Coping Strategies for Loved Ones of Alcoholics: Take Action Now

Understanding Alcoholism and Its Effects on Partners

Living with an alcoholic partner can be incredibly difficult. Alcoholism is a very real problem that can have serious physical, emotional, and financial consequences. It is important to understand the signs of alcoholism and its effects in order to cope with living with or caring for an alcoholic family member.

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by the inability to control drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, physical dependence, and impairment in social, occupational, and physical functioning caused by using alcohol. It is important to note that not everyone who drinks excessively has an alcohol use disorder; however, some people may be more genetically predisposed than others.

Alcoholism often puts immense strain on relationships, as the alcoholic partner’s preoccupation with drinking causes them to prioritize alcohol over their relationships. Partners of alcoholics may experience physical and psychological symptoms, such as increased stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as gastrointestinal problems.

Additionally, financial hardship is common for partners of alcoholics, as many alcoholic partners become irresponsible with finances or lose jobs due to their drinking. Partners may also find themselves in an uncomfortable position of having to bail out their alcoholic partner from difficult situations, such as legal trouble or unpaid debts.

It is important to recognize the signs and effects of alcoholism, so that those living with or caring for an alcoholic partner can make informed decisions about how to cope with their situation. The following sections of this guide will delve into the health effects of alcoholism on partners, financial impacts, signs and symptoms of dependence on alcohol, tips on coping with alcoholic family members, seeking professional help, taking time for yourself, developing healthy outlets, and more.

Health Effects of Alcoholism on Partners

Living with or caring for an alcoholic partner can put a significant strain on your physical and mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression are common among partners of alcoholics due to the unpredictable nature of addiction and its effects on relationships. Additionally, alcoholics are more likely to abuse their partners physically or emotionally, resulting in a variety of lasting health risks.

Mental Health Effects

The mental health of a partner of an alcoholic can be severely impacted by the unpredictability that comes with living with or caring for someone with an addiction. Oftentimes, partners are faced with intense emotions such as fear, anger, frustration, sadness, or anxiety that can result in severe mental health issues. It is important to reach out to mental health professionals when confronting these feelings, as they can provide the necessary support and resources to help cope with them in a healthy way.

Physical Health Effects

The physical health of a partner of an alcoholic is also at risk. As a result of prolonged stress and fatigue, partners may experience high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened immune systems. The physical repercussions of being in an unhealthy relationship due to an addiction can be severe and long-lasting. It is critical to keep track of one’s physical health in addition to finding healthy coping strategies for managing the stress of living with an alcoholic partner.

Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, partners of alcoholics are at an increased risk for developing a substance abuse problem themselves. Trying to cope with the stress of an alcoholic partner may lead to turning to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. It is important to recognize the signs of substance abuse early on and seek help from a professional or support group as soon as possible.

Living with an alcoholic partner has far-reaching effects on both physical and mental health and thus can be incredibly challenging to navigate. Seeking the right support and resources is essential in order to manage the stress and risks of being in such a relationship.

Exploring the Financial Impacts of Alcoholism

Alcoholism can have far-reaching financial impacts on households, putting an additional strain on partners or family members of alcoholics. For families that rely on a single income, this can cause immediate, long-term financial hardship. This can be due to lost wages due to excessive drinking, irresponsible spending, or decreased productivity.

Spouses of alcoholics often find themselves being forced to pick up the financial slack, as their partner who is struggling with alcoholism cannot meet their financial obligations. This can include covering bills, loaning money, or even working extra hours to make ends meet. In some cases, the partner may even be forced to take a second job to maintain financial stability in the household.

Alcoholism can also lead to irresponsible spending and gambling, resulting in large amounts of debt. This can also have long-term negative impacts, such as ruining an individual’s credit score. Credit scores play a large role in many aspects of life, from buying a car or a house to being able to borrow money for college. Poor credit scores can have long-term effects on both the individual and the family.

Other financial costs associated with alcoholism may include medical bills or legal fees if the individual has been arrested for drunk driving or other offenses. These costs can add up quickly and be difficult to manage without assistance.

It is important for those living with an alcoholic to understand the financial impacts that alcoholism can have on the family. Taking steps to prepare for a financial downturn or to create a plan for managing debt can help mitigate the long-term consequences of alcoholism on the household’s finances.

