If your wife has a substance use disorder and has an addiction to alcohol, you already know how devastating it can be to your own life.
You have probably spent many sleepless nights worrying about her health and safety. You might be concerned about how her alcoholism is affecting your children. You may have even dealt with the legal consequences of a DWI or some other troubling event. Whatever the situation may be, it’s completely understandable if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, and downright frustrated.
It is important to recognize that alcoholism is a family disease. It may be difficult for you to wrap your mind around this, but when a loved one develops a problem with alcohol, it affects the entire family unit (and you are a part of the solution).
Well-meaning loved ones often fall into a cycle of enabling when there is an alcoholic in the family. While offering “help” is almost always motivated by good intentions, it can lead to detrimental outcomes for everyone involved. Enabling keeps the alcoholic sick and it makes everyone around her get sick in the process. It can become a vicious cycle.
Not sure if you are enabler? Take this quiz and find out!
Al-Anon Offers Support For Spouses of Alcoholics
We want you to know that there is support available for spouses of alcoholics. You can find it at Al-Anon.
Al-Anon is a 12-Step fellowship that offers support for spouses of alcoholics. It is about bringing people together who have a desire to learn a better way to live so that they can find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.
There are Al-Anon meetings available in cities and towns around the world. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you could probably find a meeting any day of the week. At these meetings, members offer their experience, strength, and hope to one another to learn how to manage daily life with an alcoholic. A long-standing Al-Anon meeting is held at the New Directions for Women Outpatient offices in Costa Mesa, CA on Wednesdays at 11:30am.
Al-Anon is not just for spouses. Parents of alcoholic children, adult children of alcoholics, siblings, relatives, friends, and employers attend Al-Anon to learn how to cope with the problem drinker in their lives. By drawing strength from one another, those who attend this program are able to stop the cycle of enabling and restore their families back to a place of wellness.
What To Expect From An Al-Anon Meeting
Most people feel some fear about going into a room full of strangers and sharing their family’s personal business. The good news is that you don’t have to! You do not have to share at an Al-Anon meeting if you don’t want to. However; many people find that sharing with others brings them a sense of freedom and sets them on the path toward healing.
Al-Anon introduces you to the 12 Steps, which offer a program for daily living and serve as a catalyst for change. If you feel your life has become unmanageable because of your spouse’s drinking, you can certainly benefit from this program. You will be taught new coping skills and learn how to stop enabling your spouse’s alcoholism.
Meetings usually last about an hour. The meeting opens with several readings, which are read at every Al-Anon meeting in the world. Then, the floor is open and members are allowed to share for about five minutes each. The meeting closes with the Serenity Prayer.
By the way, Al-Anon is a spiritual (not religious) program. You do not have to believe in God to attend Al-Anon. Please do not stay away from this program because it mentions God in the 12 Steps if you are not a believer. This should not be a deterrent from going to a place where you will be supported in your journey to reclaim your sanity. You can find out more about the “higher power thing” once you attend.
New Directions For Women Offers Support For Spouses of Alcoholics
You may have tried to get your wife to go to treatment but have been unsuccessful thus far. Nevertheless, we want you to know that we are available to help. All you have to do is reach out to us.
We offer extensive addiction treatment at our women’s-only program. Our CARF accredited rehab is run by women for women. At New Directions for Women, we have been helping women get sober for more than 40 years.
What may be of particular interest to you is our family program. We offer support for spouses of alcoholics. We invite and encourage spouses to participate in their own therapy as well as family therapy. We believe that offering help to family members is an important aspect of recovery for the women who come and stay with us. We also believe it is healing for spouses.
We Hope You Will Find Help Somewhere
If you do not pursue support for yourself here at New Directions for Women or you choose not to go to Al-Anon, we encourage you to get help from a licensed therapist.
Your spouse’s alcoholism can be detrimental to your own happiness and mental health (as you probably already know at this point). You have your own life to live and you have the right to enjoy your life.
As we have explained, the insanity of alcoholism negatively impacts the entire family. Chances are, you will not be able to make any positive changes to your situation without some kind of outside help. (If you could, you probably would have been able to do so already!)
No matter what support you seek as the spouse of an alcoholic, we wish you well on your recovery journey. If you would like to learn more about our program, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have.