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For many in Winnipeg, alcohol is only consumed in social environments.  In contrast, others drink alcohol at home to relax and relieve stress, pessimistic thoughts and mental health disorders. Although drinking alcohol every night does not necessarily make you an alcoholic, if you are worried that you have developed an alcohol addiction, it is essential to understand how alcoholism is defined in Manitoba.

About 40 percent of adults in Winnipeg have been exposed to alcoholism in the family and approximately 9 percent of adults have been married or lived common-law toan alcoholic or a problem drinker. 

Family members and people living with alcoholics, whether it’s a spouse, face a difficult and often overlooked set of challenges when living with a heavy drinker or alcoholic. The people who have to wake up and coexist with this person do not have the luxury of ignorant bliss or social distance. They can also be victims of physical or mental abuse, they can experience financial strain from supporting the addicted person, and they can even unintentionally make the addiction worse through enabling behaviours.

So, what do you do when your spouse drinks too much or can’t function without having a few drinks each night? If you have a spouse with a drinking problem in Winnipeg, you’re certainly not alone. Many families in Manitoba grapple with the negative effects of alcoholism in the household and suffer the effects such as financial hardships, divorce, or even domestic violence as a result of heavy drinking.

Defining Alcoholism


If you or your spouse drinks every night and find yourself questioning whether that makes you or them an alcoholic, understanding how alcoholism and alcohol addictions are defined is a great starting point.

Alcoholism is essentially a strong, uncontrollable desire to drink alcohol. Some refer to the obsession to drink despite the consequences and allergy to alcohol. has further defined alcoholism and alcohol addictions as chronic, relapsing diseases that see individuals consuming alcohol in large volumes for an extended period.

From the above information, it can be understood that if a person experiences desires and cravings for alcohol and repeatedly consume large volumes of alcohol that see them exceed the recommended alcohol units, they may be at risk of developing alcohol addiction. They may have even already developed an addiction to alcohol.  

So How Much Alcohol Is Safe To Consume in Winnipeg?

When asking the question, I drink every night – does that make me an alcoholic? It is crucial to consider that the amount of alcohol a person drinks every night will play a significant role in whether they are classified as an alcoholic or not in Winnipeg.

Technically there is no completely safe drinking level, but it is highly advised that men and women do not consume more than 14 units of alcohol a week. This equates to eight small glasses (125ml) of wine a week or six regular pints of beer, lager or cider a week. If your spouse is drinking over the recommended amounts on a daily or nightly basis, they may well be abusing alcohol. 

In addition to being at risk of developing an alcohol addiction, if your spouse drinks alcohol every night and consumes more than the recommended amounts of alcohol units, they can also put themselves at risk of developing illnesses and medical conditions related to alcohol consumption.

Signs And Symptoms Of An Alcoholic Spouse in Manitoba

Understanding how much alcohol is safe to consume, if you worry that the amount of alcohol you or your spouse is drinking is dangerous, there are many signs and symptoms that you can look out for that will highlight whether an alcohol addiction is impairing your life.

It’s often difficult to remain objective about a loved one’s drinking problem, especially when the person in question is your spouse. No one wants to believe that their spouse could be an alcoholic, but it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism if your spouse is exhibiting them. After all, you won’t be able to get help if neither of you recognizes there is a problem.

If your spouse is an alcoholic, he or she may exhibit some of these common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse…

  • They drink more than they intend to.
  • They have tried to stop drinking or cut back but are unable to.
  • They spend a great deal of time drinking, being drunk, or recovering from hangovers.
  • They have problems with work, school, or family because of their drinking habits.
  • They quit or cut back on other activities they used to enjoy drinking.
  • They continue to drink alcohol even though it makes them depressed, anxious, and sick.
  • They experience alcohol-induced blackouts often.
  • They must drink more than they did before to achieve the desired effect.
  • They experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off.
  • They may experience intense cravings for alcohol
  • They may get recurring headaches and nausea
  • They may have frequent mood swings and heightened anxiety.
  • They may change their physical appearance or not take care of their physical appearance.
  • They may experience insomnia
  • They may become extremely paranoid
  • They may be irritable and restless
  • They may drink more alone and want to isolate themselves.
  • They may hide their alcohol consumption from others
  • They may binge drink in social settings or get drunk before they can go to a social event.

