It started out innocently enough. A glass of wine here. A few beers there. But you may have noticed that your spouse is consuming alcohol more and more. Maybe you noticed them having a little too much to drink at parties. Or maybe they had an incident at work. Maybe there has been an outburst or encounter while your spouse was drunk that frightened you.
And now you’re starting to wonder: does my spouse have a drinking problem? Is this something that we need to get under control?
Dealing with a drinking problem can be difficult for you and your family. How do you even know if your spouse has a drinking problem? How do you bring it up? And, how do you get them help? I will outline the answers to all of these questions here. Use this information to get your family back on track!
Warning Signs of a Drinking Problem
Determining if your loved one has a drinking problem can be difficult. Many of the warning signs are open to interpretation, or they might happen once, but not frequently. Regardless, here are the most common warning signs to watch out for with your spouse:
- Memory loss or blackouts from drinking too much.
- Isolating themselves from loved ones.
- Hiding their drinking or drinking alone.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Deciding to drink instead of taking care of their responsibilities, such as going to work, keeping up with their home, running errands, etc.
- Feeling hungover all of the time.
These are just a few common warning signs of having a problem with alcohol. If you notice that the issues mentioned above are familiar, your loved one might have a drinking problem.
What to Do If You Think Your Loved One Has a Drinking Problem
If you suspect that your loved one has a drinking problem, it is time to take additional steps. Plan a talk with them about their drinking. If you are going to have a talk about drinking, make sure to pick a good time. Your loved one may become emotional or be in denial about a drinking issue. Prepare for this beforehand and plan what you are going to say.
One “test” that you can have your spouse do is called the CAGE questionnaire. CAGE is an acronym for “cut, annoyed, guilty, eye”. These are key words in each of the questions proposed in the questionnaire.
If your loved one answers “yes” to two or more of the questions, they are at risk for a drinking issue. At this point, it is a good idea to contact a medical professional for further assistance.
Here are the questions in the CAGE questionnaire:
- Did you ever feel like you should cut down on drinking?
- Have other people annoyed you by telling you to drink less?
- Have you ever experienced guilt because of your drinking?
- Did you ever feel like you needed a drink first thing in the morning (eye opener) so that you could start your day?
You can go over these questions with your spouse. If nothing else, it might get them to start thinking about their drinking habits.
Please note that this questionnaire is not meant as a formal diagnosis of alcoholism. A doctor can make this diagnosis if they are contacted.
What Not to Do If You Think Your Loved One Has a Drinking Problem
Talking about alcohol can be difficult. It is a sensitive subject. Try to be as supportive and positive as possible with your spouse. Don’t try to blame or shame your loved one. Don’t lecture them. This will only make them feel worse, and it is not productive.
But, now is the time to stop looking the other way or making excuses for them. Your family needs to face this situation in order to resolve the issue.
If you think that your loved one or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 911 for assistance.
If your loved one visits a doctor and realizes that they have a drinking problem, there are additional resources that they can take advantage of as part of a treatment plan.
A doctor can help your family determine if a rehabilitation facility is right for your spouse. Alternatively or in addition, a program like Alcoholics Anonymous can be incredibly helpful in keeping your loved one on track with their recovery.
As for what you can do to help them overcome an alcohol problem, first of all, make sure that you keep communication open with your spouse. Be there if they need to vent or talk about what they are going through, but don’t push it if they don’t want to talk about it.
Oftentimes, drinking problems are accompanied by other issues, such as anxiety or depression. If this is the case for your loved one, get them help for these issues. Continue to offer support and resources to help your loved one. In addition, it is a good idea not to drink around your spouse, at least for the beginning stages of their recovery.
And if your loved one needs help with a criminal issue related to their drinking, we can assist. Contact our office for more information.