Pathways Wellness

The Signs and Impacts: Is My Husband an Alcoholic?

The Signs and Impacts: Is My Husband an Alcoholic?
Raul Haro
November 23, 2023
Sometimes it can be hard to notice the signs and impact of alcoholism at first. However, as time goes on, the signs and impact will become much more apparent. Alcohol addiction doesn't just harm the person with the addiction; it also harms the people who love them. It's especially hard for the spouse of an […]
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The Signs and Impacts: Is My Husband an Alcoholic?

Sometimes it can be hard to notice the signs and impact of alcoholism at first. However, as time goes on, the signs and impact will become much more apparent. Alcohol addiction doesn't just harm the person with the addiction; it also harms the people who love them. It's especially hard for the spouse of an alcoholic, as they are often forced to watch them spiral out of control. 

Even though the signs and impact of alcoholism can be sad, disturbing, or even frightening, it's important to have hope. People can and do recover from alcohol addiction. That is if they are willing to acknowledge that they have a problem and seek help for it. It's a time of uncertainty for those who have to question if their husband is an alcoholic or not. That's why it's vital to seek out professional help from those who specialize in dealing with alcohol addiction.

One place to find these professionals is at Pathways Wellness Center. Our facility is staffed by compassionate and caring individuals who understand alcohol addiction and seek to help others. These mental health care professionals can help guide a spouse through this troubling and confusing time. It's a place where someone can ask questions about the signs and impact of alcohol addiction without judgment or ridicule. At such a turbulent time, it's comforting to have the help of qualified specialists.

Before someone can know for sure if their husband is an alcoholic or not, they must be aware of the signs and impact of alcoholism. Anyone at any time can become an alcoholic. It's not a disease that only affects a particular group of people, nor is it a punishment for some perceived moral failing. Alcoholism is a disease, and the public and individuals alike need to understand what it is.

Understanding Alcoholism

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a mental health disorder and disease that prevents someone from regulating or controlling their alcohol consumption. This is not the same as a casual drinker, who can safely regulate how much they drink, or only drink on rare occasions. Alcoholism is also not the same as binge drinking, which is defined as excessive drinking, but done periodically. Instead, alcoholism is a long-term pattern of alcohol use that becomes difficult to control.

Alcohol is an addictive psychoactive substance that can cause several physical and emotional effects. Most of the time, people drink alcohol to feel relaxed, lower inhibitions, feel good (typically known as a “buzz”), and become more energetic. Alcohol, though it feels good to drink for some, impairs how a person functions. The most commonly observed impairments from alcohol are a lack of physical coordination and the inability to make sound judgments. It can cause someone to engage in risky behavior, while also being prone to physical injury.

When someone is an alcoholic, their entire world becomes a quest to get their next drink. The most notable sign and impact of alcoholism on a person is withdrawal symptoms. Our brain relies on a complex network of chemicals (neurotransmitters) to pass information between the brain and the body. With substance use, the brain is constantly bombarded with a chemical (alcohol), which changes the currently existing chemical balance. When this happens, the body will go into withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is not consumed. Some symptoms are more mild, such as sweating and vomiting. Others can be deadly when experienced without medical intervention, such as delirium tremens.

Alcohol addiction can be difficult to recover from without professional help. It's why for the best chance at recovery, an alcoholic needs professional addiction treatment. Some may require the use of a supervised detox program, which can help people detox from alcohol safely. It's important to remember that addiction treatment centers are not prisons. They are places of healing where those with an alcohol addiction can get the help they need.

The Signs and Impact of Alcoholism on Your Husband

Alcoholism can be subtle at first, but the signs and impact are there if someone knows where to look. A spouse must examine their husband's behavioral, emotional, and physical state to determine if there is a drinking problem. If they notice more than one sign, it's time to have a frank discussion with their husband.

