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Is your partner drinking too much?

  • A partner who drinks too much may start neglecting you, your family and friends in order to drink.
  • You may also notice your partner engaging in risky behaviors or having more accidents.
  • When drinking results in missing work or work performance issues, there is definite cause for worry.

Having an occasional drink typically is not a cause for concern. But when drinking starts to take a more prominent role in your partner's life, it might be time to evaluate alcohol use and signs that your loved one's drinking is becoming a problem. 

Relationships change. Daily responsibilities and relationships are pushed aside and there's a noticeable change in attitude, behavior and engagement. You, your kids, family and friends are neglected emotionally. Your partner becomes isolated and stops attending family functions or leaves events early to drink. Family and friends are concerned about your partner's drinking and behavior while under the influence of alcohol. Your partner changes friends or social circles in favor of those who support drinking. Kids become fearful when your partner drinks.

There is harm to self. Your partner was once involved in exercise or sports and is now not interested in these activities because of drinking and his or her health starts to suffer. Your partner hurts himself/herself when drinking by falling or engaging in other risky behaviors such as driving impaired, getting into cars with others who have been drinking and operating other equipment such as boats and snowmobiles while under the influence. 

And harm to others. Accidents can happen when your partner is roughhousing with kids after a few drinks. What starts off as playful can become serious. Or, he or she might become abusive to you or family or friends when under the influence. 

Home life is impacted. There is less involvement in daily home chores and more excuses as to why a task hasn't been completed. Areas in the home, such as a "man cave" or bar, might become more important than other areas of the home as alcohol becomes more of a priority. 

Work suffers. Your partner begins to miss days at work. His or her performance suffers or takes a dramatic nosedive. If you are being asked to call in for your partner because they are hung over or still drunk, this is a definite cause for worry. 

Dismissing the concern. Your partner gives multiple excuses for his or her behavior and diminishes your concern. He or she might say, "oh, we were just playing," after becoming too rough with a child while impaired. He or she might become defensive and talk about deserving to drink and say things such as "I worked hard this week and I get to do this," or "I can spend my money the way I want to."

If you find your partner is drinking too much, know there is help. Help comes in accessing and rallying your support network—family, friends or support groups like Al-Anon—to help you confront your partner and this serious issue. You might want to find a therapist to help you handle this, especially if you do not have a support system. 

Staging an intervention is often effective. Gather your family and friends to help you. When confronting your partner, be sure to be explicit and provide examples. Consider giving examples of "I feel" statements as opposed to "you" statements. 

If you want your partner to change, you need to be willing to give tough love. Let him or her know what you will no longer condone these actions. As hard as it might be, you must be willing to follow through on any consequences. You need to be willing to tell your partner that you will not continue to support this behavior if he or she is unwilling to get help.


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