Why an Alcoholic Cannot Love

Why an Alcoholic Cannot Love

Understanding Your Loved One and Alcohol | Get Support Options at Icarus Nevada

If you have a romantic partner or family member with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and have found that your relationship is negatively affected by their condition, you’re in the right place.

When someone abuses alcohol, it impacts their brain and can make them act unlike themselves. To say that this is hard on loved ones is an understatement.

As for why an alcoholic cannot love, it isn’t by any means that this is a fixed trait. Many people with a history of addiction overcome it and are able to build and maintain healthy relationships. When people say that an alcoholic cannot love, it usually refers to the effect that active addiction has on interpersonal relationships.

So, what happens once you realize that you or someone else in your life has a drinking problem? Treatment at Icarus Nevada can help your loved one with alcoholism or another substance use disorder, and there is support for you, too.

First, let’s talk about how alcohol addiction impacts one’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship, how a partner’s alcohol abuse can affect your own life, and why being a “dry” alcoholic without extra support might not fix relationship issues. Then, we’ll discuss how treatment at Icarus in Nevada can help with alcoholism and offer support options for loved ones as well!

How Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Impacts the Ability to Have a Healthy Relationship

Alcohol Addiction Impacts to Have a Healthy Relationship

An AUD is considered a disease characterized by uncontrolled, problematic drinking. It leads people to focus on their next drink. In turn, an individual’s ability to nurture relationships is grossly impacted.

Untreated alcoholism can lead to numerous challenges that impede your connection with others, such as the following:

  • Mood swings, irritability, and anger.
  • A preoccupation with alcohol/lack of emotional availability.
  • Motivation to stop drinking, followed by continued drinking.
  • Legal and financial problems.
  • Lying to loved ones.

The truth is that addiction is strong and can overtake who a person is at heart. That’s why adequate support for the condition matters. Alcohol cravings can be intense and consuming. A hallmark sign of alcohol addiction is being unable to quit on your own — even if you want to stop.

Extreme cravings for alcohol and the nature of alcoholism as a progressive disease can strain relationships in many ways. Here are just a few of the things that might be at play.

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Unaddressed Mental Health Concerns

Having a mental health condition is a known risk factor for alcohol addiction. Some of the most common conditions that pair with AUD include post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders like bipolar disorder and depression, anxiety disorders, and sleep disorders. Rates of schizophrenia and related disorders are also more prevalent in this population.

Some people with alcoholism may have trouble sharing their feelings, which can also impact relationships. In treatment for alcohol addiction at Icarus Nevada, learning to identify and express emotions healthily is an essential goal.

Problems With Self-Worth and Esteem

Similar to difficulty with healthy emotional expression, people facing substance abuse may face problems with self-worth and self-esteem. Sometimes, a drinking problem starts as a way to self-medicate negative emotions and other concerns a person doesn’t know how to navigate effectively otherwise.

Despite this, abusing alcohol can worsen how you feel about yourself in the long run.

A Loss of Quality Time Together

Two possible signs of alcohol addiction include loss of interest in activities one previously enjoyed and social isolation or withdrawal from loved ones. Due to their drinking habits, your ability to spend quality time together decreases and strains your relationship.

Not only might an alcoholic partner be emotionally unavailable, but you likely won’t get to enjoy a fully trusting, calm, and genuine connection with them. Even if you have better moments here and there, your overall relationship will suffer, and it is important not to use the good times to ignore the problems.

Breaking Trust and Behavioral Changes

Broken promises are common with substance use disorders of any kind. Many alcoholics believe that they can regain control on their own, leading to cycles of trying to quit without professional support but being unable to do so. If your partner is open to treatment, trust can be rebuilt.

Brain changes seen in people with alcohol addiction can interfere with the mutual respect and communication crucial for a healthy and loving relationship.

An AUD is associated with impaired judgment, lower ability to express empathy, and other effects that likely interfere with your loved one’s behavior.

3 Well Known Impacts of Alcohol Abuse on Partners

Abusive Behavior from Your Partner

An alcohol substance abuse disorder affects all parties involved, including both the person with the addiction and the people in their lives.

With that in mind, here are three of the most common ways a partner’s alcoholism might affect you as a significant other.

1) Codependent Relationships and Enabling Behavior

Codependent relationships are common when substance use disorders are present. In a codependent relationship with a person who has a drinking problem, you may find yourself enabling destructive behavior (like drinking), taking care of the other person, and even protecting them from negative outcomes that would be the result of their addiction.

For example, you might take care of financial issues caused by drinking for a loved one. This feels like a kind thing to do but ultimately enables problematic drinking behavior. Although you don’t want to enable your loved one, you may not know what else to do to stay close to them.

Seeking professional help in the form of therapy and setting boundaries is important for you as a partner or loved one of someone with alcohol addiction. The reality is that codependency will have a negative impact on both you and your partner and will not help them get better. This is why support groups and other resources for loved ones can be vital.

2) Abusive Behavior from Your Partner

Abuse can take multiple forms. Physical, emotional, financial, and verbal abuse* are all serious. Unfortunately, alcoholism is associated with higher rates of abuse. In a relationship with an alcoholic who exhibits abusive behaviors of any kind, it is important to remember that there’s no excuse for abuse.

While alcoholism can affect behavior, the person in your life with AUD must seek professional help for both abusive behavior and addiction if they display both.

*The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources that can help you learn more about domestic or intimate partner violence. To reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline, call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).

3) Tangible and Emotional Effects

Alcohol abuse is strongly associated with financial instability, physical altercations, legal problems, and other consequences that may affect a partner. For example, if you have joint finances, you might very well experience financial issues as a result of someone else’s drinking.

