Table of Contents

Partner is an Alcoholic

alcohol

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

When Your Partner is an Alcoholic

Navigating a relationship when your partner struggles with alcoholism can be a complex and challenging journey filled with love, hope, and uncertainty. In this blog, we’ll explore the unique experiences, emotions, and dynamics that come with loving someone who battles alcohol addiction. From understanding the signs and symptoms to offering support and seeking help, we’ll delve into the realities of being in a relationship with an alcoholic and offer guidance for finding healing, hope, and resilience along the way. Whether you’re seeking advice, validation, or understanding, this blog aims to provide insights and resources to support you on your journey with your partner who is battling alcoholism.

Warning Signs

Recognizing the warning signs of alcoholism in your partner is crucial for understanding their struggles and seeking help. Here are some common signs to watch for:

  1. Increased Tolerance: Needing to drink more alcohol to achieve the desired effect or experiencing diminished effects from the same amount of alcohol.
  2. Preoccupation with Drinking: Constantly thinking about alcohol, planning activities around drinking, or prioritizing drinking over other responsibilities.
  3. Hiding or Sneaking Alcohol: Concealing or lying about the amount of alcohol consumed, stashing bottles in hidden places, or making excuses for their drinking behavior.
  4. Loss of Control: Difficulty controlling or limiting alcohol intake once they start drinking, leading to episodes of binge drinking or loss of memory (blackouts).
  5. Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating, nausea, anxiety, or irritability when not drinking or attempting to cut down on drinking.
  6. Neglecting Responsibilities: Neglecting work, school, family, or social obligations due to drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  7. Changes in Behavior: Displaying mood swings, irritability, aggression, or depression, particularly when unable to drink or when confronted about their drinking habits.
  8. Physical Health Issues: Experiencing physical health problems related to alcohol abuse, such as liver disease, gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, or frequent hangovers.
  9. Relationship Problems: Strained relationships with family members, friends, or romantic partners due to conflicts related to alcohol use, dishonesty, or broken promises.
  10. Denial or Minimization: Denying or downplaying the severity of their drinking problem, avoiding discussions about alcohol use, or becoming defensive when confronted about their behavior.
 

If you notice these warning signs in your partner, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, understanding, and concern. Encouraging open communication, expressing your worries, and offering support can help your partner recognize the need for help and take steps towards recovery. Additionally, seeking guidance from a therapist, counselor, or addiction specialist can provide valuable support and resources for navigating this challenging situation.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over drinking, and negative consequences related to alcohol consumption.

Individuals with alcohol addiction often experience intense cravings for alcohol and find it difficult to limit their drinking despite negative consequences on their health, relationships, work, and other areas of life. They may prioritize drinking over other responsibilities, experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, and struggle to cut down or stop drinking altogether.

Alcohol addiction can have serious physical, psychological, and social consequences, including liver disease, cardiovascular problems, mental health disorders, legal issues, and strained relationships. It can also impact a person’s ability to function effectively in daily life and lead to significant impairment in various areas of functioning.

Treatment for alcohol addiction typically involves a combination of therapies, medications, support groups, and lifestyle changes aimed at addressing the underlying causes of addiction, managing withdrawal symptoms, developing coping skills, and promoting long-term recovery. With proper treatment and support, individuals with alcohol addiction can achieve sobriety, improve their quality of life, and regain control over their health and well-being.

What are the Side Effects to Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), can have a wide range of negative side effects on both physical and mental health. Some common side effects of alcoholism include:

  1. Liver Disease: Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to liver damage, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis, which can be life-threatening.
  2. Cardiovascular Problems: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
  3. Digestive Issues: Alcohol abuse can cause digestive problems such as gastritis, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  4. Weakened Immune System: Chronic alcohol abuse weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  5. Neurological Damage: Prolonged alcohol use can damage the brain, leading to cognitive impairment, memory problems, coordination issues, and increased risk of dementia.
  6. Mental Health Disorders: Alcoholism is associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
  7. Sleep Disorders: Alcohol abuse disrupts normal sleep patterns and can lead to insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders.
  8. Nutritional Deficiencies: Alcoholism can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize essential nutrients, leading to malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
  9. Increased Risk of Cancer: Chronic alcohol abuse is linked to an increased risk of various types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer.
  10. Social and Interpersonal Problems: Alcoholism can contribute to strained relationships, divorce, family conflict, financial problems, legal issues, and social isolation.
 

These side effects underscore the importance of seeking treatment for alcoholism to prevent further damage to physical and mental health and improve overall well-being. With proper intervention and support, individuals struggling with alcoholism can achieve sobriety and regain control over their lives.

How to Seek Help for Your Partner

Seeking help for your partner who is struggling with alcoholism is an important step towards supporting their recovery journey. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about alcoholism, its effects, and available treatment options. Understanding the nature of addiction can help you approach the situation with empathy and compassion.
  2. Express Concern: Have an open and honest conversation with your partner about your concerns regarding their drinking behavior. Express your love, support, and willingness to help them get the assistance they need.
  3. Encourage Professional Help: Encourage your partner to seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or addiction specialist who can provide assessment, guidance, and treatment recommendations. Offer to accompany them to appointments or assist in finding resources.
  4. Explore Treatment Options: Research different treatment options, such as outpatient therapy, inpatient rehab, support groups, or medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and discuss them with your partner. Help them understand the benefits of treatment and the importance of seeking help.
  5. Offer Emotional Support: Be a source of emotional support and encouragement for your partner throughout the recovery process. Listen actively, validate their feelings, and offer reassurance that they are not alone in their struggle.
  6. Set Boundaries: Establish healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your relationship while supporting your partner’s recovery. Clearly communicate your expectations, concerns, and limits regarding their drinking behavior.
  7. Avoid Enabling Behaviors: Refrain from enabling your partner’s alcohol use by avoiding situations that involve drinking, refusing to cover up or make excuses for their behavior, and encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions.
  8. Seek Support for Yourself: Take care of your own emotional well-being by seeking support from friends, family members, or a therapist who can help you cope with the challenges of supporting a loved one with alcoholism.
  9. Stay Patient and Persistent: Recovery is a process that takes time, and setbacks may occur along the way. Stay patient, persistent, and supportive of your partner’s efforts to seek help and make positive changes in their life.
  10. Be Prepared for Resistance: Your partner may initially resist the idea of seeking help or may be in denial about the severity of their drinking problem. Be prepared for resistance and approach the situation with patience, understanding, and empathy.
 

By taking proactive steps to support your partner and encourage them to seek help, you can play a vital role in their journey towards recovery from alcoholism. Remember that you cannot force someone to get help, but you can provide love, support, and encouragement as they navigate their path to sobriety.

How to Care for Your Partner While They Get Treatment

Caring for your partner while they receive treatment for alcoholism involves providing support, encouragement, and understanding throughout their recovery journey. Here are some ways to care for your partner while they get treatment:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about alcoholism, treatment options, and what to expect during the recovery process. Understanding the challenges your partner may face can help you provide better support.
  2. Offer Emotional Support: Be a source of emotional support and encouragement for your partner. Listen actively, validate their feelings, and offer reassurance that you are there for them no matter what.
  3. Attend Therapy Sessions: Accompany your partner to therapy sessions, support group meetings, or other treatment appointments if they feel comfortable with your presence. Your support can help them feel more at ease and engaged in the treatment process.
  4. Encourage Healthy Habits: Encourage your partner to engage in healthy habits such as regular exercise, nutritious eating, adequate sleep, and stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga. These habits can support their overall well-being and enhance their recovery.
  5. Create a Supportive Environment: Create a supportive and alcohol-free environment at home by removing alcohol from the house, avoiding social situations that involve drinking, and offering alternatives for relaxation and socialization.
  6. Be Patient and Understanding: Recovery from alcoholism is a journey that takes time, and there may be ups and downs along the way. Be patient, understanding, and non-judgmental as your partner navigates the challenges of treatment and recovery.
  7. Communicate Effectively: Maintain open and honest communication with your partner about their treatment progress, concerns, and needs. Encourage them to express themselves freely and provide constructive feedback when necessary.
  8. Set Healthy Boundaries: Set healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your relationship while supporting your partner’s recovery. Clearly communicate your expectations, concerns, and limits regarding their behavior.
  9. Take Care of Yourself: Self-care is essential when caring for a partner in treatment. Make time for activities you enjoy, prioritize your own needs, and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if needed.
  10. Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate your partner’s achievements and milestones in recovery, no matter how small. Acknowledge their progress, express pride in their efforts, and reinforce their motivation to stay sober.
 

