My wife drinks too much. How can I help her stop?

Table Of Contents

Alcohol addiction has no single cause - and nobody is to blame for their addiction. After all, nobody drinks alcohol and asks to become addicted.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), genetics are responsible for around 50% of the risk of alcohol use disorder. Environmental and social factors can also play a part, too, including events that occurred in a person’s life such as trauma or mental illness. Are you worried about your partner’s drinking habits? It’s only natural that you want to help your alcoholic spouse - and we can help you to help your loved one. Read on to learn more about alcohol addiction, including signs that your wife has an addiction to alcohol and how you can help your wife overcome her addiction. Consultation  

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that can be difficult to identify, especially in the early stages. Your partner may hide her alcohol usage from you, or make excuses for her excessive drinking problem. Many people are in denial about their addiction, which can make it difficult for them to receive help. Knowing the signs of alcohol use disorder is essential if you wish to help your wife overcome her addiction. Read on for some warning signs of alcoholism - however, it’s important to note that these signs alone do not confirm that your wife has an addiction. If you think your partner has an addiction, encourage her to speak to an addiction specialist or a medical professional for confirmation.  

Alcohol Abuse

More than two billion people around the world consume alcohol - however, 76 million of these people are affected by alcohol use disorders including alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The NHS recommends that we drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, spread across three or more days. This is around the same as six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine. Alcohol abuse is a form of substance abuse and is generally defined as drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short space of time - drinking alcohol to the extent that it causes physical harm. This can include binge drinking. Binge drinking can put you at risk of developing alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal in severe cases. Your wife may continue to drink despite the negative effects it has on her physical and mental health. Alcohol has been linked with mental illness - and can worsen existing conditions. Ultimately, alcohol abuse can impact your overall well-being. Likewise, your wife may wish to stop drinking - or may have attempted to quit alcohol - but struggled to or failed to do so. It’s important to remember that alcoholism is a relapsing disease, and can be difficult to overcome without the right treatment. If you notice that your spouse's drinking habits have drastically changed for the worst, they may have developed an alcohol problem.  

Prioritising Alcohol

Alcohol addiction is characterised by the lack of control over drinking alcohol. This means that your wife may prioritise alcohol over other responsibilities. For example, she may begin making excuses to avoid certain activities to make time to drink alcohol. Drinking often becomes the most important thing in an alcoholic’s life. Your wife may stop doing things she once enjoyed, or fall behind in work to abuse alcohol. She may also isolate herself from friends, family and loved ones.  

Increased Tolerance

If you drink excessive levels of alcohol regularly, you will likely develop a tolerance over time as your body will get used to the changes. This means that you will need to drink a higher amount of alcohol to feel the same effects. If you notice that your wife appears sober after drinking a lot of alcohol, she may have developed an alcohol tolerance. However, it’s important to note that other factors such as height and weight can affect a person’s tolerance to alcohol.  

Withdrawal Symptoms

A key sign that your wife’s alcohol consumption has gotten out of control is that she experiences withdrawal symptoms after she suddenly stops drinking. This can include a range of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity - however, in general, the more severe the addiction, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be. Often, symptoms will peak around three days after your wife’s last drink - however, milder withdrawal symptoms may persist. In severe cases, withdrawal symptoms can occur as soon as a few hours after your wife’s last drink. Some withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, sweating, insomnia, tremors, nausea, vomiting, headache, and many more.  

How To Help Your Alcoholic Wife

Alcohol addiction can impact the entire family unit as well as friends and loved ones too. If left untreated, it can worsen over time. It can also cause many physical health-related issues. Not only is alcohol responsible for over 60 medical health issues, but it is a known carcinogen and can increase the risk of developing several different types of cancer. Likewise, According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol was the top drug associated with drug-related emergency hospital admissions. 41.7% of drug-related emergency room visits were related to alcohol. If you think your wife has an alcohol problem, it’s only natural that you wish to help her. Here are some ways that you can help your alcoholic wife.  

Offer Her Support

First of all, it’s important that you offer your wife support and listen to her concerns. Simply providing a calm and welcoming environment can make a difference, allowing her to speak to you about her alcohol problems honestly and openly. Likewise, you must be able to speak to her about how you feel and voice your concerns calmly, whilst remaining compassionate. It’s not always easy to remain calm in a stressful situation, but remaining calm and avoiding lashing out can encourage your wife to open up to you.  

Don’t Enable Her Drinking

Although it may seem like the easy option to avoid conflict and provide alcohol to your alcoholic partner, it will only exacerbate the issue in the long term. It’s important that you remain firm and set boundaries regarding your partner’s drinking habits if you want them to stop drinking alcohol. Enabling your partner’s alcohol abuse may make things easier in the short term, but it ultimately shields them from the consequences of their actions. This stops them from seeing the severity of their problem and may prevent them from seeking the treatment they need.  

Take Care of Yourself

Although living with an alcoholic can be stressful and caring for an alcoholic loved one can be time-consuming, it’s important to take care of yourself. This can include monitoring your own alcohol intake - drinking too much may tempt your partner to drink alcohol too. Alcohol abuse has links to domestic violence - with 39% of violent incidents that took place in 2019 being related to alcohol. Intimate partner violence can be distressing, whether it includes physical or emotional violence. Ensure you are safe and speak up to a loved one if you are experiencing this. Practising self-care can help to relieve some stress, whether it be meditating or something as simple as taking a relaxing bath. Remember, if you want to be in a position to help your alcoholic wife, you need to look after your own mental health too.  

Stage an Intervention

It’s no secret that it can be difficult to deal with an alcoholic, whether it be your husband, wife, or other family members. If you have tried to talk to your wife and it has been unsuccessful, you may consider staging an intervention. The aim of your intervention is entirely up to you - however, most alcohol interventions have the goal of the alcoholic agreeing to seek treatment. You may also set the goal of having your wife admit she has an alcohol problem, or attend therapy sessions. Who you invite to the intervention matters - you don’t want your partner to feel overwhelmed or ‘ganged up’ on. Invite close friends and immediate family members. If you’re comfortable doing so, you may also wish to invite an addiction specialist or a family therapist. Recovery Consultation

Alcohol Addiction Treatment For Your Alcoholic Spouse

At Help4Addiction, we understand how stressful it can be to not only admit you have an alcohol problem but seek treatment for your addiction. This is why we will speak to your partner in a calm and friendly manner and outline all of the alcohol treatment options available to her. There are different forms of alcohol rehab; for example, residential rehabilitation, outpatient rehab, private rehab, luxury rehab, NHS rehab, and many more. Alcohol rehab begins with detoxification. This stage addresses the physical aspect of addiction - during this stage, all access to alcohol will be cut off to free your body of the substance. During this stage, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. If you wish to detox from home, check out this page about our at-home detox kit. Alternatively, you may undergo a medical detox - during which, detox medication may be administered. Therapy is the second stage of rehab, and is usually the longest stage. During therapy, you may learn coping skills that can help to prevent relapse. You may also gain a further understanding of yourself and your addiction. Some forms of therapy include CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), counselling, family therapy, and group therapy. The support you receive doesn’t have to end once you have completed your rehab program. You can continue to receive care as an outpatient, whether it be in the form of support groups, online or telephone support, or ongoing therapy. Contact us today to find the best professional support for your alcoholic husband or wife. We can also help to find treatment for drug addiction, drug abuse, and excessive drug use.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

Request A Callback

Receive a callback, we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
24/7 Helpline Support

Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to provide the support you deserve, anytime, day or night.