7 Signs That You’re Dating an Alcoholic

a man and a woman dating
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If you suspect that your loved one is overdoing it on alcohol, it’s a bad sign. That’s true whether your partner is obviously overindulging and binge drinking every weekend or if they’re a bit more circumspect, and you only suspect that they’re sneaking drinks and alcohol. In fact, while the stereotype of an alcoholic is someone who loses their job, or who is actively and visibly drunk at all times, almost 20% of the population qualifying as having an alcohol-use disorder might not show visible symptoms of alcoholism.

That percentage is also considerable. In 2021-2022, an estimated 133.1 million Americans aged 12 or older drank regularly. Of those, 29.5 million people, or 10.6% of the American population qualify as having a substance use disorder. That’s more than 1 in 10 Americans.

If you suspect your loved one is addicted to alcohol, it’s very likely that they at least have a problematic relationship with alcohol. That alone is reason enough to intervene where you can and to take steps to get them professional help. However, you can also look for the following symptoms of alcohol use disorder.

1. Drinking is a Habit

Someone with a healthy relationship to alcohol will drink when alcohol is available or occasionally. Most of the U.S. population will drink at least occasionally. But, if your partner uses every occasion to drink, it’s a bad sign. It’s also bad if they habitually drink at home. For example, coming home and opening up a beer and then following it with another is not a normal or healthy habit – even if it’s disguised as a hobby with craft or artisanal alcohol.

Of course, habitual drinking isn’t necessary for alcoholism to be an issue. Some alcoholics are aware that alcohol can be extremely physically addictive and will abstain for days or even weeks at a time – after which they binge again. So this symptom isn’t necessary for alcoholism to be present. But, if someone treats drinking as a normally everyday part of life, it’s a good sign they have a problematic relationship with alcohol.

2. They Can’t Control How Much They Drink

Most of us have grown up with country western songs popularizing an inability to control how much you drink, to the point where it’s a normal thing to say that you can’t. “If I have one I’ll have one more”. But, that isn’t a normal or a healthy attitude towards alcohol. Someone with a healthy relationship to alcohol will be able to sit down, have a drink, and then stop there. They won’t binge whenever they’re handed alcohol. Having one and no more is a perfectly normal and functional approach to alcohol.

Even if they otherwise act normal around alcohol, having trouble controlling themselves around alcohol is a sign of addiction.

3. They’re Constantly Thinking about Drinking

The craft and artisanal alcohol scenes have allowed a lot of people to normalize the act of constantly thinking about, getting ready for, and talking about drinking and getting drunk. But, if your partner is constantly thinking about drinking, it’s a bad sign. That’s even true if they’re thinking about which special wine they are going to drink next. Constantly thinking about alcohol is always a bad sign. However, is perfectly reasonable to put time and thought into planning occasional evenings to try different kinds of alcohol. It’s another story to have this constantly preoccupy most of their thinking. And, if they’re just thinking about getting drunk in general rather than flavors, textures, and brands, it’s an even bigger sign that something is wrong.

a couple sitting on a bench

4. They Ignore or Dismiss Consequences

Anyone with a healthy relationship with alcohol will cut back or quit if they start to notice negative consequences. For example, if alcohol results in hangovers that impede them at work. Someone with an alcohol use disorder will ignore or dismiss those consequences. Often that’s because they don’t want others to see the severity of the issue. Sometimes that’s because of shame. In other cases, it’s because of self-delusion and an inability to admit that the problem is there. In either case, it’s a sign that something is wrong. For example, if they:

  • Get angry when confronted about alcohol use
  • Drink heavily before work
  • Drink before getting in a car or operating machinery
  • Allow themselves to drink before a big day at work or something important
  • Frequently have hangovers or show signs of one and won’t admit it
  • Rely on painkillers to manage how bad they feel on normal days

Ignoring the consequences of drinking is always a sign of a problematic relationship with alcohol.

5. Alcohol Changes Their Personality

A lot of people use alcohol to self-medicate, to relax, and to destress. You’ll often hear things like “I need a drink to loosen up”. But, when people with alcohol problems drink, they can sometimes become different people. For example, they might compartmentalize who they are so they can function at work or school. When they drink, that goes away, and they might behave aggressively, they behave promiscuously, they might start arguments or fights, or otherwise become completely different people than when sober.

6. They Show Signs of Addiction

There are a lot of symptoms of addiction. However, some of the most noticeable include withdrawal symptoms. For example, your partner gets anxious or starts showing symptoms of having a cold or a fever when they don’t drink. Finger twitching, paranoia, and shaking hands are all symptoms of withdrawal. People who are having problems with alcohol may also try to quit and fail. For example, they put alcohol down for a few days and then find a reason to start again. Even if the excuse sounds legitimate, people who are healthy don’t have to drink.

7. They Hide or Lie About Drinking

Someone with a healthy relationship with alcohol will never hide their drinking. They won’t sneak alcohol into other bottles. They also won’t drink during the day. Mostly people without an alcohol problem also won’t drink when alone. Catching someone taking nips from a bottle when they think no one is looking is not normal or healthy. And, having them lie about drinking or how much they drank also is not normal.

While someone lying about drinking might sound reasonable if they can talk well enough, it never is. There’s no good reason to drink and lie about it or hide it.

If your partner has any of these symptoms, it’s a good sign they need help. They might not have a full alcohol addiction yet, but they are definitely struggling. Talking to a counselor or a therapist, working towards getting professional help, and considering rehab can help them to uncover the root causes behind substance abuse, find new and better coping mechanisms, and to improve their quality of life so they don’t need alcohol.

Stairway Recovery Homes has multiple sober living homes located in Los Angeles, CA. We provide quality recovery homes for both men’s sober living and women’s sober living



About Jim Sugel

SEO and Digital Marketing Expert Jim Sugel is an SEO and Digital Marketing Expert in addition to having achieved the coveted Google Partner status for PPC expertise. Prior to focusing on Digital Marketing, Jim worked in Information Technology roles at a variety of national firms as a software engineer and consultant, resulting in many years of professional coding and consulting experience. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science, cum laude in Computer Science and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. After relocating to Southern California from his native Chicago, he became involved in the recovery industry here, discovering a natural niche in helping treatment centers with Digital Marketing and other technology projects. Jim is the Founder and CEO of Airtight Digital, a firm that specializes in digital marketing for the behavioral health industry. His other interests include hiking, canyoneering, urban exploration, and screenwriting. Jim now lives in beautiful and sunny Orange County, California.