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What Are the Effects of Living With an Alcoholic Spouse?

The effects of staying with an alcoholic have always been stereotypically portrayed in the movies – angry outbursts, domestic abuse, tense exchange of words, and even guilt. But is that the reality of living with a spouse with an alcohol use disorder? The fact is alcoholism has a tremendous effect on the family and friends of the alcoholic. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and other health conditions, such as mental and behavioral disorders. The effects and life-changing disruptions are not always experienced immediately; they start slowly and graduate over time. The biggest issue is you can’t fight or abandon them because you love them.

From another angle, a similar effect of living with an alcoholic spouse is becoming their enabler because you care for the person. This happens when you give them more money or cover up for them to hide their addiction so that they don’t cause a scene. Undoubtedly, family and friends are vital to the recovery of the alcoholic, and they are often the key to getting them help. However, they can also aid their alcoholism in different ways, and the reverse effects are colossal. This blog post discusses the effects of staying with an alcoholic partner and how you can get them to help.

Cedar Oaks Wellness Center is a Cincinnati drug and alcohol rehab that can help you overcome addiction.

Effects of Living With an Alcoholic Spouse

Living with an alcoholic can affect the individual, their work and social relationship, and family. It breaks the person as much as it does those around them. Some of the common effects are;

Lies and Deception

Alcoholism is a selfish disease that pushes everyone and every other thing aside. An individual with alcohol problems lies about how many bottles they have consumed and where they’ve been. As a partner or a family member, you may find bottles in strange places. You may be inclined to ask, but the fear of retaliation will silence you, and the cycle of drinking continues.

Emotional distress

Alcoholism can be emotionally draining and cause enormous stress and anxiety to those surrounding the individual. The unpredictable, spontaneous behavior of the alcoholic can create instability in the home and relationships.

Physical health challenges

Living with an alcoholic individual can lead to stress, increased anxiety, and uncertainty. It makes it complicated to anticipate the person’s behavior, which can lead to distress. Alcoholism can also cause sleep disturbances, headaches, and other physical problems.

Financial problems

Alcoholism drains the pocket of the individual and can have a significant impact on the livelihood of his family. Financial debts and expenses will significantly rise if the family solely depends on the person’s income.

Social isolation

The alcoholic spouse dissociates from any social activity with close pals or colleagues. Also, the non-alcoholic partner may feel embarrassed or ashamed to have friends over and cook up excuses for the absence of the alcoholic partner.

Relationship conflict

Physical and emotional connection is a core component of any healthy relationship, but with an alcoholic spouse, this connection is lost. Additionally, alcoholism can lead to a breakdown in communication, loss of sex and intimacy, and increased abuse. If you are their partner, you may count on your fingers the number of times you went to bed with your partner.

Mental health issues

Alcoholism can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. If you’re in a co-dependent relationship with an alcoholic, their behavior can lead to greater anxiety and depression.

If you’re living with an alcoholic, it can affect your mental and emotional state. Seeking help is the best decision.

Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse on Children

Children are the most affected in this case. They become vulnerable to harm, and the experience in their childhood can have a profound effect on their adulthood. According to several studies, children of alcoholics experience higher depression and low self-esteem.

The effects include:

  • Neglect
  • Difficulty communicating with alcoholic parents
  • Psychological and social problems

Alcoholic Spouse Support Groups

Alcoholism can be challenging to manage, especially when spouses and children are involved. The good news is many support groups are available that can help out. Here are some options;


Al-Anon is a popular support group that helps friends and family members of those with AUD. This group is based on the 12-step program.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)

ACA is a support group that helps children who grew up with alcoholic parents. The group provides a supportive environment for children to share their experiences growing up in an alcoholic environment.

SMART Recovery Family & Friends

SMART Recovery uses a science-based model to help those recover from the impact of addiction on their lives.

Families Anonymous

Families Anonymous is another support group that caters to families and friends of those with alcohol addiction problems. It is based on a 12-step program. It provides tools and resources to help individuals cope with addiction’s emotional, physical, and mental impacts.

Cedar Oaks Wellness Center Can Help a Loved One with Alcohol Addiction

Seeking help for your alcoholic spouse is a brave move in coping with the challenges of living with an alcoholic partner. If all you say or do to help your loved one seek help isn’t working, you can contact us. Cedar Oaks Wellness Center has a dedicated team of addiction specialists who can encourage your alcoholic spouse to seek help. With our support groups and various treatment programs, we can help those affected by their partner’s alcoholism to cope with the impact. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our Cincinnati addiction treatment programs.

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