Dealing With an Alcoholic Spouse

How can I help my spouse overcome an addiction to alcohol? She's "given up drinking" several times only to soon end up back on the bottle. She's lost her job, our household is a mess, and the whole family is slowly going to pieces. What can I do to turn things around?

The pattern you’ve described is extremely common and all too familiar to the millions of men and women who know what it’s like to live with an alcoholic spouse. Many alcoholics drink on an intermittent basis, leading their families on a rollercoaster ride of false hopes and recurring disappointments. So don’t be fooled. Your wife’s addiction isn’t going to go away by itself. If you really want to resolve this issue, you need to seek immediate intervention.

One helpful resource is the
Lighthouse Network, a clearing house for substance abuse referrals. They can help you locate a facility in your area that will help your wife take some positive steps in the direction of recovery. They can also provide information about insurance companies who are prepared to work with these facilities.

You should also think about enlisting the help of a qualified Christian counselor. Weekly one-on-one counseling is not sufficient to deal with an addiction of the intensity and severity you’ve described, but a substance abuse counselor could be tremendously helpful in setting up an effective intervention. This involves arranging a specific treatment option prior to the actual intervention. The objective would be to persuade your wife to agree to a program of in-patient treatment. Once this treatment is complete the counselor could also participate in the follow-up plan. Call our Counseling department to get a list of Christian counselors in your area.

As you explore these options, keep in mind that there are no easy answers to the problem you’re facing. A great deal depends on your wife’s willingness to cooperate. She is clearly dealing with some serious underlying wounds. Because she is afraid to face her pain, she medicates it with alcohol. In addition to the steps we’ve suggested above, the most important thing you can do in this situation is pray. Lean heavily on the Lord, remembering that “His arm is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1), and that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The Last Addiction: Why Self-Help Is Not Enough

Putting Your Past Behind You: Finding Hope for Life’s Deepest Hurts

When Someone You Love Abuses Drugs or Alcohol

Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis

Substance Abuse and Addiction (resource list)


Adult and Teen Challenge

Lighthouse Network

Celebrate Recovery

The Salvation Army

Walter Hoving Home

His Mansion Ministries

Elevation Family Ministries

Battling Drug and Alcohol Abuse

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