Alcohol dependence, alcohol use disorder, is one of the most common addiction individuals struggle with. Not only can alcoholism wreak havoc on someone’s personal life, but also it dramatically affects every single relationship they are a part of. Perhaps, the most significant and most detrimental impacts come at the level of intimacy, partnership, and marriage. Alcohol destroys many romantic relationships, results in estranged marriages and causes a huge discourse between families. From intimacy issues, mistrust, a lack of communication to abuse, lack of emotional availability to financial burden and the adverse effects on young children; alcohol abuse in a romantic relationship can have severe effects on both partners, their children, and other family members.

Alcohol and intimacy

The effect of alcoholism on relationships and intimacy is widespread and touches on many different areas of intimate affairs. The impact of heavy drinking on relationships can be quite harmful. The first area that is usually affected is intimacy. Parts of an intimate relationship that can be affected by the effects of alcoholism include:

  • Trust
  • Stability
  • Affection
  • Expectations
  • Commitment
  • Shared values
  • Respect

Alcoholism is linked to codependency in relationships as well as abusive behavior both verbally and physically. Deterioration in married or unmarried couples often stems from arguments, financial troubles, and acts of infidelity or, worse, domestic violence. Alcoholism also decreases sex drive, which can bring even more problems into an already strained relationship and can eventually lead to divorce.

Alcohol and mistrust

Alcohol abuse disorder significantly alters an individual’s personality, and as a result, it can make them unrecognizable from the person they were before they started drinking. Individuals who have alcohol use disorder become more and more secretive, often out of fear, shame, or guilt. They begin to hide things from their significant other such as where they are, whom they are spending time with, and what they did during the day. Keeping the truth from your significant other may start as an innocent defense mechanism, but eventually, it will most likely lead to blatant lies and mistrust. As the alcohol abuse progresses, the lies an individual tells to cover their addiction become more elaborate over time. For their loved one, it can feel as if all they are hearing is excuse after excuse, for being late, for disappearing, for the mood swings, for the missing money, for the hidden bottles in the bathroom. Trust is essential to a healthy and functioning relationship, and once it is damaged, it can be difficult to repair. It can often lead to feelings of fear and jealousy. Because proper communication is impossible without honesty, both people could begin feeling alone and isolated, increasing feelings of sadness and resentment.

Seeking help

The vast majority of outcomes from alcoholism are negative, and damaged relationships are a common byproduct of alcoholism. Anyone who is struggling with an alcohol abuse disorder should seek professional help to gain the proper coping skills and tools to overcome this addiction. Most addiction therapists will strongly recommend relationship counseling besides support groups for their significant other as alcohol affects every single aspect of the relationship. It is essential for the significant other to hold their loved one accountable and support them during their recovery without trying to step in and play the role of a therapist. Partners and families are part of the journey, whether or not they chose it, and deserve help in getting back to normalcy.