How Alcohol Abuse Affects Romantic Relationships

To build a strong relationship between two individuals, they both need to work on intimacy, love, compassion, communication, and commitment. When one of the partners turns towards substance abuse, they can unconsciously sabotage the relationship’s very foundation.

What often starts as a few harmless drinks during social gatherings can later transform into alcohol addiction, trust issues, anger management problems, and emotional instability. It is challenging to overcome emotional grudges connected with substance use, especially when the addict doesn’t want to seek help from an alcohol and drug rehab – and even if they want to, the alcohol rehab costs are often higher than they can afford.

Alcohol affects more than just the person dependent on it. In many cases, the partner of such a person remains strongly affected years after their partners have already received rehab treatment.

This article will guide you through all the ways in which alcohol abuse affects romantic relationships and how to navigate through them.

Trust Issues

Trust is vital in any relationship, especially in the romantic one – and when a person drinks extensively, it’s tough to put your trust in them. Alcoholics tend to lie to support their disease and find it hard to foresee their actions’ disastrous consequences.

When trust issues arise, neither partner feels secure in the relationship. The lack of confidence can cause jealousy, anxiety, insecurities and create an emotional distance between the partners. The knowledge that although their actions are hurtful to their partner, they cannot resist the addiction is often the cause of depression among alcohol abusers.

Financial Problems

Secure financial circumstances allow couples to plan their future and reach their personal goals. When alcohol addiction arises, it can affect the couple’s financial situation. Not only alcohol becomes an additional expense, but the addicted person often avoids work to create more occasions to support their drinking habit.

It is also not rare for the alcoholic to steal money and other valuables from their loved ones. They can even end up with loans and legal fees from companies taking advantage of human weaknesses.

When a couple struggles with finances, their life satisfaction is low, and they might end up avoiding social and family gatherings out of shame or inability to pay for presents, restaurants, and movie tickets.


The term “codependence” describes the relationship in which one person is dependent upon the other. It is incredibly disastrous to one’s mental health and can extend to other family members, especially the kids.

In codependent relationships, the drinking addict’s partner takes the role of a caregiver, consciously or unconsciously enabling the drinking behaviours. Then, the alcohol abuser uses their partner’s help to steer clear of responsibility for their actions. A codependent partner often fancies the “fixer” role and fears that once the addict gets sober, their selfhood will crumble, and their life won’t have a purpose anymore.

Negative Impact on Children

Living in a home with active alcohol abuse has a significant negative impact on children. Young minds need a calm and stable environment to develop healthily. When the day-to-day life is dictated by often violent, alcohol-related behaviours and occasional sobriety sessions, it is impossible to make plans and cultivate a family bond.

Later in life, the children of alcohol abusers can struggle with forming strong, trusting, and healthy interpersonal relationships. They can even fall into a vicious excessive substance use circle and repeat their parent’s mistakes.

Children of alcoholics often deny their sadness and fear caused by an unstable home environment. They don’t want to seek help in fear of confronting their demons. However, no matter how hard it might be for them, they must seek support groups and therapeutic treatment to deal with the sense of isolation, fear of abandonment, and low self-esteem caused by the traumatic experience.

Where To Seek Help?

You might recognize that you are dealing with alcohol addiction when:

• an individual feels that alcohol is more important than their romantic relationship and family life;
• one’s not honest about their drinking;
• a victim puts on hold their usual activities for the purpose of drinking;
• an individual feels that their sex drive has changed drastically since they started actively abusing alcohol;

If you are worried about the amount of alcohol you consume daily, there is a big chance that you have already developed an alcohol misuse disorder. It is crucial to seek professional help and medical advice to ensure that no relationships crumble because of your addiction.

Joining various support groups can help realize that alcoholism is not an unusual or embarrassing matter but a disease that many other individuals have already battled and managed to keep in check.

Alcohol abuse disorder is a family disease, so while the addict pursues treatment, their loved ones should also join individual or group therapies to ensure that this experience won’t cause them severe mental health issues in the future.

The Bottom Line

It’s been medically reviewed that extensive alcohol use is connected to low life satisfaction and failed personal relationships. The main characteristic in all alcohol families is constant chaos and a lack of communication.

Partners often adapt potentially destructive behaviours, like self-hatred and resentment, toward addressing the extensive alcohol use issue. They argue and struggle to pay the bills or provide a safe ground for the relationship to flourish. That’s why getting treatment simultaneously is vital. Numerous research has shown that involving both partners in the therapy boosts its chance to succeed.

Addressing the alcohol issue, fighting it together, and creating a supportive and caring environment can re-built a crumbling relationship and be the most vital asset in the fight to maintain sobriety.