Signs and Symptoms of Dependence on Alcohol

Are you worried that your partner is developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? It’s important to be aware of the warning signs, so you can take action before their drinking becomes more dangerous.

Physical Symptoms

Alcoholism can have a number of physical effects on the body, so one of the early signs is visible changes in your partner’s health. This could include a sudden weight loss or gain, increased fatigue, skin problems or a decline in personal hygiene.

Behavioral Changes

It is also common for drinking habits to change when someone has become dependent on alcohol. These can include an increase in drinking frequency, consuming larger quantities of alcohol, or drinking in excess despite it having a negative effect on their life.

Mental State

An alcoholic may also experience extreme mood swings, feeling irritable or aggressive towards family and friends. They may have difficulty concentrating on tasks or expressing their feelings. They may also become increasingly isolated, or start to neglect their responsibilities.

Long-term Negative Effects

Left untreated, alcoholism can have severe long-term consequences. This could include major damage to their physical health, stemming from liver damage, high blood pressure and disrupted sleep patterns. It can also have a backlog of emotional and mental effects, including depression and anxiety.

Recognizing the warning signs of alcoholism early is important to ensure the safety of you and your partner. If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is worth considering seeking professional help.

Tips for Coping with Alcoholic Family Members

Caring for an alcoholic can be a difficult and isolating experience. It is important to understand that you are not alone and that help is available. Here are some tips on coping with an alcoholic family member and minimizing the negative effects on your own mental health.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is key to managing an alcoholic family member. This means setting limits on behavior, such as not engaging in arguments or confrontations while they are intoxicated, and not taking responsibility for their actions. It also involves recognizing when it is time to take a break from the situation and focus on yourself.

Maintain Support Systems

It is important to have supportive people in your life who can provide emotional support. This could be friends, family members, or professional counselors. If needed, there are also support groups for people in similar situations. Talking to people who understand what you’re going through can be beneficial.

Look After Yourself

Self-care is essential when dealing with an alcoholic family member. Take time out to focus on your own mental health and wellbeing. Find activities that bring you joy, such as reading a book, going for a walk, or listening to music. It is also important to eat healthy meals and get enough sleep.

Reach out for Professional Help

If needed, seek professional help in order to manage the stress and emotions associated with living with an alcoholic family member. Mental health professionals can help you better understand how to cope with the situation, as well as how to best support your loved one.

By following these tips, it is possible to minimize stress in the household and make life more manageable. Remember, it is not your responsibility to fix the problem of alcoholism, but rather to find ways to cope with the situation in a healthy and effective manner.

Seeking Professional Help

When faced with a partner who is an alcoholic, it can be overwhelming and hard to know what to do. This is why seeking professional help from reliable sources can be essential in getting the support and guidance needed to cope with such a difficult situation. Mental health professionals or support groups can provide invaluable advice on how to handle alcoholism, offer practical strategies for dealing with it, and create a safe space to discuss your experiences.

Mental health professionals, such as psychologists or therapists, provide an important non-judgmental environment in which to talk openly about your struggles and formulate practical approaches to managing them. They are also able to provide one-on-one counselling that is tailored to your particular needs. Support groups, such as Al-Anon, are specifically created for friends and family members of alcoholics, providing a forum to share stories and advice, in addition to providing a sense of solidarity with other people in a similar situation.

In both cases, it is important to remember that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Seeking professional help provides a valuable resource for developing healthy coping strategies and gaining a better understanding of what it means to live with an alcoholic partner.

The Benefits of Taking Time to Yourself

Living with an alcoholic partner can be a difficult and draining experience. It can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself in the midst of worrying about your loved one. That’s why it’s important to remember to make time for yourself, to ensure that your own mental wellbeing is protected. Here are some strategies to help you do that:

Set Boundaries and Prioritize Self-Care

It is essential to set healthy and clear boundaries between yourself and your loved one when dealing with alcoholism. This could mean avoiding certain topics of conversation or activities, saying “no” to requests, or limiting contact if needed. It is important to remember that your own well-being comes first. Taking care of yourself should always be a priority.

