How is the behavior of an alcoholic with his partner?


In this article, I will explain how an alcoholic behaves with their partner and what are the consequences of living with an alcoholic person.

Table of contents

Alcohol is a substance that is socially well accepted. We toast with champagne, meet friends for beer or celebrate big news and events by opening a good wine.

On the other hand, there is a stigma attached to alcoholics. In this case, I'm not referring to a moderate intake on rare occasions, but to the constitution of an addictive behavior disorder.

Alcohol addiction has a series of psychological, biological and social consequences. In addition to stigmatization and rejection by others, other important problems can appear at a social level, such as those that occur within the couple.

Keep reading this article, I'll tell you how an alcoholic behaves with his partner. We will see the profile of the alcoholic, if an alcoholic can love, why alcoholics lie, why an alcoholic when he drinks looks like another person and the consequences of living with an alcoholic.

A man who drinks
A man who drinks

Alcohol and its effects

What goes on in the mind of an alcoholic? Alcohol is a substance that has a direct effect on the nervous system of the person who consumes it. The consequences of consuming alcohol are not only physical, but also psychological and social.

physical consequences of alcohol

  • Vascular problems such as arrhythmias, hypertension or heart attack.
  • Liver problems such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.
  • Problems related to the pancreas.
  • Different types of cancer such as liver, colorectal or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Weakening of the immune system.

psychological consequences of alcohol

  • Disinhibition.
  • Increased aggressiveness.
  • Memory problems.
  • Insomnia.
  • Memory problems.
  • depressive symptoms
  • Anxiety symptoms.
  • In severe cases, delusions and/or hallucinations may appear .
  • Withdrawal syndrome with the decrease or cessation of consumption.

Social consequences of alcohol

  • Labor problems.
  • Stigmatization.
  • Social rejection.
  • Family and couple problems.

Diagnosis of alcoholism

There are several alcohol-associated disorders included in the main diagnostic classifications, which are set out below.

DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association)

This classification recognizes four types of related disorders:

  • Alcohol use disorder.
  • Alcohol intoxication.
  • Alcohol withdrawal.
  • Alcohol-related disorder not otherwise specified: the criteria for the above conditions are not met, but there are symptoms, clinically significant discomfort and/or deterioration in areas such as social or occupational.

ICD-11 (World Health Organization)

  • Harmful alcohol use episode.
  • Harmful pattern of alcohol use.
  • Alcohol dependency.
  • Alcohol intoxication.
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
  • Alcohol-induced delirium.
  • Alcohol-induced psychotic disorder.
  • Other: other alcohol use disorders, other specified alcohol use disorders, and alcohol use disorders (unspecified).

As we can see, alcohol consumption is heterogeneous: we can drink a lot but rarely, we can need to drink every day, we can present symptoms when we stop consuming, etc. For this reason, the profile of people who consume alcohol can be very different. In this article I talk about the types of alcoholism.

What do I mean by alcoholic person? Normally we associate alcoholism with dependency, addiction, the need to consume . However, we cannot ignore the rest of the related conditions that can also cause social, labor, physical and mental health problems.

Profile of the alcoholic with his partner: 7 characteristics

To talk about the behavior of an alcoholic in a couple is to group together a series of very heterogeneous people. This implies that the type of behavior will be very diverse.

However, there seem to be behaviors that have received more attention due to the frequency with which they appear or their magnitude. Based on the guide of Roberts, LJ and McCrady, BS (2003), I present them below and tell you how an alcoholic behaves with his partner.

1. Violence

Aggressive behavior within the couple is one of the most studied characteristics of the alcoholic's profile with their partner. This behavior becomes even more important in the context of gender violence. Studies show that physical violence against a partner increases with alcohol consumption. This is not to say that all alcoholics use violence against their partner, but it does increase the possibility of this happening.

2. Aggressiveness and family conflicts

Alcohol consumption causes disinhibition, which can increase aggressive responses. In addition, regardless of the existence of physical violence, discussions between the couple would be frequent. Communication problems and the failure to resolve conflicts would also contribute to the appearance of these conflicts.

It is likely, as we will see in the next section, that the alcoholic carries out the consumption alone, without his partner knowing.

This will lead to the appearance of lies and hiding behaviors that can trigger marital conflicts.

3. Distancing

As I pointed out in the introduction, alcoholics suffer significant stigmatization. Abusing alcohol is not well seen by society. Probably, the consumption will not be well seen by the partner, so the alcoholic will distance himself and try to find (increasingly) moments alone to be able to consume.

4. Infidelity

Research has also associated infidelity towards a partner and alcohol consumption, explaining that consumption would be a risk factor for adulterous behavior. So infidelity would be another of the possible characteristics of the behavior of an alcoholic with her partner. In case you find yourself in this situation, in this article we talk about how to act in the face of infidelity.

5. Jealousy

Jealousy has received special attention in the study of the alcoholic person in the context of the couple. There have even been authors who have proposed jealousy as one of the causes of alcoholism, although more recent studies suggest that this is not the case. However, there does seem to be a significant prevalence of jealous behavior in alcoholics.

6. Economic insecurity

In this sense, the alcoholic person can lie to his partner regarding economic matters . Keep in mind that if the consumption takes place in private, the expense will also be made without the partner knowing about it. The need to consume will also increase spending, which can be a source of conflict within the couple.

7. Anxiety and irritability

Keep in mind that between consumption and consumption, withdrawal syndrome may appear, so the alcoholic patient may be irritable and anxious in general and with his partner in particular.

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  1. American Psychiatric Association (2014). DSM-5. Consultation guide of the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-5-Breviary. Madrid: Pan American Medical Editorial.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO) (2018) International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision . Retrieved from
  3. Roberts, LJ and McCrady, B.S. (2003). Alcohol Problems in Intimate Relationships: Identification and Intervention. A Guide for Marriage and Family Therapists. Retrieved from
Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.