You may be dating a person who is in the beginning stages of alcoholism. But how could you know for sure? You may suspect that you are dating an alcoholic, yet he or she is currently exhibiting few of the apparent signs and symptoms of a significant alcohol use disorder.
Alcoholism tends to be a progressive disease. When a person experiencing an alcohol use disorder continues to drink, the symptoms become more apparent and more prevalent until it is finally clear to almost everyone that they have a severe problem.
Although it may be easy to identify the stereotypical alcoholic, alcoholism is often not evident in the early stages. Before the disease has advanced, it is not always apparent that a person has issues with drinking. However, there are often early tell-tale signs that someone might be an alcoholic.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) includes alcohol abuse, dependence, and full-blown addiction. People who abuse alcohol are one or two steps beyond the occasionally excessive drinker. They continue to drink alcohol despite how it impacts them mentally, physically, and emotionally. They also drink despite being aware of the damaging effects it has on their interpersonal relationships. Individuals who abuse alcohol often do so to cope with life, relieve stress, escape reality, and dull emotional or physical pain.
Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol. Because alcoholics are addicted, they often experience withdrawal symptoms while not drinking, such as shaking, tremors, anxiety, and depression. This can make cutting back or quitting more challenging. Alcoholics first begin drinking for pleasure until they start to do so to avoid uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
About 33% of American adults are occasional excessive drinkers. However, only about 10% of these drinkers are actually considered to be alcoholics. Alcoholics develop a dependency on alcohol that impairs their ability to cut back or quit altogether.
Signs You’re Dating an Alcoholic
If you are dating an alcoholic, you may be aware of specific risks in their family history or notice some warning signs. Your partner may have alcoholic family members or abuse alcohol as a misguided means to cope with a co-occurring mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, etc.
There are many reasons people drink. There are also many signs to be aware of if you’re worried that you’re dating an alcoholic.
Unfortunately, alcoholism isn’t an uncommon disease—about 15 million individuals in the U.S. struggle with it. However, contrary to popular belief, not every person who has a drinking problem is an alcoholic.
If you can answer yes to many of the following questions, the person you are dating might be an alcoholic. Here are ten hallmark signs that are indicative of alcoholism:
- Does your partner experience an inability to reduce their drinking or stop drinking altogether?
- Have you noticed your partner continues to consume to drink more alcohol than they planned at a given time or drink more frequently than they should?
- Has your partner developed a tolerance for alcohol that forces them to drink more to achieve the desired intoxicating effects?
- Do you find your partner neglects their self-care, such as personal hygiene and nutrition?
- Does your partner frequently drink alone?
- Do you find that your partner neglects obligations and responsibilities, such as family, work, and school?
- Have you caught your partner being deceptive or making excuses about their compulsive drinking habits?
- Does your partner continue to drink alcohol despite the incurrence of adverse consequences?
- Has your partner expressed to you that they have cravings for alcohol?
- Has your partner exhibited any alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, anxiety or irritability, shakiness, or tremors?
Alcoholism affects the individual who is battling it and also impacts the well-being of those around them. Studies have suggested that alcoholism is linked to severe anxiety, depression, and neuroticism. These problems can lead to physical and emotional violence in relationships.
Mood swings, personality changes, and aggressive or violent behaviors can undoubtedly affect you if you’re dating an alcoholic. Even if your partner does not appear to be physically dangerous, his or her actions could take a toll on your mental and emotional health and self-esteem.
Similarly, alcoholics may be deceptive about their drinking behaviors, which can generate distrust in a relationship—an aspect that is vital to the foundation of any relationship. This tendency can be challenging to manage. No relationship survives on secrecy.
Alcoholics also tend to prioritize consuming alcohol before all else. This means that the individual you are dating may consider drinking more important than having quality time with you. Their drinking habits be considered more important than your needs and desires in the relationship. If you care for children or pets with the individual you are dating, you may find yourself carrying the bulk of the weight of these obligations.
What to Do When You Are Dating an Alcoholic
If you are dating or in a relationship with an alcoholic, you should strongly consider whether the relationship is actually worth it. Do their behaviors make an impact on your own physical and mental health? Are they aggressive or violent? Are you generally apathetic or unhappy?
If you believe you are not in harm’s way and do not wish to leave your partner, reaching out for professional help is recommended. There are support groups available for those with alcohol-addicted loved ones, such as Al-Anon. These programs can help you be a better supporter of your partner and deal with your partner’s alcoholism.
Here are some tips for dating a person who is an alcoholic:
- Be aware of their drinking behaviors
- Be supportive of them in their journey to recovery
- Engage in social activities that do not involve drinking alcohol
- Hold the individual responsible for their actions and inactions due to drinking excessively
- Set boundaries
- Reach out for professional help
How to Help a Person Stop Drinking
Almost everyone benefits from having a solid support system during the recovery process. Therefore, you should do your best to be present, mindful, communicative, and supportive. The most beneficial thing you can do is seek professional help so you or a loved one is not forced to journey down the road to recovery alone.
Many treatment options are available, including partial hospitalization, inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment rehab programs that include holistic strategies, and traditional therapy methods for substance use and alcoholism. Additionally, support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other peer-related programs, are excellent places to start. Couples therapy can also be beneficial to help navigate this process in the context of a relationship.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are specialized, state-of-art addiction treatment facilities that offer a wide variety of evidence-based therapies and services as well as enjoying activities. Our approach to treatment is comprehensive, integrated, and holistic. It aims to ensure that each individual receives the care and support they need to recover fully and sustain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.
Treatment methodologies we offer include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer group support
- Relapse prevention
- Substance abuse education
- Mental health education
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events and activities