Take Time Out

When living with or caring for an alcoholic companion, it is important to take time out for yourself whenever necessary. This could mean dedicating an hour each day for physical activity, like walking, running, or yoga. It could also mean enjoying hobbies such as playing an instrument, reading a book, or watching a movie. Allowing yourself to take a break from the situation is a vital part of self-care.

Talk to Friends and Family

Talking about your concerns to close friends or family members can be a helpful way to gain perspective on the situation. They can also provide valuable support and understanding when it comes to personal matters. Just knowing that there is someone to talk to and offer advice can serve as a great source of comfort.

Practice Relaxation

Stress relief activities such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can be useful to help manage feelings of anxiety and distress. Taking guided relaxation classes or downloads can be especially helpful when dealing with an alcoholic partner.

Taking the time to prioritize your own mental health is essential. With some healthy coping strategies such as setting boundaries, taking time out, talking to friends and family, and practicing relaxation, you can effectively care for yourself when dealing with an alcoholic partner.

Healthy Outlets

Life with an alcoholic partner can be extremely chaotic. Finding ways to manage the stress and distraction of these relationships is essential for protecting your own mental health. One way to do this is to focus on healthy outlets such as hobbies or activities. Having something positive and enjoyable to focus on can help refocus your energy away from negative thoughts or feelings.

Engaging in activities such as art, music, or exercise can be a great way to take your mind off of the stress of living with an alcoholic partner. Art can be a particularly powerful outlet for managing emotions, allowing you to express yourself in a healthy way. Additionally, physical activity such as going for walks or runs can have positive impacts on both mental and physical wellbeing. Taking time to practice relaxation methods such as yoga or meditation can also be helpful in reducing stress.

Focusing on one or two activities that bring you joy and fulfillment can be a great way to keep your spirits up and stay connected to yourself and what makes you happy. Additionally, engaging in activities with friends or family can be a great way to stay connected and improve your sense of wellbeing. Doing activities with others can also provide you with a great source of emotional support and understanding during difficult times.

No matter what types of activities you pursue, it is important to find something that brings you joy and allows you to take a break from your worries. Healthy outlets can be an invaluable tool for managing stress, promoting self-care, and improving overall wellbeing.

Overcoming Stress and Anxiety

Living with an alcoholic partner can bring a lot of stress and anxiety into a relationship. It can be easy to become overwhelmed and feel trapped, which can affect your mental health. It is important to take time to look after yourself and to find healthy practices to manage your emotions and behaviors when dealing with an alcoholic spouse. Here are some tips on how to do this.

Identify Your Triggers

It is important to learn what triggers your stress and anxiety when dealing with an alcoholic spouse. Common triggers may include their drinking behavior, arguments about their drinking, situations where alcohol is involved, and so on. Knowing what sets you off can help you prepare to cope in advance when these situations arise.

Use Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can be a great way to help reduce your stress levels and improve your emotional wellbeing. Taking deep breaths, counting to 10 before responding or reacting, journaling your feelings and thoughts, and daily low impact exercises such as walking or yoga are all great ways to relax and take care of yourself.

Focus on Self-Care

When living with an alcoholic partner, it is essential to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing. Self-care should be a priority, and there are many simple activities that can help you relax and de-stress. Reading a book, listening to music, engaging in a hobby such as painting or crafting, or taking part in a yoga class can all help to reduce stress and take your mind off of the situation.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to someone close to you about the situation. That’s why it is important to seek out professionals or support groups who may be able to provide you with advice and help. Talking to someone who is unbiased and not directly involved in the situation can help you to work through your feelings and emotional struggles in a safe environment.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an important part of managing stress and anxiety in an alcoholic relationship. It is important to take time for yourself and set limits around what is acceptable and what isn’t. These boundaries can help protect you from any negative behavior, and will ensure that you are not taken advantage of.

Find Healthy Coping Strategies

It is important to find healthy coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Finding positive outlets to express yourself can help to reduce the negative feelings and emotions that you may be experiencing. Writing down your feelings and experiences, talking to a friend or family member, or taking part in a creative activity like painting can all be great ways to manage stress and anxiety.

