraging your spouse to seek alcohol detox can be a challenging but rewarding experience, not only for your loved one but also for you. Your partner can take back their life from the control of alcohol. It can be a challenging experience, but they don’t have to do it alone.

Located in Erlanger, KY, SUN Behavioral Health Kentucky solves unmet needs in our community. We offer 24/7 crisis care that allows people to get help in moments of crisis. For more information or to get started today, call us at 859-429-5188.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does alcohol do to a marriage?

Alcohol can create concerns in a marriage. People who have an alcohol use disorder may engage in domestic violence or put more responsibilities on their partner who does not have an alcohol use disorder. You and your partner might also experience financial stress due to one partner having an alcohol use disorder. While having an alcohol use disorder does not necessarily mean these consequences will happen, it does make it more likely. 

When should I leave my alcoholic spouse?

You should leave your spouse if being around them has become dangerous for you or others. If they are unwilling to stop their alcohol use and they are a danger to you or your children, it is okay to leave your spouse for your safety. 

How can I seek support?

Having someone you can talk to about the emotions you feel surrounding your spouse’s alcohol use can often be the best way to seek support for yourself. You can find this support through a therapist, friend, or support group like Al-anon.

Get Help Today!

  • sun kentucky
  • lobby
  • computers

SUN Behavioral Kentucky

820 Dolwick Drive
Erlanger, Kentucky 41018

Hours of Operation:

Open 24 hours

google logoSUN KentuckySUN Kentucky
2.8 Stars - Based on 245 User Reviews
joint commission

Other Locations

Contact Info