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My Relationship with an Alcohol Abuser

“When he is sober, he is so kind and thoughtful.  Why can’t he just drink a few beers?  Why do I keep forgiving him?”  These are only some of the phrases that frequent the partner of an alcoholic’s thoughts.

Whether dealing with full blown alcoholism or heavy drinking, the cycle is the same.  Finding ways to interact positively with an alcohol abuser is critical for personal happiness and contentment.

In the Beginning

Most people who embark upon a relationship with an alcohol abuser find them intelligent, funny and charming.  Research suggests alcohol abusers have a specific personality type.  People with alcohol use disorder exhibit some or all of the following traits:

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

If your partner has an alcohol abuse problem, call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) for assistance with finding treatment. 

After a While

Alcoholics live a life driven by dishonesty, selfishness and fear.  Initially, the drinking may have provided relief from these feelings. Ultimately, though, the alcoholic becomes trapped between escaping these emotions over and over again and attempting to face them sober, which becomes overwhelming.  For the mate of the alcohol abuser, perspective is lost.  The truth becomes difficult to discern.  Selfishness is combatted by becoming an “over-giver.”  Irrational fears might even be adopted by the partner, leaving a constant sense of fear and worry.

The Effects with Living with an Alcohol Abuser

Relationship with an Alcohol Abuser

Alcohol abuse can tear a relationship apart.

There is some literature that suggests persons in a relationship with an alcoholic have specific character traits, as well.  Often, spouses of alcoholics are thought to be “enablers”, who take care of the alcoholic allowing them to continue destructive drinking patterns.  However, clearly the mate of an alcohol abuser must develop coping mechanisms to deal with the unpredictable nature of the alcoholic.  Some coping mechanisms can be:

  • Making excuses about a partner’s drinking
  • Blaming others for a partner’s drinking
  • Trying to make everything perfect
  • Arranging circumstances to avoid alcohol
  • Avoiding conflict or disagreements

What are My Options?

Honest communication is perhaps the most helpful place to start to move into a different relationship dynamic with an alcohol abuser.  If someone’s drinking is excessive and troubling, speak up.  Because living with an alcohol abuser can lead to isolation, find a trusted confidant. Seeking the help and advice from a counselor specializing in alcohol abuse disorder can be helpful, as well.  Particularly seek intervention if an alcoholic is unpredictable and dangerous or violent.

How Can I Get Help?

Most partners of alcohol abusers reach out for help in the hopes that someone has a way of helping them get their partner sober.  The inconvenient truth of the matter is that no one can make an alcoholic get sober.  The commitment to stop drinking must be personal to the individual to be significant.  Seeking help from others who understand is the best course of action for someone in a relationship with an alcoholic. Al-Anon offers meetings world-wide.

Baby Steps

Alcohol abusers are easy to love.  Finding ways to navigate the turmoil that sometimes overtakes the relationship is key to maintaining a sense of self-worth for the partner of an alcoholic.  Establishing support and friendships outside of the relationship is the first small step to establishing boundaries and making positive decisions for a happy, rewarding life.

Call 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) today to get your partner the treatment they need!

Choosing Inpatient Alcohol Treatment for a Loved One


Al-Anon (2011).  Al-Anon family groups.  Retrieved on December 29, 2016 from:

Littlefield, A. & Sher, K. (2010). The multiple, distinct ways that personality contributes to alcohol use disorders. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 4(9): 767-782. Retrieved on December 31, 2016 from:

Siglow, J. (1999). Alcohol and its effects on the alcoholic as well as the family. The Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research. 2(13): 64-69. Retrieved on December 30, 2016 from:

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