The behavioral signs and impact of alcohol use deal mostly with sudden uncharacteristic changes in someone's behavior. They may begin to neglect their responsibilities and experience troubles at work, school, or home when they were previously responsible. Often, a person with an alcohol addiction may drop beloved hobbies and activities so they can drink. They may also drink when it's not safe or appropriate, such as while driving or swimming. Someone may know they have a problem, and choose to drink in secret. If someone seems like they cannot go through a day without a drink, they may have an alcohol addiction.

For the physical signs and impact, there is a visible change in someone's appearance when regularly consuming alcohol. They in general may have a "haggard" and “tired” appearance, with sunken eyes and poor skin condition. Alcohol is rough on the body, especially on the liver and the stomach. As a result, some people struggling with alcoholism may experience a yellowing of the skin (jaundice). Physically, a person may become more tolerant of alcohol over time, which forces them to drink more and more to get the same effect. They may also experience an urge or craving to use alcohol. When they cannot get alcohol, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.

The emotional signs and impact of alcoholism tend to center around defensiveness and denial. Many times, a person knows that they are addicted to alcohol. Accepting this fact is another thing entirely. It's common to see those addicted to alcohol deny that they drink too much, even when confronted with evidence. They may experience wild mood swings and become sensitive to what they may perceive as judgment. There are times when a person wants to stop drinking, but cannot. This only fuels their feelings of shame and sorrow, which in turn negatively impacts their emotional state.

The Signs and Impact of Alcoholism on Relationships and Family

There are several ways in which alcohol addiction can negatively harm the people around them. When someone is an alcoholic, it makes it difficult for them to communicate effectively with their loved ones. They may choose to emotionally distance themselves, afraid of judgment or ridicule. It's not uncommon for loved ones to be slowly shut out emotionally, especially when it's between a husband and their spouse. 

Perhaps one of the earliest signs and impact of alcoholism to spot is the financial troubles it puts on the family. Alcohol ranges in price, but it's still not a cheap substance. Sometimes, a spouse may see family funds start to vanish with no explanation, find bills unpaid, or run out of essential household items. This is because sometimes someone with an alcohol addiction will purchase alcohol in secret without the knowledge of their spouse. Alcohol addiction can also make it difficult to hold down a job or go to school. People can and have lost their jobs due to alcohol addiction, which can put further financial strain on the family.

Alcohol use impairs how a person thinks and acts. As a result, sometimes there is an increase in conflict between the person with the alcohol addiction and their loved ones. One of the signs and impacts of alcohol use is mood swings, which can cause arguments and fights. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions, which can lead people to act impulsively and violently. Domestic violence is a potential consequence of alcohol use and addiction and can end in incarceration, or even death.

Lastly, alcohol addiction is not just hard for those experiencing the addiction. It's also hard on children and other dependents in the family. Watching a loved one spiral into addiction and experiencing the results of such can be deeply traumatic to children. There are stories of children experiencing abuse and neglect due to the alcohol use of a parent. Sometimes it can be severe enough that children are removed from the household. It's a painful time for all involved, which is why alcohol addiction awareness is so important to societal health. 

The Underlying Causes: Why Some People Turn to Alcohol

There are many reasons why someone can develop an alcohol addiction. Believe it or not, genetics have a role to play in addiction rates. People who have family members who struggle with addiction are more likely to develop one themselves. Some genes can affect how likely someone is to develop an alcohol addiction. However, family history and genetics don't mean someone will develop an addiction. It simply means they must be more aware of the risks and take steps to mitigate those risks.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why someone may develop an alcohol addiction is because of self-medication. This is when someone consumes a substance to treat a perceived symptom, real or imagined, without the oversight of a doctor. Many people will drink to cope with stress so they can “relax.” Others may be living with trauma and other serious mental health disorders. The signs and impact of alcohol addiction usually stem from these factors, as many people will drink to help them cope with pain and the effects of trauma.

Peer pressure and other societal factors play a large role in alcohol addiction. People are bombarded with ads for alcohol which portrays alcohol use as fun and trendy. Others become addicted to alcohol because they believe they have to drink alcohol to have fun and relax. Peer pressure is especially difficult for teenagers, as they are trying to discover themselves and find their place in the world. It's also human nature to want to fit in with others, so it can be hard to say no when a group of people pressures someone to drink. 

