Alcoholic Spouse: Will Constant Worry Drive YOU To Drink Next?
Posted Feb 22 2010 2:48pm
Are you worried and anxious about your alcoholic spouse? Believe me, you have plenty of company. I think anxiety is the most common reaction to alcoholic behavior that I see in my psychiatric practice. Worry is often at the core of the anger and frustration that accompanies the helplessness in face of alcoholism addiction.
Examples of common worries in spouses of alcoholics include, “Will he get a DWI, will she drink before driving the kids somewhere and risk another accident, is he with another woman, will she lose her job if she is late for work again, will he lose his physical health from drinking?”
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Anxiety can take many forms. Here are the 7 most common signs of anxiety in the spouses of alcoholics that I see in my psychiatric practice:
Trouble going to sleep.
Chest tightness or pounding heart.
Stomach problems (nausea, changes in appetite, loose bowel, acid reflux).
Constant worry. Can’t relax. (“What will I do if my marriage continues to fall apart? What about the kids? Do I want to get divorced? Can I make it without him/her?” )
Feeling irritable, edgy, and tense.
Obsessed with the spouse’s alcoholic behavior to the point it interferes with daily responsibilities.
Here’s the bad news: Excess worry can hurt your physical and mental health. For example, anxiety can lead to increased blood pressure, lowered immunity, increaser risk of stroke or heart attack. Untreated anxiety over your alcoholic spouse can lead to depression.
Do not sacrifice your physical and mental health for your alcoholic spouse!
Here’s the good news: Anxiety is very treatable. If your worry and/or anxiety over your alcoholic husband or alcoholic wife is affecting your daily life, then you need to change something in your life. Start with Al-Anon where you can reach out to other people that have family members that suffer from an alcohol problem and/or drug addiction.
If your anxiety is severe, consider seeing a psychiatrist that can prescribe appropriate medication for anxiety. (Sometimes people end up self medicating their anxiety with alcohol which usually leads to an alcohol problem- don’t go this route!). Therapy may help you work through your issues of why you are staying in your present situation).
Stay tuned for future posts on tips to manage your anxiety.