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Living with an Alcoholic

Living with an alcoholic can be incredibly difficult, especially if the loved one has not yet realized that they have a problem or is not willing, for any reason, to take steps to help get help. 

Many loved ones of alcoholics need support for themselves. There is little doubt that alcohol abuse can impact the family and friends of the alcoholic. Loved ones should know the signs of alcoholism in their home. If people can identify with some of the common symptoms of alcoholism, they may want to take action to support their loved ones in getting help. 

Please note this tool is for self-evaluation purposes only. This test is not intended to replace a professional diagnosis. If you believe that you or a loved one has alcohol use disorder, please seek professional treatment.

Why Should I Take an Alcoholism Self Test?

Many people do not want to admit that they are struggling with alcoholism. Some may avoid pursuing treatment or any changes in their lifestyle because they insist that they “do not have a problem.” An intervention from friends and family members may help point out the addiction. However, having hard facts may make it easier to share precisely what friends and family see with your loved one and provide them with the support they need. 

An alcoholism test can help in several key ways:

  Signs of Alcoholism

There can be several key signs of alcoholism, which may deepen as the alcoholic progresses through the stages of addiction. Living with an alcoholic, loved ones may notice these signs escalating over time.


1. Your loved one does not seem to control alcohol use.

Frequently, an alcoholic will not seem to control their alcohol use. They may, for example, plan only to have "one or two drinks" while out with friends but end up consuming a great deal more alcohol than they claimed to intend. They might tell loved ones that they plan only to drink a couple of nights a week, but in reality, they seem to drink daily.

Sometimes, the loved one may lie to family and friends about their alcohol consumption or how much alcohol they intend to consume. It may be challenging to determine whether their drinking is actually out of control or if they are drinking more than they claim to plan but do not want to deal with external nagging or commentary. However, if someone notices that their loved one seems unable to control drinking behaviors, it may be a sign of alcoholism.


2. Your loved one starts to avoid social activities or hobbies to drink.

Alcoholics may start withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed. Loved ones may notice that the alcoholic is ignoring hobbies that were once important to them. These are both potential signs that drinking alcohol is out of control.

In addition, friends and family may find that their loved one starts to withdraw from social activities, especially those that involve drinking. While the loved one might be eager to go to a bar or even a restaurant where alcohol is served, friends and family might have a more challenging time getting them to parties and gatherings where there will be no alcohol.


3. You notice your loved one has to consume more alcohol than before to get the same effect.

Often, alcohol intake increases as the alcoholic develop an increasingly higher tolerance for alcohol. Loved ones may notice that the alcoholic can drink significantly more than once without showing obvious signs of1 intoxication.


4. Your loved one starts to drink in inappropriate or dangerous situations.

Sometimes, the loved one may need to be sober to deal with specific situations. For example, while driving or operating heavy machinery at work, the loved one should not be intoxicated. If friends and family notice the loved one routinely drinking in dangerous or inappropriate situations, including drinking at work, it could indicate alcoholism.


5. Your loved one suffers from withdrawal symptoms and needs to drink to alleviate those symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal2 can cause various symptoms, including headaches, nausea or vomiting, anxiety, and tremors. Loved ones will often notice that the alcoholic becomes agitated while withdrawing from alcohol. Drinking may seem to alleviate those symptoms quickly. Unfortunately, when the loved one shows signs of withdrawal when they cannot have alcohol, it typically indicates addiction.


6. Your loved one continues to drink even though it is causing problems at work, at school, or in their personal lives.

Often, alcoholism starts to cause substantial problems with the loved one's personal life. Friends and family may notice signs of anger, withdrawal from relationships, or inability to take care of everyday tasks, including work responsibilities. Over time, those problems may escalate. However, an alcoholic will generally continue drinking despite those symptoms.

If friends and family notice their loved one shows signs of alcoholism, take our quiz to help determine whether you are living with an alcoholic.

The Effects of Alcoholism

Drinking too much or too often can have a serious impact on the body3 and on the person’s relationships, ability to work, and more. Alcoholics may suffer from a great deal of strain on the heart, disruptions in brain function, liver problems, and an increased risk of developing cancer. In addition, people may find their loved ones dealing with several negative symptoms. 


Changes in Behavior and Mood

Often, alcohol disrupts the communication pathways in the brain, causing substantial changes in the person’s mood, behavior, and overall cognitive functioning. In some cases, alcohol-induced nutrition deficits can cause brain damage. 

In other cases, people with alcohol addiction may suffer from:

  • Mood swings
  • Increased anger and agitation
  • Memory problems

Friends and family may notice their loved one’s behaviors changing dramatically as their alcohol addiction increases. For example, the loved one may grow angry more easily. 


Impact on Relationships

Due to the impact on behavior, alcohol addiction can cause substantial relationship challenges for many individuals. Some may feel that their loved one prefers drinking to interact with them, or they may find drinking takes precedence over anything and everything else. Over time, this can lead to a decline in relationships. Friends and family may notice the loved one being more argumentative or avoiding social interactions, which can add up over time. 


Work Struggles

Often, alcoholism leads to considerable struggles at work. Alcoholics may have trouble functioning while at work, which can lead to changes in their ability to complete job tasks and keep up with their responsibilities. 

In addition, they often have a hard time remembering what they’re supposed to do. Alcoholics may also become more volatile at work. Those work struggles make it more difficult for alcoholics to keep their jobs. 

