7 tips for coping with your alcoholic husband

Are you living with an alcoholic husband? Do you feel that you are being taken advantage of? Several women I deal with in this position feel like a doormat and their self-esteem suffers every time they endure the extreme selfishness of an addicted spouse.

I am a psychiatrist who specializes in addictions and I understand what spouses endure when living with an alcoholic.

This is one of my recent cases:

HZ is 58 years old and has been married for 20 years. Her first husband was an alcoholic. She left him and took her two small children of hers with her. She had been very successful and then lost. all. Her second husband drank often. She was also very successful. He got clean and sober only when she threatened to leave him and was able to keep her sober for 5 years.

However, he began to drink thinking that he could control his consumption. His drinking got progressively worse. She started coming home late. Sometimes he didn’t come home at all. He ignored her phone calls and text messages from him. They quarreled over how to drink from him. He would reply, “Is that all you care about?” Over time, HZ became quite depressed and her husband decided to be around her less and less. She began to feel worthless when her husband treated her “under the filth” (as she put it). However, she endured this terrible treatment.

What could HZ have done? Here are 7 tips for coping with your alcoholic husband:

1) Talk to your alcoholic spouse about their drinking only when sober. Speak calmly and tell him that you will make changes in your own life because you can’t depend on him to stop drinking alcohol.

2) Reach out and start building a support system. Call friends you’ve been afraid to open up to and tell them the truth about your situation. Attend Al‑Anon meetings and get support from other women who have been through similar situations.

3) Find a therapist and start working on your own codependency issues. If you can’t afford individual therapy, find a therapist who does group therapy.

4) If you haven’t worked in a while, get a part-time job to easily get back into the working world and get on the road to not being 100% financially dependent on your alcoholic husband.

5) Consider going back to school and retraining in an area that will ultimately land you a good job.

6) Get help for your children because they are growing up in an alcoholic family, leading to lifelong problems. Find a therapist, a school counselor, or even refer them to Teen-Anon. Betty Ford has an excellent program for young children in several different cities.

7) Consider a breakup if you’ve tried these things and your life hasn’t improved.

Bottom line: You are the only one that can change your situation. You deserve a great life. Be proactive and your situation will improve.

Remember: It’s up to you, not him.

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