I’ve realised my partner has a real problem with alcohol. What do I do?

I’ve realised my partner has a real problem with alcohol. What do I do?
I’ve realised my partner has a real problem with alcohol. What do I do?

I have been seeing my boyfriend for six months, living together a month – and I’m realising he has a real problem with alcohol. He drinks to get drunk and drinks until he passes out. The next morning he drinks anything available again and then stays in the bedroom with the curtains drawn chatting to his friends on Facebook and watching videos (and playing online poker if he has any money left after the alcohol). If I go to meet a friend, when I get back it’s likely he’ll have a few of the lads over getting drunk again, and so it goes on.

Recently we went on holidays which I paid for on the promise he would pay me back. Then on holidays I paid for everything as he had no money. His income is from social welfare as he lost his job two months ago. I’m leaving to go abroad in two weeks as I got a new job and he is thinking he’ll join me. But I can’t see it happening in his current state and he has not done any planning to try get a job. We had a talk last night and I told him to make a decision as to what he wants in his life and if that means coming with me, to take the necessary steps including kicking this addiction. Easier said than done, I know. I just care about him and love him so much that I can’t just let him ruin his life. I think that without help he will be dead within a year. He said he loves me and if I love him too we can make this work. What can I do?! Zita

Run. Seriously. Pack your bags, get on that plane without a backward glance and start your new job and your new life far away from your alcoholic boyfriend. Six months in, there’s no other path to take. Because, and I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, you’re not responsible for fixing his drinking problem. You don’t need to rescue him from his unemployment and possible gambling issues. Smirnoff will go out of business before he pays you back for that holiday, and you know it. That love can conquer all is a very dangerous notion, especially when it comes to addiction, and if you blindly subscribe to that view, I very much doubt this drunken freeloader will be finding a job or dealing with his addiction. More likely he’ll be setting you up as his personal ATM, and you’ll find yourself funding him all the way to his grave.

Sadly, I’ve answered variations of your question a LOT, like this one and this one and this one. On that last one, read the recent comment from Josh. He brings perspective from the other side, and given alcoholism is a progressive disease, it’s a pretty chilling insight into what you have to look forward to if you stick around.

Love, reality chick

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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Starwoman 6 years ago

    You are not responsible for his or anyone else’s decisions and/or actions. The choice you make are you own. Similarly, the choice he makes – whether it’s to number the reality of his own existence and associated incompetences or any other aspect of his own existence – are solely his own.
    Yes, we are each influenced by environment and other humans, however, he like you can choose hoe he want to re-act to all things in life.
    Run baby, run.

  2. Paul Garson 6 years ago

    BOLT Baby!
    Get outta there!

  3. Jacqui Manning 6 years ago

    Hi Zita,

    I totally agree with RC here, and although addictions are truly heart-breaking – for both of you – it’s the best decision to leave.

    I’ve seen many many (many!) clients where alcohol problems continue on for YEARS, and they stay that way unless the addicted person is willing to take huge steps to quit. This means starting with a stint in a residential rehab clinic and then continuing on with intensive therapy to find the reasons he is drinking so badly, and finding alternatives.

    The best thing you can do is to talk to your local GP and/or do some research on the types of help available for him. Give it to him in hard copy and email form (so he doesn’t lose it), and tell him this is the way to find help. You could say if you have a future together he needs to follow ALL of the steps you suggest, and you’ll consider whether to be with him 12 months down the track. Be clear though, this is highly unlikely to happen – I’ve seen marriages (with young kids) split up over alcohol addiction – the user chooses alcohol over their relationship (and anything else, such as work).

    A good idea would be to inform other loved ones or family members as to how bad the drinking problem is – yes he might get angry, but as you’ve said, he’ll be dead within a year if he keeps going, so what have you got to lose?

    Good luck with your big move, once you’re there and settled you’ll realise what a relief it is not to be living with the tension and anxiety (and anger) that you’ve been carrying around, while you’ve been walking on eggshells around this guy.

    • Author

      Thanks Jac for your wisdom as always. So sad you’ve seen young families break up due to this. I’m sure many people agree on marriage/kids because they love the person and think the problem will improve / the person will mature but it only progresses… 🙁

      Also that it’s such a insidious disease that a person will choose booze over their loved ones. Just awful.

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