Alcoholism Test

Find out if your Husband is a Functioning Alcoholic

Alcoholism Test for the Alcoholic Marriage

Neill Neill, Ph.D. in Psychology
“Denial is the major line of defense for
most problem drinkers.”

Why do we need yet another test for alcoholism? The answer is simple: You will find that most such tests aren’t very practical because they are aimed at the wrong person. They are designed for someone who is wondering, “Do I have an alcohol problem?”

The Alcoholism Test is designed for anyone who suspects their partner is a functioning alcoholic. It is aimed, not at the partner with the drinking problem, but at you who cares for him.

The irony is that serious problem drinkers probably won’t take the test because they don’t want to have their suspicions confirmed. The typical functioning alcoholic isn’t interested in questioning his alcohol abuse or seeking rehab. And if the signs of alcoholism are more advanced, no test is necessary to recognize the alcoholism.

I have added my comments after each item so that you can understand why I included the statement or group of statements. Most other tests don’t tell you why the statement or question is included. You decide what is useful to you and what is not. If it resonates with you, great! If a question doesn’t fit, just be curious about it and then move on. The references are to chapters in my book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide

Alcoholism Test

1. Your husband sometimes admits he has a drinking problem. He quipped about being a functioning alcoholic.

Neill: If he sometimes thinks he has a drinking problem, he probably has. Intuition is usually right. See Chapter 4.

2. He has sought help for his drinking at least once that you know of. He may have even joked about going to an alcohol addiction treatment center. He has sought professional help for emotional problems where drinking was probably part of the problem. He has attended an AA meeting. He has tried to quit more than once.

Neill:  If he has gone beyond talk and has sought help or tried to quit, he knows he has a problem. The extent of the problem is the big question. See Chapter 4.

3. You sometimes think he has a drinking problem. You have asked someone for advice about his drinking.

Neill: Your intuition about the drinking may be dead on, just like his. Pay attention, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet. See Chapter 4.

4. He comes from an alcoholic family.

Neill: Growing up in an alcoholic environment does a lot of emotional damage. Some children grow up to be total abstainers; others become drinkers. Alcohol helps to mask the memories of abuse. However, sometimes using only a little bit of alcohol can bring up such fearful memories that he thinks he is becoming an alcoholic. So just because someone comes from an alcoholic family, it doesn’t mean he has an alcohol problem. See Chapter 18.

5. He often has a drink in the morning. Sometimes you find him drinking by himself. He sometimes gets drunk without meaning to. He sometimes can’t remember what he did or said during the previous evening of drinking.

Neill: These are very tell-tale signs of alcoholism. The first three statements suggest that drinking has become a compulsion. That is to say, there is a loss of control, and that is suggestive of addictive drinking. The last item describes alcoholic blackout, again characteristic of longer-term alcohol abuse. See Chapters 4 and 7.

6. He has sometimes denied drinking when he obviously was drinking. You know that he hides alcohol so others won’t see it. He gets resentful, defensive and angry if anyone comments on his drinking.

Neill: Denial is the major line of defense for most problem drinkers. The reality of his alcoholism is not changed by his denial. See Chapters 11, 17 and 21.

7. Your husband has lost days at work or school because of drinking. He has gotten into fights when drinking. He has lost friends over his drinking. There has been a charge of driving under the influence.

Neill: These and many other negative things begin to happen when the drinking has become a compulsion. Often there are accompanying financial and marital strains. Judgment deteriorates. What counts is not so much the individual incident, but whether there is a pattern of such events. See Chapter 5.

8. He says he needs alcohol to reduce tension or stress, and a drink helps him build his self-confidence.

Neill: Many high-functioning alcoholics have low self-esteem. Perhaps most do. The real issue is whether or not your husband has become dependent on the alcohol to overcome another mental health problem, low self-esteem. See Chapters 6 and 14.

9. He has accused you or others of “making him drink.” He drinks more heavily after a quarrel. He sometimes becomes verbally or physically abusive when drinking.

Neill: Blaming others or justifying his behavior, rather than taking responsibility, is a common emotional problem in relationships, but it can be especially exaggerated in alcoholic families. If his drinking is accompanied by abuse, verbal or physical, you are not in a safe place. Take it seriously. See Chapter 24.