In addition to the above, if they are consuming alcohol on a nightly basis to alleviate negative thoughts and feelings and find that they have become reliant on alcohol to help navigate day-to-day life, it is likely that they have unfortunately developed an alcohol addiction.

If your spouse drinks alcohol way too often and they have experienced any of the signs and symptoms noted above, we recommend contacting us as it may indicate a severe drinking problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

The Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

effects of living with alcoholic spouse

Unfortunately, many husbands or wives choose to do nothing, even after they realize their spouse has a drinking problem. Although it may seem like a strange thing to do, many people do nothing because they are in denial, they are afraid of approaching the alcoholic, or they don’t know where to turn for help in Winnipeg or anywhere else in Manitoba for that matter.

Living with an alcoholic partner can impact numerous facets of a person’s life, including financial, legal, and social troubles. Alcoholics and their spouses may also experience job loss or estrangement from family and friends; all reasons why professional help in Winnipeg should be sought as soon as possible.

There is also a chance that the alcoholic spouse becomes violent, angry, or aggressive while drinking and can put one in danger of experiencing significant emotional and physical trauma. The lasting impact of such trauma can include everything from PTSD to depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Whether or not there is abuse in the relationship, partners of alcoholics are at risk for developing their own substance abuse problems as a way to cope with negative emotions and the perceived isolation of having no one else to turn to.

If you have a spouse with a drinking problem and you choose to do nothing about it, you and your family will likely suffer the consequences of alcoholic behaviour in marriage. It should be no surprise that continuing to live with an alcoholic wife or husband will have many negative effects on both you and your children.

If your spouse is an alcoholic, you may suffer some of the following negative effects as a result.

  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Financial problems
  • Medical problems
  • Frequent lies
  • Manipulation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Neglect

Children of Alcoholics in Winnipeg

Your children are also not immune to the negative effects of alcoholism in the family. Children in these situations also suffer immensely when one or both of their parents are alcoholics, and the effects are often long-lasting, following them throughout the remainder of their lives.

Children of alcoholics face many challenges due to the lack of stability at home. Generally speaking, children of alcoholics in Winnipeg frequently face many of the following unique challenges.

  • They are exposed to chronic high levels of stress.
  • They are at higher risk for developing depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.
  • They are often emotionally and/or physically neglected.
  • They are often exposed to violence.
  • They may be physically or emotionally abused.
  • They may internalize feelings of fear and shame.
  • They may feel responsible for their parent’s drinking problem.
  • They are more at risk for alcoholism and drug abuse later in life.
  • They are more likely to have behavioural problems.5,6

Families affected by addiction in Manitoba also tend to adopt unhealthy coping behaviours as a result of the alcohol abuse, such as self-medicating, isolating, or continually rescuing the alcoholic.

Codependency and Enabling

Two common areas of concern when addressing alcoholism within the context of intimate relationships include…

  • Codependency – In which the non-alcoholic partner obtains all their meaning and personal value from caring for their alcoholic spouse, resulting in a very one-sided fulfillment of needs. In extreme cases, the codependent partner may actively block the alcoholic from seeking help or may derail their continued recovery.
  • Enabling –  Enabling behaviour can look like offering help or supporting a loved one, ending money, use of a car or offering a place to live—but in actuality it allows the addicted person to continue their substance abuse behaviour. Examples of enabling include repeatedly lending money even after the recipient has used borrowed funds to pay for drugs or alcohol, and setting an ultimatum (e.g., get rehab help or move out of the house) without following through on the consequences.

The dynamics of codependency and enabling behaviour become even more complex in relationships with children. In all situations, it’s important for the couple to attend a therapy program to remedy problem behaviours. Many alcohol rehab programs feature family therapy as part of the recovery process for this very reason.

How to Plan an Intervention in Winnipeg


While a one-on-one conversation may be enough to get some Manitobans to go to treatment, this approach may not work well for everyone. If your spouse is in denial and refuses to get help after you talk to them about it, you may need to consider an intervention.

An intervention is an organized and planned conversation that typically involves friends and family of the alcoholic and the alcoholic. The primary goal of an intervention is to help the alcoholic understand that their behaviour is a problem and that they need to get professional treatment. Ideally, an intervention ends with the alcoholic admitting they have a drinking problem and agreeing to enroll in a treatment program in Winnipeg or elsewhere.

