You can think back to a time where it was just you and your spouse enjoying your life together. But now, things have changed. Your relationship has developed a third member – alcohol.
You know your spouse drinks too much, and you’re often left wondering why they can’t stop. Maybe their alcohol use disorder has created a host of financial, legal or health-related problems. The strain on your family is becoming too much, and although you might feel lost, you know something has to change.
If only you could get a better understanding of what your spouse is going through and why they can’t stop drinking on their own. In this post, we’re going to explain why it’s hard for people to stop drinking and ways you can help your spouse move forward.
Your Spouse’s Drinking is Not Your Fault
Before we dive into the power that an alcohol use disorder can have over someone, know that your spouse’s drinking is not your fault. It’s natural to think that if you were a better partner, your family might not find itself in this situation. But the truth is, your spouse’s drinking isn’t your fault. No one can force another person to develop an alcohol use disorder.
We know that living with an alcoholic is challenging. It’s important to realize that thinking you’re the cause of the problem can hold you back from finding the right solution.
What an Alcohol Use Disorder Feels Like
If your spouse drinks too much, don’t fall for the misconception that it’s a lack of willpower or determination. When someone drinks alcohol excessively, their brain chemistry begins to change. Over time, their body will develop a dependence for alcohol.
A person with an alcohol use disorder drinks in part to help themselves feel normal. This process can be compared to how you feel when you’re hungry. The longer you go without eating, the stronger the signs become. You experience a loss of energy and the hunger pains get more intense until that uncomfortable feeling becomes impossible to ignore.
Your spouse’s body and brain are going through the same process with alcohol. Their brain has become accustomed to craving alcohol in order to feel normal and satisfied. That’s why the fear of withdrawal symptoms is one of the top reasons why people with an alcohol use disorder don’t seek treatment.
Why Cutting Back Isn’t an Option
The thought has probably crossed your mind: Why can’t my spouse just cut back? To answer that question, we’re going to examine the three brain changes many people that develop an alcohol use disorder experience.
1. Alcohol Releases Dopamine
Alcohol prompts the brain to release a rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for helping you feel pleasure and euphoria. The more your spouse drinks, the stronger the brain’s connection between alcohol and enjoyment becomes. Excessive drinking can transform the reward center of the brain, making your spouse reliant on the substance in order to feel good.
2. The Brain Gets Desensitized, Requiring More Alcohol
When your spouse continues to drink heavily, their brain gets used to the release of dopamine over time and that enjoyment they used to feel decreases. In order to experience that same good feeling we described above, your spouse has to drink more. This is the start of transitioning from simply drinking alcohol to struggling with an alcohol use disorder.
Are You Enabling Your Spouse’s Drinking?
There’s nothing you can do to reverse the changes that have occurred in your spouse’s body and brain because of their drinking. Rest assured, you are not the cause of their alcohol use disorder, but you might be enabling it. It’s important to take a step back and look at your own actions.
Some examples of enabling behavior you may not have noticed before include:
- Making excuses or covering for your spouse’s drinking
- Allowing your spouse to avoid their commitments or responsibilities
- Buying them alcohol or joining them for a drink
- Pretending that their problem doesn’t exist
Finding Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Ohio
Living with an alcoholic isn’t easy. The truth is, there’s only so much you can do to try and convince your spouse to stop drinking. Even though it might feel like you’re out of options, there’s quality alcohol addiction treatment in Ohio that can help.
An alcohol use disorder is treatable. Most treatments involve a combination of a detox program, counseling and medication. People need to go through detox first so the alcohol can be removed from their system. While it’s natural to be afraid of detox, treatment centers like Silver Maple Recovery strive to make the detox process as comfortable as possible.
Recovery Can Be Found at Silver Maple Recovery
If your spouse has an alcohol use disorder, it’s time to find them credible and effective addiction treatment. At Silver Maple Recovery, we offer expert alcohol addiction treatment that can help your spouse recover and get sober again.
From detox to residential and outpatient treatment run by a local expert staff, we’re committed to helping your spouse heal. If you’re ready to learn more about how we can help your family, contact us today. We have professional caregivers ready to answer your questions.