Updated on April 3, 2024
7 min read

How to Date an Alcoholic & The Risks of Being with An Alcoholic

Alcohol abuse changes how people view themselves and cope with their environment. If you're learning how to date an alcoholic, it's crucial to understand the unique dynamics of this type of relationship.

This blog post offers practical advice and sheds light on successfully navigating through these challenges.

Signs You’re Dating an Alcoholic

Everyone is different, and signs of alcohol addiction and misuse vary from person to person. However, some signs are more obvious than others.

A few of the signs that you’re dating an alcoholic include:

  • Every social activity and occasion includes drinking
  • Their personality changes when they’re drinking
  • They become aggressive or irritable when not consuming alcohol
  • Alcohol has negatively impacted their life or your relationship 
  • Drinking alcohol to escape their problems
  • Your partner tries to hide alcohol consumption from you
  • They have a family history of alcoholism
  • Experienced trouble with the law due to alcohol
  • Unable to meet social obligations because of drinking

If your significant other shows one or more of these signs, there might be a problem. Carefully speak to your partner about their addiction and encourage them to seek help.

What It's Like to Date A Functional Alcoholic

Functional alcoholics maintain their life despite their misuse of alcohol. It can take years for their drinking to affect relationships, careers, and other aspects of their life.

But this doesn’t mean that dating a functioning alcoholic is easy. When it comes down to it, they're still struggling with an addiction.

People in relationships with functional alcoholics find that their partner struggles with:

  • Denial
  • Reluctance to get treatment
  • Living a lie
  • Having a subpar romantic relationship
  • Poor communication

The trouble with dating a functional alcoholic is that despite the world not seeing a problem, they're still dealing with one every day. Functional doesn’t mean the disorder doesn’t exist.

The problem is often worse for someone dating a functioning alcoholic because they feel isolated and alone. It's as if they're the only person who believes there's a problem.


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Risks of Dating an Alcoholic

Dating an alcoholic can be physically and mentally taxing. It can create a toxic environment that can cause many problems. Depending on the severity of the problem, the relationship can become dangerous.

The risks of dating an alcoholic include:

  • Codependency: Creates an unbalanced relationship in which you enable disordered alcohol use by cleaning up your partner’s messes
  • Domestic violence and emotional abuse: Alcohol affects a person's rationality and personality, which can lead to domestic violence and emotional abuse
  • Mental problems: Dealing with an alcoholic partner can lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression, and suicidal thoughts
  • Financial problems: Your significant other can end up draining your finances to fund their drinking
  • Legal problems: Alcoholism can lead to legal troubles such as drinking under the influence, public intoxication, and other crimes
  • Social isolation: Alcoholics tend to isolate themselves from social circles to drink; it can take away your time if you have to watch over them
  • Sleeping problems: Due to the stress of dealing with your loved one, you may have a hard time sleeping
  • Misplaced frustrations: You may end up misplacing your anger and frustrations on everything around you, including children, pets, family, and friends
  • Safety concerns: An alcoholic person can be a danger to themselves and others

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What to Do if You're Dating an Alcoholic

Dating an alcoholic can be difficult, especially if your partner doesn't want to accept help. You can try several things to help them, but there's nothing you can do if they refuse to acknowledge the problem.

However, here are a few things you can do to deal with an alcoholic partner:

Understand Alcohol Use Disorder

Learning more about alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a good step in the right direction. Knowing that drinking isn't a weakness but a health disorder can help you better understand, support, and empathize with your partner.

Taking the time to understand the disorder can also help you manage the stress related to your relationship. You can learn healthy coping skills, breathing exercises, meditation, therapy, and more.

1. Communicate Your Concerns

Confronting your partner about their addiction is a necessary first step in helping them. Avoid accusatory language and form your concerns with "I" statements. It shows them how you're affected by their drinking.

It's best to approach your partner with empathy and support. Express your feelings calmly and give them time to process the conversation.

2. Attend a Support Group

Support groups like Al-Anon or SMART Recovery are effective at helping people recover from AUD. These programs provide the tools and techniques necessary to help people maintain sobriety. Their free, long-term support is an essential part of recovery.

These support groups also provide a sense of community. They can help you and your partner connect and empathize with people sharing similar struggles.

3. Set Boundaries and Take Care of Yourself

It can be easy to forget yourself when caring for an alcoholic partner. However, maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health is also important to your partner's recovery.

Consider stepping back from your partner if the problem is too overwhelming. Working on yourself and your needs can bring back a sense of normalcy.

4. Consider Seeking A Doctor or Therapist

Seeking professional help can benefit you and your partner. A medical professional can help provide counseling and insight, further assess the situation for other mental health concerns, and provide necessary medications.

You can also explore couples therapy to help you and your partner understand your relationship. Both of you can understand your nuances and feelings about the situation.

5. The CRAFT Method

CRAFT stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training. It's an alternative to a traditional intervention, and many mental health experts consider it a more productive option.

This option can be viable if you don't know what to do with your partner. Studies show the CRAFT approach to be up to 70% effective at getting a loved one to participate in treatment.

CRAFT gives loved ones the tools to:

  • Identify the triggers that cause alcohol use
  • Break enabling patterns 
  • Improve communication
  • Reconnect with values and practice self-care
  • Identify violence triggers
  • Develop a plan to keep you and your other family members safe

The best thing you can do to help your partner and yourself is present options, be supportive, and follow through on any consequences you present.

What to Avoid if You're Dating an Alcoholic

In addition to what you can do when a loved one has a drinking problem, there are also some things you should avoid doing. The most important thing is to avoid becoming codependent.

Codependency occurs when your focus is on your partner’s life more than your own. It involves being so preoccupied with their behavior that it interferes with your own life.

You should also avoid:

  • Enabling their behavior
  • Giving them easy access to alcohol
  • Giving them access to your money
  • Staying in an abusive situation
  • Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for their behavior

It’s also important to remember you cannot force your significant other to get treatment. The only thing you can truly control is your own life, so it does no good to obsess over helping a partner that doesn’t want help.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a mental health condition that interferes with your ability to maintain responsibilities outside of the relationship. Being a codependent partner increases your risk of addiction, especially to food, gambling, sex, and substances.

It’s isolating and often results in the loss of other close relationships. A codependent relationship can affect other aspects of your life.

Ultimately, codependent people work so hard to care for their partners that they neglect their own needs. They tend to experience:

  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor health

Codependency also doesn’t do the drinking partner any favors. In a way, codependency supports the problem with alcohol. Both people in the relationship are dependent on the addiction.

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Mixing NyQuil and alcohol is dangerous and can have serious consequences. It increases the chance of an overdose, liver damage, impaired immune system, and addiction.

Moreover, you shouldn't use NyQuil as a sleep aid or for long-term treatment of symptoms. If you take more than the recommended dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Talking to your doctor before taking NyQuil and other medications is best. They can help you understand the possible risks and decide if it's a safe choice for you.

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Updated on April 3, 2024
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Updated on April 3, 2024

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