How to Live with a Recovering Alcoholic

Living with an alcoholic can be incredibly difficult, especially as addiction deepens. As the loved one starts to seek treatment for alcohol addiction, things may not get easier immediately. Over time, however, friends and family may notice a much healthier relationship with their loved ones and a considerably improved home life. As a person lives with a recovering alcoholic, there are several things they can do to help improve the home environment and support their loved one. 


1. Create a sober atmosphere at home.

When living with a recovering alcoholic, one should create a supportive, sober environment in the home. If the loved one is regularly exposed to others drinking, it can be much more difficult for them to stay sober.

Remove alcohol from your home altogether. Do not keep any alcohol in the house, and do not have events in the home where drinking is likely to be present. Avoid parties and gatherings with alcohol. If they go out to eat together, do not order an alcoholic beverage.

Alcoholics may have a much harder time avoiding alcohol consumption when others around them are indulging. Unfortunately, when it comes to alcoholism, even one drink can send the loved one spiraling back into that addiction. Eliminating alcohol at home can help the loved one stay sober.


2. Make sure you're getting help for yourself.

As the loved one recovers from alcohol addiction, they may face significant stress and pressure. The loved one may inadvertently take some of those emotions and struggles out on friends and family, or they may have an additional strain on their shoulders as they try to help their loved one cope without alcohol.

Loved ones of alcoholics should also seek therapy and support of their own. Attend support groups and meetings for family members and loved ones of alcoholics. Friends and family deserve support throughout the process as well.

If the loved one of an alcoholic’s mental health deteriorates, they cannot provide adequate support for your loved one. A support group can help improve the person’s mental and emotional state and validate their feelings as your loved one continues through recovery.


3. Do not take on personal responsibility for your loved one's recovery.

As family members of an addict, people can support their loved one's recovery and provide essential tools to help the loved one down that difficult road. However, friends and family cannot take over the recovery process for your loved one.

If the loved one backslides, it is not their friends or family’s fault. Ultimately, the alcoholic is responsible for their recovery. Do not take emotional ownership of relapse or any problem behaviors during recovery.


4. Look for constructive ways to help your loved one deal with stress in the household.

There are a lot of factors that can increase stress. Unfortunately, some people can struggle to avoid alcohol while dealing with heavily stressful situations. In some cases, friends and family may be able to alleviate stress for their loved ones by taking on some of those potentially stressful situations for themselves.

For example, one might choose to deal with some home responsibilities or stand as a buffer during conflicts with the broader family as the loved one recovers from alcohol addiction. However, that does not mean they should take more on themself than they can handle. Friends and family members may want to look for other ways to help reduce stress in the home.

For example:

By dealing with stress constructively, friends and family can help the loved one develop new coping mechanisms and avoid drinking.


5. Get familiar with the warning signs that your loved one may have

Work on rebuilding the relationship. Make good memories together. It may take time, but loved ones can rebuild your relationships and manage a positive outcome.

Treatments for Alcoholism

There are multiple treatment options available for alcoholics. Detoxing alone can be incredibly dangerous—and may increase the odds that the alcoholic will relapse or fail. Treatment options may depend on the loved one’s symptoms and what support the loved one might need to maximize their odds of making a full recovery.


Behavioral Treatment

Behavioral treatment programs can help the loved one change the behaviors associated with drinking. 

Often, decreasing alcohol addiction means changing the patterns that the loved one previously associated with drinking: finding a new place to spend their evening, for example, or spending time with people who are supportive of the decision to stop drinking. Counseling and therapy can help alcoholics identify those problem areas and take steps to change them.

Behavioral therapies can also help identify any underlying conditions contributing to alcoholism and allow the alcoholic to pursue treatment for them through a dual diagnosis. For example, people with untreated ADHD4 or depression5 may have greater odds of engaging in alcoholic behaviors. 



Often, medication can help suppress some of the symptoms of withdrawal, making it easier for alcoholics to detox and reduce symptoms of addiction. In many cases, medication can help people get on top of alcohol addiction and help them move toward recovery. 


Support Groups

Having the right support system can make a huge difference for many alcoholics. Regular meetings with support groups can help them talk through the challenges they might face as they deal with addiction and address them in a healthy, positive manner. 

Do You Need Help with an Alcohol Addiction?

Dealing with a loved one suffering from alcohol addiction can be incredibly difficult. Not only do you want your loved one to get help, but you may also want to participate in a support group that will help you learn how to separate yourself from codependent behaviors and improve relational and home health while living with an alcoholic. 

At Restore Detox Centers, we provide drug and alcohol rehabilitation support to our patients and their families. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your loved one break free of addiction.


  1. LaHood AJ, Kok SJ. Ethanol Toxicity. [Updated 2022 Mar 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Newman RK, Stobart Gallagher MA, Gomez AE. Alcohol Withdrawal. [Updated 2021 Nov 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from
  4. Kuppa A, Maysun A. Risk of Alcohol Abuse in Humans with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms. Cureus. 2019 Oct 25;11(10):e5996. doi: 10.7759/cureus.5996. PMID: 31807384; PMCID: PMC6876904.
  5. McHugh RK, Weiss RD. Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders. Alcohol Res. 2019 Jan 1;40(1):arcr.v40.1.01. doi: 10.35946/arcr.v40.1.01. PMID: 31649834; PMCID: PMC6799954.
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