Alcoholism And Verbal Abuse
He’s at it again, even after he told you he would work on himself. You get home from the grocery store and see him standing in the doorway, a half-empty bottle of liquor in his hand. Immediately he starts in, yelling and cursing at you, calling you names and degrading your appearance. In the other room, you hear your daughter crying, and you know you need to get to her. But he blocks your way, still screaming obscenities and destroying your self-esteem even more.
It wasn’t always like this. He was your high school sweetheart, the man who protected you, gave you a beautiful family, and stood by your side through all of life’s stresses. But after he lost his job, the drinking began as one a night, then two, and now it’s almost a whole bottle every day. You know he needs help, but you can’t get a word in to talk to him. How much longer can you endure the drinking and verbal berating?
In March of 2019, 57,335 Floridians were enrolled in a substance use disorder program. Of those, 48.9% were enrolled for alcohol only or alcohol and another substance. At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand it can be tough to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder. Our dedicated and compassionate staff addresses all aspects of addiction – spiritual, social, mental, and physical – while treating each client as a person first. Our blog is a great resource to educate on substance use disorders, mental health, and treatment options.
Today, we are discussing the relationship between alcoholism and verbal abuse, and what you need to know to help a loved one.
Understanding the Link Between Alcoholism and Verbal Abuse
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows the brain and causes cognitive impairment. While many know the common signs of this – slurred speech, stumbling, and trouble focusing – cognitive impairment affects personality and mood as well. When drinking due to stress or frustration, those feelings become amplified by alcohol. Anger increases and can cause lashing out, in some cases a form of verbal abuse. In fact, alcohol use (both acute and chronic) has been seen in approximately half of all violent crimes and sexual assaults worldwide. Verbal abuse from alcohol use disorder is a form of domestic violence, and seeking help is your best bet if you’re experiencing something like this.
Why Are Alcoholics So Mean to the Ones They Love?
When it comes to aggression and alcohol, the key to remember is that the brain is not functioning on a normal level. Emotions are exacerbated, and a simple argument can quickly turn into verbal abuse. Those who only drink here and there but experience anger while doing so may be experiencing a mental health condition.
Using alcohol to mask symptoms of depression or anxiety is common, but in time these symptoms will get worse. This can lead to more frequent anger and frustration due to guilt and shameful feelings. These feelings will need to be expressed, and this typically happens to the ones closest to the person drinking.
Prolonged alcoholism can trigger a decline in mental health. For some, drinking may have caused a mental behavioral change. They could be living with past trauma that led to drinking, which then led to depression. Regardless of which came first – drinking or mental health conditions – the person drinking is showing signs that help is needed when they are showing anger to their loved ones.
Does Consuming Alcohol Lead to Verbal Abuse?
How many times have you been in a bar or at a party and seen a fight break out? Chances are probably high, as alcohol can cause an increased sense of confidence. It also lowers inhibitions, meaning making rational decisions is more difficult. High risk behaviors are common with alcohol consumption, such as drinking and driving or unprotected sex, but this also includes overexpressing anger. This can lead to verbal abuse of a loved one, friend, or random stranger.
Alcohol and Personality Changes
Alcohol can seem to alter the personality of the person consuming it. When inhibitions are lowered, the brain cannot properly process situations. The smallest mistake can seem like a catastrophic event, triggering rage. Even if this is not a personality trait normally, alcohol and lack of inhibition can create this change.
It is important to note that our personalities are based on core values and beliefs, which are present whether we are drinking or not. Alcohol can make it difficult to connect with these values, creating a change in our personality. This change is not present when you’re no longer drinking, but the feelings and emotions need to be addressed. Something has caused these emotions – a life event, past trauma, or a mental health issue – and if not dealt with, they can begin to emerge even without alcohol.
Alcoholic Spouse: Verbal Abuse and Mind Games
It can be difficult to face an alcoholic spouse after being verbally abused. What makes it more difficult is the mind games those living with alcohol use disorder can play. Phrases such as “It will never happen again,” “I didn’t mean anything by it,” and even “I can change, give me a chance,” may sound promising in the moment, but many will have trouble trying to quit drinking on their own. This admission of not being able to quit can spark blame-shifting and verbal abuse. Your partner may begin blaming you or family members for their drinking to justify it. This is especially prominent in high-functioning alcoholics as they maintain their work and finances while managing an alcohol use disorder.
Seeking Help for Those Experiencing Verbal Abuse Because of Alcoholism
Seeking help for a verbally abusive spouse or family member is nothing to be ashamed of. The first priority needs to be yourself. Some tips to help yourself and keep you safe include:
- Prioritize your needs first
- Have an escape plan ready – know where local shelters are or have a plan to stay with family
- Do not engage with the abusive behavior – remove yourself from the situation
- Communicate your feelings with your partner when they are not drinking
- Set boundaries with your partner
It can be difficult to get your partner to agree to treatment or help, but by setting boundaries and standing your ground it is possible. You can try easing into treatment by giving options such as couple’s therapy, individual therapy, or anger management classes. Also, you can show support by looking at different alcohol rehabs together.
Getting Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
Admitting that alcohol has taken over your life can feel shameful and disheartening. The beauty is you are not alone – millions of people living with an alcohol use disorder have sought help and regained their lives. Alcohol may change you while you are drinking, but you are still the same person deep down inside. Treatment for alcohol use disorder will help you rediscover your passions and purpose while connecting you with new friends and support.
Managing alcohol use disorder is tough, and not feeling like yourself can feel overwhelming. Clean Recovery Centers has a full, three-phase approach to addiction treatment unlike any in the area. With multiple locations throughout the Suncoast, we have helped hundreds to get clean, live clean, and stay clean. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program.
What are 3 behavioral problems associated with alcohol?
Aggression, anxiety, and depression are common behavioral problems associated with alcohol.
What personality disorder is associated with alcoholism?
Studies have shown a strong correlation between Cluster B personality disorders (borderline personality disorder, antisocial disorder, etc.) and alcohol use disorder.
How does alcoholism affect communication?
Alcohol can change the way you view certain situations, causing reactions that may be irrational. This can cause a breakdown in communication with the other person.