10. You often worry about his drinking and lose sleep over it. You feel responsible for his actions. You make threats that you don’t follow through on. You get him to make promises he will likely break. You sometimes make excuses for him or cover for him when he has been drinking.

Neill: These behaviors on your part strongly suggest you have entered into the “alcoholic dance.” Your partner may well be a functioning alcoholic, but you have become codependent. All of these behaviors, no matter how well-intentioned, do more to support his alcoholism than to remedy it. See Chapter 16.

11. You feel alone, fearful and anxious a lot of the time. You are beginning to lose self-respect and hate yourself. You sometimes question your own sanity.

Neill: These are the normal consequences of staying a long time in a codependent relationship, with or without alcohol abuse.  Codependence helps no one. As long as you are safe from violence, you may not need to leave the relationship to break out of the codependence. You may be able to break the cycle of codependence with self-help strategies, but you could need professional life coaching. See Chapters 22 and 23.

Final Comments

As I hope you have concluded from going through this exercise, understanding whether or not your partner is an alcoholic is not simply a matter of counting drinks or counting answers to a questionnaire. The issue is quite complex. My hope is, however, that the exercise has helped you to see more clearly what you are dealing with.

Help is available when you are ready. Help is also available for him when he is ready. Reading my book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic-A Woman’s Survival Guide  will help you to help him, and at the same time care for yourself, and maintain hope for yourself and your family. Read more about mybook on alcoholism.

Copyright © Neill Neill. All rights reserved. Dr. Neill Neill maintains an active life-coaching practice on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. He was a member of the treatment team at Sunshine Coast Health Centre , a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center for men. To read  articles by Dr. Neill on alcoholism, click here. To read about his Book, click here.

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339 thoughts on “Alcoholism Test

  1. I don’t have a comment so much as a question. My dad is a recovering alcoholic, sober for 20 years now. I believe my husband is a functioning alcoholic. He goes to work and still interacts with his family, but he drinks on a daily basis, sometimes lies about it, was just recently in a car accident that he claims he was sober for, but I smelled liquor on his breath. The question I have, though, is whether or not you need a lot of alcohol to get that feeling when you have been drinking for a long time(about 2 years now). He will have a mixed drink(rum and coke) and already I start to notice the slurred words, the different vocabulary, the heavy lidded eyes. I asked my dad and he said that it was possible. Does anyone else know anything about this? Thanks for the time and help.


  2. Hi Casey,

    Yes, it does happen, but you deserve a fuller explanation than I can give here now. I’ll try to write up a more detailed explanation of what could be going on. Expect a post in the next week or so.


  3. I think my boyfriend has a drinking problem. He admitted this in the past, briefly attended AA, and stopped drinking for a few weeks. He has since started drinking again and now says he doesn’t have a problem. He stays out til 4 AM and drinks heavily sometimes 4 or 5 nights a week, often instead of spending time with me or working. We are having lots of problems (obviously), and I have given him the ultimatum that I will only stay with him if he agrees to reconsider reducing his drinking and make an appointment for us to attend couple’s counseling. Friends and family members are telling me that ultimatums aren’t productive and lead to codependent behavior. Any thoughts? I could really use some help.

  4. I belive my son who is 22 is an alcoholic. His biological dad has alcoholism all in his immediate family. My son lies constantly and has no conscience. He steals our credit cards to go out even though he knows he will get caught. He can not hold a job and has dropped out of college. He can go days w/o drinking, but has a hard time ever drinking 1 drink or 2. He has mentioned recently he thinks he is a functioning alcoholic. I am scared to death. Any words of advice?

  5. Hello again Casey,

    As promised, I wrote up a fuller explanation than I could include here. It begins: "We normally associate alcoholism with increased tolerance to alcohol. Alcoholics often are able to drink a great deal before the usual symptoms of intoxication kick in — slurred speech, falling asleep, getting loud, poor balance, and poor judgment which could lead to and accident or a DUI charge. However, there are exceptions. Some functioning alcoholics do indeed show signs of intoxication with as little as a single drink. There are at least two different reasons why this might happen." Read full post. I hope this may be of some help to you.


  6. Hi J,

    Ultimatums are OK as long as you are not bluffing. If you can’t follow through, you may already be slipping into codependency. Remember, "The ultimate bluff is no bluff at all." I suggest you read my two little ebooks, "Addiction and codependency simplified" and "The personal change manifesto." At this point you can still get them free when you subscribe to my monthly letter, so do it now.


