Alcoholism Tips for Spouses

Is drinking getting in the way of your relationship with your spouse?

There are a handful of telltale signs indicating that your partner may have crossed the line from social drinking to substance abuse.

While almost everyone knows what alcoholism is, it’s harder to discern what it looks like in our day-to-day lives – particularly if it affects someone close to us. While drinking alcohol is common and socially acceptable, there is a line that separates occasional use from addiction, and recognizing when someone we love goes over that line is essential to providing the care and treatment that will get them back on track to a healthy life.

Accepting that our spouse may have a drinking problem isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially since the idea may not even occur to us. When does drinking become too much? When is it a problem? There are a handful of telltale signs indicating that your partner may have crossed the line from social drinking to substance abuse, and if they have, it’s crucial to find drug and alcohol treatment centers that can help.

Recognizing Alcoholism

Whether you suspect your spouse may be an alcoholic, or don’t even believe that such a possibility could be real, there are indicators that can help you make that determination.

Here are just a few of the warning signs that could indicate your partner may be developing a problem with alcohol abuse:

  • Drinking as a form of relaxation: Grabbing a beer after a stressful day isn’t a bad sign in and of itself. But if it occurs frequently, or if it happens after you and your spouse have had an argument, they could be using alcohol as a method of relaxation and stress relief, which is a sign of dependency.
  • It’s a problem for your relationship but they keep drinking anyway: You and your spouse have had discussions or arguments about their drinking, but they continue to do so anyway. For example, your partner goes out for drinks with your friends and comes home drunk, even though you’ve made it clear that this upsets you.
  • They neglect responsibilities at school, work or home because of their drinking: This could include anything from failing classes and doing poorly at work to neglecting children and missing out on commitments.

If you’ve noticed that any of these have happened when your partner drinks, they may have a problem with alcoholism. Consult with Fairwinds Treatment Center about what your next steps should be.

How to show your support

Alcohol abuse is a very delicate physical, psychological and emotional issue. If you suspect your spouse may have a problem, it’s important to proceed with caution rather than immediately demand that they admit themselves to any alcohol treatment centers. Even if your intentions are good, the wrong approach in dealing with this situation can inadvertently prompt your partner into drinking more and causing even further harm to themselves and your loved ones.

Here are some helpful “Don’ts” to keep in mind when broaching the subject with your spouse:


  • Argue with them while they’re intoxicated
  • Bribe, threaten, punish or preach to them
  • Drink along with them
  • Play the martyr, as these kinds of emotional appeals may increase your partner’s guilt, causing them to drink more
  • Make excuses for, or cover up, their behavior so that they can’t see the consequences of their actions.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t blame yourself for your partner’s drinking. Whatever underlying issues may be inciting their behavior, it’s ultimately their decision and not your fault.



If you are ready to discuss treatment for yourself or a loved one, the Fairwinds admissions team is here to help.

Contact Fairwinds