The Monster in the Closet- Alcohol Dependent Spouses

  • 28 Mar 2017

Marriages are often faced with many challenges. From figuring out how to manage money and how many children to have, to who is going to do the dishes, we have all experienced them. Some challenges may be obvious, but some may be so cleverly disguised or hidden. It is stated that nearly 17 million adults in the United States have alcohol-related problems. “Alcohol remains the number-one drug problem in the United States.” [1] With this kind of shocking statistic, it is not uncommon to see marriages affected and divorces finalized as a result. You may be wondering how to determine if you or your partner is falling victim to alcohol dependency: the ugly monster in the closet that no one wants around, but does not know how to get rid of. First take a moment to understand what it is and how it shows up in the life of those affected.

Alcohol Dependency Signs

It can be very hard to detect the presence of alcoholism in a marriage. Many times a spouse may not realize they have a problem. Alcohol dependency is a more serious kind of alcohol use disorder involving three or more of the following:

  • Loss of control: drinking more or drinking for a longer period of time than intended.
  • Tolerance: needing more alcohol to reach the desired effect.
  • Not able to decrease the amounts consumed or stop altogether.
  • Continued drinking despite knowing the problems it has caused or made worse.
  • Spending large amounts of time drinking or recovering from it.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not consumed. These include vomiting, dizziness, shaking, nausea, anxiety, seizures, hallucinations, tremors, insomnia and sweating.
  • Missing or willing to give up social or recreational activities in order to drink.

Confronting a spouse who has alcohol dependency is a task that is not easy to do. As with most issues in life, change cannot be brought about without an acceptance of the problem. If your spouse refuses to accept their problem, you will have to prove their alcohol dependency in court. This is a major importance when children are involved and custody hearings begin. This can be easier to do with proof of any messages related to their drinking, pictures of empty beers, documentation and testimonials from friends and family members. Remember an alcohol dependent spouse will do what they can to deny or place blame on you, but with proper documentation in court, it will be easier to prove their dependency.

Although it may be hard to continue with the divorce when all you really want to see is your spouse get the help they need, it is important you and your children have a safe environment free from any alcohol abuse. Stay diligent and expose the monster for what it really is.


[1] EMedicine Health, “Alcoholism.”

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