Can Alcohol Effect Your Relationships?

Author Tracy Smith
May 27, 2019

Things taken or experienced in moderation are unlikely to have a significant impact.  Eating ice cream or a favorite desert every once in awhile is not likely to have a major effect on a person’s weight.  It would be unexpected that pulling an all-nighter for a final exam would have a serious impact on sleep.  Missing one work deadline is not likely to sink a person’s career, especially if it occurs once in a blue moon for good reason.  However, when things are not in moderation, one runs the risk of potential consequences or negative impact.  A person who consumes ice cream every day would likely put on a significant amount of weight.  A person who often stays up all night would probably interfere with their sleep and circadian rhythms.  Missing frequent deadlines at work is likely to get a person fired from their job.  The same is true of alcohol.  Having one or two drinks from time to time is not likely to have a significant impact on one’s life, but drinking too much too often can definitely take its toll.  Alcohol can potentially cause weight gain, sleep difficulties, or disruptions in employment, but most importantly, it can have a massive impact on one’s relationships.

alcohol relationship

Individuals addicted to alcohol have great difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.  The emotional intimacy inherent in important relationships is always at risk, especially as it pertains to trust and commitment.  People struggling with alcoholism will do anything to maintain their addiction, even if it means lying or stealing from their loved ones.  These actions and behaviors slowly erode once healthy relationships, as trust quickly fades away for distrust and skepticism.  Alcohol abuse can impact sexual relations, as a person can lose interest in sex or be unable to perform. 

When intoxicated, individuals can become emotionally, verbally, or even physically abusive, causing fear and avoidance.  These behaviors can lead to domestic violence, abuse, and crimes.  Individuals may ignore their children or neglect their parenting duties, causing emotional harm and unhappiness in those that they love.  While inebriated, people tend to act impulsively and without thinking, resulting in poor decision making.  A person may become unfaithful, become promiscuous, spend frivolously, or put themselves in harm’s way.

Alcohol can cause a person to neglect important responsibilities, such as occupational, academic, or household duties.  Intoxication and hangovers can cause disruptions in daily functioning, further impacting their relationships.  If a person puts their job in jeopardy, they risk losing it.  Losing a job can put considerable strain on the family structure.  Lifestyles need to change and other family members need to step up, causing potential feelings of anger and resentment.

Alcohol can cause medical issues and raise health concerns.  If severe enough, medical issues can cause disability, leave of absences, or even death, further impacting relationships.  A parent may feel abandoned by their partner if they suddenly have to assume the majority of parenting responsibilities by themselves. 

Another important way that alcohol impacts relationships is that it causes structural and functional changes in the family system.  Family members may cultivate an atmosphere of codependency, unknowingly supporting and promoting the person’s addiction.  

In moderation, alcohol is not likely to have massive or far-reaching effects on a person’s relationships.  However, alcohol abuse and addiction can have extreme and significant impact on a person’s family, marriage, children, friends, and colleagues.  Alcohol abuse can destroy relationships, cultivate an atmosphere of distrust, and leave a great deal of destruction in its wake.  Legal troubles, abuse and neglect, parenting concerns, and domestic violence can all result from excessive consumption.  Infidelity, financial concerns, job loss, medical concerns, and reduced sexual intimacy are other consequences that may result.

Author Tracy Smith

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for a Community YMCA. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents.