Though American culture has normalized drinking as a way for people to relax, unwind and blow off steam, alcohol is a dangerous and addictive drug. If your spouse regularly drinks, it’s natural to wonder if it’s become problematic.
Contrary to TV and movie depictions, not all people with alcohol use disorder are unhoused, desperate and unable to look after themselves. Many people have successful careers, dress neatly, earn a good living and still struggle with addiction behind closed doors. However, these so-called “high-functioning” addicts cannot maintain their façade indefinitely. People who routinely binge drink or believe they need alcohol to feel normal will eventually have multiple problems with their health and relationships.
If you’re concerned about your husband’s drinking, here are a few warning signs to look out for.
Daily Drinking or Drinking Alone
Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Even if alcohol doesn’t seem to adversely affect your husband’s daily life, having a high tolerance and drinking daily is a red flag.
Also, if your partner frequently drinks alone, you may have no real idea of how much he’s consuming. For example, some people with alcohol use disorder go to bars while pretending to go elsewhere, or maintain a secret stash of alcohol that they hide from the rest of the household.
Not Functioning Well Without Alcohol
Does your husband find it hard to function well when he’s sober? Perhaps he drinks a beer or two to relieve anxiety before a work presentation or social event. Or, maybe he feels unmotivated to do anything until after he’s had an alcoholic beverage. These are examples of someone with a physical and psychological dependency – an issue that will only escalate with time.
Denial and Secrecy
People with substance use disorders can go to great lengths to maintain their habits. The disease of addiction may compel your spouse to lie, steal or hide things from you. Even if your husband does not intend to hurt you with these actions, years of deception can erode the foundation of trust that is vital for a healthy marriage.
Denial is another characteristic of addiction. You might have heard excuses like “I can quit drinking anytime” or “I work hard, and I deserve some ‘me time.’” Unfortunately, your husband is lying to you and himself.
How to Help a Husband With Alcohol Use Disorder
Many people maintain problematic drinking habits without considering how the cycle of addiction affects everyone around them. For example, you may bear a significant psychological burden from worrying about your husband’s physical and mental well-being. If your partner consistently refuses to ask for help or has already tried treatment and later relapsed, you could be in despair and contemplate ending the marriage.
Though the consequences of alcohol abuse eventually catch up to everyone, the pervasive idea that substance abusers must hit “rock bottom” before going to treatment is a myth. Still, the suggestion of divorce can be a clarion call for people who have otherwise resisted help, and a sincere desire to save the marriage may give your husband a renewed sense of purpose and motivation to get sober.
An Evidence-Based Continuum of Care
Accepting addiction is difficult for everyone involved, but you can help break through the secrecy and denial by gently suggesting the idea of going to rehab. Explain how your husband’s behavior is adversely affecting you, and set boundaries around what behavior you will tolerate going forward.
Addiction is a complex disease that affects people from every walk of life and belief system. Successful treatment involves a multifaceted approach with hands-on attention from a qualified team of psychiatrists, doctors, therapists and certified addiction counselors. At New Found Life, we have been healing people since 1993. Contact our admissions team to learn how we can help you and your husband.