Alcoholic Husband? Don’t Condemn a Problem Drinker!
Posted Aug 07 2011 4:37pm
As a psychiatrist that specializes in addiction, I treat a lot of alcoholism. It is very common to see an alcoholic judged rather harshly by friends or relatives that are not alcoholics. Here are some comments I hear in my practice from those married to an alcoholic husband or those with an alcoholic boyfriend:
“He should just quit drinking”
“He has such a great life, how can he just throw it all away?”
“Doesn’t he love me and the kids enough to quit drinking?”
“All he cares about is himself and the bottle”
‘What’s wrong with him? If he doesn’t stop drinking he will lose his career”
And here’s one I hear a lot form those married to an alcoholic spouse:
“He’s too smart to let his drinking get the best of him. After all, look how successful he is”.
Your alcoholic husband is suffering from a chronic, progessive medical disease. It is not about having weak willpower. If you think your husband may be aproblem drinker, please read my free guide about the symptoms of alcoholism to assess if you or a loved may have an alcohol problem.
Chronic alcohol consumption causes different chemical messengers in your brain to get out of balance. Alcohol abuse alters the ratio of different chemical messengers, also known as neurotransmitters) in the brain, which in turn affects thinking and behavior.
The main chemical that is affected is called dopamine which is part of the reward system. As dopamine is depleted in an alcoholic’s brain, he no longer gets pleasure from the small things in life like hearing a great song, being in the company of a good friend, reading an interesting book. The brain is now wired in such a way, that the main way to feel any pleasure is to drink more alcohol. Drinking more alcohol increases the dopamine: not much else accomplishes this anymore.
So- before you judge your alcoholic husband or alcoholic boyfriend too harshly or think he is”weak” or “in denial” remember:
The person who is showing signs or symptoms of alcoholism is held hostage to a brain that is screaming out to him, “get more dopamine, get more dopamine”. It is a very primal part of the brain that drives the behavior to “seek” more alcohol (dopamine).
And yes- it overrides the rational thinking people make when the chemical messengers in their brain are out of balance. Consider yourself a lucky person if you have not experienced this disease and be careful not to judge someone unlucky enough to be suffering from alcoholism. Instead of judging him, do what you can to encourage treatment and alcoholic recovery. There is tremendous denial with alcoholism and there are things you can do to help break the denial.
If you want additional help turning your marriage around click here to register for my free report on, “ 5 Proven Methods For a Healthier Marriage With Your Alcoholic Spouse”. It may save your family’s life. The information in this report gives you very simple strategies that could very well save your marriage.