What to Do if Your Spouse is Secretly Drinking in Recovery

Spouse is Secretly Drinking

Has your spouse recently been showing the telltale signs of a relapse? If your husband or wife has been in alcohol recovery, and has relapsed, it can surely be upsetting. However, it is a fact that a majority of people will suffer a relapse during their first year of recovery. So, what to do if your spouse is secretly drinking? Let’s examine some helpful ways to address this situation.

How to Know if Your Spouse is Secretly Drinking

Because you are the person closest to your spouse, you are probably the one who will first notice that something is up. Your spouse may exhibit little signs or changes in their mood and behaviors that catch your attention. These might include:

  • The spouse finds excuses to be alone.
  • They exhibit the physical signs of intoxication.
  • The spouse hides alcohol in their car or in closets.
  • They start coming home later than usual.
  • They seem moody and unhappy.
  • They lie to cover up their alcohol use.
  • They become angry and defensive if you ask about it.

Were there Any Warning Signs of Your Spouse Drinking?

When you come to realize that your spouse has been drinking on the sly, it may come as a total surprise. Maybe you just weren’t paying attention and didn’t see the warning signs of alcohol relapse. Or maybe your spouse was very good at hiding it from you. Either way, the warning signs were missed.

Here are some of the typical warning signs of alcohol relapse:

Receive Guidance, Call Now

  1. No longer attends A.A. or other support meetings. A common warning sign is when the spouse stops participating in the 12-Step recovery program. They may avoid both the meetings and their sponsor.
  2. Ignores responsibilities. The spouse becomes increasingly irresponsible, neglecting their duties at home and work. They may mismanage the family budget or forget to pay the bills.
  3. Mood changes. There might be a sudden change in their mood or attitude, such as becoming more irritable or hostile. This could be a sign that they are going to start drinking or already are.
  4. You find hidden bottles. You might find empty or full bottles of alcohol hidden under the bed, in drawers, or in the car.
  5. They become defensive. If you check in with them about their recovery, they may become defensive and respond in anger or become agitated.
  6. Ignores healthy routines. Your spouse has worked hard to establish new healthy routines in recovery and then suddenly abandons them. This loss of interest in being healthy is a common sign of a possible relapse. 
  7. They prefer to be alone. When your spouse begins to withdraw from friends and family, it could be they are drinking alone.
  8. They join friends at bars. If the spouse returns to socializing with friends that hang out at bars or parties, it is a sign of relapse.

What Caused your Spouse to Relapse?

If your spouse has been caught secretly drinking, you may be scratching your head wondering what caused the relapse. Here are some of the usual risk factors for alcohol relapse:

  • Mental health. Your spouse may have an untreated mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety that sets them up for relapse. They may start using alcohol again as a way to self-medicate.
  • Lack of support. If your spouse is not in a supportive home environment, marriage, or work place, this will undermine recovery. In some cases, spouses may benefit from couples counseling to improve home life.
  • Chronic stress. Your spouse may have a highly stressful job or career that is causing chronic stress. Stress is one of the leading causes of relapse.
  • Complacence. Your spouse may have become so confident in his or her recovery that they stopped working the program. They stopped attending recovery meetings and outpatient services, which left them vulnerable to relapse. 
  • Lingering shame. Your spouse may be burdened with guilt or shame due to the damage caused by the alcoholism. This is common in early recovery. If these emotions are addressed in therapy, they could lead the person to give up on sobriety.
  • Boredom or loneliness. Spouses that seem listless and bored much of the time may be susceptible to a relapse. They lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and withdraw from friends, which leads to a relapse.

What Should You Do if Your Spouse is Secretly Drinking?

If your husband or wife has relapsed, you may feel at a loss about what to do about it. As their partner, the best thing you can do is to encourage them to return to their prior recovery efforts. Here are some tips to guide you to be a support to your spouse:

  1. Try not to judge. Instead of showing anger and disappointment, attempt to be positive. Tell them they haven’t failed, that you still believe in them, and ask them to recommit to sobriety.
  2. Encourage them to attend meetings. One of the best things they can do after a relapse is to return to A.A. meetings and seek support there.
  3. Check on their mental health. Your spouse may be struggling with a mental health issue that could have been a factor in the relapse. Ask if they are interested in seeing a therapist.
  4. Suggest self-care. Your partner may not be taking care of their health and wellness. Encourage them to get daily exercise and to stick to a nightly sleep schedule.

Should Your Spouse Readmit to Treatment?

In some cases, after a relapse, your spouse may benefit from returning to a rehab program. This is especially true if the relapse was a prolonged or severe one. A dual diagnosis program can also address any co-occurring mental health disorder. Re-enrolling in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program can help them recommit to sobriety and brush up on recovery skills.

Annandale Behavioral Health

California Addiction Treatment  for Alcohol Use Disorder

Annandale Behavioral Health is leading luxury alcohol recovery program that provides detox, rehab, and aftercare services. If your spouse is secretly drinking in recovery, call us. Reach out to the team today at (855) 778-8668