The reasons why people drink alcohol are as varied and numerous as the individuals themselves. Some drink socially while others drink to relieve stress or chronic pain. Regardless of the reason why people drink, it can have an effect on the relationships with those they love. The foundation of any successful relationship is built on love and trust. When relationship problems start, it can be difficult to see the connection between drinking and the relationship difficulties.
If you are wondering if alcohol consumption may be related to the relationship problems in your life, this guide will help you understand the connection better and when it may be time to get help.
What is Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
Since the 1930s, the definition of what constitutes an alcohol problem has changed. Models that define alcohol use disorder have grown beyond the number of drinks you have or how often you have them. Now, the definition of alcohol use disorder takes into account how alcohol affects your life. Nearly 14 million Americans are considered to have alcohol use disorder.
The most important thing to understand is that alcohol use disorder occurs along a continuum. For some people, it can mean binge drinking on the weekend but does not have a significant effect on their ability to maintain a job, have a relationship or affect other areas of their life. For others, it can be a significant part of a relationship that is headed for the rocks. The relationship problems only compound a myriad of other issues. In its most serious form, alcohol use disorder can lead to:
- Financial difficulties
- Marital conflict
- Partner violence
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
The emotional scars of a relationship affected by alcohol use disorder can last a lifetime, even long after the relationship has ended. It has an effect on any children in the family too. Many couples fail to recognize the role that alcohol plays in their relationship problems. Alcohol use disorder has its own set of problems, but recognizing its role in a relationship can mean the difference between having a loving support system and additional stress and conflict. Here are some of the signs that alcohol is affecting your relationship.
Forgetting the Relationship
Keeping the connections that we feel for others requires work and does not happen automatically. If you have chosen to drink over spending time with your loved one or keeping promises to them, this is one of the first symptoms that alcohol is affecting your relationship. If you have ever had to cancel plans because you were hung over, or you’ve forgotten a special date or anniversary due to drinking, this is a warning sign that alcohol may have become more important to you.
One of the symptoms of alcoholism is impulsiveness when you drink. If you have ever been out drinking with your buddies and suddenly decided to cancel a date with your significant other, it will have an impact on your relationship. If you promised to be home at a certain time and then don’t come home for hours or all night because you were drinking, this is another sign of an issue. From the other person’s perspective, you are giving them the signal that they are not the top priority in your life anymore.
Your Activities Have Changed
When alcohol begins to take control of your life, you may lose interest in other activities and things that you used to enjoy. This applies whether you are in a relationship or not, but if you are in a relationship, the other person may wonder why you no longer do the things that once had meaning in your relationship. Alcohol can affect your sex drive, which is another sign that alcohol may be affecting your relationship. Doing things as a couple plays an important role in keeping the spark alive. Love is not a one-time occurrence; doing things that you enjoy together as a couple can build the connection and keep it alive.
Going on dates together and doing things that you enjoy can keep your relationship stable when life’s troubles try to get in the way. If you are missing out on the things that you used to enjoy as a couple, it may be time to consider whether alcohol is playing a role in your relationship troubles.
This can be a difficult one to spot in yourself. If you become a different person when you drink, it could have a significant impact on your relationship. For instance, if alcohol makes you violent, or perhaps you tend to fling insults at your partner when you drink, it can lead to serious trouble. You may think that what you are doing is all in fun and not having an effect, but these little insults and injuries add up over time and can destroy a relationship.
Your partner may or may not tell you that what you are doing when you drink hurts them, but this doesn’t mean that they are not hurt. Some people feel that they become more sociable and likable when they drink, but not everyone sees it the same way. Your partner may not say it directly, but the way you become when you drink could make them feel uncomfortable to be around you. If your partner has become disinterested in going places with you when you will be drinking, it may be time to consider that this is a sign they do not like who you become when you drink.
If your partner has ever said to you directly that they do not like who you become when you drink, you should take it to heart. Another sign of more serious relationship problems is if you have started hiding your drinking from your partner. If you have ever hidden money that you spent for alcohol or actions that you took while you were drinking, it may be one of the signs that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Relationships are built on trust, and the other person needs to be able to trust that you will not do things that could place them in financial jeopardy or make them feel emotionally vulnerable. There are many different elements to building and keeping trust in a relationship. Unfortunately, once this trust has been broken, it can be difficult or impossible to recover.
When to Get Help
If any of these scenarios sound like you, it may be time to take a serious look at how alcohol is affecting your relationships and the other areas of your life. Most people focus on relationships with a spouse or significant other, but alcohol also affects relationships with family and close friends as well. If any of your relationships seem like they are in decline and you cannot seem to figure out the reason, you need to take a serious look at whether alcohol could be the culprit. If this is the case, getting help sooner rather than later is the key to getting your life back on track and repairing damaged relationships.
Can the Relationship Be Saved?
If you have had the realization that alcohol may be ruining your relationship and it is time to get help, the next question you’re probably wondering is whether the relationship can be saved. First, there is no easy answer that will apply to every situation. It can depend on the dynamics of the relationship before alcohol was involved, how long the problem has been going on, how far the problem has progressed and other factors that may affect the ability to recover. The amount of damage that has already been done and the personalities of the two people will be keys to determining whether the relationship can be repaired.
The worst thing that you can do is become involved in the blame game. It is easy to lay the blame on the other person and to see them as the reason for your own actions. This is the road to a failed relationship and must be stopped before it gets started if the relationship is to stand a chance of being saved. Regardless of how it seems, the problems are usually not the result of one person. It takes two to make a relationship, and it takes two to break it.
The only thing that’s certain is that the problems will not get better until the underlying issues are addressed. You will have a better chance of recovering your relationship if your partner sees that you have taken responsibility and are getting help for the problems in your life caused by alcohol. Even if the relationship is too far gone to save, getting help to move on and rebuild a stable life is an important part of the recovery process for both of you.
The Recovery Process
It is important to understand that even if the both of you decide to continue the relationship, you cannot expect to go back to the same relationship you had before the damage occurred. Many times, the best that can happen is to build a new relationship built on communication, trust and new skills that you both learned through the recovery process. Regardless of the outcome, couples therapy, individual therapy and treatment for alcohol use disorder are all a part of the recovery process.
You did not get where you are now overnight, and you cannot expect for all of the problems to simply go away immediately. Recovery and rebuilding relationships will take hard work from the both of you. Repairing relationships is an important part of the recovery process from alcohol use disorder. Having a support network of people that you can trust is a predictor of a successful alcohol abstinence program.
If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on any of your relationships, the most important thing that you can do is call for help and take the first steps in the recovery process. Many people try to do it alone, but alcohol is a harsh taskmaster; there is no reason why you should ever feel that you have to do it alone.
Engaging the help of a professional who understands addiction recovery and how to prevent alcohol from ruining your relationships can help give you insight that will help not only you but also those you care about. If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on your life and relationships, the act of simply reaching out may bring a sense of relief. Talking to someone who has the answers can help you see the path to recovery and taking back your life.