5 Reasons Why Someone Abusing Alcohol Have Trouble Loving Others

When someone abuses alcohol, the adverse effects of drinking can take a toll, not only on them but also on their partner or loved ones. Whether someone is a friend, romantic partner, or family member struggling with alcohol abuse, the relationship becomes challenging. 

Alcohol remains the most abused substance in the U.S. About one-in-four children in the U.S. are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in their family. It should be noted, however, that It is substance abuse that gets in the way of love, not the person. Anyone is capable of love. The following are potential reasons why people with alcohol use disorders struggle with love:

1. Higher Rate of Codependency

Codependency is defined as being overly concerned with another’s problems to the detriment of attending to one’s own needs. Codependents may show controlling behaviors, low self-esteem, and remain loyal to people who do not deserve it.

Individuals who abuse alcohol are likely to attract codependent partners because they are easily manipulated into staying regardless of their substance abuse level. 

2. Low Self-Worth

When someone has entered into an active addiction, where substance abuse has become the central drive of their life, they’re likely experiencing low self-worth. Generally, substance abuse causes people to care less about the quality of their lives and focus solely on obtaining and consuming alcohol. 

It’s not until they decide to get help that they acknowledge they’ve become too involved in masking painful emotions to love themselves properly.  

3. Self-Medicating to the Point of Numbness

When someone begins to abuse alcohol, they are likely trying to avoid dealing with some tough emotions or life situations. This can affect every aspect of their lives, and they are more likely to avoid discussions that may bring emotional triggers to the surface. 

Active alcoholism causes individuals to be in a constant state of fear regarding avoiding painful feelings. Distancing by self-medicating can put a strain on relationships, romantic or otherwise. 

4. Seem to Only Love Alcohol

While in a relationship with someone abusing alcohol, individuals know it can feel like their loved one is only concerned about their next drink. Family and friends of alcoholics are often manipulated with lies from the person claiming to love them. 

When someone is constantly distracted by thoughts of when their next drink will be, they can pull further away from their loved ones. Alcohol abuse can alter someone’s behavior in unpredictable ways. When intoxicated, people lose their inhibitions and can quickly become angry or irritated. These behaviors can drastically affect the quality of any relationship.

5. Play the Victim

In many cases, individuals abusing alcohol are likely to play the victim. Lying to themselves and their loved ones is a form of self-preservation and an attempt to convince others that they are fine. Often, this is seen at the beginning of alcohol abuse when individuals begin by lying to themselves about their level of alcohol consumption. 

What’s the Difference between Alcohol Abuse and Dependence?

In recent years, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has combined the two categories of alcohol dependence and abuse into one category: alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

The change was meant to update the idea that abuse was a less severe stage than dependence because, in reality, abuse can be as severe as dependence. Alcohol use disorders can run the gamut from occasional abuse to severe dependence. Symptoms of an AUD can include: 

  • cravings – a strong, undeniable need to drink 
  • loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once started 
  • negative emotions – feeling anxious and irritable when not drinking 

What Does an Alcohol Use Disorder Look Like?

You or your loved one may be struggling with an alcohol use disorder if you have experienced one or more of the following in the past few months: 

  • drank more alcohol in a sitting than planned
  • wished to stop drinking, but were unable to
  • spent a lot of time recovering or trying to recover from alcohol abuse 
  • felt a strong desire to drink, especially during inappropriate times
  • noticed that drinking or recovering from drinking took time away from your family or other priorities 
  • continued to drink despite causing issues with friends and family
  • given up or cut back on activities you used to enjoy 
  • gotten into dangerous situations while drinking 
  • kept drinking even though it made you feel depressed or anxious 
  • felt the need to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol 

Individuals who have experienced the above may have a problem. The more symptoms someone experiences, the more severe the problem. An estimated 15 million people have an alcohol use disorder in the U.S. If you believe that you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, there are ways to help. 

How To Approach a Loved One with an Alcohol Abuse Problem

If you are concerned that your loved one drinks too heavily, it can be challenging to address. Family members and friends may not know what to say or how to approach someone they are concerned about

The most important thing to remember is that you cannot fix the problem or change their behavior. They are their own person and make their own decisions. However, if someone is struggling, you are not wrong to want to bring it up. 

Here are a few things that may help when talking to your loved one about their drinking:

Do Your Research

Ensure you have facts to present because they will help your loved one realize that your concern is not a personal attack.

Timing is Important

Do your best not to address a drinking problem while someone is intoxicated. While intoxicated, individuals can become irritable and potentially violent. Being inebriated can also make people more emotional. It is best to talk about this issue when both of you are well-rested and clear-headed.

Expect Them to Deny the Issue

It is essential to address alcohol use with care. Try not to be negative or aggressive. Many individuals who abuse alcohol are likely to become combative and defensive when they feel like they are being singled out for their behavior.

Prepare a Plan

Have some concrete steps for getting help in mind for your loved one to choose from, in case they are ready to take that step. 

Using a Professional Interventionist

If you are still on the fence about approaching your loved one about their drinking problem, you can always bring in professional intervention services. Bringing in a licenced counselor can be helpful, as they can act as a mediator and facilitate this difficult conversation. 

Individuals in northern California can contact Elevate Addiction Services to learn more about the intervention services we offer to help get your loved one the help they need. 

Ready to Break Up with Alcohol for Good?

Alcohol abuse can be draining on relationships and cause many roadblocks to authentic love. The good news is that no matter how severe someone’s alcohol abuse may seem, individuals can benefit from some form of addiction treatment.  

Holistic treatment is one of the best ways to address alcohol abuse. When someone has been using alcohol for a long time, it is common for them to experience nutritional deficiencies. With holistic treatment, individuals’ nutrition is taken into account during their recovery. 

Most people are familiar with the traditional 12-step model to help treat alcohol use disorders. At Elevate, we believe that this time-base model is too one-size-fits-all. To make a lasting difference, alcohol use disorder treatment should be individualized. That’s what we specialize in: customized addiction treatment, tailored to each individual’s needs. 

Learn more about how you can find help for alcohol addiction in northern California today! 

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This page does not provide medical advice

Written by Elevate Addiction Services | ©2020 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Tim Sinnott, LMFT LAADC

December 30, 2020

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