  7. Dear Kathy,

     My heart goes out to you. I have been through the same thing as a parent. I am very reluctant to offer direct advice-I know so little about you. What I can say is that in our case, we had to require our son to leave the house and visit only when invited, institute a policy of never giving him money (no exceptions), never give advice unless asked, and always love him. We privately worried about suicide. We got professional help for ourselves. It took incredible patience, but after a few years, rehab a couple of times, medical problems, lost friends, etc., he cleaned up. He’s now happier than I have ever seen him and the family relationships are excellent. Read Addiction with a twist.

    Love and blessings,


  8. My husband has always been a good provider and never missed a day of work because of drinking. He used to drink beer all the time but switched to wine. He now buys boxes of wine(they last a couple of days) and he only drinks at night after working 14 hour days. We can not really discuss his drinking because he gets very defensive about it but my concern is lately he seems to have extensive memory loss. For example, I can have a conversation with him yesterday and then today he does not seem to remember. Or he knew right after work yesterday I was going to church to work a supper we were having but he still called the house twice looking for me. It must have dawned on him because he then came looking for me before he went home. Is this a sign things are getting worse? I have been very angry and hostile toward him because I just don’t know how to deal with it but that is not fair to him or our children either. Thank you for your help. I try very hard not to let anyone know that this is a concern in our home but our children are getting older and things are getting much harder because my older daughter is starting to provoke him more and more.

  9. Dear Jean,

    Yes, your husband’s memory loss is a sign that things are getting worse. The fact that he is getting defensive about his drinking is also a sign that things are getting worse. So is your anger and the fact that you are keeping things secret, and so is the fact that he is getting grouchy with the kids when they approach him. Some of my other articles under the categories of "Alcoholism" and "Codependency" may be of help to you. Jean, please join my mailing list if you have not already done so. I will be releasing a book this spring, entitled "Living with a Functioning Alcoholic, A Woman’s Survival Guide."

    Take care,


    PS: I just added an an article about functional alcoholics and their memory problems.

  10. I’m enjoying your site…please take a look and comment in ours…we just started it last week. We are three men who are all long-time Al-Anons, and whose lives have been terribly affected by the disease of addiction.

    Ken P

  11. Dear Ken,

    Thank you for your comment. I will be watching the growth of your site with interest. Men living with addicted spouses, adult children or parents is a huge but largely invisible problem.

    Best wishes,


  12. hi well i am 15 and i think my dad is an alcholic he always has drank since i can remember because of drinking my mam and dad split up and i havent talked to my dad for a year now he started getting nasty. i dont know what the symptons are though he knewst to complain about bleeding from his back side and coughed up blood and had nose bleeds often every day and has always shook if we went out for the day he would shake until he had a drink. he drinks every day witout a fail and his fridge is full of beer no food just beer he denys and goes mad when you tell him he is an alcholic and gets his way out of it why he is coughing up blood what does this mean does it mean his liver is failing? or he is close to been 6ft under? please write back i need to know asap kasey please can you email me the answers if you do write back would mean alot if you did

  13. Dear Kasey,

    I’m not a medical doctor and I cannot give medical advice. What I can say is that if he were a member of my family I would try to get him to see a doctor right away. The bleeding could be a sign of a severe health problem. What you describe about his drinking behavior and symptoms does sound like advanced alcoholism.

    Again, he needs to see a doctor, because quitting drinking alone could be dangerous. But whatever happens, always remember that you did not cause it. You can ask him to see a doctor, but whether he does or not, it will be his decision, not yours. It is possible he has chosen to die, and this is his way of speeding it up. It’s not your fault one way or the other.

    I lost both my parents when I was young, dad when I was 8 and mom when I was 16, not to alcohol, but to accidents. I know how scary it can be. But he’s still with you. Ask your mom if you can go to a counselor. It could help you a lot. It never occurred to me to do that when I was your age, but I have often wished I had gone to see someone. It would have saved me a mountain of grief later in life. From this awful time I hope you have already made your own decision that you will never go down the path your father has chosen. If you have learned that, it could be the biggest gift you could ever give him. Blessings,


  14. In reading through your list, it just confirms what I have known, but have refused to admit to others. That my husband is a functioning alcholic. I have known it for some time now..3+ years. I grew up with a VERY abusive & alcholic father myself. While my husband has never ever been physically abusive, I can look back and see the emotional/verbal abuse. It absolutely kills me that our daughter has to deal with the same crap I had to deal with growing up.

