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Recognizing the signs of alcoholism in your spouse can be difficult. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that often starts subtly before progressing to more obvious and destructive symptoms. Being aware of the common physical, emotional and behavioral signs of alcohol addiction can help you identify a potential problem early and get your spouse the help they need.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism in a Spouse

Some of the most telling signs of alcoholism are physical changes caused by excessive drinking over time. Being aware of these signs can help you spot issues right away:

  • Appearance Changes – An alcoholic spouse may stop caring for their appearance and hygiene as much as they used to. They may consistently look unkempt and disheveled.
  • Bloodshot or Glassy Eyes – Chronic drinkers often have reddened, glassy eyes or dilated pupils.
  • Slurred Speech – Slurring words, stuttering or speaking abnormally slow can indicate intoxication.
  • Shaking Hands – Hand tremors or shaking can be a sign of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Smelling of Alcohol – The smell of alcohol on their breath or body is an obvious red flag.
  • Health Issues – Liver disease, heart problems, sexual dysfunction and neurological issues can develop.

Looking out for physical warning signs that point to an unhealthy drinking pattern can help you identify alcoholism early.

Emotional Signs of Alcohol Addiction in a Spouse

Alcohol addiction can also cause distinct changes in someone’s moods, behaviors and overall personality. Here are some emotional signs of alcoholism to look out for:

  • Depression – Excessive drinking can amplify depression, sadness and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Irritability – Alcoholics may often seem irritable or on edge. Small frustrations can set them off easily.
  • Lack of Motivation – Loss of motivation and not caring about responsibilities are common alcoholism symptoms.
  • Lying & Sneaking Around – Covering up drinking, making excuses and hiding alcohol are red flags.
  • Problems at Work – Job loss, shirking duties and disciplinary issues can indicate a deeper issue.
  • Financial Issues – Money problems, unpaid debts and poverty despite adequate income can develop.
  • Withdrawing from Family & Friends – Avoiding social interaction and isolation are common with alcoholism.

Changes in personality like increased anger, dishonesty and indifference about life point to an addiction.

Getting Help for an Alcoholic Spouse

The most important first step is expressing your sincere concerns and desire to get them professional intervention help. An alcohol intervention program can give guidance on staging a formal intervention. Hearing heartfelt concerns from several loved ones in a structured intervention setting can motivate an alcoholic to accept treatment.

Even without an intervention, insist your spouse see a doctor or substance abuse counselor to evaluate their drinking. Be understanding yet firm that their excessive drinking cannot continue, for their own health and the sake of your relationship. Offer to attend counseling or support groups like Al-Anon together. This demonstrates you want to help, not enable their addiction.

It’s also crucial to know when an intervention is needed to compel treatment, especially if the safety of your spouse or others is at risk. Enlisting professional help ensures an intervention is done effectively.

Dealing with an alcoholic spouse affects the whole family. But with love, honesty and support, recovery is possible. Being alert to the warning signs allows for early detection and quicker treatment, giving you the best chance to take back control of your lives

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