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Signs of a Spouse's Drinking Problem

author image Lindsay Kahl
Lindsay Kahl has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work. She is a licensed master social worker in the state of New York, and has several years of experience in the mental health field.
Signs of a Spouse's Drinking Problem
Close-up of beer glass being filled. Photo Credit: Bogdanhoda/iStock/Getty Images

If your spouse has a drinking problem, it can negatively affect you, your spouse and the rest of your family. While many people are capable of drinking alcohol responsibly, numerous others abuse or become dependent upon alcohol. If you fear that your spouse might have a problem with alcohol, it’s important to become aware of possible signs so you can encourage him or her to seek treatment.

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Frequently Drinking Too Much

According to, your wife is drinking too much if she has more than three drinks on one occasion, or more than seven drinks in one week. Your husband is drinking too much if he has more than four drinks on one occasion, or more than 14 drinks in a single week. “Heavy drinking” is defined as three drinks per day for a woman and five drinks per day for a man. If your spouse drinks at this volume and is unable or unwilling to cut back, he or she may have a drinking problem.

Neglecting Responsibilities

An individual with a drinking problem often neglects responsibilities at school, work or with family. Your spouse may fail to pick up the children from school or get to work on time. Problem drinkers also tend to neglect personal relationships. Even if alcohol use causes tension or issues in relationships, the drinker will continue to drink.

Risky Behavior

If your spouse has a drinking problem, he or she might take risks while using alcohol. This type of behavior can include driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence, taking medication with alcohol, caring for children while drinking or using alcohol even when a medical condition should prohibit it.

Memory Loss

Individuals who drink too much could experience “black outs,” or periods of time that they can’t remember. Your husband might forget a conversation you had with him while he was drinking, or he might not remember what he did during the drinking episode.

Hiding Alcohol Use

Your wife might lie about alcohol consumption or hide alcohol from you if she has a drinking problem. She might try to drink in private or even buy alcohol at numerous stores to try to hide the amount she purchases.

Personality Changes

You might notice marked changes in personality if your spouse uses alcohol excessively. Your spouse might seem more irritable, anxious, depressed or distrustful. Many people with drinking problems begin to lose interest in formerly favored activities. Your spouse might seem to drink to be more comfortable in social situations, or to cope with unpleasantness.

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