3 Ways Alcohol Ruins Relationships

Jump to a section
Table of contents
Expand list

Addiction is a disease that not only affects the addict, but their families and loved ones as well. Addiction can result in many destructive behaviors which can put a strain on relationships, including:

  • physical or verbal abuse 
  • uncontrollable emotions 
  • isolation 
  • codependency, and 
  • serious debt 

In this article we’ll explore the various ways alcohol ruins relationships, so you can recognise the extent of the damage addiction can do and take the necessary steps to prevent it.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Relationships

When alcoholism becomes the main focus of arguments, a vicious cycle occurs in which alcohol becomes the cause of conflicts, which then lead to the consumption of more alcohol as a way to reduce tension.

Addiction, and particularly to alcohol, ruins relationships, and often leads to divorce and disconnection from family members. When an addict is abusing a substance, that substance comes before everything and everyone, which leaves little room to put effort into a relationship. No matter what an addict says, the substance is number one in their life, which means it comes before themselves, spouses, family members, and even their children. An alcoholic can create dysfunctional family dynamics that lead to stress and trauma for all involved.

It isn’t uncommon for loved ones to blame themselves for an addict’s decisions, and over time that can create emotional trauma for all involved. The following are just some of the uphill battles facing relationships with alcohol abuse.

1. Broken Trust

Trust is something that takes time to build, but when it’s broken, sometimes it can never be repaired. Trust can be terminated in a number of ways when it comes to addicts. Whether it be cheating, lying, or stealing, the pain is real for loved ones. A husband or wife hiding alcohol in the home, or lying about their whereabouts, are common ways alcoholics breach their spouses trust.

Loving an addict is a difficult road, one that will lead to pain and heartbreak long before anything else. For significant others, trust is much harder to rebuild, mainly because they aren’t obligated to stay in the relationship.

For family members, that trust is a roller coaster of emotions that can go from complete trust to broken relationships rapidly. Family members find it harder to walk away from their loved ones who face addiction, and all too often addicts take them down with them. Losing trust is the number-one way that alcohol destroys relationships.

2. Emotional Unavailability

Coping is a significant part of recovery for addicts, and most of that has to do with developing emotional maturity and emotional availability. 

If an addict began drinking at age 15, then by the time they are 30 and still abusing alcohol, their emotional maturity level will still be that of a 15 year old. Alcoholism and emotional immaturity usually go hand in hand, and addicts are often unable to contribute to healthy relationships. Their main focus is on the substance they need, which leaves little room for relationships with people. An alcoholic is emotionally unavailable because they are preoccupied with finding their next fix, being sad and tired, and pursuing unhealthy choices. All of their time and energy goes into their addiction, so maintaining a steady and healthy relationship is not important to them. This doesn’t mean that alcoholics and relationships are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, people suffering from addiction can be very manipulative and often find someone they can use.

3. Decreased Sex Drive

Another extremely negative effects of alcoholism within a relationship, is that prolonged alcoholism can lead to a decrease in sex drive overtime in both men and women.

Alcohol has been known to boost sexual desire, but it severely impacts performance. A person can lose interest in sex or even feel an aversion to intimacy. For men, alcohol can inhibit the ability to achieve an erection, which can also lead to decreased sex drive. With a low libido, an addict may begin to feel like something is wrong with them, and instead of communicating with their partner, they will focus more on alcohol. This can lead to self-doubt in both partners. The addict begins to have performance anxiety, and the partner begins to feel unwanted or unloved by their partner.

Having little to no intimacy can become a serious problem in certain relationships, and all too often it can lead to break-ups.
Alcoholism can also cause an alcoholic body odor or breath smell, which is quite unpleasant. Needless to say, this makes people uncomfortable around alcoholics and can further discourage closeness.

Summary: How Alcohol Destroys Relationships

Addiction is a disease that affects all facets of a person’s life, with devastating results. A worsening addiction wedges itself between two partners, sabotaging all chances of them being able to build a healthy, loving, growing relationship. Addiction creates an emotional disassociation between partners that is extremely difficult to overcome, and ultimately, alcohol can ruin relationships completely.

While it is clear that commonly, alcohol ruins relationships, there is help available. If you or a loved one would like to speak to someone about the path to recovery, contact us today at Avenues Recovery or call us on 603-212-1702.

Learn more about identifying the signs of an alcoholic spouse, including how to convince an alcoholic to get help, by reading our useful addiction resources.

Check your insurance

We received your insurance request!

We will get back to you shortly. While you wait... you may find our resource blog helpful. Take a look below: