Alcohol abuse is more than just excessive drinking. It is an unhealthy pattern of alcohol use that may cause harm to the individual and the people around them. Although it often negatively affects the spouse, alcohol abuse also impacts other family members exposed to it.

Whether you’re struggling with an alcohol problem yourself or someone in your family is, there’s no denying it can burden us in many ways. Understanding its effects is important so that we can take the necessary steps toward healing.

From physical pain to emotional distress, here’s how alcohol abuse can take a toll on spouses and other family members. Towards the end of this post, you’ll also see various treatment options that can address the underlying problems associated with this condition.

wife of alcoholic husband

Source: Oregon Trail Recovery

Physical Effects on Spouse and Family

The physical effects of alcohol abuse on a spouse and their children can be devastating. Not only do they have to witness the person succumb to alcoholism, but they also have to manage the challenges that come with it. This includes the following:

Harm From Impaired Driving or Reckless Behavior While Intoxicated

Drunk driving can lead to devastating consequences, such as serious injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, it’s not just the alcohol abuser who is affected, but also their loved ones. In the event of an accident, they may suffer from physical scars and emotional trauma, particularly if they were in the same vehicle.

Heart Disease and Other Mental Health Disorders

People who are close to someone dealing with alcoholism can experience extreme levels of chronic stress and anxiety. If not managed appropriately, it can turn into heart disease, depression, or other mental health disorders.

Insomnia, Fatigue, or Disrupted Sleep Patterns

Loved ones of alcoholics may struggle with sleep deprivation or insomnia for numerous reasons. This includes staying awake, worrying about the individual’s well-being, or waiting for them to return home safely.

what does alcohol do to a marriage


Malnutrition or Poor Diet Due to the Neglect of Family Responsibilities

When substance abuse takes hold, the addicted person forgets their other responsibilities, like providing nutritious meals or caring for their children. This neglect can lead to malnutrition or a poor diet, further complicating other health issues.

Domestic Violence

The consumption of liquor can reduce a person’s inhibitions and increase their tendency towards aggression. This creates an environment where physical or emotional outbursts are more likely to occur, increasing the risk of domestic violence.

Social Isolation and Stigma

Family members of alcoholics often face social isolation and stigma. Often, they receive shaming looks, cruel comments, and other forms of prejudice due to their loved one’s condition. This may also struggle with:

Depression and Anxiety

The stress and strain of dealing with an alcoholic family member can lead to depression and anxiety among relatives. Constant worry about the alcoholic’s well-being, financial concerns, and disruptions to daily life can all contribute to these mental health issues.

is alcoholism a reason for divorce

Source: Oregon Trail Recovery

Lack of Social Support

Loved ones of an alcoholic may feel socially isolated due to their loved one’s alcoholism. The unpredictable and often embarrassing behavior of an alcoholic can make it difficult to maintain social relationships and participate in community activities.

Strained Personal Relationships

Families of alcoholics often experience frayed connections and increased tension due to the unpredictable nature of their loved one’s behavior. Some will even begin avoiding them because it is easier than confronting or asking them to change.

Lowered Self-esteem

Feelings of guilt and shame can consume family members who may feel they are somehow to blame or should be able to help their loved one change for the better. This kind of emotional roller coaster eventually leads to lowered self-esteem and generally decreased levels of confidence.

Financial Effects on Spouses and Family

The financial effects on the spouse and family of an alcoholic can be significant and varied. Here are some ways in which alcoholism can impact a family’s finances:

what does alcoholism do to your relationship


Costs of Buying Liquor

The money thrown at alcohol addiction can quickly rack up over time and become a significant financial burden for those close to them. The problem becomes exponentially greater if more than one family member struggles with alcoholism.

Healthcare Costs

Alcohol abuse can lead to health problems that require medical treatment – some of which extend beyond check-ups and general care. In the most severe cases, alcoholics may require hospitalization or long-term care.

Legal Expenses

When an alcoholic drives under the influence or causes a disturbance in public, they open their family up to legal expenses. A relative may find themselves struggling financially due to costly court expenses and hefty fines that have been multiplied by an irresponsible action.

Reduced Earning Capacity

Alcohol abuse can cause you to miss your work schedule, decrease your productivity, or lose your job. This prevents you from meeting and sustaining the living expenses of your family.

wife of alcoholic husband oregon

Source: Oregon Trail Recovery

Divorce or Separation

Often the wife of an alcoholic husband bears the brunt of his partner’s rude behavior. This could eventually cause immense strain in their marriage. If the partner’s drinking leads to increased arguments, neglect, and a shift in priorities, it could lead to separation or divorce. The subsequent legal fees, property division, alimony payments, and childcare costs can take a toll on the family finances. 

To successfully counter alcohol abuse and avert more problems in the future, individuals may consider the following treatment options.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous meetings enable participants to support one another, share experiences, and maintain sobriety.
  • Therapeutic interventions, such as individual or group counseling, can help individuals address issues contributing to their drinking behavior.
  • Medication-assisted therapies can provide increased motivation for abstinence along with reduced cravings.
  • Residential rehabilitation programs offer counseling, specialized recreational activities, and educational sessions to assist in long-term sobriety.

By taking advantage of these approaches, individuals can begin their path to a healthier lifestyle free of alcohol abuse.

In summary, the detrimental effects of alcohol abuse extend beyond the individual – most of the time, it can impact family members as well. Alcoholism poses multifaceted challenges, ranging from physical harm to emotional trauma and financial strain.

As such, it is crucial for both the afflicted individual and their loved ones to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and seek out suitable avenues for treatment. By doing so, they can work towards long-term recovery and prevent further harm to themselves and their families.

If you know someone struggling with alcohol addiction, Oregon Trail Recovery could be the perfect place to help find balance and long-lasting sobriety. Call us today to schedule an appointment.