Living With an Alcoholic Husband


These tips on how to help an alcoholic husband will help you face the reality of alcoholism and get the support you need. You can’t help him cope with alcoholism by yourself. In fact, there is nothing you can do to reform or change him.

I updated and expanded this article: 8 Ways to Cope With an Alcoholic Husband. It offers more information, which you may find helpful.

The first way to help an alcoholic husband is to read The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In that book, there is a whole chapter for wives of alcoholics. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to get that book and start learning about alcoholism. These tips on how to help an alcoholic husband are based on information in that chapter.


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The more you read and learn about alcoholism, the better able you’ll be to help the man you love, save your marriage, and pull your family back together.

Helping an Alcoholic Husband

There is a difference between learning how to help your husband deal with alcoholism, and falling into a codependent relationship. To learn the difference, read How to Untangle a Codependent Relationship.

Remember that he is not choosing to drink. As an alcoholic, your husband no longer has the power to choose not to drink, so he needs spiritual power to quit drinking. He can’t overcome the disease of alcoholism by himself or through willpower. The only thing he can do is turn to God, admit how powerless he is, and turn his life over to a Higher Power who can save him.

Be determined that your husband’s alcoholism won’t spoil your relationship with your children, your family, or your friends. You can still have a full, interesting, and good life even if you can’t learn how to help an alcoholic husband stop drinking. Don’t set your heart on reforming him, or helping him stop drinking. You may be unable to do so, not matter how hard you try.

Don’t tell him what to do about his drinking. In the “For Wives” chapter on how to help an alcoholic husband, it advises women never to tell their husbands to stop drinking or what to do about his drinking. If he sees you as a nag or killjoy, your chance of helping him may be zero. He will feel misunderstood and criticized, which won’t help him stop drinking.

Let your husband explain his life to people. Whenever possible, let him make his own excuses to his employer, coworkers, family members, neighbors, church community, etc. Don’t protect him, don’t lie to people to cover up his drinking problem. If you are serious about helping your husband with his alcoholism, you won’t lie to people who have a right to know where he is and what he is doing. Talk about this with him when he is sober and in good spirits.

Never be angry. I’m not sure about this tip on how to help an alcoholic husband, but I’m sharing it anyway! The Alcoholics Anonymous book says that the first principle of success is to never be angry with your husband for his drinking problem (disease). Even though he may become unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, they advise you to go in peace, patience, and a good temper.

Get support for wives of alcoholic husbands. This is the most important tip for helping alcoholic husbands: get help! Find the closest Alcoholics Anonymous group, or the nearest Al-Anon group. Trying to deal with your husband’s alcoholism on your own is futile, and will set you up for disappointment and despair. Join forces with other women who need help with their alcoholic husbands. Get support, give support. Help yourself, and you’ll learn how to help an alcoholic husband help himself.

Think about your own spiritual journey. The foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous is spirituality. The alcoholic is powerless to stop drinking because alcoholism is a disease. A drinker can’t summon the willpower to stop drinking – when he is an alcoholic, he has no choice. He needs to turn his life and body over to God (whatever he understands God to be)…and I believe that to help an alcoholic husband, you need to do the same thing.

For more tips, read 7 Ways to Help Your Unhappy Husband

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