A carefully planned intervention in Winnipeg may be an effective way to address your spouse’s drinking problem and convince them to go to treatment. If you’ve never planned or hosted an intervention before, you may want to consult with one of our skilled interventionists or addiction specialists first.

Our interventionists are professionals who have been trained to work with families dealing with addiction and can help you plan and host the intervention in Winnipeg. He or she will be able to meditate during the intervention to ensure the conversation remains productive and calm.

During the intervention, you will address the following topics with your spouse.

  • How their alcohol abuse has negatively affected you, your children, and your household
  • Why you believe addiction treatment would be the best solution
  • Any boundaries you will implement if they choose not to get professional help

How To Get An Alcoholic Into Treatment in Winnipeg

After you speak with your spouse about his or her drinking problem, the next step is finding a rehab program that will provide adequate treatment. A private drug rehab centre is more likely to provide more personalized and comprehensive care than a public centre, so you can also ask your doctor for recommendations on private drug rehab programs or call our Interventionists in Winnipeg to learn more about our treatment options in your area or elsewhere.

While you are searching for a treatment program, you should also be aware that family members play a big role in an addicted person’s treatment. Often, they attend counselling sessions, family programs, and work closely with treatment professionals to engage in their loved one’s recovery. This process will require hard work and dedication from both you and your spouse.

If your spouse still refuses to get help after the intervention, you will need to follow through with those boundaries you laid out during the intervention until your spouse agrees to get help for their drinking problem. Our Interventionists can help you establish these boundaries before the intervention takes place. Some examples of boundaries may include.

  • Finding another temporary living situation
  • Refusing to support them financially until they get help
  • Getting rid of all the alcohol in the house
  • Restricting parenting privileges or access to children

Ways You Can Support a Spouse in Recovery in Winnipeg

Individual treatment for addiction recovery is very helpful, but research shows treatment and therapy that involves the whole family may produce better outcomes.

In the event that your spouse chooses to seek treatment and enroll in alcohol detox and a rehab program in Winnipeg, you may be wondering what you can do to support them and get involved in the recovery process. There are several things you can do to support an alcoholic spouse in recovery, but here are just a few ideas.

  • Remove all alcoholic beverages from the home, in preparation for their return.
  • Participate in the treatment centre’s family program.
  • Make time for phone calls and/or meetings with your spouse’s treatment team.
  • Write letters to your spouse while they are in treatment to remind them that you’re proud of the progress they’ve made.
  • Consider enrolling in individual therapy.
  • Be a good example with your own drinking habits and behaviours.

If you want personalized recommendations on how to support a spouse in rehab, it’s best to contact us and we can take your family’s individualized needs into consideration and recommend the best treatment facility in Winnipeg for your spouse and family. 

There Is Help Available in Winnipeg

Addiction is a family disease and recovery will involve everyone affected. While your loved one is in treatment in Winnipeg, you and your loved ones need to find outlets for personal support as well. Community support groups for spouses of alcoholics can provide a safe environment for you to express your emotions and feelings regarding your spouse’s alcohol abuse. They also offer opportunities to engage and connect with other individuals and families in similar situations. The rehab your spouse goes to will also likely have family therapy sessions you can participate in. We can work with you and your family to ensure this is the case.

A drinking-related problem is not a life sentence. You can start the journey towards personal healing for yourself or a loved one who is suffering from alcoholism, AUD, or whatever label is used to describe someone with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. 

If you’re not sure where to start, you can call us and also attend some community support meetings such as the following.

  • Al-Anon Family Groups
  • Nar-anon Family Groups
  • CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous)
  • ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics)

The addiction recovery process requires hard work, dedication, and life-long continued effort, but it is well worth the work. You and your loved ones all play an essential role in your spouse’s ongoing recovery, but together, your family can find freedom in sustained sobriety.

It can be difficult, or even dangerous, to attempt to quit alcohol use on one’s own. Withdrawal symptoms can trigger an onset of seizures, tremors, and more. This is why it’s best to seek out advice from a medical professional or approach a treatment facility for better information and resources on how to deal with alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. Let our team of Interventionists and Addiction Specialists in Winnipeg help find the right private detox and rehab for you. Call us today at 1-888-960-3209.