Living with an alcoholic spouse can be devastating and emotionally draining. The effects of their addiction will seep into every aspect of your life, leaving you feeling helpless and alone.

You constantly have to worry about their health, mental state, and safety, which can be exceptionally taxing. Plus, alcoholism can be an expensive habit, which will add financial problems to an already tricky situation.

Alcoholic Spouse

This constant loop of promises to change followed by disappointment can wear you down and make it seem like you’re living a never-ending nightmare. However, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to change the status quo.

You can take matters into your own hands and change your life for the better.

If you’d like to learn more about the effects of living with an alcoholic spouse, we can make your life easier. Let’s explore how the substance abuse disorder will impact your quality of life and what you can do about it!

The Impact of Alcoholism on Spouses and Partners

According to the World Health Organization, alcoholism is a serious disorder that affects millions of people in the US. The addiction can wreak havoc on the user’s system and will lead to all sorts of physical and mental health issues.

However, the damage reaches far beyond the patient. When alcoholism gets out of hand, it poses a risk to everyone in the vicinity, especially a spouse or partner. Let’s explore some of the most common side effects of living with an alcoholic.

1. Deception

Most alcoholics understand that their habit isn’t healthy, but that doesn’t mean they want to stop drinking. Because of that, they’ll constantly come up with new ways to hide the truth. They want to make sure they can continue drinking without having to face their guilt or shame.

So, they’ll bend the truth and even flat-out lie in some cases.

On another note, gaslighting is a common occurrence with alcoholics. They often exaggerate facts or makeup stories to distract from their drinking. This leaves the spouse in a constant state of uncertainty, which can alter their perception of reality.

2. Health Issues

Because alcohol is readily available and drinking is socially acceptable, some people forget that it’s still a dangerous drug. It’s a powerful depressant that can lead to various health problems. Some of the most common physical side effects of alcohol abuse include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Liver failure
  • Digestive issues
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus
  • Severe dehydration
  • Premature aging

These are just some of the risks associated with alcoholism. The substance use disorder can also be fatal since it can cause cardiac arrests.

As a result, the spouse spends hours worrying and feeling helpless, which can lead to a whole host of physical health issues, including weight loss and chronic fatigue. 

3. Mental and Emotional Suffering

The pressure of living with an alcoholic partner can lead to permanent changes in a person’s mental state. For one, seeing your loved one battling with a substance abuse issue is bound to leave a few emotional scars.

Add to that the continuous stress and distrust caused by the alcohol addiction, and you have a toxic environment that can plant the seeds of depression. Sadly, this can leave the spouse with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that will take years to resolve.

4. Financial Strain

The cost of maintaining a drinking habit can add up quickly, and alcoholics will go to any lengths to keep their cups full. They may spend their entire monthly budget on spirits and neglect crucial expenses like groceries.

Plus, people who suffer from an alcohol problem may struggle to keep their jobs or miss work because of a hangover. To top it all off, they may need frequent visits to the emergency room due to over-drinking. As you can imagine, this will put a significant strain on your financial situation.

5. Constant Conflict

One of the worst side effects of alcoholism is that it can cause dramatic changes in a person’s behavior. The substance abuse disorder can take a mild-tempered social person and turn them into an aggressive loner.

As a result, alcoholics are no strangers to conflict. Disagreements will start about your partner’s drinking habits and feelings of neglect. However, soon these will turn into full-blown fights about almost anything. Regrettably, this conflict can escalate even further and may bring about physical violence or domestic abuse.

6. Fear

With the threat of an alcoholic spouse losing control at any moment, life can be a rollercoaster. The unpredictability of their behavior will leave their partner on edge, as they never know when the next tantrum will rear its head.

Because of that, spouses of alcoholics live in perpetual fear. This can be paralyzing and will affect every aspect of their lives. You may always feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, which can stop you from living life to its full extent.

7. Work Issues

As the spouse of someone living with a drinking problem, your professional life may take a hit. Staying up all night wondering where your partner is or arguing constantly can zap all your energy. So, when you show up for work the next day, your performance can suffer.

On top of that, to balance the financial strain caused by alcoholism, you may have to pick up a few extra shifts. This added pressure can leave you feeling resentful with low self-esteem and make an already challenging situation worse.

8. Social Isolation

People with serious alcohol use disorders prefer to stay away from social situations. They want to avoid judgment, so hiding from people seems like the perfect solution.

For that reason, they’ll miss important events like birthdays and other milestones. In most cases, the spouse will follow in this social isolation. Instead of showing up at parties and having to explain why their partner isn’t there, it’s easier to stay at home, away from prying eyes.

9. Child Neglect

Children of people who have a drinking habit are often the ones left holding the short end of the stick. Growing up around an alcoholic parent can lead to psychological issues that will take a lifetime to address.

On top of that, the alcoholic’s spouse will have to pick up the pieces and play the role of both parents. This is exceptionally taxing, even without the stress of a substance abuse disorder.

10. Suicidal Thoughts or Tendencies

Spouses of people who suffer from alcoholism tend to spend a lot of time on their own. Thanks to social isolation, they have a lot of time to think about their situation, which can lead them down a dark hole of depression.

With overwhelming feelings of sadness and helplessness, some people start experiencing suicidal thoughts. While this is rare, it can be life-threatening if you don’t get the help you need straight away.

11. Addiction

One of the main reasons people turn to addiction is to deal with the stress of their daily life. So, it’s common for spouses of people who suffer from substance abuse to develop a chemical dependency of their own.

This may sound counter-productive, but it happens more often than you think. The alcoholic’s spouse will adopt a “if you can’t be them, join them” mentality.

Helping Your Alcoholic Spouse

As the spouse of an alcoholic, you should know that you have options. You don’t need to sit back and helplessly watch your partner spiral. Here are some of the most popular alcoholism treatment options that we offer at Long Island Interventions:

1. Therapy

Therapy can do wonders for people who struggle with alcoholism. Not only can it help them discover the root of their addiction, but it also facilitates creating coping strategies and makes the recovery journey manageable.

2. Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholism can be a sensitive topic, so chances are, the person suffering from addiction won’t want to talk to a therapist. However, they may be willing to discuss the issue with other people who are going through the same situation.

That’s when alcoholics anonymous meetings or other support groups can be a lifesaver. 

3. Alcohol Rehab Programs

If your partner’s alcoholism has gotten out of hand, they may need an intensive program to help them kick the habit. Luckily, we offer several treatment services at Long Island Interventions, including:

  • Medical Detox
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient treatment programs
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Behavioral therapy

4. Boundaries and Consequences

If your spouse refuses all forms of help, setting boundaries and consequences to protect yourself is the next step. This may include cutting off financial support or excluding them from certain family functions.

It’s also a good idea to ask for help from the people around you. Your spouse’s parents, family members, or friends can prove to be an invaluable resource when dealing with addiction.

However, if that doesn’t work, you should consider leaving. This may seem harsh, but with your mental and physical well-being at risk, it can be the best solution for both of you.

Wrapping Up

The effects of living with an alcoholic spouse can change based on how serious their substance abuse issue is. In most cases, the addiction will lead to deception, mental health disorders, constant conflict, and fear.

Yet, in severe cases, some partners of people who suffer from alcoholism can have suicidal thoughts and develop their own addictions. If you find yourself in this position, reach out to us at Long Island Interventions to explore your options and get the help you need.

Published on: 2024-05-07
Updated on: 2024-05-07