You love him. You hate him. He’s warm and kind and then out of nowhere, he’s violent and terrifying. Figuring out how to help an alcoholic husband, especially when he is also prone to losing his temper, can be very difficult and dangerous. Here are some ways to try to stay safe and access the alcohol treatment and support you both need:
- Safety first. Trust your instincts and don’t do anything that will make things any more unsafe for you than they already are. Alcohol and violence can be a deadly combination. You know your husband better than anyone else, and you are the expert in your situation. As you receive advice and talk with people you trust, just remember that they are not living in your home and they might not fully understand just how dangerous your situation can be.
- If you can access to Al-Anon (either online or in person), go to meetings. Talk with people who have been there, as these are the people who know how to help an alcoholic husband or wife better than anyone else. Get a sponsor.
- If you can, call a domestic violence hotline or shelter. The people you can speak with have the information you need—about where you can go, how you can leave, and financial, legal, and even transportation information. Typically, the volunteers who answer these phones are trained to help people dealing with exactly what you are dealing with: alcoholism plus violence in the home. Combining your experience regarding your situation with their knowledge of resources and systems, you may be able to come up with a good plan.
- If your situation is not dangerous to you (for example, your husband’s violence is expressed by getting into fights in bars), you may want to try to discuss his behavior with him. Be sure to assess your safety first, and choose a time and place that maximizes this. Then use “I statements,” only telling him how you feel or what you experience. He may feel very defensive due to guilt and shame, but this may come out as anger. It’s hard to know just how to help an alcoholic husband talk about his drinking, but the best advice is to keep it simple, and stick to your own feelings and experience.
- Seek therapy for yourself if you can. With a therapist’s support you will feel stronger, clearer and better able to deal with the situation.
Realizing that you need to do something is an important first step. Seek help, stay safe, and be positive. Sources: “When It’s Time to Leave Your Alcoholic Mate” – Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-bennett/alcohol-addiction-recover_b_612177.html “How Do You Deal With Unacceptable Behavior?” – Al-Anon http://al-anon.org/Podcasts/FirstSteps/how-do-you-deal-with-unacceptable-behavior “How To Talk To Your Alcoholic Partner” – Psychcentral.com