    She is nearly the same age I was when my parents finally split up – for our safety (me, little brother & mom). I no longer speak to my dad -he hasn’t been involved in my life in over 6 -7 years now. After 30+ years of "dealing with it" I just couldnt anymore. While my husband has always been a ‘beer drinker’. I notice it is more and more and that he is also ‘sneaking’ drinks. -usually the hard alcohol-. he will mix with a soda and pretend he isnt drinking. But the slurred words, the facial expressions – I can tell immediately.

    Our marriage has had its ups & downs -as do all- but we have survived some pretty extreme problems. 1st our son died @ 20 days old, never came home,was in hospitals entire 20 days of life. 2nd. my medical problems. I had ulcerative colitis (part genetic, partly caused by stress from my own father-started at age 12). then 3rd -just over 2years ago now I nearly died from Necrotizing Faciitis (the flesh eating bacteria). I was in the hospital for 29days with 10 surgeries total. So with ALL the bills for myself and all of my physical ailments then from when our son became ill on his 4th day of life & his stay in 3 different hospitals. I have always tried so hard to keep a positive lookout -no matter what has happened. We only argue (usually) when he has been drinking, and now our 9 1/2 year old daughter is having trouble in school. She has always been an excellent student in K-3rd grades. Now in 4th -she is struggling, we are catching her in lies about schoolwork too. I have always told her -that she can come to me no matter what and talk to me about anything -we have a very close relationship. But I have directly asked her if the problems that her Dad and I have might possibly have something to do with her problems this year. She admited that Yes, she worries about our arguements and is stressed out that we are going to divorce.

    I have done my best to assure her that this will not happen, and even explained it to my husband. At first he did not believe me -when I told him about our daughters struggles -and the cause of them. So I told him to ask her himself. She did admit to him and he too assured her, that we loved each other and are not divorcing. (We both come from divorced families and commited in the very beginning to not become a statistic -as our parents did. I know that his Dad too, also had problems with alcohol when he was young-but doesnt anymore). I am just so tired and stressed out and this isnt good for me physically with all my medical problems (there are more than what I listed earlier). His main ‘problem’ with me (so he says) is Sex. I was unable to for over 1 year -due to the Necrotizing Faciitis -and where it was(groin area-I came close to loosing some female body parts). So now that we can – I still have no ‘Desire’ to, ESPECIALLY once he has had a few beers. I just cant. He used to tell me, I am not like your dad, but in reality he is starting to become like him -the verbal abuse -that he doesnt seem to be aware of.

    I can talk with our closest friends about it. But even then its very embarresing still. My husband also likes to ask me-quite often- If I want him to ‘get it’ somewhere else? If I wont do it, then what is he supposed to do? ((it is ALWAYS about him.."what about me" he is often saying)). And I just think…well -what about ME Dammit! And how am I supposed to have desire -for a drunk. NO WAY! Is there Anything you could recommend. I have brought up with him -only when sober- that he might have a problem with alcohol and he agreed that ‘sometimes he drinks too much’. but of course – its my fault.

    I will mention that I used to drink too -not as much as him though, but due to a problem with my liver I am not supposed to. I have Secondary Sclerosing Cholangitis = caused by my ulcerative colitis. –just another one of my many medical problems. so I really have enough to worry about with myself, His crap just adds to the stress of daily life. Like I said before, I am just so tired of it all. Thank you.

    Lara in Oregon

  15. I’m quite sure my husband is a functioning alcoholic. His mother is an alcoholic and has been for a long time. He has never gotten along with his mother and is quite embarassed and disgusted by what she has become from her drinking. His family has never much discussed her alcoholism, though they all know she is one. He and his family have never been known for their communication skills.

    My husband has always been a beer drinker and loves his beer. I have often thought he may have a problem, but am quick to discount it and make excuses. He is not at all abusive verbally or physically, in fact, he’s in a much better mood once he’s had a couple beers after a day at work. I have noticed he has been drinking about 10 beers a night. He gets up every morning and goes to work, doesn’t drink and drive, and there are really no terrible things happening…yet. We don’t have children yet, though I want to start a family soon, and the excessive drinking scares me. He doesn’t seem to black out, just comes to bed a little tipsy at the end of the evening. I asked him about it a week or so ago and he told me he’d cut back and said he understood where I was coming from. I have since found beers hidden, and between the hidden beers and the ones in the fridge, he is still drinking 10 a night.

