The term “functioning alcoholic” seems incompatible with reality. Is it possible for a person to excessively drink alcohol and function properly in everyday life? For spouses or significant others, many feel that alcohol can greatly impact connections in negative ways. Alcohol abuse and addiction certainly carry negative consequences on an individual’s health and wellbeing. In terms of alcohol and relationships, it can be a single catalyst in estranged marriages and contentious discourse among family members. Learn more about the detrimental effects of alcohol below.
If your spouse or significant other is battling alcohol issues, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone. As one of the most common illnesses—affecting more than 14 million Americans—alcohol use disorder carries severe consequences. At times, addiction may bring about feelings of helplessness. Reaching out for help can be the first step in helping your spouse overcome this deadly disease. Contact AspenRidge directly for support at 855-281-5588.
Does Alcohol Change A Person?
If you’re in a relationship with a person facing drinking problems, you likely understand associated hardships. Unfortunately, from an outside perspective, it can seem that drinking is an innocent activity. It’s ubiquitous in everyday life. Many of us feed into a culture consumed by drinking. As a result, it can be difficult to reach out to others or clearly understand how alcohol can truly change a person you love.
Alcoholism causes a variety of physical consequences that are well known and easy to recognize, but it also causes various psychological consequences that people rarely discuss. In general, alcohol can impact each person differently. Drastic changes in a person’s behavior and personality are also highly dependent on the quantity and rate of their alcohol consumption. A person who is severely dependent on alcohol, for example, may behave erratically and be more prone to violence. In terms of alcohol and relationships, the two just don’t mix.
People who drink a moderate amount of alcohol regularly can begin to experience feelings of nervousness, melancholy, restlessness, irritation, and some relationship troubles—people who drink heavily and often can start to experience insomnia, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Personality Changes Caused by Alcohol Abuse
The mental effects of alcohol use are not always apparent, nor do they take the same patterns. Still, it’s important to evaluate whether or not a significant other may be suffering from the mental effects of alcohol abuse. According to the American Addictions Center, some common mental changes due to alcohol use include the following.
It’s not uncommon for people to seek alcohol to deal with despair. Indeed, alcohol provides a temporary feeling of euphoria, but it’s often superficial and short-lived. As drinking becomes more habitual, alcohol can cause or trigger feelings of depression in many people. This co-occurring condition of major depressive disorder and alcoholism has lasting impacts.
Alcohol is a well-known depressant. When consumed, it can significantly lower levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which help regulate mood. It can also temporarily cut off the effects of stress hormones, which can exaggerate depressive symptoms. The result is that a partnership can begin to suffer as excitement and enjoyment fade. For this reason, psychological therapy can help to address concerns around alcohol and relationships as they pertain to co-occurring disorders.
Alcohol abuse can cause significant changes in individual personalities. Normal personality traits can disappear during intoxication and be replaced with selfish, angry, and egotistical behavior.
Additionally, aggression and mood swings are prevalent, as well as a general deterioration of morals. Alcohol slows your brain’s synapses and chemically alters your body by affecting levels of serotonin—the chemical transmitting mood signals within the brain. These physical changes cause your emotions to get out of control and cause people to do or say things out of the norm.
Those suffering from alcohol use disorder face the same impulses and urges as drug addiction. Someone dependent on alcohol will become obsessed with drinking. Dependency on alcohol can cause a person to make decisions that negatively impact their life as well as those around them. They may also begin to lose interest in activities and people they typically enjoy when sober.
As a person suffering from alcohol use disorder starts to incorporate compulsive behaviors, it can be difficult to overcome in a relationship. It may feel next to impossible to reconnect with someone who is suffering from drinking dependencies. It can cause incredible stress and turmoil in a relationship.
Alcohol and Intimacy
In any relationship, intimacy is essential. The effect of alcoholism on relationships and intimacy is widespread. The impact of heavy drinking on relationships can be pretty harmful. The first area that is usually affected is intimacy. Parts of an intimate relationship that can be affected by the effects of alcoholism include:
- Shared values
Alcoholism is linked to codependency in relationships as well as abusive behavior both verbally and physically. Deterioration in married or unmarried couples often stems from arguments, financial troubles, acts of infidelity, or, worse, domestic violence. Alcoholism also decreases sex drive, which can bring even more problems into an already strained relationship.
Alcohol and Mistrust
Even high functioning alcoholics are prone to secrecy. There are many reasons for secretive behavior when a person is battling AUD, including:
- Fear of their condition
As a result, they begin to hide things from their significant other such as location, with whom they spend time, and what they did during the day. Keeping the truth from a significant other may start as an innocent defense mechanism, but eventually, it will most likely lead to blatant lies and mistrust.
As the alcohol abuse progresses, the lies an individual tells to cover their addiction can become more elaborate. For their loved one, it can feel as if all they are hearing is excuse after excuse, for being late, for disappearing, for the mood swings, for the missing money, and more. Trust is essential to a healthy and functioning relationship, and once it is damaged, it can be challenging to repair.
AspenRidge Recovery Can Help
There are often clear physical signs of addiction to alcohol, but understanding what to do to help your spouse or significant other can still feel overwhelming. AspenRidge Recovery is a leading alcohol addiction treatment center in Colorado offering support for family members and loved ones. Our programs are tailored to each individual and can offer support at a critical time. Contact us directly to learn more about our alcohol treatment programs at 855-281-5588.