What to do When Your Husband Won’t Stop Drinking

Drinking alcohol from time to time is normal – many couples may have a glass of wine with dinner, enjoy a beer at a game of baseball, or go to a bar at the weekend. Drinking in moderation is generally not something to worry about, but excessive drinking can cause severe damage to our physical and mental health, social life, and work.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with a loved one who is struggling with alcohol addiction can be hard work. For those living with an alcoholic, there is rarely a break from the stress. It can be emotionally exhausting to watch as your spouse battles with alcohol abuse, and many family members struggle to live with the constant stress and worry about their health and well-being. You may feel helpless and confused, but it is important to remember that tending to your own needs is essential to supporting your husband.

Alcohol contributes to approximately 88,000 deaths annually in the US, making it the third leading preventable cause of death. Alcohol Use Disorder is serious, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. Help is out there and recovery is possible.

Understanding the Terminology – Alcohol Addiction and Alcohol Use Disorder

The terminology around addiction and alcohol abuse can be confusing, as you try to support your husband, understanding the vocabulary used can be helpful.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol abuse is medically defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol. It is the inability to control or stop alcohol consumption, even when you are aware that it is negatively affecting your life. The individual consuming alcohol may develop a tolerance and experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut back.

Alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol addiction are all terms that fall under the diagnosis of AUD.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 14.5 million people over the age of 12 had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD is a medical diagnosis that encompasses the conditions more often known as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. AUD is considered a brain disorder, with alcohol misuse causing changes in the brain that perpetuate AUD, causing a cycle of dependence that is difficult to break.

Healthcare professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), to assess whether a person has AUD and to determine the severity of the disorder if present. Depending on the number of questions the person answers ‘yes’ to, the alcohol addiction is considered to be one of the following:

  • Mild Alcohol Use Disorder: If two or three criteria are present, a person will be diagnosed with mild alcohol use disorder.
  • Moderate Alcohol Use Disorder: Moderate alcohol use disorder is diagnosed in the case that four to five of the criteria are present.
  • Severe Alcohol Use Disorder: Severe alcohol use disorder indicates that there are six or more criteria present and that a person is unable to quit due to physical and psychological dependence.

Binge Drinking

This is the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. This kind of alcohol abuse has serious health risks and a person with a binge drinking problem is at risk of developing alcohol addiction.

What Increases the Risk of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

There are a number of factors that can make an individual more ‘at risk’ of developing AUD, including mental health, genetics, family history, and upbringing.

Starting alcohol consumption at a young age

Studies have shown that individuals who began drinking before age 15 are more than five times as likely to report having AUD in the past year as people who did not start drinking until they were aged 21 or above. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors may help you spot a drinking problem early.

Genetics and family history of alcohol abuse.

Some things that we have no control over, such as genetics, play a role in alcohol addiction. For example, alcohol has a heritability of approximately 60 percent. As is the case in most health conditions, the risk of developing AUD is influenced by the interplay between a person’s genes and their environment.

Upbringing and family history of alcohol problems.

In childhood, the behavior of parents around alcohol influences the chances of developing AUD. Growing up with parents who abuse alcohol increases the likelihood of replicating that behavior later in life.

Mental health conditions and a history of trauma.

A number of psychiatric conditions are recognized as being risk factors for developing AUD. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are associated with alcohol abuse. People with a history of childhood trauma are also vulnerable to AUD.

What You Can Do

There are many ways to support an alcoholic partner, and knowing the different options available can be empowering. Heavy drinking has adverse effects on family members and loved ones of individuals with alcohol addiction, and self-care is an incredibly valuable tool. If you are searching for ways to support an alcoholic husband, these are good steps to take.

Support Groups

Joining a local support group for the loved ones of alcoholics can be a great method of connecting with others and verbalizing the ways that you are being affected by the drinking habits of your spouse in a safe and confidential setting. When a person who abuses alcohol feels threatened or judged, they may lash out with verbal abuse, blame, or anger. Peer support groups such as Al-Anon can help the family members of someone with an alcohol problem to learn coping skills that help them detach from the person’s behaviors and take care of themselves.

Seek Professional Medical Advice

It may seem obvious, but in many cases, alcohol use disorders are not recognized as medical problems. In addition to the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use on the body, AUD itself is a medical issue, and people struggling to manage their alcohol consumption should be encouraged to speak to their doctor. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, you can always contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Limit Enabling Behavior

Maintaining healthy relationships with alcoholics can be like walking a tightrope. You want to stay involved in the person’s life and take part in activities you both enjoy, but avoid encouraging or enabling your husband’s drinking.

Examples of enabling behavior include:

  • Ignoring the problem
  • Making excuses for an alcoholic spouse
  • Taking care of his responsibilities when he can’t complete them because of alcohol use

It is important to avoid putting your husband in social situations that encourage alcohol consumption or that may trigger your husband’s substance abuse or mental health issues.

Set healthy boundaries

The rate of spousal abuse and neglect is 60 percent higher in people who drink heavily. This can be made worse by financial difficulties caused by excessive spending on alcohol and missed work. Try to avoid blaming yourself for your husband’s behavior, and try to think of his substance use as an illness. Remember that you do not have to support your partner alone. There is a range of alcohol addiction treatment options available. If your husband’s behavior becomes aggressive or dangerous and you feel that you or your children are not safe, remove yourselves from the situation. Seek social support from friends and family, professional medical advice, and help from domestic abuse networks.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol dependency is progressive, so even if your husband does not yet wish to seek treatment, it is helpful to be prepared. Research different treatments or speak to people who have received treatment for a substance use disorder. Misconceptions about alcohol treatment make people hesitant to seek addiction treatment. While it is important to be realistic about the likelihood of convincing your husband to begin the treatment process, compiling recovery resources and having information about different treatment programs can make this seem less daunting. Be ready to support your husband in making initial contact with a treatment provider and undergoing treatment and recovery.

Contact Us

If your spouse or significant other is ready to start treatment, or you want more information about inpatient and outpatient programs, contact NPAC today.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine