How to help my alcoholic husband cut back? You can’t. There is nothing you can do to get your husband to stop drinking or to even cut back because if he’s an alcoholic, by definition then he’s addicted. His brain is dependent on alcohol to function. He cannot control or limit his alcohol intake. If he could do that, he wouldn’t be an alcoholic in the first place.
You can help your husband by first educating yourself about alcoholism. You must also understand just how dangerous alcohol is. It’s the third leading cause of preventable death in this country. Alcoholics face many health risks:
- Heart damage
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Various cancers
- Brain damage
- Kidney, bladder and prostate disease
Alcohol is a toxin. In occasional small amounts, it probably does little harm to an adult. However, when ingested in high amounts over time, alcohol highjacks the brain and alters its function so severely that the brain cannot function without it. This is one reason why alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous. Your husband is stuck in a vicious cycle: Continuing to drink could kill him, but stopping without medical supervision could kill him, too.
Stop trying to reason with him. Stop screaming, crying, threatening, cajoling and coaxing. It won’t work. Face it. He’s addicted. You cannot reason with a drug. Your first step should be to get expert guidance from a drug treatment professional on how to best get your husband into the treatment he needs before it’s too late. You can start with his doctor or yours. Ask for a referral for yourself, not for him. He is highly unlikely to enter treatment in that way. He will almost certainly resist, and you cannot force him. For your own sanity and for his sake, get some help for yourself first. You need tools and weapons to fight this enemy. A drug treatment professional can best help you with this. Interventions sometimes work if properly done and moderated by a professional. There are options. Find out what they are.
Detox and Rehab
Your husband will need detox before he can enter rehab. The more heavily addicted he is, the more likely he will have potentially life-threatening withdrawal complications. He may need inpatient alcohol detox. If so, it’s probably best to choose a rehab offering both detox and rehab in the same location. That way, he will go straight from detox into rehab without leaving the premises.
Withdrawing alcoholics can experience severe seizures and a very dangerous withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens. Never, never try to detox an alcoholic at home. Death is very possible. A detox facility will slowly wean your husband off the alcohol under medical supervision in close to a hospital setting. A drug called diazepam, which is not related to alcohol at all but which works in the brain in a similar way, will likely be given to keep your husband’s brain calm after the alcohol is stopped. The diazepam dose will be then slowly reduced over a period of time. Your husband will not feel sick or be in pain.
Once the alcohol is gone and the diazepam is stopped, your husband can begin his journey back to sobriety. Fortunately, there are maintenance drugs used in a program called MAT or medication-assisted treatment that are highly effective for both alcoholics and opioid addicts. This is fortunate for you and for him, because not all drug classes have this advantage.
There are drugs available to help your husband stay off alochol without discomfort:
Acamprosate works to balance the brain’s chemistry, alleviating alcohol cravings and preventing relapse. Naltrexone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors. This works to also reduce alcohol cravings, although this mechanism isn’t well understood. Alcohol doesn’t bind to opioid receptors, but still, this treatment works. Naltrexone is given as a monthly injection that works around the clock and prevents any temptation to skip a dose and start drinking. If alcoholics drink while on these drugs, they won’t get sick like they would with the older anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse. It’s more like the desire to drink is just gone. There is hope for a better life for both of you.
We can Help
If you’re at your wit’s end over your husband’s drinking, call us anytime at 954-523-1167. We see this kind of thing on a daily basis, and we know how to help. We have access to the best detox and rehab facilities in your area. We want you to know you’re not alone. We’re here, and we care.