By providing unwavering support, understanding, and encouragement, you can play a vital role in your partner’s journey towards recovery from alcoholism. Your love and support can make a significant difference in their ability to overcome challenges and achieve lasting sobriety.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries while your partner is in treatment for alcoholism or struggling with alcohol addiction is essential for maintaining your own well-being and supporting their recovery process. Here are some boundaries to consider:

  1. No Alcohol in the Home: Establish a rule that there will be no alcohol kept or consumed in the home to create a supportive and sober environment.
  2. Avoid Enabling Behaviors: Refrain from enabling your partner’s drinking by not covering up or making excuses for their behavior, providing them with money to buy alcohol, or participating in activities that involve drinking.
  3. Communication Boundaries: Set boundaries around communication, such as discussing treatment progress and concerns openly and honestly while avoiding blaming or shaming language.
  4. Respect Personal Space: Respect your partner’s need for personal space and privacy, especially if they are attending therapy or support group meetings. Allow them the time and space they need to focus on their recovery without feeling overwhelmed or intruded upon.
  5. Self-Care Time: Prioritize your own self-care by setting aside time for activities that recharge and rejuvenate you, whether it’s spending time with friends, pursuing hobbies, or practicing relaxation techniques.
  6. Healthy Relationship Boundaries: Clearly communicate your expectations and boundaries for maintaining a healthy relationship, such as mutual respect, honesty, and support, while avoiding codependent or enabling behaviors.
  7. Financial Boundaries: Set limits on financial support, such as not giving your partner money to buy alcohol or funding their drinking habits. Instead, encourage them to seek help for their addiction and manage their finances responsibly.
  8. Safety Boundaries: Establish safety boundaries to protect yourself and others from harm, such as not engaging in arguments or confrontations when your partner is under the influence of alcohol.
  9. Seeking Support: Encourage your partner to seek support from friends, family members, or a therapist while respecting their autonomy and choices in their recovery journey.
  10. Professional Help: Encourage your partner to follow through with their treatment plan and attend therapy or support group meetings regularly while offering your support and encouragement.
 

Setting and maintaining boundaries can be challenging, but it’s essential for creating a supportive and healthy environment for both you and your partner during their recovery journey. Communicate openly, set clear expectations, and prioritize your own well-being while supporting your partner in their path to sobriety.

What to Do if Your Partner Relapses

If your partner relapses after receiving treatment for alcoholism, it can be a challenging and distressing experience for both of you. Here are steps to take if your partner relapses:

  1. Remain Calm: Stay calm and composed, even though you may feel upset, disappointed, or frustrated. Remember that relapse is a common part of the recovery process, and it does not mean failure or the end of recovery.
  2. Express Support: Express your love, support, and concern for your partner in a non-judgmental and compassionate manner. Let them know that you are there for them and that you believe in their ability to overcome this setback.
  3. Encourage Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication with your partner about their relapse, including the circumstances leading up to it and their thoughts and feelings afterward. Listen attentively and validate their experiences without blaming or criticizing them.
  4. Reassess Treatment Needs: Reassess your partner’s treatment needs and consider whether adjustments or additional support may be necessary. This may involve returning to therapy, attending support group meetings, or exploring alternative treatment options.
  5. Identify Triggers and Underlying Issues: Work with your partner to identify triggers and underlying issues that may have contributed to the relapse. This may involve stress, emotional turmoil, unresolved trauma, or social pressure.
  6. Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan: Collaborate with your partner and their treatment providers to develop a relapse prevention plan that includes coping strategies, healthy habits, and support systems to help them navigate future challenges.
  7. Encourage Self-Compassion: Encourage your partner to practice self-compassion and kindness toward themselves during this difficult time. Remind them that relapse does not define their worth or their ability to recover.
  8. Seek Support for Yourself: Take care of your own emotional well-being by seeking support from friends, family members, or a therapist who can help you cope with the challenges of supporting a loved one through relapse.
  9. Avoid Enabling Behaviors: Refrain from enabling your partner’s drinking or making excuses for their behavior. Set healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your relationship while supporting their recovery efforts.
  10. Stay Hopeful: Stay hopeful and optimistic about your partner’s ability to learn from their relapse and continue on their journey of recovery. Encourage them to stay committed to their sobriety goals and remind them of the progress they have made.
 

