Does My Boyfriend Drink Too Much?

Does My Boyfriend Drink Too Much?

A relationship traditionally exists between two people, but over the last couple of years it feels like a third member has joined: alcohol.

Supporting a partner who drinks too much can be intimidating, but with the right approach and understanding, you can help a loved one on their journey towards recovery. This comprehensive guide will provide valuable insights, tips, and resources for you if you feel like you always have to worry about a boyfriend who drinks too much

Understanding Alcohol Misuse and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

It's important to have a clear understanding of alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder (AUD) before you can effectively support a boyfriend who is an alcoholic. Alcohol misuse refers to drinking in a way that may cause harm to oneself or others. It includes behaviors such as binge drinking and excessive drinking. On the other hand, AUD is a chronic condition characterized by compulsive alcohol use despite negative consequences.

While you may not be able to diagnose your partner with AUD, there are behavioral and physical signs to look out for. These signs may include regular, heavy alcohol use, polysubstance use, poor personal hygiene, poor nutrition, accidents or injuries, and absenteeism from work or school. It's important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, acknowledging that AUD is a medical condition that requires professional help.

The Impact of Alcohol Misuse on Relationships

Alcohol misuse can have a significant impact on relationships, including those with a romantic partner. It can lead to conflicts, interpersonal violence, jealousy, financial difficulties, infidelity, and even separation. It's crucial to recognize that intimate partner violence (IPV) is often linked to alcohol misuse. Studies have shown that a considerable proportion of violence, including IPV, is related to problematic alcohol use. This can lead to more severe injuries and increased frequency of violence.

Approaching the Conversation: Expressing Concern with Empathy

When addressing your concerns about your partner's drinking, it's important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Educate yourself about alcohol misuse and AUD to have a knowledgeable discussion. Remember that AUD is a medical condition and not a lack of willpower. Stay focused on the information you have learned and express your concerns calmly and positively.

Choose the right time and place to have the conversation. Ensure that your partner is sober and emotionally available. Start by expressing your concern for their well-being and your desire to support them. Use "I" statements to share your observations and feelings. For example, say, "I'm concerned about how alcohol is affecting your health and our relationship." Avoid blaming or criticizing your partner, as this can create defensiveness and resistance.

Providing Support and Setting Boundaries

As you express your concerns, it's essential to be supportive, compassionate, and present for your partner. Offer options for support and treatment, rather than making demands. Encourage open communication and active listening. Be a source of emotional support and reassurance, showing that you are there for them throughout their journey.

At the same time, it's crucial to set boundaries and not enable your partner's drinking. It is okay to admit that you have an alcoholic boyfriend, in order to fully approach the situation. Clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations regarding their alcohol use. For example, you may decide not to provide money for alcohol or not to engage in activities that involve drinking. Setting these boundaries will help protect your well-being and encourage a boyfriend who drinks too much, to seek help.

Creating a Plan with a Boyfriend who Drinks too Much

To support your partner effectively, it's essential to create a plan together. Be emotionally available and express understanding as you work towards common goals. Identify specific, measurable goals, such as abstaining from alcohol for a certain number of days each week. This collaborative approach will help your partner feel involved and motivated.

Be sure to research treatment options and explore multiple avenues to help an alcoholic boyfriend. Consider your partner's individual needs, the qualifications of treatment providers, and evidence-based approaches. Look for reputable rehab centers that specialize in alcohol addiction treatment. These centers can provide comprehensive care and support tailored to your partner's needs.

Seeking Help for Yourself: Finding Support

Supporting a partner with alcohol misuse can be emotionally challenging, and it's important to take care of yourself as well. Reach out for support from family and friends who can provide understanding and encouragement. Consider attending therapy sessions, both individually and as a couple, to navigate the complexities of the situation.

Additionally, you may find solace and guidance from support groups such as Al-Anon. These peer-run groups offer support to individuals affected by a loved one's alcohol misuse. Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges can provide valuable insights and a sense of community.

Treatment Resources: Finding the Right Fit

When it comes to treatment resources, it's important to find the right fit for a boyfriend who drinks too much. Treatment options may include detoxification, residential and inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs, sober living, and aftercare. Assess your partner's specific requirements and consult with professionals to determine the most appropriate level of care.

Consider specialized treatment programs that address co-occurring disorders, luxury rehab options, programs for veterans or LGBTQ+ individuals, and faith-based rehab programs. These specialized programs can provide tailored support based on your partner's unique circumstances.

Insurance Coverage and Finances

Navigating insurance coverage and finances can be overwhelming, but it's essential to explore your options. Research what your partner's insurance covers in terms of addiction treatment services. Many rehab centers are in-network with major insurance providers, making treatment more accessible and affordable.

If insurance coverage is not available, explore alternative payment options. Some rehab centers offer financing plans or sliding scale fees based on income. Additionally, there may be state-funded or free rehab centers in your area that can provide assistance, as well as online support groups and programs. Many of these are either free or can be bought as a subscription—generally costing less than one night out drinking!


Additional Resources for an Alcoholic Boyfriend

Educating yourself about addiction and recovery is crucial for providing effective support. Explore addiction resources, take addiction quizzes, and learn about the impact of substance use on mental health and family dynamics. Gain a deeper understanding of the specific substances your partner may be struggling with, such as alcohol, opioids, stimulants, or sedatives.

Stay informed about the latest research and treatment approaches. Familiarize yourself with the signs of relapse and strategies for relapse prevention. By equipping yourself with knowledge, you can better support your partner through their recovery journey.

Taking the First Steps: Your Partner's Journey to Recovery

Encourage your partner to take the first steps towards recovery. Remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage. Offer your support throughout the process, whether it's making phone calls to treatment centers, attending therapy sessions together, or simply being there to listen. Celebrate their milestones and achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

Remember that recovery is a lifelong journey, and relapse can be a part of that journey. Stay patient, understanding, and supportive. Encourage your partner to engage in ongoing aftercare programs and to build a support network within the recovery community.


Supporting a partner with alcohol misuse can be challenging, but with empathy, understanding, and the right resources, a partner can make a positive impact on a boyfriend who drinks too much. Remember to prioritize individual well-being, seek support from others, and educate oneself about addiction and treatment options. By working together, one can navigate the complexities of this situation and support their partner in building a healthier, alcohol-free future.


Psych Central- How to Set Boundaries with an Alcoholic

Promises Behavioral Health- 3 Steps for Setting Healthy Boundaries

Alcoholics Anonymous- How to Set Boundaries with an Alcoholic

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