If my husband is an alcoholic and going through treatment

by Jodi
(Virginia)

My husband has recently been having severe anxiety attacks which he sought help for. He was prescribed Zoloft and was told that he shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking the drug. He was referred to attend an inpatient rehab facility. Basically his drinking never affected me except for the fact that he became more and more withdrawn. I carried on with my life, my career, and raising our three children.

Am I expected to go and find a support group and “get help” as well? Again, it wasn’t a perfect marriage but I’m a very independent person and our situation seemed like having the best of both worlds.

Reply

It is always recommended that the spouse of an alcoholic seek help for themselves as well. Of course, this is a choice that is completely up to you. One of the reasons this is recommended is for your sake so that you can process the effect his drinking has had on you. However, another reason it’s recommended is for his sake. It’s important that you know how to support him through his recovery, understand the do’s and don’ts, and recognize enabling behaviors in yourself. I’m sure that you would learn a lot in the process of seeing a counselor. There may be effects that you aren’t aware of because they seem normal and familiar to you. Honestly, it probably can’t hurt. In addition, you may need marriage counseling to repair damage done by his withdrawing.

I would recommend setting up 3 appointments with a counselor. Talk to him/her honestly like you have just shared with me. Ask for honest feedback from the counselor. Does he/she think that you are in need of further counseling? The counselor will be the best one to make that determination. You are probably too involved to be objective about your situation and I don’t have enough information to say for sure.

I’m not sure the ages of your children but you may also want to have them try counseling. Alcoholism in the home can have a huge and lasting impact on children. You may not see the fruits of this impact until they’re much older. It would be good to have them evaluated as well. Again, a counselor will be the best judge of their emotional development.

To read more about how to help an alcoholic, or how alcoholism affects families, follow the links. 

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