Most of us know the story of Peter Pan, the mysterious boy who wants to stay young forever and never grow up. This charming story is only entertaining in a play or a Disney cartoon, in real life, the refusal to grow up can ruin a relationship. It can also lead to addiction, poor health, and ultimately, loneliness.
Many young couples enjoy an active social life, drinking, smoking pot, and running hard every weekend. But let’s face it, after marriage and a child, priorities for most people change. This is natural. We become more constrained and limit our drug and alcohol use.
The risk of addiction and health effects
Many people drink and use drugs for years before they realize they have an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms will not manifest physically or mentally until an attempt is made to stop or slow down. For many years, casual use can slowly increase over time until you become dependent. When you or your spouse continue using and partying into your 30s and 40s, the risk for addiction increases greatly.
Moreover, the effect of alcohol and drugs on your liver becomes more and more potent as the years march on. Over time your liver becomes less efficient and it loses its ability to heal after age 40.
Over time many other negative effects begin to accumulate as a result of ongoing partying and substance abuse as you get older. Trouble sleeping, heart problems such as arrhythmias, irregular heart rhythms, and damaged muscles can occur.
The Impact on relationships
When one person in the marriage settles down and the other still wants to party, this puts incredible stress on the relationship. The couple no longer has mutual interests in common and eventually, the sober “grown-up” partner begins to feel as though he or she is the only adult in the family. Below are some contributing factors that place strain on the relationship when one partner needs to continue partying even after marriage and children.
- The constant threat of mingling with the opposite sex — when we are out partying and drinking, the environment tends to be filled with people who are single and looking. The spouse who is left at home knows the kind of people his or her partner is interacting with while getting intoxicated. This kind of activity erodes trust and causes doubt about the level of commitment to the relationship.
- Lack of coping skills in the one who needs to party — the need to let off steam by drinking and using substances as we get older is a sign of an inability to cope with the stresses that come with adult life. Holding down a job, taking care of a spouse and child all come with unique pressures that do not exist before marriage. The need to use alcohol and/or drugs to cope will eventually begin to interfere with functioning in all areas of life. People who need substances to cope are more likely to struggle in their career, health, home life, and sometimes have run-ins with the law.
- The only way to achieve intimacy — intoxication removes inhibitions and for some, allows them to feel closer and more connected to others. Studies show that many couples enjoy the relaxation and intimacy that can come from sharing a bottle of wine together over dinner. However when only one of the couple is drinking or when the couple drinks apart, this tends to cause conflict.
Explore through therapy
Relationship therapy and individual therapy can uncover underlying issues that are driving destructive behavior or internal issues such as anxiety or depression. If you or your partner needs alcohol and drugs help cope or connect with others, it is essential to find healthier ways to move through life without relying on substances.
When considering addiction therapy, what comes to mind for many are traditional 12 step programs and the requirement of absolute abstinence. This is not the only option available. Many people wish to reduce alcohol use and find other therapeutic options that practice drinking in moderation. At Ayre counseling, we offer a range of treatment options and counseling that do not require abstinence. We offer programs that allow for moderation and a focus on healing core issues with individual or group therapy.
Therapy can help your relationship, family, health, and wellbeing. If this article resonates with you, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.
Ayre Counseling has a Board Certified Psychiatrist on staff for psychiatric evaluations and an Addictionologist (a physician specializing in medical interventions with SUD) specializing in Medication Assisted Treatment and medication monitoring.
Dr. Ayre is one of the area’s most distinguished and respected Addiction Professionals with over thirty years of experience working with SUD – Substance Use Disorders.Please share this post!