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Is My Partner an Alcoholic? The Key Signs Explained

If you’re concerned that your partner is an alcoholic, it’s important that you understand the signs and symptoms. This is the first step towards getting treatment.

Alcohol use disorder, often shortened to AUD, is a medical condition that involves the lack of control over drinking alcohol. Alcohol addiction can impact a person’s physical health, mental health and overall well-being.

A national survey showed that roughly 14.1 million adults aged 18 and over had AUD in 2019. Likewise, over 414,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 had AUD in 2019.

Although everybody may have different drinking habits, some people abuse alcohol more than others. Unlike moderate drinking, alcohol abuse or problem drinking is a dangerous drinking pattern that often involves binge drinking.

Some people who abuse alcohol may only drink alcohol a couple of times a week but will consume a dangerous amount during a short period. This can cause negative health effects, putting people at a higher risk of physical health problems – in both the short term and long term.

It can impact a person’s relationships – it’s rarely just the person with the addiction who is impacted by alcoholism – it’s husbands, wives, children and loved ones too.

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5 Signs That Indicate Your Partner May Be an Alcoholic

The signs of alcohol addiction can vary from person to person. Some people with alcohol addiction can successfully hide their negative driving habits both from themselves and their loved ones. These people are often labelled ‘functional alcoholics’ or ‘high-functioning alcoholics’.

However, there are some signs to look out for that may suggest your partner, husband, or wife has a drinking problem or is dependent on alcohol.

Alcoholism may not be obvious in the early stages of the addiction, but it can progress. If your partner is unable to function with alcohol, then they most likely have alcohol dependence.

Alcohol addiction has been linked to risky sexual behaviours, as well as intimate partner violence. It can be difficult to watch any loved one get affected by alcohol addiction. It can turn a healthy relationship into an unhealthy relationship.

Here are some more of the warning signs for alcoholism. However, these warning signs alone are not confirmation that your partner is an addict.

They Prioritise Drinking

If you’re worried about your spouse’s drinking, assess whether they prioritise alcohol. A key sign that your partner has an addiction to alcohol is if they prioritise drinking. Drinking becomes the most important thing in an alcoholic’s life or at least one of the most important things.

A person addicted to alcohol may stop enjoying activities or hobbies they once enjoyed, or fail to keep up with commitments such as work in order to prioritise drinking. They may fall behind in work or take sick days in order to drink alcohol. Likewise, they may stop spending time with loved ones and begin to isolate themselves.

They Continue To Drink Despite The Negative Consequences

One of the main ways of knowing if you or your partner has a problem with alcohol is if they continue to drink alcohol despite the negative consequences that may occur.

After all, alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the person with the addiction – it can also have negative effects on those around them. Your partner may be aware that their excessive drinking is negatively affecting their health, finances, and even your relationship – but still, continue to drink.

They may wish to stop drinking but struggle to – or they may even try to detox and manage for a few days before relapsing. Alcohol addiction is a relapsing disease, and it can be difficult to stop without the right help.

They Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

People with alcohol dependence typically experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking or lower the amount they usually drink. If you notice your partner feeling unwell after drinking, it is most likely a hangover. However, if this becomes a pattern and lasts longer than a day or so, it may be a sign of addiction.

Part of withdrawal involves craving alcohol – if your partner begins to crave alcohol, then they could have an addiction. Some symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fever
  • Tremors (in hands)
  • Stomach ache
  • Sweating
  • Red face
  • Seizures
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Other mental health problems such as depression or intense mood swings


The nature of these symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the addiction as well as other personal factors. The length of time that withdrawal lasts can also vary from person to person.

They Struggle To Control Their Drinking

If you notice that your partner struggles to control the amount of time they drink, how often they drink, how much they drink, or when they stop drinking, then they could have an alcohol problem.

However, it may be difficult to tell the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction when checking for these signs alone. This is because alcohol abuse typically involves a lack of control when drinking – drinking too much, too often, or for too long.

If your partner is showing signs of struggling to stop drinking once they start – whether it be on the same evening or the morning after, they could be addicted.

They Have A High Tolerance

Another sign to look out for if you think your loved one may be an alcoholic is their tolerance – people with alcohol dependence will typically have a higher tolerance to alcohol as their body is used to it.

They may appear sober after drinking a large amount or be able to ‘handle’ their alcohol a lot better than other people. However, this can also depend on personal factors such as height and weight.

Substance Abuse Treatment Process Explained

If you have an alcoholic spouse or alcoholic partner, or you’re simply worried about your partner’s drinking, you don’t have to go about it alone – there is help out there, and you can seek treatment. Sometimes simply attending support groups isn’t enough, and a stronger treatment plan is needed.

Addiction treatment begins with detoxification, which addresses physical dependence. Therapy is another key aspect of rehab. This can address psychological addiction and help to repair relationships with loved ones, including children. It can also teach valuable coping strategies to manage and prevent relapse and help to relieve stress.

At Help4Addiction, we have been helping people overcome alcohol addictions for years. We can take the time to listen to your alcoholic husband or wife’s story, requirements, and preferences to find the right alcohol addiction treatment facilities for them.

Whether they require outpatient treatment at an outpatient rehab facility or rehab on an inpatient basis (inpatient rehab) at a residential rehab facility, we can find the right addiction services for them to begin their recovery journey.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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