Pandemic Relationship Breakups Due to Alcohol Abuse

November 24, 2020

1 in 5 Americans have had a relationship breakdown due to a partner’s excessive drinking habits, reveals survey

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people admit to keeping some of their drinking a secret from their partner during lockdown.
  • 15% admit they have been drunk during lockdown while their partner stayed sober.
  • One in ten would keep it a secret from their partner if they had a drink first thing in the morning.
  • 22% of people in relationships admit they have lied to their partner about how much they had been drinking.
  • A quarter of couples admit they argue when they have been drinking.
  • Infographic included.

Stuck like glue… If you found yourself at the beginning of a romantic relationship just before the start of the pandemic, it is highly possible that lockdown and social distancing may have forced you and your partner to spend more time together, turbocharging your relationship – even if you were perhaps unprepared. If you and your significant other were isolating together, spending nearly every waking minute with them likely allowed you to learn more about them in a shorter amount of time than usual. Perhaps it’s that they don’t put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, or that their personal hygiene isn’t up to scratch; or maybe it’s that they consume alcohol more regularly than they first let on. While it is possible to overlook certain character flaws in a partner, more serious things like excessive drinking can be extremely problematic, considering alcohol abuse may cause an individual to prioritize their drinking habits and ignore other responsibilities.

American Addiction Centers, a leading substance addiction resource provider, conducted a survey of 3,400 Americans and found that one in five relationships that broke down since the start of the pandemic cited alcohol as the significant factor. Especially during these already stressful, unprecedented times, the added complication of a partner who drinks heavily can have negative consequences on a relationship. This may include neglecting important work or home responsibilities, increased risk of encountering legal issues and/or financial difficulties due to the cost of maintaining the habit. However, considering the challenging circumstances brought on by the coronavirus, it is important to note that elevated stress and anxiety levels can also increase a person’s drinking habits and exacerbate symptoms of an existing alcohol use disorder.

Broken down across the country, it was found Virginia had the highest figure (67%) of relationships that have ended due to a partner’s drinking. Comparatively, this figure was the lowest in Arkansas (12%).

pandemic relationship breakups was due to alcohol abuse

Honesty is the best policy… The survey also found that over one in five (22%) individuals in relationships admit they have lied to their partner about the amount of alcohol they have consumed. Although it may not seem like a big deal at first, if the behavior continues, secrecy about one’s drinking habits in order to downplay them could be an indicator of alcohol abuse.

Drinking alone? Additionally, over one in 10 (15%) respondents admit they have gotten drunk while their partner remained sober during lockdown.

Of course, two people living and working in the same space day in and day out for a prolonged period of time can become mentally draining, especially if neither party feels like they have their own space. The survey found that one in ten (10%) said if they had a drink first thing in the morning, they wouldn’t tell their partner. Considering there can be many dangers associated with having an alcoholic drink in the morning – such as an increased risk of psychological dependence, reduced productivity and distraction from important responsibilities – hiding this from one’s partner could be detrimental to a person’s health.

Somewhat more reassuringly, 82% of people say they would confront their partner directly if they felt their partner was hiding a drinking habit.

Lastly, a quarter (24%) of couples admit they often argue with their partner when one or both of them have been consuming alcohol.

“If someone is drinking secretly or concealing their overall consumption of alcohol, it can create a sense of mistrust because the lack of transparency doesn’t foster open communication, which is critical in a healthy relationship,” said Brittney Morse, a spokesperson for AAC and a licensed advanced alcohol and drug counselor. “We also know that people tend to make poor decisions when they are drinking because of alcohol’s effect on the brain, which could be another point of contention in the relationship.”

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