Alcohol addiction comes from a combination of factors, some of which are beyond someone's control. People cannot choose to be born into an environment that encourages unsafe drinking. They also cannot choose the genetics that make up their bodies or the traumas they may have experienced. Others may never been taught how to cope with stress and troubles healthily. Alcohol addiction can be complicated, especially when all these factors come together into a perfect storm.

Communicating About the Signs and Impact of Addiction With Your Husband

Once a spouse has seen the signs and impact of alcohol addiction, they need to talk to their husband. This discussion, however, must be done in a particular way. The goal is to convince their husband to seek help, not push them away or trigger their defensiveness. It can be useful to seek a mental health professional for this, who can guide someone through the necessary steps to take to have a fruitful conversation. If someone doesn't know what to do or say, a mental health care professional can always help.

It's also important to choose the right time and setting. Don't have this discussion or confrontation in public. Sure, a spouse can bring up the signs and impact of alcohol addiction in public, but this will only embarrass and humiliate their husband. Instead, having the discussion in a neutral calm place, such as at home, allows both parties to relax. Choose a time when everyone is relaxed, such as after a meal, to have a conversation. Sometimes it can be helpful for a spouse to invite their husband to a therapist's office, where they can talk with a mediator present.

When talking about addiction, it's important to not assign blame or berate their husband. The husband's spouse should express love and concern and encourage them to seek help. At this point, it's okay to bring up the signs and impact of alcoholism as proof that there is something to be concerned about. Sometimes it's helpful to use examples of how alcohol addiction has harmed themselves and their loved ones. For example, “It hurts me when you drink so much that you black out. I'm scared you're going to black out somewhere unsafe and get hurt, or even die. I love you and I want you to get help."

How long this conversation lasts is up to the parties involved. However, it needs to be mentioned that people can get help for alcohol addiction. It's helpful to have researched addiction treatment facilities beforehand so they can be discussed. Remember to note that addiction treatment centers are not prisons. A spouse is not asking their husbands to go and lock themselves up. They are asking their husband to seek professional help. A spouse needs to reassure their husband that they still love them and will support them through treatment.

How Pathways Wellness Center Can Assist

Pathways Wellness Center is specifically tailored to treating people with an alcohol addiction. With an emphasis on a holistic approach, our treatments are designed to promote wellness as well as healing. Our staff members are highly trained, with many in recovery themselves. In this unique environment, clients can recover in a place of safety and understanding.

One important set of therapies used in addiction treatment is family therapy and couple's counseling. With family therapy, clients can discuss the signs and impact of alcohol addiction with their loved ones. Couples counseling allows a spouse and their husband to come together and work through their problems. Both therapies are overseen by a qualified mental healthcare professional, who can guide the client and their loved ones through this difficult journey. 

Pathways Wellness Center also helps by guiding loved ones through the intervention process. An intervention is when loved ones gather to help a loved one realize that they need help for their addiction. It's important to have professional guidance throughout an intervention, as it can be easy for one to devolve into judgment and anger. After intervention, Pathways Wellness Center can assist a client throughout the process of recovery. That includes detoxing from alcohol, rehab, and continued therapy. 

It is challenging for someone to recover from alcohol addiction. There is the challenge of rebuilding trust and mending relationships with those who have been harmed. They have to look inside themselves understand that they need help, and accept help from others. However, with ongoing support from Pathways Wellness Center, an individual, and their families can heal from the harm of addiction. 

For those with husbands who struggle with alcohol addiction, it can seem like your whole world has turned upside down. Alcohol addiction doesn't just affect the person with the addiction; it also affects those around them. However, anyone can recover from an alcohol addiction, especially when specialized treatment is available. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we offer treatment plans to fit any person's needs. With a holistic approach to treatment, our clients not only recover from addiction but also become healthier and happier people. If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, don't delay in getting help. Call us today at (888) 771-0966 to speak with our compassionate staff. 

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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