Living with an alcoholic partner can be a difficult and challenging experience, but knowing how to cope with the situation can make it easier to manage. Identifying your triggers, using relaxation techniques, focusing on self-care, talking to someone, setting boundaries, and finding healthy coping strategies can all help you to manage your stress and anxiety. Remember to take care of yourself first, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

The Risks of Enabling Behavior

Enabling behavior is a common yet destructive response to a partner’s alcoholism. It arises out of a need to alleviate the stress and worry that comes with watching your partner struggle with an addiction. Though attempting to cushion the impact of alcoholism on oneself may seem beneficial, enabling can ultimately be detrimental to both the alcoholic and their partner.

Enabling can manifest as interventions such as covering for or taking over tasks for the alcoholic, or even giving them money for drinks without questioning it. These interventions can give the false impression that addiction is being enabled, which can encourage continued substance abuse.

In the long run, enabling will leave both partners feeling frustrated and powerless. The partner may feel that nothing they do has an effect, while the alcoholic will feel that they are free to indulge in their addiction because someone will always take care of the consequences.

Therefore, it is important to recognize when enabling behavior is occurring in order to break the cycle. In doing so, the partner can clear the way for more effective coping strategies and opportunities for the alcoholic to seek help.

It is not easy to be in a relationship with an alcoholic, but it is possible to find effective coping strategies. Through the duration of this guide, we have examined the effects of alcoholism on a partner and the family, identified signs of dependence, offered tips for managing stress and anxiety, highlighted the dangers of enabling behavior, and discussed how to seek professional help.

One of the most important coping strategies for partners of alcoholics is to take care of their own mental health needs. This means taking a step back, setting boundaries, and making time for activities that bring joy into their daily life. It also entails seeking support from friends, family members, or healthcare professionals. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, remain positive in the face of adversity and prioritize self-care can all help to alleviate any negative emotions and build healthy habits.

It is also important for partners to remember that their loved one is struggling too. Although it can be difficult to witness, reacting with love and compassion can help encourage them to seek help. In some cases, it may even be necessary to reach out to outside organizations to ensure that the alcoholic is able to get the help they need.

No matter what the situation looks like, helping oneself before helping someone else is always a priority. With the right guidance, support, and resources, it is possible to learn how to cope with a partner’s alcoholism and to make healthy choices.


Writing this guide has been a valuable opportunity to source information from credible organizations and professionals. The references below are provided for further exploration into the topics of alcoholism and coping strategies discussed in this guide.

  • Alcohol Research & Health: The journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers up-to-date research and reviews on drinking-related topics.
  • The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD): A national non-profit organization providing education, resources, and advocacy on alcohol and other drug dependence.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): A federal agency focused on improving behavioral health outcomes throughout the US.

FAQs About Coping Strategies for Partners of Alcoholics

  • Q: What is Alcoholism?
    A: Alcoholism is a serious mental health condition characterized by compulsive drinking, loss of control over alcohol use, and health and social consequences.
  • Q: What are the Health Effects of Alcoholism on Partners?
    A: Partners in an alcoholic relationship may experience depression, anxiety, guilt, stress, and difficulty sleeping or eating. Additionally, partners can also endure physical health effects as a result of their partner’s excessive drinking such as chronic headaches, stomach aches, and a weakened immune system.
  • Q: How Does Alcoholism Affect Household Finances?
    A: Alcoholism can be costly due to the amount of money needed to support the drinking habit. Additionally, financial inquiries can occur if bills are missed and debt accumulates.
  • Q: What Are Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse in a Longterm Partner?
    A: Common signs of alcohol abuse include increased irritability, neglecting responsibilities, keeping secrets, drinking alone, becoming drunk on a regular basis, and impaired judgment.
  • Q: How Can I Cope with Living With an Alcoholic Family Member?
    A: Suggestions include setting boundaries, creating a safe space, utilizing support systems, and engaging in self-care activities.
  • Q: What Are the Benefits of Seeking Advice from Mental Health Professionals?
    A: The advantages of seeking help from professionals include connecting with someone who can understand your experiences, receiving advice based on research and clinical best practices, and accessing resources to help manage stress.
  • Q: What Are Healthy Outlets to Redirect Energy?
    A: Examples include exercising, gardening, cooking, reading, writing, and spending time with friends or family.