What to Do When an Alcoholic Husband Refuses Treatment

alcoholic husband refuses treatment

It is so hard to witness a loved one’s slide into alcoholism, especially if it’s your spouse. You can see that your husband needs help, but your attempts to persuade him to enter rehab are brushed aside. So, what can you do what your alcoholic husband refuses treatment?

It helps to know that most people, when confronted about their substance use, will resist the idea of needing help. Denial is the number one most common response when someone suggests their drinking is problematic. Alcoholism is complex, and there are often several issues at play that can cause this resistance. Read on to learn what you can do when an alcoholic husband refuses treatment.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) includes a spectrum of disordered drinking. This ranges from binge drinking to mild, moderate, or severe AUD, with severe being alcohol addiction. When someone becomes alcoholic, they slowly lose their ability to control their drinking and can’t stop even if they want to.

Not everyone develops the disease, which is one of the many mysteries of addiction. However, with continued heavy consumption, chances of becoming alcoholic do increase. Some of the warning signs of AUD include:

  • Being unable to control alcohol intake.
  • Unable to cut back or quit drinking.
  • Lies about or denies drinking; hides alcohol in accessible places.
  • Devote much thought and time to drinking or recovering from drinking.
  • Strong alcohol cravings.
  • Increased tolerance that leads to higher alcohol intake.
  • Ignoring obligations, such as keeping up with family and work responsibilities.
  • Has memory blackouts.
  • Has little interest in hobbies or social activities once enjoyed.
  • Continues drinking despite adverse effects on their life.
  • Engages in high-risk behaviors while drinking.
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.

The severity of the AUD is based on how many of these signs are present.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Very often, a drinking habit develops in response to a mental health challenge. The alcohol is used as a form of self-medicating stress or emotional pain. This can lead to co-occurring disorders, such as AUD and a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety.

Treatment for a dual diagnosis is provided at specialized rehabs that are equipped with a psychiatrist on staff. During treatment, both of these disorders should be addressed and treated concurrently. This is because ignoring the mental health issue will quickly lead to relapse.

Common Barriers to Treatment

Someone battling alcoholism often loses clarity about just how serious their drinking has become. This lack of awareness is only one of the common roadblocks to getting a husband into treatment.

Other barriers to treatment include:

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  • Fear. Fearing the harsh reality of detox and withdrawal can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. They are well aware of what withdrawal symptoms feel like and wish to avoid that altogether.
  • Time. There is never a convenient time to go to rehab. Your husband’s busy schedule may not allow for a long stay in rehab. Most men don’t want to be away from their family or their job, which causes alcoholic husbands to refuse treatment.
  • Cost. A common response when you ask a loved one to consider treatment is, “We can’t afford rehab.” It is true that addiction treatment is pricey, so this is a practical concern.
  • Stigma. Perceived risk to one’s reputation, or stigma attached to addiction, can be a difficult stumbling block to treatment.  Your husband may have concerns about how his career might be impacted if his stint in rehab becomes known.
  • Career. For someone who has established a solid career path, it may seem risky to take an extended leave of absence from work. The husband may be in a senior position and has a team that depends on him.

How to Approach a Husband Who Refuses Treatment

Most spouses of an alcoholic find themselves walking on eggshells. They grit their teeth when seeing their husband drinking day after day, and don’t know how to approach them.

Consider these helpful strategies for starting a productive conversation:

  1. Wait until they are sober. Do not attempt to discuss his need for treatment while he is intoxicated, as he won’t be open to it.
  2. Wait for a calm moment. As tempting as it is to lash out in frustration, avoid bringing up rehab during a heated argument.
  3. Prepare in advance. Jot down the main points to want to make and practice saying them. Also, it helps to do some research about AUD before sitting down to discuss it.
  4. Be kind. You really do not understand how it feels to be in the grip of an addiction, so avoid derogatory or judgmental language.

Should You Consider an Intervention?

If your efforts to persuade your husband to get treatment fail, it might be time to consider an intervention. These are planned meet-ups with a trained facilitator guiding the entire process. Prior to the meeting, you will meet with the interventionist to discuss the main points you want to cover.

The addiction specialist will guide you and other family members on how to behave and respond during the meeting. You may even do some role-playing ahead of the intervention so you will feel confident.

You and the other participants will be asked to write letters to your husband to describe how his drinking problem impacts you. You are instructed to read the letter aloud to him, while remaining calm.

After all participants have read their letters, the interventionist asks you husband if he is ready and willing to get some help. Even if he says no, the seeds have been planted and may produce fruit at a later date.

Treatment Options to Explore

Thankfully, there are several types of rehabs to explore with your husband. If time and money are big concerns, an outpatient rehab may be the answer. These provide more flexible scheduling and allow him to remain at home during the treatment period.

If he has a severe AUD, a residential treatment program is the best level of care for your husband. These provide round-the-clock support and a structured, substance-free space to focus on sobriety.

Capo by the Sea is Leading Residential and Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Capo by the Sea offers evidence-based treatment methods in a 5-star setting. Our beautiful coastal rehab provides the finest rehab experience possible. If your alcoholic husband refuses treatment, our intervention services can help. For more details about the program, please reach out today at (888) 529-2114.