How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse

What to do if Your Spouse is an Alcoholic

Marriage is hard work, and it’s even harder when you’re married to an alcoholic. In the United States, about 30% of marriages end in divorce, but that number goes up to 50% when one partner has a substance use disorder. Living with someone who has a drinking problem plays havoc on the well-being of everyone in the family. While you can’t force someone else to get help, it helps to know how to help an alcoholic spouse.

The Family System

In the 1950s, American psychiatrist Murray Bowen developed a theory that defines the family as a complex social network in which members interact to influence each other’s behavior. Specific actions by individuals affect other family members, provoking reactions, and determining the identity of that family unit. When there is a family secret or addiction, members play out specific roles.

The addict relies on alcohol to cope with problems and emotions, and drinking becomes the primary goal. Sometimes, that means lying, manipulating, and blaming the people closest to them. The enabler, often the spouse, has the job of covering up unpleasant events, taking on too much responsibility, and making excuses for the alcoholic’s behavior. Children may overachieve to bring honor to the family, become a scapegoat who takes on the blame, turn into a comedian to lighten things up, or just try to disappear.

New Jersey Alcohol Rehab

If you recognize these patterns in your family, it may be time to get help. New Jersey alcohol rehab comes in many forms. The first step may be an intervention, followed by detox and rehab. Talking to someone who understands the process is crucial, whether that's a rehab specialist, a counselor, or someone from an organization like Alcohol Anonymous (AA) or Al-Anon.

If your family member isn't ready, you can still make the situation more tolerable by getting help for you and the rest of the family. Positive changes, like negative ones, impact the entire family unit. Some rehab centers use family constellation therapy and holistic practices like meditation and equine therapy to address spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse - Seven Tips

Your spouse may not be ready to get help, but you can improve your relationship and your own well-being by changing your own perspective. Try these seven tips:

  • Don't blame yourself for your spouse's behavior.

  • Don't enable by taking on responsibilities or making excuses.

  • Don't try to control the situation.

  • Don't allow unacceptable behavior or abuse.

  • Have realistic expectations.

  • Stay in the present moment.

  • Get help. It's never too early.

If you live in New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions can provide holistic detox and rehab. Our caring team of medical professionals and alternative health practitioners use an integrated approach to provide counseling, medical help, and alternative therapies for your unique needs.

Contact us today to set up an appointment or find out more about how to help an alcoholic spouse with our holistic detox and recovery programs.

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