Due to the media's portrayal of people who have an alcohol addiction, it is often tough to tell if someone needs help. Although it may be obvious that some people are struggling with a drinking problem, substance abuse can be more discreet and subtle in others. Often, this is because many people will attempt to hide their alcohol abuse from their loved ones due to a sense of shame, guilt, or protection.
Although living with someone who abuses alcohol can be hard at times, it is essential to be compassionate and empathetic toward those struggling rather than judging them.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a complex medical illness that can happen to anyone. It is not a case of weak willpower or failure; it is a diagnosable disease that requires professional treatment. The more stigma and shame associated, the more someone will try to deny their problem and delay getting the help they need.
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If you are worried that your husband has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, you may have several questions. In this blog, we share how to spot a drinking problem and the help available.
A loved one's substance abuse problems can impact your mental health, but you do not need to go through it alone. Contact us today for support and guidance.
Social Drinking vs. Problem Drinking
Across the United States, drinking alcohol is socially accepted and normalized, making it even more challenging to spot when someone's social drinking has turned into problem drinking.
Moderate drinking is classed as one glass of alcohol per day for women and two glasses for men. This is the recommended limit to minimize the problems related to alcohol abuse, such as violence, risky behaviors, drunk driving, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. However, problem drinking causes one or two drinks a day to turn into three or four. From here, alcohol tolerance can develop.
If you are worried about your husband's drinking, there are certain things you can look out for, such as:
- Frequent heavy drinking
- Binge drinking
- Using alcohol when stressed, anxious, or feeling low
- Attending work while drunk
- Frequently drinking to get drunk
- Lying about drinking habits
- Regularly making lots of small mistakes
- Withdrawing from social responsibility
- Mood swings
- Neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
- Seeming distracted and far away
- Appearing overly defensive
- Drunk driving
If your husband has an alcohol use disorder, he may also try to disguise the extent of his drinking, and he may seem irritable if he does not drink.
What Are the Warning Signs of AUD?
Alcohol use disorder is the medical term used to diagnose a drinking problem. Medical professionals will often divide an alcohol use disorder into the following categories:
At the lower end of the scale are those who engage in heavy drinking and use alcohol unsafely but can stop drinking when they want to. However, at the other end of the scale are those who suffer from a severe alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction.
Despite the negative health consequences, those with a severe alcohol use disorder are physically and psychologically unable to quit drinking.
Spotting the extent of your husband's alcohol use disorder can be very difficult as he may go to great lengths to conceal his problem drinking habits. He may hide bottles of alcohol around the house, make up elaborate lies to cover his behaviors, or even try to gaslight you.
Over time, your husband's behavior may change, causing him to seem more agitated, overreactive, low, or stressed. He may also become withdrawn and avoidant and cancel events or miss appointments.
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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
If your husband has an alcohol use disorder, you may notice that he experiences some physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when he cannot drink alcohol. These symptoms usually arise because of how alcohol interacts with the central nervous system.
Although different for everyone, alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Night sweats
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sleeping problems
Some of the more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
Delirium tremens can be fatal. Some symptoms include delirium, confusion, seizures, tremors, high blood pressure, vomiting, and severe night sweats. If your husband is experiencing these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.
Sadly, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to quit. Due to the withdrawal symptoms that can surface, those with an alcohol addiction should never attempt it alone.
How Can Alcohol Abuse Affect Other Family Members?
Though your husband's alcohol addiction will have an undeniable impact on his health and well-being, his drinking will also likely impact other family members.
For example, other family members who live with you might feel worried about your husband, and they may also feel unsafe around him. Your spouse's drinking can also have a tremendous impact on children.
Children who live with a parent who has an alcohol addiction can suffer from impaired mental health. They may also begin to distrust others, leading to relationship issues in adulthood. Children may also feel guilty as they might believe that your husband's drinking problem is their fault.
How Can I Bring Up Concerns About Alcohol Use Disorder in Conversation?
Before bringing up your husband's alcohol use in conversation, it can be helpful to write down points that you want to address. Remember to frame the discussion with "I" so that he doesn't feel attacked. For example, you could say, "I am worried about your substance use, and I find it hard to sleep if I don't hear from you."
Don't use derogatory labels, as your partner may become defensive. Instead, try to support your husband by being empathetic rather than pitying.
It may also be beneficial to offer him options rather than telling him what to do when it comes to treatment. This may even make him more likely to seek treatment. If you research treatment options before the conversation, it will take the labor off him and may see him more inclined to explore addiction treatment options further.
In addition to the above, make sure to give yourself time, self-love, and support. It can be easy to neglect yourself as you try to help your husband, but taking care of yourself will make it much easier to support your partner.
Reaching out to a family member you trust, a friend, or a therapist will help you feel less alone and allow you to set healthy boundaries if needed.
What Is the Best Path My Husband Can Take To Stop Drinking?
If your husband is suffering from substance abuse issues, there are many effective addiction treatment options ready for him. Once he has acknowledged that he has a substance abuse problem, he can take the steps needed to recover.
To start treatment, your husband will need to go through medical detox. It is imperative that he only attempts this under the supervision and guidance of a licensed medical professional.
Medical detox involves tapering off alcohol in a controlled and medically recommended manner to recover from the physical addiction. Upon connecting with an alcohol rehab, such as our own, an individual treatment plan will be implemented to ensure he has the treatment that is right for him.
After detox, your husband will need to engage in alcohol rehabilitation and put measures in place to ensure a successful long-term recovery.
Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities are available when it comes to rehabilitation. To take care of his mental health and understand his addiction, your husband will have the support of mental health professionals in therapy sessions.
Individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy are additional options for you and your partner to engage in self-care and implement healthy coping strategies.
Following treatment, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) will help your husband feel connected to others around him. AA will also support him in opening up about his substance use, assisting him in feeling less isolated.
Being aware of the warning signs and understanding how to have a compassionate and non-judgmental conversation with your husband will put you in the best position when faced with a partner who is a problem drinker. Make sure to only initiate the conversation if you feel safe, and wait until you think you have enough evidence to make this conclusion.
The best way for your partner to stay sober in the long run is to take advantage of the many treatment options available to help him tackle his addiction. Obtaining support through therapy and support groups will help him understand his addiction and stay on track for recovery.
If you are concerned about your husband, reach out to us today. In doing so, we can help you understand your partner's drinking and offer you insight into what recovery may look like for him and your family.