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My Husband Drinks Too Much Alcohol: 10 FAQs

Man and woman, standing apart, side by side

At Help Me Stop, we receive many calls and messages from concerned family members about a loved one’s alcohol addiction. Often, it’s partners who are most affected, people who live with someone with alcohol addiction. They experience all of the ups and downs. To all the family members, addiction can be a living nightmare for you too. We’re here to listen. If you contact us, we can give you advice on addiction treatment for your relative, and support for you too.

Below are 10 frequently asked questions that may help you. Call 0208 191 9191 to talk in confidence about alcohol addiction treatment.

1. How can I get my husband to stop drinking alcohol?

The short answer is, you can’t stop your husband drinking. You may have tried many things over the years, from listening to his worries, through to setting boundaries, and even issuing an ultimatum. There isn’t a tried and tested way to make your loved one stop drinking. You can ask him once, or even a hundred times, but if he’s addicted, he might not be able to stop without specialist treatment.

2. If he loved me, surely he’d stop drinking?

Overcoming alcohol addiction has nothing to do with whether your partner loves you or not. Of course, it’s fine to make it clear to him that you wish he would stop drinking. But if he tries to quit alcohol, and finds he cannot stay away from it, this is a sign of alcohol dependence. There may be physical and mental factors at play, which make it hard or impossible for him to stop drinking without support.

3. My husband stopped drinking before, why can’t he do it again?

In most cases, alcohol addiction is a progressive illness. Typically, it gets worse (not better) over time. Without treatment and support, the physical and mental reliance upon alcohol can increase, as the body and brain adapt. So, in the past, your husband may have been able to stop or significantly cut down, but now that may be out of reach.

4. Is it my fault that my partner drinks too much?

No, absolutely not. Whatever is going on in your relationship, whether you are close to your partner or not, you are not to blame for someone else’s addiction to alcohol. You may still have a very loving relationship, or there may be arguments and accusations. Either way, any adult with an addiction needs to accept responsibility for their condition. One way to do this is to accept help.

5. Is my husband to blame for his alcohol addiction?

Again, no. At Help Me Stop, we treat alcohol addiction as an illness. It is not a weakness, failing or moral issue. This is in line with World Health Organisation definition of alcohol dependence:

 The characteristic feature [of alcohol dependence] is a strong internal drive to use alcohol, which is manifested by impaired ability to control use, increasing priority given to use over other activities and persistence of use despite harm or negative consequences.

International Classification of Diseases, ICD-11, World Health Organisation

When addiction sets in, we believe that people who often function relatively well in other areas of their life, lose the power of choice over how much they drink. Many of our clients are in long term relationships. Many have children. The majority of our clients are working people, including lawyers, barristers, civil servants, accountants, retailers, teachers, bankers, actors, entertainers, medical professionals, and more. Addiction does not discriminate, and we don’t believe in a punitive or judgmental approach.

6. What can I do to help my partner?

The good news is there are lots of things you can do to help. If your partner has had enough of alcohol addiction, and he wants to change, then your support can make all the difference. You might make the first call for help with alcohol addiction. Or you could provide practical support with making arrangements for treatment. Remember, there are no doubt many things you are already doing that are supportive, from ensuring the bills get paid, to going to work, to making sure the kids get to school, and food is on the table. Don’t underestimate your role.

7. It’s such a weight on my mind, his drinking. How can I deal with that?

Alcohol addiction is known as a family illness for a reason. It doesn’t just affect the drinker, it affects deeply the people who love that person too. We always recommend that family and close friends get their own support. It might come as a surprise, but this support focuses on you. Help Me Stop runs an optional programme for family and friends of clients in our alcohol treatment programme. This helps you to refocus on what’s going on for you, and get the emotional support that you need.

8. If he goes into treatment, how should I be around him?

Apart from getting your own support, which might be Help Me Stop’s family programme, or a peer support group like Al-Anon, you don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. Remember, it’s enough that you’re keeping everything else going. While your partner is in treatment for addiction, it can be a good time to take some much needed time for yourself. With professional and specialist support, he has a really good chance of getting well. With Help Me Stop’s Dayhab or Online Rehab programme, if you live with your husband, you’ll still see him every day.

9. Should I ask about how things are going for him in treatment?

Of course, you can ask how your husband’s day has gone. Showing you care and supporting his treatment process is kind and loving. It’s also important to know that the early days of recovery from addiction can be very tiring. Your husband will be going through big physical and emotional changes, as he adjusts to life without alcohol. It’s probably best not to ask too many questions initially. Allow the treatment process to happen. There is hope. Recovery is possible, and lives do transform.

Nadia Sawalha speaks openly about her husband Mark’s alcoholism and recovery process.

10. Can you guarantee that he’ll get better in treatment?

We wish we could offer a 100% guarantee, but no addiction treatment facility in the world can offer that. Currently, our treatment completion rates are 85% (2020-21 statistics) across our London Dayhab and Online Rehab services. Highly motivated clients, who have good support from family and friends, typically achieve the best outcomes: whilst this isn’t particularly a surprise, hopefully it can offer some reassurance to you, as a concerned relative.

Contact us here for a confidential chat about alcohol addiction treatment. We welcome calls from family members or close friends, who are calling on behalf of a loved one with addiction. Our helpline is 0208 191 9191: if you call out of hours, we’ll get back to you the next working day.

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