When it comes to alcohol and relationships, how you drink influences the partner you choose – and your genes play a crucial role too.
Researchers at Bristol University analysed genetic data of 47,000 couples and their self-reported alcohol use. They found that genetic variants, which influence our alcohol behaviour, directly affect our choice of mate.
Regular and heavy drinking couples were more likely to have an ADH1B gene variant, associated with how the body processes alcohol. They also found that for every one unit increase in an individual’s alcohol consumption, their partner consumed 0.26 units more.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at this research on alcohol and relationships. What is the relevance of this study for people with alcohol addiction who want to get sober?
If you’re currently in a heavy-drinking relationship and you want to know how to get sober, please call Addiction Helper. We’ll assess your alcohol addiction, explaining your choices for fast and effective alcohol treatment.
Alcohol and Relationships – How to Get Sober When Your Partner Still Drinks
As part of the Bristol University research, there is information that people with alcohol use disorder are more likely to form relationships with others who drink excessively. This is a crucial piece of research for people in relationships who want to get sober.
So, what can you do if you’re in a heavy-drinking relationship and you want to stop? Here are our top 5 suggestions:
1. Choose residential addiction rehab
Spending some time in residential addiction treatment will help you transition safely and comfortably from drinking to sobriety. By stepping away temporarily from all your other commitments and distractions, you’ll be able to focus entirely on your health and wellbeing. You’ll have around-the-clock support.
Your alcohol detox will be closely monitored by clinical staff with detox medication prescribed for the heaviest users. From day one (or as soon as you’re well enough to participate), you’ll take part in a timetable of group activities and one-to-one therapy, to give you the best chance of achieving sustainable recovery.
Essentially, you’ll be in a recovery environment, working with specialist staff, alongside peers who also want to get sober. You’ll learn many different tools and strategies to help you stay in control during your long-term recovery.
2. Pick an addiction rehab with good family support
Some addiction rehab programmes offer you the chance to have professional counselling with family members. A family meeting with your romantic partner or spouse can help you to agree on some clear principles going forward in your relationship, particularly around your needs as a recovering alcohol addict.
For example, you might want to talk to your partner about the changes you’re making with alcohol. You may want to ask them not to offer you alcohol anymore. Alternatively, you might want to ask if they are available to help with parenting duties, while you attend alcohol recovery groups.
While it’s not always possible to achieve a specific goal – you might want your partner to get some alcohol help themselves, for example. If they, however, decline – family meetings with a counsellor can still help you to make the right decisions about the future.
Most rehabs encourage family visits too, after a certain amount of days in treatment. Inviting supportive relatives and friends to visit you in rehab helps to build new understanding around your needs as a sober person.
3. Before you leave addiction rehab, create a recovery plan
All reliable addiction rehabs will help you make plans for when you leave residential treatment. Your addiction recovery plan will help you make good decisions for yourself, once you return home. Working with counsellors and recovery peers, you will identify any changes you need to make to stay well.
You might decide to plug into local alcohol support groups, for example, or speak to your sister and best friend regularly because they fully support your recovery. You can also identify what to do in stressful situations. If your partner still drinks, for example, what can you do to preserve your recovery? Whom can you call? Where can you get help in the community? Can you temporarily stay with a friend?
It won’t be possible to change everything in your life overnight – but you’ll discover fresh determination from sticking to your recovery goals. Though it may raise challenges if your partner still drinks, your recovery plan will help you stay committed and clear about what you’re doing.
4. Attend aftercare regularly
The quality addiction rehabs offer free aftercare for clients who complete their residential detox and rehab programmes. Aftercare usually takes the form of a weekly group meeting – between an hour and two hours long, depending on the facility. Former rehab clients meet up to talk about how they are getting on after leaving rehab. It’s a great way to get ongoing support from recovery peers and gain input from a professional counsellor.
If you choose a local addiction rehab, then it will be easier to attend aftercare meetings. If you travel further afield to rehab, then it will be more difficult to attend regularly. Whether or not you can attend aftercare meetings, it’s also a good idea to find local alcohol support groups.
5. Couples and individual counselling with an addiction therapist
If your partner is willing, it can be very helpful to attend couples counselling early in your recovery from alcohol addiction. Even if your partner is still drinking, it can help you to establish new principles that will keep your recovery on track.
If your partner is not willing to attend counselling with you, then you can still benefit significantly from alcohol addiction counselling. If you’ve participated in a residential rehab programme, then you may not need this. However, if you’re quitting alcohol while still in your home environment, and your partner drinks heavily, it’s vital to have expert addiction help as a couple.
To discuss your alcohol use and how to get sober, please call Addiction Helper. We have helped over 10,000 people to find the addiction treatment they need. Equally, you can call us if your partner needs help with addiction – all calls are confidential.