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Is My Husband Drinking Too Much?

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If your husband is drinking too much, this can take a heavy toll on your relationship.

All marriages are unique, and all alcohol addictions are different. That said, there are many common ways in which problematic drinking patterns impact intimate relationships.

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Some of these include: 

  • Verbal or physical aggression.
  • Dissatisfaction and instability in relationship.
  • Husband neglecting responsibilities at home and work.
  • Time wasted recovering from hangovers.
  • Legal problems related to alcohol abuse.
  • Financial stress caused by the cost of alcohol addiction.
  • Husband engaging in harmful behaviors and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
  • Creating a harmful environment at home, worsened if you have children.
  • Potential for addiction (alcohol use disorder, the clinical term for alcoholism).

You may be experiencing the negative outcomes above as a result of your husband’s alcohol abuse, or you mind find that his problematic patterns of drinking manifest in other ways. 

How, then, can you establish whether your husband is drinking too much? 

How to Know if Your Husband is Drinking Too Much

If you are concerned that your husband is drinking too much, you should determine whether he is a problem drinker or he has alcohol use disorder. 

A problem drinker engages in unhealthy patterns of alcohol consumption that trigger negative outcomes. Problem drinkers are not necessarily physically or psychologically on alcohol. 

According to NIAAA (NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), there are two particularly problematic drinking patterns: 

  • Binge drinking
  • Heavy drinking

NIAAA guidelines assume that the following are standard alcoholic drinks: 

  • 12oz beer (5% ABV)
  • 5oz wine (12% ABV)
  • 1.5oz distilled spirits (40% ABV)

Binge drinking is defined as a man drinking more than 5 standard alcoholic drinks in 2 hours, or a woman drinking more than 4 drinks in the same period. 

Heavy drinking is defined as a man consuming over 15 standard alcoholic drinks in one week, or a woman consuming over 8 drinks in the same period.  

If your husband is engaging in either of the above patterns of drinking, he is at heightened risk of developing alcohol use disorder. NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) defines alcohol use disorder as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. Informally known as alcoholism, the condition is characterized by the compulsive use of alcohol in the face of obviously negative outcomes. 

Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed according to the criteria outlined in DSM-5-TR. DSM-5-TR is the most recent edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by APA (American Psychiatric Association). In this updated fifth edition, cravings are included as a symptom of alcohol use disorder. 

Diagnosis is based on the following criteria: 

  1. Consuming more alcohol than planned or drinking for longer than intended.
  2. Experiencing cravings for alcohol.
  3. Making unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking.
  4. Spending lots of time drinking and recovering from the effects.
  5. Failing to meet personal and professional commitments.
  6. Neglecting previously favored activities and interests.
  7. Drinking in potentially dangerous situations.
  8. Continuing to drink despite problems in your relationships?
  9. Drinking even though it triggers or inflames a physical or mental health condition.
  10. Requiring more alcohol to achieve the same intoxicating effects.
  11. Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed as follows: 

  • Mild alcohol use disorder: 2 to 3 criteria
  • Moderate alcohol use disorder: 4 to 5 criteria
  • Severe alcohol use disorder: 6 or more criteria

Even if your husband does not admit that he has a drinking problem, you can make an accurate assessment yourself using the diagnostic criteria above. 

How to Deal with a Husband Drinking Too Much

Dealing with a husband who drinks too much is likely to be volatile and demanding. Unsafe drinking habits can lead to unsafe household environments. Remove yourself from any dangerous or abusive situations. 

Never be afraid to reach out for help when you’re looking to support your husband through detox, rehab, and recovery. You do not need to do this alone. 

Here are some actionable steps you can take to streamline dealing with an alcoholic husband: 

  • Always keep lines of communication open
  • Approach your husband non-judgmentally and non-confrontationally
  • Give your husband concrete examples of the consequences of his drinking problem
  • Think twice about issuing ultimatums
  • Find out about suitable treatment programs near you
  • Stop all enabling behaviors
  • Offer ongoing support throughout your husband’s recovery

Always keep lines of communication open

You should never attempt to confront your husband about his drinking habits when he is intoxicated. Instead, start on ongoing dialogue so you can openly discuss issues like alcohol addiction without conflict. 

If you keep open lines of communication, you can hopefully persuade your husband of the damaging consequences of his addiction and the need for professional treatment. 

Approach your husband non-judgmentally and non-confrontationally

When you speak with your husband about alcohol abuse, keep in mind that alcohol use disorder is a disease and not a weakness or failing. If you are non-confrontational and non-judgmental in your approach, you are less likely to trigger outbursts of anger or denial.

Give your husband concrete examples of the consequences of his drinking problem

Share specific examples with your husband of instances where his drinking problem has caused problems for you. 

The more you can illustrate the consequences of alcohol abuse that ripple outward, the more your husband may acknowledge that he has a drinking problem and needs treatment. 

Think twice about issuing ultimatums

If you issue ultimatums and hard options to your husband – “Quit drinking, or I’ll leave”, for instance – this is liable to increase stress levels without achieving anything concrete. 

Show your husband the benefits of therapy for alcoholism rather than attempting to force him into a corner. 

Find out about suitable treatment programs near you

Learn as much as you can about the relative benefits of inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcoholism. Research suitable treatment facilities near you so you can offer some firm options for your husband corresponding to the severity of his addiction. 

Stop all enabling behaviors

You should not provide your spouse with alcohol or money for alcohol. Do not excuse his behavior, and do not attempt to rationalize his behavior.

There is a big difference between supporting your husband and enabling his alcoholism. You will not be helping him in the long-term if you make it easier for him to continue drinking. Set firm boundaries and be prepared to maintain them. 

Offer ongoing support throughout your husband’s recovery

Make sure your husband knows you will support him throughout the ongoing process of recovery from alcohol use disorder where he will learn how to stop drinking. 

Once he agrees to engage with treatment, you could be just a month away from the start of a new relationship unencumbered by alcohol abuse. We can help you initiate his recovery here at California Detox.

Get Your Husband Help at California Detox

At California Detox, we appreciate that everyone has a different experience of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder. As such, we provide treatment programs at all levels on ASAM’s continuum of care. 

If your husband has mild alcohol use disorder, he may find outpatient treatment or intensive outpatient treatment provides sufficient structure to initiate recovery. If he has a more severe alcohol use disorder or a co-occurring mental health condition, the optimum route to recovery involves a supervised medical detox followed by a PHP (partial hospitalization program) or residential rehab. 

Whatever level of treatment intensity is recommended for your husband, he can address his alcohol addiction through the following interventions: 

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Holistic therapies

Help your husband to kickstart his recovery from alcoholism at California Detox. Call our team today for immediate assistance and help learn how to get someone into rehab.

FAQs

If your husband meets the criteria above for alcohol use disorder, you should be concerned and help him to find the right alcohol rehab. Your husband’s alcohol consumption should also raise concerns if the consequences impact your life in any way.
You cannot stop your husband from drinking until he is prepared to admit that he has a problem that requires professional treatment. Open a dialogue with the aim of connecting your husband with the treatment program he needs. Be persistent and express your concerns from a position of love and concern. If your husband still refuses to engage with treatment, you might consider staging an intervention.

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