Signs You are Dating an Alcoholic & What to Do

This article was written and published by Faith in Recovery


You may be dating an alcoholic and not realize it until their habit becomes more detrimental to your relationship. On the other hand, you might be suspicious. You have a feeling that your partner’s drinking has gone a little too far, or they are spending more time drinking or recovering from drinking than sober.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can happen to anyone, so if you believe you are dating someone with a drinking problem, do not wait to get help.

Are You Dating an Alcoholic?  

When someone with an alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction continues to drink, the symptoms may become more obvious and numerous over time until it is finally obvious to everyone around them that they have a severe problem. While there is a stereotypical idea of what an alcoholic looks like or acts like, the truth is that many people are high-functioning alcoholics. These individuals can accomplish their tasks at work and home and do other day-to-day things despite their drinking habits.   However, since alcohol addiction is a progressive disease, it is only a matter of time before the person’s drinking gets worse and becomes more apparent. If you suspect your partner is imbibing a bit too heavily, below are some telltale signs you are dating an alcoholic to look out for:   

Their Social Life Revolves Around Alcohol 

Only attending social events where alcohol is available or only going out to places that sell alcohol are early signs of alcoholism in a partner. Having a friend group that drinks heavily and encourages heavy drinking and shuns sobriety can also indicate an alcohol problem. In other words, you may notice that your partner is more willing to take you to a club with a bar rather than the movies, or they may even go as far as to sneak a drink into places that do not sell alcohol.  

They Drink to Cope With Stress 

Drinking to cope with stress is a major red flag for alcoholism. This person may drink when they are emotionally elevated, in general, including when they are super happy or super sad. They use alcohol to cope with life, whether it brings ups or downs. Alcohol has become a crutch for this person that has to be involved in every important moment or season of their life.  

They Can “Hold Their Liquor” 

Another telltale sign that you are dating an alcoholic man or woman is the ability to “hold their liquor.” This person can have several drinks and not exhibit any signs of intoxication. This physical response is also known as tolerance, which develops because of heavy and frequent alcohol consumption. This also means it takes more alcohol for the individual to feel intoxicated, which can further encourage the dangerous cycle of drinking.  

They are Different When They Drink 

Although your partner may not seem intoxicated, their mood or personality may change the more they drink. They may go from being kind and sweet to aggressive, irritable, and verbally or physically abusive. Or they may change from a quiet, mellow person to a loud and aggressive one. It is also common for people with a drinking problem to become heavily emotional when drinking, whereas they may be calmer when sober.   If your partner becomes verbally or physically abusive when drinking, separate yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and get yourself and get them help. Our Christian drug rehab offers a faith-based family program to help the loved ones of addicts heal from the impact addiction has had on their lives.  

They Are Irritable When They Do Not Drink 

A major red flag that you are dating an alcoholic woman or man is that they get irritable or agitated when they are not drinking, or alcohol is not available. They are fine when they have a drink in their hand, but they are cranky and upset when there is no alcohol around. They might also become upset when they must go somewhere where they will not have access to alcohol for extended periods. At this point, the individual may become angry at the slightest provocation or none at all. 

They Drink Even When They Do Not Plan To  

Your partner may say that they are not going to drink today, only to immediately change their mind when they are around others who are drinking. They may promise you they will only have a few drinks but end up having many more. They may also start the day not drinking and then create a situation that will give them cause to drink, such as starting an argument. 

They Do not Have a Favorite Brand 

Most social drinkers or occasional drinkers will have a particular brand or type of drink they prefer, and they tend to stick to their favorite beverage. For some, if their drink is unavailable, they may not even drink at all. However, people with developing drinking problems or alcoholism will drink anything they can get their hands on. The state of their finances will also determine the kind of drinks they buy.  

They Are Experiencing Hardships Because of Their Drinking 

They may have lost their job over missing work because of drinking or hangovers, or they may have gotten in trouble with the law because they were driving under the influence. They may have also spent most of their finances on alcohol, leading to debt or an inability to pay the bills. Especially if you share a home and family with this individual, all these hardships can have a direct impact on you.  

They Always Find a Way to Get Alcohol   

Unfortunately, the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” comes into play here. Another indication that you are dating an alcoholic is that they will always find some way to obtain alcohol. They might either put off other financial obligations to buy alcohol or borrow money from a friend. In some cases, the individual might be desperate enough to steal it.  

They Have a Family History of Alcoholism  

Alcoholism is a family disease, and people with a family history of alcohol abuse are more likely to develop the problem themselves. Therefore, if you are aware that your partner’s close family member(s) battle with alcoholism, then it is important to be on the lookout for these signs.   

What to Do When You Are Dating an Alcoholic 

If you suspect you are dating an alcoholic, the first thing you should do is get them help. Our Christ-centered addiction treatment incorporates medical detox and evidence-based therapy to help clients recover both physically and mentally from addiction and regain their health and self-control.   However, whether the person is already getting help or if you are in the process of getting them help and still living with them, here are some tips to consider:   

  • Support their sobriety: You can do this in small ways. For instance, instead of going out to a social event where the person might be tempted to drink, go out for a walk, or have a nice picnic outdoors.  
  • Set boundaries: Communicate to your partner that you are going to ensure their safety and commitment to recovery. Be consistent in reinforcing these and any other boundaries you set in place.  
  • Do not blame yourself: Alcoholism is a challenging problem that can happen to anyone. As we mentioned before, many alcoholics are good at hiding the early signs until they reach a point where their habit is too disruptive to hide. Remember, it is not your fault. Also, do not let your partner make you feel bad when you enforce certain boundaries. Recovery is stressful, and they may lash out due to irritability or stress.  
  • Take care of yourself: This means practicing a self-care routine and making sure you do things you love, even if it is as simple as taking a bubble bath. Additionally, if your partner has become abusive, separate yourself from the situation. You can still help them without putting yourself in the line of fire.  

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