Alcohol Abuse And Infidelity
Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce in the United States, and alcohol plays a role in the majority of divorce cases. Rates of infidelity among couples in which one partner is drinking are significantly higher than the non-drinking population.
There are many common or shared experiences those suffering with alcohol addiction experience. Rates of co-occurring depression and anxiety are common, alcohol addiction is more common among individuals suffering with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), spousal abuse is more likely to occur, and infidelity is also more common among individuals abusing alcohol. This isn’t to say if you suffer from one disorder, you will experience each of these co-occurring experiences, but it did have some researchers wondering about any genetic component shared between the disorder and issues like infidelity.
One study comparing rates of infidelity among married men who drink with those who don’t found more than triple to quadruple the occurrence of infidelity among the alcohol-addicted group. While researchers initially thought alcohol was the root cause of the infidelity, they now realize there is a genetic variant at play. This doesn’t excuse either behavior, but provides a clearer understanding of who is most vulnerable to the behaviors and impulsivity associated with both alcohol addiction and infidelity.
Genetics And Alcohol Abuse
Genetics play a huge role in how we behave and respond to external stimuli. While that isn’t to say genetics make people make bad decisions, it does shed some light on why some people tend toward certain behaviors, while others don’t.
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In the case of alcohol abuse and infidelity, research points to DRD4, a dopamine receptor gene linked to thrill seeking, ADHD, and risk-taking behaviors or impulsivity. This same impulsivity makes people more likely to drink, drink heavily, and take risks in their personal relationships with others, potentially leading to infidelity.
In fact, one study examining the incidence of infidelity among individuals with the DRD4 variant found a 50 percent increase in the likelihood of cheating, over the non-carrier population. They are also statistically far more like to have ADHD and to have current or past issues with drinking.
Other Factors For Infidelity And Alcohol Abuse
While genetics play a significant role in whether or not someone is likely to abuse alcohol and cheat on their spouse or partner, other factors explain the increased risk of infidelity among alcohol-addicted populations.
Alcohol impairs key regions of the brain associated with decision making. It also reduces inhibition. Basically, it dumbs us down. We behave in a more animalistic fashion, become more primal in our instincts. Again, this isn’t to excuse the behaviors of a cheating spouse, but to help explain that, while the other spouse or partner is left wondering why the relationship has reached a critical breaking point, it is not their fault.
People make mistakes. And if someone has unwittingly entered into a relationship with alcohol that is unhealthy, they are likely to grow increasingly impaired in their ability to cope with stress, and more likely to behave impulsively than the time before they drank. A once loyal husband or wife may make a mistake, and have sex with someone in a drunken state. In some cases, though less common, an addiction to alcohol can boil over into a sex addiction.
Signs Of Alcohol Addiction And Infidelity
Know the signs of alcohol addiction and infidelity. The earlier a problem with alcohol is detected, the more likely the success of a recovery from addiction, as well as opportunities to save your marriage or relationship. Signs for both the disorder and the behavior are similar. Alcohol is often the first “other person.”
Shared signs of both alcohol addiction and infidelity include:
- Changes in behavior or fluctuations in mood
- Changes in appearance
- Changes in attitude toward work or other responsibilities
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
- Unusual scents or odors, including alcohol
- More time spent away from home, late night or next morning returns
- Unexplained financial burden
- Less time spent with close friends
- Less attention paid to family, including spouse
Often a spouse or partner internalizes these signs far before they are able to admit to that gut feeling that something is amiss.
Can I Save My Marriage From Alcohol And Infidelity?
Alcohol is a seductive drug that disengages our senses, leaving us vulnerable to poor judgment and the decision making that can result in infidelity. In order for any couple to save their marriage from the infidelity, the alcohol addiction must first be addressed and resolved. It is also a fragile situation and one that requires enormous support, not only for the alcohol-addicted person, but for the spouse or partner left in the wake.
Can you save your marriage from alcohol and infidelity? Yes, it is certainly possible for a relationship to recover from both alcohol addiction and infidelity. The first step is to talk with your spouse. This won’t be easy as you have two major issues that can erupt into confrontation rather quickly. If the drinking problem has spiraled far out of control, you may wish to seek help from a professional interventionist, who can walk you through the steps and mediate the process of talking with your spouse about the alcohol addiction.
Your partner may suffer from mood swings that make their behaviors and actions unpredictable. Have an action plan in mind in case he or she becomes dangerous. Your safety and that of any children in the house must be a priority. Ask friends or family for a place to stay in case you need to leave, even if in the middle of the night.
In the end, if your partner won’t deal with the larger issue at hand – the addiction, which can be a foundation for both the alcohol abuse and the infidelity – then it may not be in your best interest to stay.