You might be wondering, “Am I dating an alcoholic?” because something is telling you that there is a problem between alcohol and your loved one. Loving an alcoholic can be a difficult and confusing situation to come to terms with. It is important to recognize the signs of alcohol addiction in its early stages and understand the damages alcoholism can have. This resource can help you explore the common signs that people show when they have an addiction or problem with alcohol.

What Is An Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is a progressive, chronic disease that is defined as uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. When an individual is both physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol, they become incapable of controlling their drinking. Once someone who suffers from alcohol abuse continues to drink, the signs of an alcohol addiction appear more obvious. Soon everyone close to them can identify that they have a drinking problem.

Distinguishing a stereotypical alcoholic is a lot easier than an individual suffering from early stages of alcoholism. When the disease has not fully progressed, it is not as clear to you that your loved one has a problem with alcohol. There are some distinct indicators that the person you love may be an alcoholic. 

1. Their Entire Social Life Revolves Around Alcohol

If your loved one is only attending events where alcohol is readily available or allowed, this can be an early sign of an alcoholic. Only hanging around friends who drink, and not spending time with those who don’t, can also be an early sign. If you two go on a date where alcohol isn’t involved, and they can’t wait till it’s over to go to a bar, this is a red flag.

2. They Don’t Seem to Be Intoxicated

Has the person you are dating developed a tolerance for alcohol? This recognizable sign is easy to distinguish when they are several drinks deep, and don’t even appear intoxicated. You might even find yourself trying to keep up, but feel the effects of alcohol way before they think about slowing down. The ability to handle liquor to this extent is an early sign of alcoholism.

3. Their Personality Changes When They Are Drinking

Your loved one does not appear inebriated after several drinks, and you notice a shift in their mood. They went from acting nice, to being mean and verbally abusive after consuming alcohol. Maybe their personality went from acting timid and quiet, to being loud and aggressive. Generally speaking, their emotions change drastically when intoxicated, but sober they appear to have less emotion.

4. They Get Irritable When Not Drinking

Does the person you love become irritated whenever there’s not a drink in their hand? The smallest provocation, or even no provocation can make them angry. Overall, the individual is hard to communicate with and unpredictable even when they are not drinking.

5. They Always Find a Way to Obtain Alcohol

Where there’s a will there’s a way, and someone addicted to alcohol will always find a way. Maybe your loved one stresses they don’t have the money to take you out, but they have enough for alcohol. Perhaps they put off buying something they need, but they will still spend their money whenever it comes to booze. 

6. They tried to cut back and found it to be difficult

Is this person you’re with always stressing how they are going to cut back on drinking but never do? Maybe they tried to drink less frequently for some time, but continue to go into their old ways. Your loved one might have an addiction, and it can be both physically and mentally challenging to cut back or stop drinking.

7. They Have a Family History of Alcoholism

Both men and women are at higher risk of becoming alcoholics when they have a family history of alcoholism. Get to the know family of who you are dating, and look out for these signs in their family members. If you think they may have an alcoholic parent, take precautions and be aware of these signs of an alcohol use disorder (AUD) with your loved one.

Avoiding The Codependency Trap

It is common for partners, significant others, parents and children of alcoholics to fall into the codependency trap. By ultimately shielding the alcoholic from the consequences of this disease, and sacrificing personal needs to maintain the appearance of normalcy at home. Some typical codependent behaviors include:

  • Making excuses for the actions of the alcohol: “I’m so sorry she’s not feeling well and couldn’t make it” or “I promise he’s not mean like this all of the time, he’s just stressed.” 
  • Paying the alcoholic’s expenses: covering the addicted individuals legal fees, traffic tickets or fines.
  • Hiding the evidence of heavy drinking: cleaning up the aftermath or washing soiled clothes before they are sober enough to see the mess they caused.
  • Manipulating the alcoholic into changing: portraying passive-aggressive behavior or making emotional threats to make the addicted individual feel guilty.
  • Trying to control the alcoholic’s drinking: having a stash of alcohol readily available at home or drinking with the alcoholic to keep on eye on their drinking.
  • Acting like your own needs don’t matter: denying that the alcoholic has physically or emotionally hurt you, or acting not disappointed by his or her failure to meet certain commitments.

Many high-functioning alcoholics are able to still earn a good living and support their families with this disease. Codependents will enable the alcoholic so that they can maintain their status quo. Anything that might interrupt the addictive behavior is seen as a threat to the family’s finances. If the alcoholic is their financial security, emotional neglect or physical abuse is sometimes tolerated.

The best way to avoid codependency trap is to have a strong, confident self-esteem and good mental health. Individual and group therapy can help improve your sense of self and help build a sober, healthy relationship. These therapies can include behavioral, marriage, or family therapy.

There Is Hope If You May Be Dating An Alcoholic

When dating an alcoholic, it is important to know alcohol addiction treatment will vary depending on the individual’s needs. Treatment typically involves therapy and support groups such as the 12-step program, and Alcoholics Anonymous (Al-Anon). Detoxification is the process of the body flushing toxins, in this case from alcohol and substance abuse, and is offered in most alcohol treatment centers. In some cases, medicated assisted treatment is used to help reduce any cravings of alcohol. 

If you suspect the person you are dating or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol, give us a phone call today. At Duck House Recovery, our treatment facility can help your loved one struggling with alcoholism. Our Costa Mesa alcohol rehab provides individualized treatment necessary to achieve a new life of sobriety.