How to Identify the Warning Signs, Talk to Your Spouse, & Find Help
Relationships, like life, are always changing. People change over the course of their lives, hopefully for the better, but stressors like work, loss, or existing trauma accumulate whether we like it or not. Finding healthy outlets for that stress is a challenge, especially when alcohol is so prevalent in our culture.
If you’re here, you may have noticed an uptick in your spouse’s drinking, or erratic changes in their mood or behavior. What started as a few glasses of wine with dinner may have turned into a bottle every night. They may seem distant, foggy, or irritable. But before we get into the signs of alcoholism, it’s important to know what constitutes problem drinking.
What is Problem Drinking?
Problem drinking is a general term for when someone takes their drinking too far. Once consumption of alcohol begins to negatively affect a person’s life – their family, friends, work, or personal, physical well-being – we consider that problem drinking.
Regardless of how long or how much your spouse has been drinking, it’s important to acknowledge that while you may have a role in their drinking, it’s not your fault, and you’re not alone; however, before coming to conclusions, it’s invaluable that you are equipped to make an informed assessment.
Signs Your Wife is an Alcoholic
There are several warning signs that can tip you off to a more problematic relationship with alcohol, but first, we should explore the factors that contribute to alcoholism in women.
How Does Alcohol Affect Women?
Women face higher risks than men when consuming alcohol due to many physical differences, most of all the difference in body weight. This increases the risk of developing a dependency on alcohol, and that alcohol takes a greater toll on a woman’s body than a man’s. High-risk, female drinkers are also more at risk for diseases of the heart, liver, brain, and breast cancer.
How Many Women in the US are Alcoholics?
Over 5 million American women over the age of 18 have an alcohol use disorder, while 1 in every 2 women have had a drink in the past month. Many of these women admit to binge drinking (having over 12 drinks per week), up to 18% according to sources.
Early Warning Signs of Alcoholism
- They can’t seem to enjoy social events without alcohol.
- They drink to relieve stress.
- They drink to excess without becoming intoxicated.
- Their personality changes when they drink.
- They get irritable when they abstain from drinking.
- They’ve had even minor legal, work, or personal problems resulting from drinking.
- They have a family history of alcoholism, making them more at risk.
Symptoms of Rampant Alcoholism
When alcohol abuse reaches a certain point, the drinker becomes physically dependent on alcohol to function. They may attempt to limit their own consumption of alcohol unsuccessfully, or keep drinking despite the negative impacts it has on their life. By this point, it’s unlikely that they’ll voluntarily go without, but if they do, it could result in extremely dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawals?
After drinking large amounts of alcohol, the brain becomes accustomed to the sedative effects of the substance. When that sedative is removed, the brain backfires and overcompensates, resulting in extremely unpleasant and often dangerous withdrawals:
- Rapid heart rate
- Hand tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seizures and death
Medically supervised detoxification programs are available to help wean those with physical alcohol dependencies off the substance in a safe, calculated manner.
If you believe your spouse is experiencing these withdrawal symptoms after going without a drink for too long, it may be time to have a talk.
How to Talk to Your Wife About Alcoholism
It’s only natural for you to express your concern about your spouse’s drinking, but it’s common for people to lash out when confronted. That’s why it’s crucial that you speak first and foremost from a place of love and caring.
Understanding and patience are crucial when confronting someone with their addiction. Acknowledge the difficulty of quitting, as well as the harmful effects alcohol has on the body. Alcohol dulls the senses, interferes with your quality of sleep, and harms the heart, brain, and liver. It may be worth repeating some of the times her drinking has negatively affected her life, or your relationship.
Assess your options. For some, this conversation may be enough. For others, a treatment program might be a better fit. Casa Capri Recovery is a treatment center for women, by women. If you need help, want to talk, or have questions, give us a call at (844) 593-8020 or contact us via our website today. If we aren’t a perfect fit for you, we will find someone who is.
If you don’t feel ready to have this conversation, it went poorly, or you just need some guidance through this situation, getting a licensed interventionist involved can help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline is available 24/7 and completely free. This service helps you find resources and professionals who can help guide you through this process and find the best treatment option for your unique situation.
Melissa Holmes Goodmon, Founder & CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, obtained her BA in Psychology and is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LAADC) specializing in women’s core issues. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mental health and substance abuse recovery where she has been an advocate since 2006.