Drug Addiction Questions
My spouse is drinking all the time, but I don’t know if he/she is an alcoholic?
The important point to focus on is the frequency of drinking. Drinking “all the time” is a red flag in this situation. However, that does not mean your spouse is an alcoholic.
Your spouse may be abusing alcohol, which is a serious concern. In either case, you need to get your facts gathered and then you need to verify those facts.
“Drinking all the time” signifies a pattern of behavior. In so many cases, a person would rather admit to being mentally ill than admitting they have a “drinking problem.” In the Spring 2007 edition of About AA, Dr. Marsha Epstein, of the Tucker Health Center in Los Angeles, said “No one is quick to admit to current problems with alcohol or drugs. When I was in private practice years ago, I saw about 2000 patients over four and a half years and none ever admitted current heavy drinking.”
You can see by Dr. Epstein’s statement that you may know there is a problem, but your spouse is not likely to agree with you. You are going to need some help. The reason I suggest documenting the behavior is to give a professional person the “lay of the land” so to speak, to facilitate their assessment. Dr. Epstein also says that people will readily talk about the drinking habits of another family member or friend, all the while not admitting to any problem of their own. There are techniques involved in helping a person open up and talk to a therapist, but not everybody is going to know how to be a counselor and do professional assessments. Rather, partner with a professional to get the help your spouse needs.
How can you know if your spouse abusing alcohol or if he/she an alcoholic? The line might be a thin one, but in general, alcohol abuse is drinking to the point of negatively effecting health and personal relationships. They may have some problems at work. Alcoholism is when the person becomes dependent on alcohol. They develop a craving and will continue drinking no matter what happens to them. They may develop health problems, they may lose interest in their family and friends, and they need to drink more and more just to get the same effect. When they stop drinking, they need a drink.
Again, you need a partner to help you. As the one closest to the person who is abusing alcohol or may already be an alcoholic, you need training and support. You can’t be therapist and spouse. It would be like a marriage counselor trying to help their spouse. Get a professional partner.
Al-Anon was created for people just like you, to help you get the support you need. There are local groups all over the country. Find a group in your area and allow that group to be your sounding board, your confidant and your source of support. Allow a professional alcohol counselor to do the heavy lifting in dealing with your spouse. You’re not alone.
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