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Signs You’re Dating Someone Addicted to Alcohol

signs you're dating someone addicted to alcohol

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) significantly impacts a person’s life, including those closest to them. When you sense that something might be off with your partner or you’ve picked up on problematic behaviors, you might wonder whether they might have an alcohol use disorder. Once the cycle begins, AUD can be difficult to overcome without professional help. 

Keep reading for 10 signs your partner may have an alcohol addiction and what to do in this situation. 

10 Signs You’re Dating Someone Addicted to Alcohol

While AUD can have far-reaching impacts on a person’s life and those around them, it can sometimes be challenging to identify early, especially if you believe your partner may fit into the category of a high-functioning alcoholic

Here are 10 signs to look for if you’re concerned your partner may be developing an alcohol use disorder. 

1. Their Social Activities Revolve Around Alcohol

If your partner’s social activities revolve around alcohol, they may be in the early stages of alcohol use disorder.

For instance, your partner may attend a date night where alcohol isn’t present, only to suggest going to a bar later. For people who do not have problems with alcohol, their drinking tends to only occur at specific events, such as family gatherings or weddings. The alcohol is present to accompany these events — not the other way around. 

People with AUD often surround themselves with people who also like to drink, as they may find it easier to justify their drinking if their friends rely on alcohol the same way they do.

2. They Drink to Relieve Stress or Anxiety

Life comes with challenges for everyone. Alcohol is both a sedative and depressant that affects the central nervous system, meaning it can temporarily relieve stress. However, when your partner uses alcohol as a stress reliever, this can be a big red flag.

People not dependent on alcohol may follow healthy methods to combat stress, such as exercise, mindfulness techniques, or rest. In contrast, a person struggling with alcohol addiction is more likely to use the substance to self-medicate the pressures of life. They may also use alcohol to relieve mental health symptoms, such as those resulting from anxiety or depression. 

3. They Drink at Any Time, Day or Night

Some people set time aside to have a drink or two — whether that’s a glass of wine with dinner or a cold beer among friends at a barbeque. But when a person has problems with alcohol, they will drink at any time or day to satisfy their cravings. They might choose to drink first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon, or late at night and attempt to justify the behavior.

their personality changes after drinking

4. Their Personality Changes After Drinking

While someone with AUD may not appear intoxicated after a couple of drinks, their mood might change as they continue drinking. For instance, someone with AUD who has difficulty expressing emotions may become highly emotional after drinking. If you find that your partner is usually calm and kind but becomes cruel and angry or displays other significant personality changes after drinking, they may have a drinking problem. 

5. They Have Problems in Different Areas of Their Life

Another significant indicator that your partner has issues with drinking is that it has begun to impact all areas of their life. For instance, you might notice that they’re missing time at work or forgetting to spend time with friends and family. Their alcohol use might also be putting a strain on your relationship. And though they may swear off alcohol for its negative repercussions, ultimately, they will find it extremely hard to quit.

6. They Have a Family History of Alcohol Use Disorder

People with a family history of AUD have a greater risk of developing it than the general population. As you get to know your partner’s family, you may notice signs of AUD among them, especially close relatives like parents. 

7. They Drink Whatever Is Available

Many people drink for social purposes and stick to a type of alcohol and brand, such as a particular brand of beer or wine or a specific cocktail. They might opt for a non-alcoholic drink if their preferred beverage isn’t available. However, people with alcohol addiction will drink whatever is available, no matter the type of drink or brand. After all, it’s the alcohol that matters and not so much the type. 

8. They’re Resourceful

People with alcohol addiction will somehow always have just enough money to pay for drinks. They tend to get resourceful to do so. For instance, they may not have enough money for a dinner date but somehow manage to purchase drinks at the bar. They may put off essential purchases and neglect financial obligations in favor of buying alcohol, which can cause significant issues down the road.

9. They Don’t Seem Intoxicated

A person with AUD will often show no signs of intoxication after consuming a large amount of alcohol. That’s because, over time, frequent alcohol use can lead to tolerance, meaning you need more and more alcohol to feel its effects. Some people may fit into the category of a functional alcohol use disorder, where they can conceal their addiction and go unnoticed due to a higher tolerance.

10. They Get Easily Irritated

Similar to mood swings and personality changes, a person with a substance use disorder like alcohol addiction might become easily irritated if they haven’t had a drink in a while. Alcohol withdrawal can cause people to become easily upset at just the slightest annoyance. You may notice your partner becoming irritable at everyday frustrations, no matter how minor.

What to Do if This Sounds Like a Loved One

Many professional programs can treat alcohol use disorder, ensuring your loved one has a holistic plan that matches their needs and lifestyle. You can also support yourself and your own health with the following tips: 

  • Communicate your problems and set boundaries: It’s essential to state your concerns clearly and set boundaries with your partner. You can support them on their sobriety journey and create enough distance to avoid creating an unhealthy or codependent dynamic
  • Take care of yourself: Living with a partner who has AUD can be a struggle. Taking care of yourself is essential to avoid losing yourself in your partner’s recovery process. You might exercise, practice mindfulness techniques, pursue creative activities or attend therapy or a support group for families to stay on top of your health. 
  • Attend therapy: In group or individual therapy, your partner can identify the underlying issues that may contribute to their alcohol use and build healthy coping mechanisms to replace the activity. You might also attend couples therapy with your partner to help solve relationship problems caused by alcohol. 
  • 12-step support groups: You might encourage your partner to attend 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Building a social network is essential for people with substance use disorder and alcohol addiction. In support groups, your partner can listen to others’ struggles, feel less alone, receive advice, and feel more empowered to reach sobriety. 
Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Gateway Foundation

Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Gateway Foundation

Alcohol addiction can seriously impact your relationship, often leading to intimacy issues, mistrust, and interpersonal conflicts. Practicing self-care and seeking professional help is the best way to combat these issues. Gateway Foundation offers several addiction programs to support you and your partner. These include 12-step groups, family therapy and planning, and individual therapy to help your loved one overcome addiction.

Contact us today to learn about our programs and help your loved one get treatment.

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