Alcoholics marry as frequently as non-alcoholics, but they divorce or separate at a rate at least four times as frequent as the general population. At some point in their lives, more than 13 percent of adults in the United States will be affected by alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
Some experts differentiate between alcohol abuse, which they define as “an excessive use of alcohol that interferes with a person’s everyday life as well as family and work obligations,” and alcoholism, which is a progressive disease that ends in insanity or death. Alcoholism is characterized by withdrawal, changes in tolerance to alcohol, loss of self-control, changes in lifestyle and a refusal to seek help.
Alcoholism has been called the disease of denial. So often the alcoholic drinks because they are unhappy, and they become more unhappy because they drink, and thus a downward spiral ensues.
Alcohol is often cited as a top cause for divorces, because drinking commandeers the life of the alcoholic and his or her family.
Alcoholism and divorce go hand-in-hand, but divorce is not necessarily the only option in dealing effectively and appropriately with an alcoholic spouse – if the alcoholic spouse wants help. But one element is beyond doubt: the spouse is the first person to know that his or her partner is abusing alcohol.