Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Alcoholism-Social aspects, Alcoholics-Relations, Alcoholism-Psychological aspects, Couples-Psychology, Perceptions, Problematic, Alcohol use, Romantic relationships, Partner, Effects


This thesis is an inquiry into the role of partners’ perceptions concerning problematic alcohol consumption and its effects on romantic relationships. This study sought to unpack the role of perceptions within romantic relationships. The study’s sample included 12 participants who were currently involved in heterosexual romantic relationships for at least one year with significant others struggling with alcohol use. The study used an inductive, exploratory design implemented through a semi-structured interview. Within the category of perceptions of problematic drinking, three major themes emerged—disruption of social obligations and responsibilities; drinking in excess/ out of control alcohol consumption; drinking as a coping mechanism. The category of effects of problematic drinking within romantic relationships yielded five themes—emotional distancing between partners; increased conflict/arguments between partners; regret/remorse for actions while intoxicated; participants reaching out to friends/family members for support around partners' problematic drinking; unbalanced support or care between partners within romantic relationships. The research study suggested that relationship stressors could play a role in maintaining homeostasis. The implications of these findings for clinical social work practice and future research are discussed.




iv, 78 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 65-69)

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Social Work Commons