couple fighting in bed

5 Effects of Alcohol That Destroy Your Relationships


Sober Recovery Expert Author

couple fighting in bed

Alcohol has a damaging effect on the body, mind, and soul. It wreaks havoc on the life of the individual, affecting holistic health, work, and relationships. Relationships, in this case, include those both within and outside the family.

There are numerous ways in which alcohol can affect you and the people you care about the most. Here are just 5 of the most common reasons why alcohol destroys relationships.

There are numerous ways in which alcohol can affect you and the people you care about the most.

1. You’re never there.

Alcohol is often used to numb, escape or avoid uncomfortable feelings and silence disturbing thoughts. As such, individuals who utilize alcohol are typically not comfortable sitting with their emotions and cognitions. Therefore, they do not face or resolve their personal issues and usually have very little self-awareness.

This leaves a person emotionally unavailable for others, especially during times of personal crisis. When we are not comfortable sitting with our own pain, we also do not sit well with the pain of another.

Additionally, alcohol has a negative effect on the memory, leaving individuals unable to remember conversations and even arguments they had the night or day before. This also adds to one's inability to be truly emotionally intimate, as we are not fully present for our partners or family members when we lose our memory.

2. You’re the center of your universe.

As with most substances, the use of alcohol to the point of misuse or dependency interferes with self-love. And self-love is typically required for us to show or truly experience love for another. Couple that reality with the heightened sense of ego (overcompensation for the typical state of self-loathing, guilt, and shame) that many people struggle with when there is an addiction, and you are left with a seemingly very selfish individual.

No matter the situation or the obvious level of accountability, everything will be about the intoxicated and/or alcoholic individual – the focus, sympathy, pity, or any degree of victim role will shift to them. Even if alcohol causes one to lose a job, relationship or results in another negative consequence, the person struggling with the addiction will blame external factors and victimize themselves.

3. You’re always the victim.

And, on that note, individuals who struggle with alcohol use or dependency tend to victimize themselves. When entangled with an addiction, we tend to throw what most people refer to as “pity parties.”

There are a few reasons why the victim role is employed; it prevents accountability, and it creates what some consider a valid reason to drink. In other words, if we can shift the blame to external factors, we avoid having to look at our own part in our life and the consequences and self-inflicted loss, pain, and drama we orchestrate. And, due to the loss, pain, and drama we create, we can rationalize excessive drinking to ourselves and others.

It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s one that usually proves detrimental if help isn’t sought.

4. You’re no Romeo.

Alcohol also causes erectile dysfunction. For some, this can be temporary (only an issue while the individual is intoxicated). However, over time and with heavy drinking, this can become a permanent problem. And, for romantic relationships, this creates quite an issue.

Additionally, the lack of sexual intimacy combined with the lack of emotional intimacy, the high degree of selfishness and lack of consideration, and the constant victimization discussed above only add to the frustration for romantic partners. Eventually, this lethal combination kills the romance and the relationship itself.

5. Your toxicity is contagious.

Because alcoholism is a systemic disease, the toxic characteristics of the disease spread to the individuals closely involved. Maladaptive behaviors, codependency and other forms of dysfunction quickly develop within the family and other close relationships.

In this way, there are spouses, significant others, friends, and so on who will hold onto the relationship long after it is dead, hooked on the idea of what was or could be. These instances prove to be very toxic for everyone involved as it enables the addicted person and sabotages any hope of personal growth or true love and serenity for those holding to them.

Regardless of the category of relationship, alcohol abuse can and will have a devastating effect. Of course, this is exhibited by the most important relationship which is instantly negatively impacted—the relationship with the self. For all the others, it’s not a matter of if alcohol will cause a strain, but a matter of when and to what level of detriment.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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