Remember that relapse is not uncommon in the recovery process, and it does not mean that your partner has failed. With patience, understanding, and support, you and your partner can navigate this challenge together and continue moving forward in their recovery journey.

How to Save Your Relationship if Your Partner is in Treatment

If your partner is in treatment for alcoholism, it can put a strain on your relationship, but there are steps you can take to support each other and strengthen your bond during this challenging time. Here are some ways to save your relationship while your partner is in treatment:

  1. Communicate Openly: Maintain open and honest communication with your partner about their treatment progress, concerns, and needs. Encourage them to express themselves freely, and listen attentively without judgment.
  2. Attend Couples Therapy: Consider attending couples therapy together to address issues in your relationship, improve communication, and learn healthy coping strategies. A therapist can help you navigate the challenges of supporting a partner in treatment while maintaining a healthy relationship.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that recovery from alcoholism is a process that takes time, and there may be ups and downs along the way. Set realistic expectations for your partner’s progress and be patient and supportive as they navigate their recovery journey.
  4. Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about alcoholism, treatment options, and what to expect during the recovery process. Understanding the challenges your partner is facing can help you provide better support and empathy.
  5. Offer Practical Support: Offer practical support to your partner, such as helping with household chores, childcare, or transportation to treatment appointments. Show them that you are there for them and willing to assist in any way you can.
  6. Take Care of Yourself: Prioritize your own self-care and well-being during this challenging time. Make time for activities you enjoy, seek support from friends and family, and consider attending support groups for partners of individuals in treatment.
  7. Set Boundaries: Set healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your relationship while supporting your partner’s recovery. Clearly communicate your expectations, concerns, and limits, and enforce them consistently.
  8. Focus on the Positive: Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and the progress your partner is making in treatment. Celebrate their achievements and milestones, no matter how small, and express gratitude for the positive changes you see in them.
  9. Stay Connected: Stay connected as a couple by spending quality time together, engaging in activities you both enjoy, and nurturing your emotional connection. Find ways to strengthen your bond and support each other through the ups and downs of recovery.
  10. Seek Professional Help: If your relationship is struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help from a couples therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction and relationships. A professional can provide guidance, support, and strategies for navigating the challenges you may face as a couple.
 

By taking proactive steps to support each other and strengthen your relationship, you can navigate the challenges of having a partner in treatment for alcoholism and emerge stronger and more resilient as a couple. Remember that you are not alone, and there is help and support available to you both as you navigate this journey together.

Can Alcoholism be Cured?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic condition that is characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over drinking, and negative consequences related to alcohol consumption. While there is no cure for alcoholism in the traditional sense, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment and support.

Treatment for alcoholism typically involves a combination of therapies, medications, support groups, and lifestyle changes aimed at helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. Some people may be able to achieve long-term recovery and live a sober life, while others may experience periods of relapse or struggle with ongoing challenges related to their alcohol use.

The goal of treatment for alcoholism is not necessarily to “cure” the condition but rather to help individuals learn to manage their symptoms, develop healthy coping strategies, and address underlying issues that may contribute to their alcohol use. With the right support and resources, many individuals with alcoholism can achieve significant improvements in their quality of life and overall well-being.

It’s important to recognize that recovery from alcoholism is a lifelong journey that may involve ups and downs along the way. Relapse is a common part of the recovery process for many individuals, but it does not mean failure or the end of recovery. With continued effort, support, and determination, individuals with alcoholism can overcome challenges and build a fulfilling and sober life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, it’s important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional or addiction specialist who can provide assessment, guidance, and treatment recommendations tailored to your individual needs. With the right treatment and support, recovery from alcoholism is possible.

How Long Does Recovery Last?

The duration of recovery from alcoholism varies greatly from person to person and depends on various factors, including the severity of the alcohol use disorder, the presence of co-occurring mental health issues, the effectiveness of treatment, and individual circumstances. Recovery from alcoholism is a lifelong journey, and there is no set timeframe for how long it will last.

For some individuals, recovery may involve achieving and maintaining sobriety for the rest of their lives, while for others, it may involve periods of relapse followed by renewed efforts to abstain from alcohol. Recovery is not a linear process, and setbacks or challenges may occur along the way.

