What To Do If Your Spouse Has an Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comIt’s hard living with someone who has an alcohol addiction. In fact, hard is not the right word – it’s more like painful. And one reason why it’s so painful is that addiction is an illness that affects everyone in the family. It’s an illness that becomes a family disease, not just an individual one. Everyone ends up compensating for the one in the family who is “ill”, and this most frequently includes the spouse.

Yet, if you’re reading this article then perhaps you want to do something about it. Perhaps you want to find some answers. Perhaps you’re sick and tired of the struggles, challenges, tears, fights, and pain. If you are, this article will lay out your options. This article will hopefully provide for you some answers.

There are essentially three options that you have. None of them are going to be easy. Each choice, whichever one you choose, is going bring its own unique challenges. However, if you’re looking for some answers, knowing what your options are might be useful. Then, you can make a firm decision and you can move forward from there.

Do Nothing

This is the option that you’ve chosen perhaps out of default. Perhaps you’ve known that there is a big problem on your hands, but you haven’t known what to do about it. Although this might seem like an easy choice, and it might have to continue to be the choice you make until you are clear about how you want to proceed, there may be some drastic consequences later if you continue to do nothing. For instance, if you decide to not do anything about the illness of addiction your spouse is experiencing, he or she might seriously harm himself or someone in the family. Or there might be a worse tragedy. Certainly, you might want to take some time in deciding what to do but doing nothing forever is only going to make things worse.


This is a difficult option for obvious reasons. You will likely have plenty of emotional distress, not to mention how you might feel leaving your spouse to deal with an addiction on his or her own. However, there are some legitimate reasons to leave. For instance, if you’re relationship is abusive or harmful to the children, then it would be safer for all involved in there was a split in the relationship. However, this choice becomes difficult if there isn’t anything severe such as suicide, harm, or abuse going on in the family. Perhaps you might still need to leave if there are no signs of your spouse getting any help. Perhaps you need to leave for your own well being and certainly for the safety and well being of your children, if you have any. Sometimes, leaving a marriage doesn’t seem like a choice to consider, but it might be if there is harm involved, blatant harm or not.

Get All the Support You Can and Stay

If you decide to stay in the marriage and support your spouse, this too is a difficult choice because you can’t change another person. In the end, it’s only your spouse that can make the decision to get sober. However, what you can do is seek out information for you and your family. You can learn about the dynamics of an alcoholic family. You can find out about the ways that alcoholism is affecting you as someone married to an alcoholic. You can also get the support you need for your own wellness and the wellness of your children. However, you should know that deciding to stay is different from doing nothing. If you decide to stay and get support, you’ll likely want to acknowledge the problem. That’s what’s going to make the difference between this and the first choice above. Doing nothing about it means continuing to play a role in the dysfunction of an alcoholic family. However, staying and doing something about it means being honest, avoiding denial, getting support for yourself, and confronting your spouse with the truth.

As mentioned earlier, none of these are easy choices. None of them are going to be simple. However, at least you have options laid out for you and now you can make a decision for yourself.


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