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You have pled, cried, and yelled at your spouse about their drinking, but none of these has moved the needle. You are stuck sitting helplessly on the sidelines while you watch your alcoholic partner’s life implode. It appears you have one option left—an ultimatum, either rehab or divorce.
As a couple, you have probably experienced the highs and lows of life together. You were in sync, both committed to the marriage and your bright future ahead. That is until the alcohol problem came on the scene, and that has changed everything. If you want to learn more about what to do if your spouse is addicted to a substance, read on!
Why Won’t My Spouse Stop Drinking?
Your spouse may be right in the middle of the turmoil caused by an alcohol abuse problem, yet he or she seems oblivious. Their life could be falling apart around them, but still, they drink. You are this close to giving them an ultimatum, rehab, or divorce.
So, why is it that a person can just stop drinking? When it is obvious that the drinking is causing so much chaos, why are they a slave to the alcohol? The answer lies in the way that alcohol changes the brain’s chemistry. As your partner continues to abuse alcohol, he or she starts to develop an increased tolerance for it. This happens as the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol in the system.
Your spouse may realize that they need to cut back or quit drinking but finds that they can’t. The brain has become dependent on alcohol, so when they attempt to stop drinking, they become sick with withdrawals. This leads them to return to alcohol.
What Causes Alcohol Dependency?
When you ingest alcohol, it releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. This has a very pleasant, relaxing effect, which is highly desirable. The brain records the experiences as positive ones that should be repeated and prompt the person to drink again.
The brain’s neural pathways are changed by the effects of alcohol. The presence of withdrawal symptoms and cravings tell the story, that your spouse is now dependent on alcohol. Most people go on to develop alcohol addiction if they don’t get help once they become dependent.
Alcohol addiction is the most severe form of alcohol use disorder. It features a daily cycle of obsessive alcohol use, intoxication, and then withdrawal symptoms when it wears off.
Know the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder
Does your spouse have an alcohol use disorder? Here is a list of questions for the spouse to answer. The more of these that he or she answers “yes” to, the more severe the alcohol use disorder is:
- Do you have trouble controlling the amount of alcohol you consume, and drink more than you intend?
- Have you tried to cut down or stop drinking more than once, but couldn’t?
- Do you spend a lot of time drinking, or being sick due to the aftereffects?
- Do you have alcohol cravings?
- Has your drinking interfered with taking care of your family, or caused problems at work?
- Do you continue to drink even though it is causing problems with your family and friends?
- Have you given up or cut back on usual activities in order to drink instead?
- Have you put your health or life at risk while drinking?
- Do you keep drinking even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious, or is causing health problems?
- Are you finding that you have to drink more to get the desired effects?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
How One Partner’s Alcoholism Affects the Other
As you already know, being married to a heavy drinker affects everyone in the home. It affects the other spouse, the kids, and even the extended family. Alcoholism is called a family disease for this reason.
Some of the ways alcoholism can impact a marriage include:
- Because you are ashamed or embarrassed about your spouse’s drinking, you tend to skip social events, which leads to isolation.
- You find yourself making excuses for your spouse, such as covering for them when they are hungover and want you to call in sick for them.
- Your spouse may have become verbally or physically abusive.
- Your spouse lost his or her job due to reduced productivity, excess absences, or being drunk at work. The loss of income impacts your ability to pay the monthly bills.
- You are becoming more and more depressed due to your spouse’s drinking problems and its effects on you and the family.
- You find yourself sucked into trying to control your addiction, which is called codependency.
Should the Couple Attack the Substance Problem as a Team?
If your spouse was given an ultimatum to pick rehab or divorce, they hopefully picked rehab. If they did, that is cause for celebration, because it means they are willing to do what it takes to save the marriage.
While your partner is in rehab, however, it is important to know that you will be included in both the therapy during treatment and the recovery phase afterward. A couples-focused program designs therapy to include the spouse so both will be on the same page.
The couple’s therapy helps spouses understand how to move through recovery together as partners. It also teaches you to have better communication between you, better conflict resolution, and better emotion regulation. All of these skills prepare the couple to work through the stressful times and adverse events that come their way. Spouses learn how to be supportive, yet avoid falling into codependency.
You may be ready to issue an ultimatum, that it’s rehab or divorce. However, you should know there is another way to deal with a partner’s substance problem. Reach out to get help today!
Capo by the Sea Premier Alcoholism Recovery Rehab Helps Couples
Capo by the Sea is a luxury addiction rehab that specializes in helping couples when one or both of them struggle with substance abuse. To learn more about the program, call us today at (888) 529-2114.