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Written by Seth Fletcher on September 2, 2016
Last update: February 26, 2024

How To Help My Alcoholic Wife?

Love is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, but can love overcome alcoholism? This is a question many spouses ask themselves.
There are few things certain in our lives. Loving our lifelong partners usually isn't one of them but watching someone go through addiction is exhaustive. Sometimes, you may wonder if you really love them because you just want to give up.Listen: You are not wrong for feeling sad, angry, confused or anything else over your wife's alcoholism.You two probably have a good life. Sure, you have your struggles, but who doesn't? And besides, you aren't an alcoholic. If you can find a way to cope with the trials and tribulations of being human without booze, she should be able to as well, right?If only it were that easy.So how do you help an alcoholic wife without losing her?


Addiction makes families feel like strangers. Your wife — as beautiful, smart and funny as she is — probably turns into someone you barely recognize when she drinks.Or maybe she is much more relaxed. You might even feel guilty for wanting her to quit because alcohol is the only thing that seems to make her happy.Guess what? Happiness doesn't come in a bottle.Whatever feelings your wife gets from drinking fade, which only causes her to drink more. Alcoholics are driven by their emotions — either ones they're dying to feel or desperate to forget.Because your wife's emotions fuel her addiction, you have to think logically. This means finding a way to communicate your own feelings in a way that is productive and respectful.The best way to do this is to prepare a list of things you want to say beforehand. Make sure that every complaint is accompanied by a genuine compliment.You want to remind your wife of all the reasons you love her and why she should stop drinking, not shame her and make her feel worse about herself.

Seek Outside Support

Find an alcoholic family support group like Al-Anon or make an appointment with a substance abuse therapist.Even a regular psychologist will be able to offer you tips on how to help an alcoholic wife while also keeping yourself emotionally healthy.If you have any family or friends that you trust enough to reveal your wife's struggle to, confide in them. Having a support group is just as important for you as it is for your wife during recovery.

Don't Rush to Rehab

Your ultimate goal during your conversations with your wife should be to steer her toward alcohol rehab. She has to make the choice to go on her own.Help her sober up in smaller ways at home like arranging activities to keep her mind off drinking and abstaining from any alcohol yourself.Some people are able to stop drinking on their own. If this is your wife, great. If not, that's okay. Read up on private and public rehab centres and let your wife know that no matter how bad her addiction becomes, there are plenty of treatments readily available.
Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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