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Updated on September 27, 2022
7 min read

Alcoholic Husband

Is Your Husband an Alcoholic?

Sometimes it can be hard to notice if your husband is drinking too much. Even if you spend a significant amount of time with your alcoholic partner, the warning signs can go unnoticed.

Your spouse may hide the signs of alcohol addiction, covering the frequency and volume they are drinking.

Although it can be difficult to admit, your husband may feel ashamed of his heavy drinking. This can lead to secretive behavior.

It is essential to familiarise yourself with the common signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction if you suspect your husband has an alcohol problem. By doing this, you can gauge whether your husband is showing one or more of the signs of alcohol addiction.


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Identifying the Warning Signs of an Alcoholic Husband

High-functioning alcoholics can often maintain a career, practice healthy relationships with family members and friends, and remain financially stable while having a drinking problem. Despite appearing fine, functioning alcoholics often need a drink to get through the day and are good at hiding this from family members and loved ones.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawal from responsibility
  • Less concern with appearance and hygiene
  • A defensive attitude
  • Paranoia or overreaction to criticism
  • Frequent small accidents or mistakes
  • Tiredness
  • Secretive or dishonest behavior
  • Distraction
  • Sudden weight loss

How to Deal with an Alcoholic Husband

The best way to help an alcoholic partner is to communicate the issue and understand the problem. Communicating with your husband is different from just talking to him as usual.

Communication is an ongoing process. It is possible to communicate in both verbal and non-verbal ways. When you sit down to speak with your husband, try to emphasize what makes you feel uncomfortable to be around him when he is drunk.

What Not to Do

When you communicate with your husband, there are some things you should avoid. Otherwise, you may aggravate the issue.

Things to avoid:

  • Do not nag him about his alcohol problem. Instead, share your thoughts and concerns with him
  • Do not try to teach him how to stop drinking. Instead, try to show him
  • Do not judge him. Respect him
  • Do not blame him. Learn to understand him
  • Do not threaten him. Give incentives
  • Do not make demands. Create desired goals that are beneficial to both of you
  • Do not focus on the past. Use it as a stepping stone to move forward

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How to Live with a Functioning Alcoholic Husband

If you live with a high-functioning alcoholic or think you may be, communication is essential to help them.

Do not try to have a conversation when they are drunk. Instead, speak to them when they are trying to quit or cut down on alcohol. This will make them more receptive to your ideas, and it may make them realize that they need to change their behaviors. Make sure you remain non-judgmental and empathetic.

Make sure your husband is aware that you are genuinely concerned without placing any blame on him. Let him know that you want to tackle the problem together and support him throughout his recovery.

Try not to talk down to your husband or appear angry or upset. Try not to collude or enable him by lying to anyone for him or drinking with him.

Risks of Living with an Alcoholic Husband

There are many challenges that you may face when living with an alcoholic husband.

While these risks vary depending on the situation and the people involved, they include:

  •  Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
  • Frustration
  • Displacing frustration on your children
  • Ignoring your children’s needs
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Not paying attention to your own health
  • Spending less time socializing
  • Feeling ashamed around others
  • Financial difficulties
  • Being threatened
  • Hearing spouse threaten to kill himself
  • Physical harm
  • Suicidal thoughts 

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How to Help an Alcoholic Husband Stop Drinking

Here are some ways to help an alcoholic husband stop his alcohol abuse problems:

Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for Alcoholic Spouses

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA, or Al-Anon) is an international organization for those struggling with alcoholism. The organization consists of peer groups that meet to support one another through addiction and substance use recovery.

Members often meet in these support groups to discuss ideas and concerns linked to their alcohol and drug addiction. They support one another through triumphs and relapses.

Typically, more seasoned group members of AA ‘sponsor’ newer members. This helps guide newer members through the process and the steps to recover from alcohol addiction and substance use.

