Can I Bring My Husband to My AA Meeting?

Alcoholism is a family illness.  Alcohol use disorder affects spouses, children and even extended family members.  Thus, recovery is important for the entire family.

Who Marries an Alcoholic?

While there are some stereotypes regarding personality types who tend to marry alcoholics, the uncomfortable truth is that anyone can marry an alcoholic.  Anyone can suddenly find themselves married to someone who develops a substance use disorder.  The nature of alcoholism can make slow changes in both spouses’ personalities.

Drunkenness, hurtful behavior and broken promises can lead to anger, shame and bitterness from a spouse.  While classic research usually categorizes the spouse as “enabling”, this is not always the case.

The Call to Sobriety

Once an alcoholic has made a commitment to sobriety, it becomes apparent that getting better is not an overnight matter.  Recovery can involve inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, ongoing therapy sessions, and regular attendance at AA meetings.  Feelings of abandonment can crop up for the spouse left alone, even if there is a spirit of support in play.

The Truth about Spouses of Alcoholics

Can I Bring My Husband

Alcoholism can cause extreme distress in a marriage.

People who are married to alcoholics are as widely varied as are people in the world.  However, there is one interesting study showing women problem drinkers with non-drinking husbands report a higher level of marital difficulty than relationships in which the husband is the person with alcohol use disorder.  The other interesting truth is that alcoholics are more likely to be married to other alcoholics than in the general population.  This phenomena is known as assortative mating.  Therefore, for a woman seeking sobriety, embarking on the recovery journey as a couple makes sense.

Can My Husband Attend AA with Me?

Alcoholics Anonymous offers different types of meetings with a variety of formats.  There are primarily two different types of meetings:  open and closed.  Open meetings can be attended by anyone.  Closed meetings are offered for persons with “a desire to stop drinking”.  For a non-alcoholic spouse, attendance at open meetings would be best.  For a husband who may be concerned about his own drinking, attendance at either meeting would be acceptable.  Meeting lists and information is available online with information about which meetings are open or closed.

My Husband Doesn’t Trust Me

Marriages rife with alcohol use disorder often involve infidelity, trust issues and countless betrayals.  Rebuilding trust takes time.  When spouses attend meetings together, there are other recovering alcoholics who can offer help and support.  Couples in recovery have battled these issues.  There are sometimes couples meetings available to move marriages into healthier patterns.

He May Not Drink, but He Has Issues

Early in recovery, many people believe removing the drinking problem from a relationship will automatically restore harmony to a relationship.  This simply isn’t the case.  While an alcoholic seeks to recover physically, mentally and emotionally, the husband may experience serious upset in trying to find a new normal.  Al-Anon meetings are available for spouses or family members affected by someone else’s drinking.  Attending these meetings, independent of the alcoholic is often sanity-saving.

The New Reality

Recovery from alcoholism is not an easy journey for anyone in the family.  Dysfunctional patterns of coping and interacting during active drinking take time to change.  Attending meetings together, seeking counseling and bringing a spirit of understanding can slowly build a new relationship.  Couples may find deeper connection to one another than they ever dreamed possible by embarking on the recovery journey together.

Why Can’t My Spouse Come?


Al-Anon (2011).  Al-Anon family groups.  Retrieved on December 29, 2016 from:

Alcoholics Anonymous (2016). Welcome to Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved on December 29, 2016 from:

Cranford, J., Floyd, F., Schulenberg, J. & Zucker, R. (2011). Husbands’ and wives’ alcohol use disorders and marital interactions as longitudinal predictors of marital adjustments. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 120(1): 210-222. Retrieved on December 30, 2016 from:

RCA (2016). Recovering Couples Anonymous. Retrieved on December 30, 2016 from:

Siglow, J. (1999). Alcohol and its effects on the alcoholic as well as the family. The Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research. 2(13): 64-69. Retrieved on December 30, 2016 from:

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