Additionally, romantic partners of those with alcohol use disorders often experience stress and strained emotional well-being.

It is possible to overcome this, but your loved one must be willing to get help. Building trust again will take effort on both sides — if it is something that you want and feel is right for you. You must put your own well-being first.

Taking responsibility for your actions and learning how to move forward is an integral part of addiction recovery. Sometimes, lost relationships are a consequence of addiction, in addition to relationship issues at large.

Your Relationships Can Continue to Struggle After Active Alcoholism: Here’s Why

Relationships Struggle After Active Alcoholism

Alcoholism is about more than drinking, which is why some alcoholics can still function daily in their professional lives. Effective treatment for alcohol abuse needs to address more than the act of alcohol consumption itself. The term “dry alcoholic” refers to someone who has a drinking problem but isn’t actively drinking.

If underlying factors like trauma and mental illness are not addressed, a person may be more likely to relapse, and they will not have the healthier coping mechanisms they need to thrive.

Furthermore, communication skills, breaking through issues like codependency, and mental health concerns like self-esteem that are not necessarily marked mental disorders are often emphasized in substance abuse treatment.

Not everyone starts treatment knowing that it is possible to get to a better place. This is part of why intervention, or taking the leap to enter treatment yourself, can be life-changing. If you need help staging an intervention for a loved one or want to learn more about treatment, please give Icarus in Nevada a call.

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How Treatment for Alcohol Abuse at Icarus Nevada Can Help

We apply a whole-person approach to beating drug and alcohol abuse. This means that your loved one or partner’s physical, social, and psychological health will be addressed in treatment at Icarus Nevada. They will not just stop drinking; your loved one will rebuild their life and create a foundation that supports them, their relationships, and their health long-term.

Increased Coping Skills and Emotional Tools

Icarus Behavioral Health Nevada uses an extensive range of therapies that treat addiction and dual diagnosis concerns effectively. Our mental health providers use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), trauma therapy, motivational interviewing (MI), and other treatments that help clients establish a recovery mindset and a strong set of coping skills.

All Icarus Nevada clients get an individualized treatment schedule. Other treatments available to your loved one at Icarus include but aren’t limited to medication management, life skills, and supportive recreation activities. Education on healthy interpersonal relationships and boundaries will be covered in therapy sessions.

Couples and Family Therapy

Couple Therapy

There are four major dimensions of recovery you might hear about in addiction treatment spaces: Health, home, purpose, and community. Supportive, healthy relationships or social networks matter in recovery.

You can participate in your loved one’s treatment. Loved ones and family members can join clients for scheduled sessions with a licensed mental health provider at Icarus. In many cases, this aids relationship repair while helping your loved one in their recovery journey.

Medical Detox Services

Some people have severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking alcohol. In addition to our inpatient rehab program and outpatient treatment services, Icarus Nevada’s medical detox program helps clients get off of alcohol and other drugs in a safe, supervised medical setting.

Usually, detox lasts for about 1-2 weeks and is a precursor to another level of care (e.g., an inpatient rehab program or outpatient services), where clients can work through the underlying causes of their drinking.

Loving Someone With Alcohol Use Disorder: Support for Loved Ones and Families

In addition to therapy sessions where you and your loved one in treatment get to work together to address challenges in your relationship and the impact of alcohol addiction, Icarus Nevada is here for loved ones and family members of those facing addiction. Getting help for yourself is often one of the best ways to help your loved one.

We all need a solid support system. Support groups and therapy can both benefit the loved ones of those facing alcohol abuse. Through these resources, you can get guidance on subjects like how to set boundaries with your loved one experiencing addiction, which will ultimately help them, too.

Icarus Nevada can help you find local support groups for friends, family members, and partners of those who abuse alcohol. For example, Al-Anon, ACoA, SMART Recovery for Friends and Family, and the NAMI Family Support Group.

We also provide educational resources so that you can get to know the facts about Alcohol Use Disorder and how it affects the brain. If you want to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment for your loved one, contact Icarus Behavioral Health Nevada today.

Get Professional Support for Alcohol Abuse at Icarus Nevada

Professional Support for Alcohol Abuse

Icarus in Nevada treats drug and alcohol use disorders with a range of evidence-based practices, as well as co-occurring mental disorders. Whether you want to learn about alcohol rehab for yourself or someone else in your life, our staff members are here for you.

Call our welcoming Admissions team today to verify your insurance coverage, book a tour of Icarus Nevada, and get a confidential consultation to answer any questions you may still have about treatment!

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FAQs About Why an Alcoholic Cannot Love

Does alcohol affect love?

Active alcohol addiction and healthy relationships don’t go together. The reason people ask why an alcoholic cannot love is that alcoholism does indeed affect your bond with others.

Inability to connect emotionally, keep your word, or stop drinking are all common hurdles that people face in relationships when they have an active addiction to alcohol.

Where can I find Al-Anon meetings in Nevada?

Al-Anon is a free support group for friends and loved ones of people with AUD. You can search for Al-Anon meetings in Nevada on the official Al-Anon website. NA meetings are available in person and virtually.

How does alcohol affect personality?

Long-term alcohol abuse is associated with lower conscientiousness, new or worsened mental health problems, difficulty with self-control, increased hostility, avoidant behavior, and a decline in all types of interpersonal relationships. Bonds with family members, friends, and romantic partners can all be affected by these changes in a person’s personality.


  1. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/health-professionals-communities/core-resource-on-alcohol/mental-health-issues-alcohol-use-disorder-and-common-co-occurring-conditions
  2. https://www.thehotline.org/resources/substance-abuse-and-domestic-violence/
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/recovery
  4. https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054906/

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