It’s important to recognize that recovery is more than just abstaining from alcohol; it often involves addressing underlying issues, developing healthy coping strategies, rebuilding relationships, and making positive lifestyle changes. Recovery is a holistic process that encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

While there is no definitive endpoint to recovery from alcoholism, many individuals find that over time, they are able to achieve stability, improve their quality of life, and experience greater fulfillment and satisfaction. With ongoing support, commitment, and effort, individuals with alcoholism can navigate their recovery journey and build a meaningful and sober life.

It’s essential for individuals in recovery to prioritize self-care, seek support from healthcare professionals, therapists, and support groups, and remain vigilant in managing triggers and stressors that may contribute to relapse. By staying engaged in their recovery process and taking proactive steps to maintain sobriety, individuals can continue to make progress and experience the benefits of living a sober life.

Treatment Options for Couples

When couples are struggling with alcoholism or other substance use disorders, seeking treatment together can be beneficial for addressing both individual and relationship challenges. Here are some treatment options for couples:

  1. Couples Therapy: Couples therapy, also known as couples counseling or marriage counseling, focuses on improving communication, resolving conflicts, and strengthening the relationship. In the context of substance use disorders, couples therapy can help partners explore how addiction has affected their relationship dynamics, rebuild trust, and develop strategies for supporting each other’s recovery.
  2. Family Therapy: Family therapy involves working with the entire family unit to address issues related to addiction and recovery. Family therapy sessions may include spouses, children, parents, and other family members affected by addiction. This approach can help improve family dynamics, enhance communication, and foster a supportive environment for recovery.
  3. Joint Support Groups: Participating in joint support groups specifically designed for couples dealing with addiction can provide valuable peer support, guidance, and encouragement. These groups offer a safe space for couples to share their experiences, learn from each other, and receive support from others facing similar challenges.
  4. Couples Retreats or Workshops: Couples retreats or workshops focused on addiction recovery provide opportunities for partners to reconnect, deepen their understanding of addiction, and learn practical skills for supporting each other’s recovery. These retreats often incorporate therapy, education, and experiential activities to promote healing and growth.
  5. Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): Intensive outpatient programs offer structured treatment for addiction while allowing individuals to continue living at home and maintaining their daily routines. Some IOPs offer specialized tracks or groups for couples, providing tailored support and education for partners navigating recovery together.
  6. Inpatient or Residential Treatment: In some cases, couples may benefit from entering an inpatient or residential treatment program together, where they can receive comprehensive care in a supportive and structured environment. These programs typically offer individualized treatment plans, group therapy, educational sessions, and holistic interventions to address addiction and related issues.
  7. Individual Therapy with Couples Focus: Each partner may also benefit from individual therapy with a therapist who has experience working with couples affected by addiction. This allows partners to address personal challenges, explore their roles in the relationship, and develop strategies for supporting each other’s recovery.
 

When considering treatment options for couples, it’s important to choose approaches that align with the specific needs and preferences of both partners. Seeking guidance from a qualified therapist or addiction specialist can help couples explore their options and create a treatment plan that supports their individual and collective goals for recovery and relationship healing.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, navigating a relationship when your partner is struggling with alcoholism can be incredibly challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. Throughout this blog, we’ve explored the various aspects of this journey, from recognizing the warning signs of alcoholism and seeking help for your partner to setting boundaries, offering support, and seeking treatment options together.

It’s essential to remember that you are not alone in this journey. By educating yourself about alcoholism, practicing empathy and understanding, and seeking support from loved ones and professionals, you can play a vital role in supporting your partner’s recovery while also taking care of yourself.

While the road ahead may have its ups and downs, there is hope for healing, growth, and transformation. With patience, compassion, and perseverance, couples affected by alcoholism can navigate this challenging terrain together and emerge stronger, more resilient, and more deeply connected.

Remember to celebrate the small victories, prioritize self-care, and lean on each other for support. By facing this challenge together, you can emerge on the other side with a renewed sense of love, trust, and commitment to each other’s well-being.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At New Hope Healthcare, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

 

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to New Hope Healthcare today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-799-0806

Frequently Asked Questions

Offer support, encourage treatment, set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and seek guidance from professionals or support groups.

Look for signs such as increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control over drinking, and negative consequences related to alcohol use.

Recovery is possible with commitment from both partners, treatment, communication, and support from professionals and loved ones.

Couples therapy, joint support groups, family therapy, couples retreats or workshops, and individual therapy with a focus on relationships are all options.

Recovery from alcoholism varies for each individual and may involve lifelong management, but progress can be made with time, treatment, and support.

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