My Relationship with an Alcohol Abuser: And How I Lived Through 1524 Days of Misery
Relationships with persons who abuse alcohol are tumultuous by nature. Vacillating between passion and misery, such relationships with alcohol abusers are akin to riding a roller coaster and being unable to disembark, even when you feel motion sickness. Figuring out how to restore balance is key in the quest to a happy, fulfilling life.
Define ‘Alcohol Abuse’
Alcohol serves as a social lubricant for many in society. Studies have shown light to moderate drinking can enhance health and well-being. With alcohol abuse, drinkers establish negative patterns of behavior leading to clinically significant impairment and distress in a variety of life areas. Abusing alcohol, simply defined, means drinking to drunkenness.
If you or someone you love abuses alcohol and needs help, call 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) today.
Types of Alcohol Abuse
Literature suggests excessive drinking is defined by drinking four to five drinks, depending upon gender, within a two-hour time period. Binge drinking occurs when a person drinks to excess followed by a period of abstinence. Alcohol abusers may drink in this fashion, or drink daily, developing a physical and psychological dependence. Depending upon patterns, any of these may result in a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.
When We First Met
People who find themselves in emotional relationships with an alcohol abuser usually recall feelings of excitement and fun at the beginning of the relationship. Memories of laughter and good times with friends are interlaced with romantic evenings and thoughtful conversations. Alcohol abusers are generally open to experiences, making new relationships feel like a rush.
Alcoholics are Loveable People
Many alcoholics are witty, creative, passionate individuals. Partners often see so much potential for a bright future. Unfortunately, with each binge, hopes are dashed by a multitude of behaviors that occur in relationships with alcohol abusers. The following are common:
- Verbal conflicts
- Physical conflicts
- Financial problems
- Legal troubles
Things Spinning Out of Control
At first, small things happen. The couple may be out at a bar with friends. The alcohol abuser overindulges and engages in an inappropriate flirtation. An argument ensues. After going home, the couple gets into a heated dialogue that leads to pushing or slapping. This is followed with feelings of remorse, leading to an even more passionate reconciliation. The cycle repeats in various forms with similar scenarios over and over again.
Dysfunctional Cycles in the Alcoholic Relationship
The partner of an alcohol abuser develops dysfunctional cycles in relating to their partner. The idea of controlling people and situations to create a perfect environment to avoid drunken episodes becomes an obsession. Restoring the fun and romance experienced at the beginning of the relationship is usually the goal. Eventually, the futility of managing everything and everyone becomes overwhelming.
Lack of Control
Controlling another person is impossible. Ultimately, every person has the choice of free will. The same is true of a partner who abuses alcohol. Coming to terms with the fact that a partner may drink no matter what outer circumstances are present, can be a devastating blow to a person in a relationship with an alcohol abuser. They may also experience the following thoughts:
- If he/she loved me, he/she would stop drinking?
- If only this situation was better, he/she wouldn’t drink.
- ___ made him upset and led to this drinking.
- He/she is so loving when sober!
- I will do ___ so he/she will not drink.
Detaching with Love
The truth is that no one can be responsible for anything other than their own part in a relationship. The lines become blurred in the alcoholic relationship and partners become stuck in assigned roles. Breaking out of these roles means allowing an alcoholic to experience his/her own consequences. Finding ways to detach with love honors each person in the relationship.
Reaching out for help through a program like Al-Anon can aid people in learning how to establish healthy boundaries in their relationship with an alcohol abuser. Many partners find counseling helpful to outline different response patterns in the relationship. Changing interactions in the alcoholic relationship may be a catalyst toward ending the cycles that started with alcohol abuse.
For more resources and advice about alcohol abuse treatment, call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) .
Al-Anon (2011). Al-Anon family groups. Retrieved on January 7, 2017 from: http://al-anon.org/
Courtney, K. & Polich, J. (2009). Binge drinking in young adults: Data, definitions and determinants. Psychological Bulletin 135(1): 142-156. Retrieved on January 7, 2017 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748736/
NIH (2005). Alcohol problems in intimate relationships: Identification and intervention. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved on January 7, 2017 from: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/niaaa-guide/