How Alcohol Abuse Affects Relationships


During conversations with the parent, it may be helpful to ensure they understand what treatment involves and the various options available. So consider pointing them to information on topics such as detox, outpatient, inpatient, aftercare, the admissions process, types of therapies, family treatment, and more. Bear in mind, the manner in which you approach this conversation is also important. So you might want to peruse information on how to talk to an alcoholic before you broach the topic.

how alcohol affects relationships

“People often describe to me that they now realize how much the alcohol altered their behavior and relationships. Quitting alcohol for one month seems like a short time, but a 2015 study found that many people who participate in Dry January continue to drink less six months later. The “One Week No Booze Method” recently went viral on TikTok and participants are challenged to stop drinking for one week each month. This method adds up to three months a year without alcohol, it could be an option for people who want to continue taking manageable breaks from alcohol beyond Dry January. Experts say there are benefits to quitting alcohol for a short period, even if you’re a social or moderate drinker. There’s no one right way to go about quitting drinking; it’s all about figuring out what works for you and your lifestyle, starting with a plan.

Can couples therapy help with alcohol-related relationship problems?

Below we discuss how alcohol can disrupt your most important relationships. We also draw attention to some red flags that your drinking may have become unhealthy, and provide next steps for making a change. When alcohol has become a core part of our relationships, it can stand in the way of us taking action to change our own drinking habits, even when they aren’t making us happy. Similarly, we can be affected by the drinking of our partner, friend or loved one, causing tension and disagreement, or leading us to drink more.

Alcohol can affect relationships in various ways, and this can look different for each person. Drinking is often an enjoyable part of many different social activities. But for many people, it can also be a source of conflict in their relationships.

Relationship Problems That May Occur as a Result of Alcohol Misuse

It is crucial to have open and honest conversations about how alcohol consumption is affecting the relationship. Couples often report that as alcohol dependency takes hold in one partner, the abuser will only want to join in with activities where alcohol is readily available. Facing Your Powerlessness in Addiction Recovery Alcohol consumption is a common factor in situations where domestic violence (DV) has occurred. When a person is intoxicated, their emotions, judgment, and decision-making are impaired. This contributes to the strong correlation between heavy drinking and DV.

It’s important to recognize these challenges and actively work on open and honest communication when alcohol is involved. Unfortunately, studies consistently demonstrate that, regardless of the sex of the partner with AUD, if at least one person in the relationship has an AUD, the risk of DV is high. Alcohol’s ability to lower inhibitions and impair judgment are known to contribute to the possibility of a person cheating on their partner (4). Men who drink too much may have trouble getting and maintaining an erection.

Can alcohol change your personality?

When under the influence of alcohol, individuals may experience a decrease in inhibitions and an impaired ability to control their emotions and actions. This can lead to a heightened risk of engaging in physically or verbally aggressive behavior towards their partner. By understanding the impact of alcohol on relationships and taking proactive steps to address these issues, individuals and couples can work towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Alcohol can significantly impact communication within relationships, leading to various challenges that can strain the connection between partners. It’s important to recognize and address these challenges in order to maintain healthy and effective communication. Here are some common communication challenges that can arise due to the effects of alcohol.

  • A glass of wine with dinner, drinks with friends at the bar, and a “cheers” to kick off the weekend—alcohol is ingrained in our social rituals.
  • Learn about the dangers & risks involved, and what to do if you’ve mixed them.
  • In fact, research from 2019 has shown that alcohol behavioral couple therapy can help participants drink less, decrease conflict, and increase communication between partners.
  • Furthermore, alcohol abuse can cause financial strain on families, which can affect the quality of care provided for children.

While some individuals may experience increased talkativeness and lowered inhibitions, others may become more aggressive or withdrawn. These changes in verbal and non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and even conflicts. It’s important to note that while there is a correlation between domestic abuse and alcohol, alcohol abuse doesn’t cause physical violence. Most people who are considered heavy drinkers don’t abuse their partners. Sometimes people keep up appearances for awhile, but that doesn’t usually last.

Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) the Same Thing as Alcoholism?

Many addiction treatment programs teach skills for life in recovery, and some include financial management. Communication breakdowns are an early warning sign of damaged relationships. Intoxication makes it hard to express your emotions2 or understand how others feel. And because alcohol impairs judgment, it may cause you to say or do things you regret. Remember, it’s important to approach the conversation with compassion and understanding. By showing support and empathy towards your loved one, you can help them take the first step towards getting help for their alcohol addiction.

Couples where a partner abuses alcohol are often very unhappy – in fact, they are usually unhappier than couples that seek marriage guidance for other reasons. As the alcohol abuse worsens, it starts to take more and more time away from the couple – taking its toll by creating an emotional distance between them that is difficult to overcome. These couples also report that they fight and argue a great deal, which sometimes can become violent. Many peer support organizations offer resources for rebuilding and healing relationships. For example, AA holds open meetings that can be attended by family and friends who want to be actively engaged in your recovery.

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