Consider an Intervention

Committing to attempting recovery and seeking treatment for alcohol abuse takes courage. Yet, those struggling with alcoholism may not immediately be on board with admitting they have a problem or discussing treatment options. If your husband is not ready to seek treatment yet, you may consider an intervention.

An intervention is a process that usually involves a physician, drug and alcohol counselor, or an intervention specialist meeting with loved ones. During an intervention, let your spouse know how his alcohol addiction affects you and ask him to seek professional help.

You should provide specific examples of his substance abuse ahead of time and offer a potential treatment plan. You should also give consequences for him if he refuses to accept help.

You must prepare to carry out the consequences if he does not agree to treatment.

Effective Treatment Options for Alcoholism 

There are many different treatment program options for alcoholism, including:

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments aim to change drinking behavior through counseling. Health experts lead them, and studies support that they are beneficial. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, behavioral therapy is the most commonly used form of treatment.

Family therapy is one of these services that can be beneficial for both you and your partner.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

There are medications approved in the United States to help people quit or reduce their heavy drinking and prevent relapse. They are prescribed by a health professional and may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.


Professional detox may help manage the withdrawal symptoms that can occur when someone experiencing alcoholism quits drinking suddenly. This can happen in an inpatient setting when the patient lives in a medical treatment center. Alternatively, it may be in an outpatient treatment program when the patient can detox while living at home.

How to Pay for Treatment

Healthcare insurance is one of the most common ways to pay for alcoholism treatment. The amount of money insurance covers depends on the insurance company and what the health provider accepts.

Types of healthcare insurance that may cover addiction treatment include:

  •  Medicaid
  •  Medicare
  •  State-financed health insurance
  • Private insurance
  • Military insurance

Another way to save money on addiction treatment is to look for a free or low-income facility. You can also seek programs that offer financing options. Financing can be an excellent choice because free rehabilitation centers often have long waiting lists and limited funding.

When is it Time to Leave an Alcoholic Husband?

Leaving an alcoholic husband is a big decision. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it's something that is easier said than done. You may want to hold out hope that things will eventually change for the better. With the right treatment, millions of people recover from alcohol abuse and addiction. But not everyone.

Some situations feel hopeless.  Here are some reasons that will help you determine when it's finally time to walk out the door:

When your alcoholic husband's drinking habits start to affect you negatively.

Living with an alcoholic spouse has a negative impact on your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. 

Your husband's alcohol addiction is stressful, and the stress puts you at risk for:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neglecting personal, family, or work obligations
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When your alcoholic husband shows no signs of stopping.

Living with an alcoholic husband who doesn't recognize drinking as a problem can be frustrating. Your husband may have been in and out of alcohol rehab several times and is a chronic relapser. However, you still do not see his will to commit to recovery. Maybe it's time to admit that he's not ready to change, or maybe not ever.

When you are in danger.

Alcohol can affect a person's judgment making an addict's behavior unpredictable. This unpredictability is scary.

When your husband is drunk, he may:

  • Abuse you physically or emotionally
  • Get extremely angry
  • Lose self-control
  • Drive drunk
  • Become violent and get into physical fights with other people
  • Spend excessive amounts of money

Other Questions About Treatment?

If you have any other questions about alcohol addiction treatment for your husband, reach out to an addiction specialist for more information. Call us to speak with an expert and help your husband begin the road to recovery.

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Updated on September 27, 2022
6 sources cited
Updated on September 27, 2022
  1. Sharma, Nitasha et al., "Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients," Industrial psychiatry journal vol. 25,1 : 65-71.
  2. "Intimate partner violence and alcohol," World Health Organization (WHO), 2006.
  3. Krentzman, Amy R et al., "How Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Work: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives," Alcoholism treatment quarterly vol. 29,1 : 75-84.
  4. "Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help," National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2014.
  5. NIDA. "Principles of Effective Treatment," National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18 Sep. 2020.
  6. Leonard, Kenneth and Eiden, Rina, "Marital and Family Processes in the Context of Alcohol Use and Alcohol Disorders," Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 2007, vol. 3 pp. 285-310.

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