What’s It Like to Live With an Alcoholic?

Most addiction therapists and physicians, particularly those familiar with addiction recovery, will agree that alcoholism is a chronic and pervasive problem in the United States. And this is not the opinion of a select few but rather a truth substantiated by numerous studies. According to one, in particular, published by the National Institutes of Health, alcohol ranks as the most abused of all substances in America. Sadly, most people that abuse alcohol began doing so during adolescence and continued with the habit into adulthood.

To further illustrate this point, we need only take a look at a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The study found that, in 2017, over 2 million individuals in America age 12 to 17 admitted to regularly drinking alcohol. And to demonstrate how this spiraled into adulthood, we need only take a look at current statistics. In the same study published by SAMHSA, researchers found that an estimated 15 million individuals age 18 and over are currently struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

The Consequences of Alcohol Addiction

Something to note when it comes to alcoholism is that it can take a toll on both the individual and those closest to them, meaning their friends and family. However, it can also be just as damaging to the communities that they call home. For reference, studies show that alcohol was a factor in over 21 million DUIs in 2017. And between 1999 and 2017, it accounted for an astonishing 700,000 overdose-related deaths. Further, alcohol abuse cost the U.S. economy some $600 billion annually in terms of hospitalizations, DUI court costs, funding for state-run rehab facilities, and so on.

Getting back to the impact of one’s alcohol addiction on their friends and family, individuals who drink excessively are more likely to be verbally and physically abusive. As such, they tend to push family and friends away. And this is especially true when it comes to a spouse or significant other. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 38 percent of women say they divorced their husbands because they could no longer bear being married to someone with an alcohol problem. A nearly identical percentage of men said the same. Of course, every case is different, and some people are willing to standby a spouse or significant other struggling with alcohol addiction. That said, those who choose to stay in these relationships tend to agree that living with someone with a drinking problem is not easy.

What Is It Like for Children Living With an Alcoholic?

Studies show that some people are more inclined to say with a spouse or significant other if they have children together. And while this might seem noble, doing so may do more harm than good, say many child psychologists. Because individuals who abuse alcohol tend to be preoccupied with getting and consuming alcohol, it is not uncommon for them to neglect their children. What’s more, some will become verbally or physically abusive when interacting with their children while under the effects of alcohol. And this can have a profound psychological impact on a child who is still trying to figure out the world.

In a study published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), researchers revealed that 1 in 5 adults with an alcohol use disorder grew up in a home with a parent that abused alcohol. Even more troubling, many children who grow up in such a household will sometimes develop mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), which can follow them into adulthood. More often than not, these problems tend to go unnoticed by a parent struggling with alcoholism. As far as the consequences of alcoholism on a marriage or otherwise long-term relationship, there are many.

What Is It Like for Spouses and Significant Others Living With an Alcoholic?

Some of the chief concerns that spouses and significant others say they have about living with an alcoholic tend to revolve around safety, financial stability, and health issues. And these concerns are not unfounded. Men and women with an alcohol use disorder are more likely to damage the home or family vehicle when intoxicated. Further, they are more likely to spend money on alcohol rather than using it to pay bills. Also noteworthy, most people with an alcohol use disorder, functioning alcoholics notwithstanding, often become unemployed due to poor work performance, attendance issues, or both.

As far as health problems are concerned, spouses and significant others, alongside shouldering more responsibility in caring for their children, find themselves also caring for their alcoholic partner if they develop alcohol-related health problems. Some of the health problems that are particularly common among those with an alcohol use disorder include the following:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Bottom Line

All in all, children, spouses, and even friends who choose to live with an alcoholic will find doing so exceedingly challenging. That said, those who make this conscious decision to do so should also consider convincing them to seek help. That being stated, if you’re interested in learning more about alcohol addiction recovery or need help finding a treatment facility for your loved one, consider contacting us today at 732-392-7311.

Scroll to Top