Alcohol Addiction and Infidelity: A Look at the Links, and How to Move Forward

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Article by Mariah Williams

Alcohol addiction is a disease that robs people of money, health, hope, and relationships. While under the influence, someone suffering an addiction may make reckless choices that they would never make when they were sober, such as lying, stealing, and cheating on a partner. Sadly, committing acts of infidelity is common with alcohol addiction. While being under the influences does not excuse hurtful action, cheating can actually be a symptom of addiction.

To understand how a person could be unfaithful to the person they love while under the influence of alcohol, it’s important to understand the links between alcohol addiction and infidelity:

  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions: When alcohol is consumed, an overabundance of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is released in the brain. This release causes the drinker to become more outgoing, relaxed, and less anxious, so much so that they may start to behave out of character. If someone suffering from addiction is drinking at a social gathering, they may become so uninhibited that they try to connect with other partygoers in ways they normally wouldn’t, including sexually.
  • Alcohol gives a false sense of confidence: Alcohol is a depressant that affects one’s thoughts, actions, and feelings. Because a alcohol can make people feel less anxious, the drinker may feel more confident, which can result in making decisions that they wouldn’t ordinarily do, including being unfaithful to a partner.
  • Alcohol brings out honesty: Many addicts are already in troubled relationships—often as a result of their excessive drinking—and consuming alcohol may bring out emotions surrounding this unhappiness, leading the addict to seek comfort with someone other than their partner.

While there is a link between alcohol addiction and infidelity, the overconsumption of alcohol should not be used as an excuse for cheating. Once the addict hits rock bottom and makes the decision to get clean, the hardest fence to mend may be rebuilding trust in an intimate relationship. Although trust can be hard to regain once it’s lost, it is possible to move forward.

Here are four ways someone battling an addiction can propel their relationship forward in a healthy, meaningful way.

  • Come clean: One of the 12 steps to sobriety is to come clean to the people that you have wronged while under the influence of alcohol. To look at someone you love and tell them that you cheated can be terrifying, but it can also be freeing. Coming clean means that you are taking responsibility for your actions, making changes for a healthier future, and rebuilding your foundation for a fresh start.
  • Keep communication open: Fighting between couples is normal and even healthy in small doses, but can be frustrating, stressful, and detrimental to a relationship when it’s an everyday occurrence. To rekindle and restart your relationship, it’s important to find the balance between keeping the lines of communication open while not allowing conversations to escalate into fights. If you feel the situation getting heated, take a break, and revisit the conversation at a time when it can be productive.
  • Go to therapy: Attending couple’s therapy can be a major influencer in rebuilding trust. A therapist will listen to both of your concerns and offer helpful advice on making the relationship not only work, but be stronger than before your cheating and drinking issues.
  • Be patient: Patience is a virtue that must be practiced when it comes to forgiving infidelity and substance abuse. It may take months or even years for your partner to fully trust you again, and you need to accept that. The pain you’ve inflicted doesn’t just go away; broken hearts are mended when the person who strayed makes honest efforts to change their ways and make amends with their loved one.

There is nothing more toxic to a relationship than broken trust. It can be the hardest thing in the world to leave the past behind and continue on toward a stable future when promises were broken. However, there is much strength in overcoming the downs of a relationship. If you and your partner decide to carry on together, you can overcome your haunted past and enjoy a love-filled future deeply rooted in patience, trust, and forgiveness.