With Alcohol Awareness Week 2021 drawing to a close, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is spotlighting how alcohol can play a role in affecting your relationships with your partner, your children and other important people in your life.
Alcohol Awareness Week, taking place from 15-21 November 2021, encompasses awareness raising in the area of keeping health risks from drinking alcohol low. The flagship initiative of the charity Alcohol Change UK, this year’s campaign has a theme of alcohol and relationships.
People drink alcohol for many reasons. You may drink because you think it is fun, as an escape from stress or even to relieve other physical symptoms such as chronic pain. However, drinking excessively or too often can have consequences, including damaged relationships.
Alcoholism affects people beyond just the person drinking. Friends, family and other people that a person suffering the effects of alcoholism interacts with on a regular basis are all likely to experience problems related to the condition.
Many people underestimate the correlation between alcohol and poor relationships, which is concerning given that drinking is often the first thing people turn to when feeling isolated, worried about relationships or unable to cope.
As alcohol abuse progresses, sufferers are likely to withdraw from society at large and may lash out at well-meaning acquaintances who seek to help them come to grips with addiction. Financial problems are likely to arise due to not only the costs of supporting an addiction but also the loss of productivity and regular work hours due to increased illness, hangovers and other adverse effects.
The constant agitation, drowsiness and confusion experienced by those suffering the effects of alcoholism are likely to cause problems for anyone in a relationship with the sufferer. People who find themselves in a romantic relationship with someone struggling with alcoholism may even end up making excuses for their lack of attendance or improper conduct at social functions.
Furthermore, heavy alcohol users may have trouble relating to teetotallers or those who do not share their propensity for drinking to excess, and they may attempt to convince friends or loved ones to join them in drinking. This can lead to additional problems as others experience the challenges faced by having a sufferer in their personal relationships.
No one wants to lose the love and trust of someone they care about over something preventable. This might be difficult to see happening if you are the one with an alcohol addiction. With this in mind, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub and Cumbernauld Family Hub have compiled the below guide to help people recognise when drinking habits have gone beyond safe, responsible and recommended boundaries.
SOME SIGNS THAT ALCOHOL MAY BE RUINING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Alcohol Is Becoming More Important Than Those Around You
You probably believe that your loved ones are more important than any substance, but you might have an alcohol use disorder if your actions prove otherwise. Alcohol abuse affects the body and the mind, and the person suffering is often the last to realise the extent of the damage being done.
Even if you have a powerful connection with the people you love, this can be diminished by a strong need and desire to drink. Have you forgotten important dates because of drinking? Are there times that you have had to cancel plans because of a severe hangover? These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself.
You Become a Different Person When You Drink
Your partner fell in love with a certain person, but you might become someone else entirely when you drink alcohol. Maybe alcohol is a social lubricant for you, but its effects have been magnified in the recent past.
Each person has a different response to alcohol, but yours may not make your spouse comfortable. Maybe you become overly aggressive or withdrawn when you drink. You might become too emotional or even inappropriate in public. These are all causes for concern in a relationship.
You Are Not Honest About Your Drinking
Are you hiding how much and how often you drink from your partner? If so, drinking has become a significant factor in your relationship. Just ask yourself why you feel the need to be dishonest about your drinking. Successful relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and trust, and any type of secrecy is a red flag.
You Have Stopped Doing Certain Things In Favour Of Drinking
Do you increasingly choose to drink over other things that you used to enjoy with your partner or children? You may want to examine your motives for making these choices. Relationships that are built around substance use are not healthy.
Families should have some activities that they enjoy doing together, and you should have some other healthy outlets, whether they are solo or with other people. If drinking is the focal point of every activity, alcohol addiction is a concern.
Your Children Have Noticed a Difference In Your Behaviour
What children see at home helps them think about how they’ll drink alcohol as an adult. So, just as children learn to walk and talk like their parents, they learn how to drink like them too. Sometimes it can seem like there’s always an excuse to drink, but children notice if their parents have different drinking patterns at special occasions or on holiday.
Children may also find problems with their own social development appearing due to a parent dealing with alcohol abuse becoming unwilling or unable to support the child’s endeavours. This can range from missed events, such as football matches or birthday parties, to outright neglect.
Your Sex Drive Has Changed Drastically
Some people place more importance on sex than others, but this is still an important element of a thriving romantic relationship. If your drinking is causing you to pass out, blackout or get sick, this is going to put a damper on intimate activities.
Drinking can not only take away the time and desire for sex, but it can also lead to sexual dysfunction. If sex has completely left your relationship due to alcohol misuse, there is a chance that your partner will not be far behind.
You Drink More Than 14 Units Of Alcohol Per Week
Research has shown that drinkers of wine, beer and spirits remain largely unsure of how many drinks make up the recommended weekly alcohol intake. NHS Scotland guidelines advise that you don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread out over at least three days. This is the same for both men and women.
The 14 unit guideline equates to six pints of medium strength beer, lager or cider, or alternatively six medium glasses of wine. If spirits are your choice of drink, it is equivalent to seven double measures of spirits over the course of a week.
Individuals who are keen to make sure they keep within the recommended guidelines can gain more detailed information about the breakdown of 14 units by visiting www.count14.scot. The website incorporates a drinks calculator, which adds up the number of units consumed based on what you drink in a typical week.
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and serious problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and digestive problems. Drinking excessively over a long period can also result in liver disease, one of seven forms of cancer and mental health problems. Tragically, 20 people in the UK die every day as a result of alcohol abuse.
Maybe today you are asking yourself the question ‘am I an alcoholic?’ It is important to know that most people who are casual drinkers do not ask this question. Common signs of alcoholism include being unable to control your drinking or lacking the ability to stop or reduce your alcohol intake. In many cases, alcohol is a central contributor to poverty, homelessness, unemployment, domestic abuse, driving bans and, as we have explored, a breakdown in relationships.
While it can be possible self-diagnose this disorder if you recognise the signs and symptoms, it is difficult to recover without help. If you’re concerned about how much you or a loved one is drinking or are having problems keeping within the recommended limits, a good first step is to speak to your GP. Be honest with them, and they will be able to discuss a range of options with you in terms of help, support, services and treatments available.
Support organisations exist for people going through alcoholism and their loved ones. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), for example, seeks to help those in this situation with recovery. This organisation coordinates a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem of alcoholism. The only requirement for free membership is a desire to stop drinking, with details of local groups available by clicking here.
Further excellent information on low-drinking guidelines, the risks of drinking too much, advice on cutting down, and alcohol and pregnancy can be obtained by visiting the alcohol section of the NHS Inform website. It also contains details of what to do if controlling your drinking is becoming difficult or problematic.