Current alcoholism literature, alcoholism education, and alcoholism treatment suggests that the wife of the alcoholic is every bit as sick (physically, mentally, and spiritually) as her practicing alcoholic husband. How did we come to this view of the wife of the alcoholic?

This paper will review 1) how the wife of the alcoholic has been regarded over the years; 2) how these portraits of the wife of the alcoholic that appeared in the scholarly literature have influenced current thinking and treatment, and 3) how this body of literature and the popular concepts of the wife of the alcoholic that evolved from it, carry sexual biases and stereotyping that can potentially interfere with optimum treatment, full recovery, and effective marital and family functioning.

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