    It’s so hard to really say too much since he isn’t turning into a terrible person when he drinks, though I assume if he keeps this up, that will change, maybe. I’m feeling very lost, and like a bit of an idiot for beleiving him when he told me he’d cut back. Any recommendations on how to approach him so he doesn’t get upset and defensive, but rather is able to understand what I"m saying? Am I right to think that he has a problem?

  16. Lara,

    I saw your note on Dr. Neill’s web site. It sounding like ME talking! Except for your medical problems. I hope you are doing much better in that area. I would love to talk to you….please feel free to email me at anytime. Thanks so much and I’ll be praying for you.


  17. Dear Lara and Sharon,

    My heart goes out to both of you. Your questions are important, but too difficult to answer properly in a short comment section. So instead of attempting it, I have written two longer posts, one on March 20 called Alcoholism and Marriage and one on Mach 25 called Getting Help for a Marriage with a Functioning Alcoholic. I hope these articles are of some help to you. My book on living with a functioning alcoholic will be available in May. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Practical Psychology for Capable People at the top of the page and you will be notified.


  18. In June (2007), my husband and I will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary. Honestly, it is a true miracle we have survived this long. I firmly believe that my husband is a functioning alcoholic. I see here that we fit the alcoholic test. My concern is if there is hope in our marriage. I feel as if I’m up against a brick wall. My husband claims to be happy with the marriage. However, I recently found out that he is cheating when he drinks as well. The first known incidence he claims the girl pursued him. The second incidence he doesn’t remember. Recently, the third incidence I caught him. He was drinking but not drunk. He tried to claim I was losing my mind/psychotic. I feel I was very calm giving the situation. I feel there is no turning back. He claims he can and will do better. What do I look for that he is sincere at improving? I don’t want to waste my time on hopeful promises like I have in years past. I need some direction. I’m do love him but dread his vicious cycle.

  19. Dear Tonya,

    My heart goes out to you. From what you say, your husband may have a sex addiction in addition to his alcoholism. Addiction is compulsive behavior and is not likely to change just because he intends it. My guess is, and it is a guess since I don’t know you, that the reason you are still there after all the betrayal, excuses and blame is that you have become codependent with him, that is, you are addicted to his care, and your addiction keeps you from looking after yourself. Read my articles on codependency, but more importantly, get some professional help for yourself so you can gain some clarity. If you get clear and he goes into rehab because he wants to, your marriage could survive. I’m sorry I can’t be more encouraging, Tonya.


  20. My husband and I will be married 3 years in July, 2007, we’re both 42 years old. We both drank socially before we were married and at the beginning of the marriage. He, at the time, worked as an inventory warehouse manager and I as an accountant. In addition over the next 2 years put a 2-story addition on our house and are renovating the older section of the house.

    During that time, we drank more often while working. It was fun, we were newlyweds, we didn’t think much of it. In July of 2006, he was ‘let-go’ from his job because of a new management team coming in, basically, and we decided he should start his own home improvement company. Over the next 2 months I got the corporation started, applied for the home improvement license which he had to take a test for, took care of all the insurance requirements, etc. He started advertising and doing small side jobs until the license came in.

    By October into November of 2006 I noticed he was home everytime I would stop by, he was sleeping most of the time. And slept most of the night and still saying he was tired in the morning. He was also buying porn off the TV at $14.00 a show, which was adding up and also not showing up for jobs, which the customers were calling me to see why he hadn’t shown up. He also started a couple jobs and never went back. I assumed he was depressed and having problems with being fired. So I called to make an appointment for him to see a psychologist. She gave him an anti-depressant called Lexapro which he took for a while and then said it made him feel funny so he wanted to change it to another. In the end he changed types 4 times and continued to drink through the entire process even though the doctor advised him not to. I, in the meantime, had to have a cervical fushion and was out of work for 6 weeks and then could only work part time for the next 3 months. During this time, he turned everything and everyone’s attention to me.

    Everything from my kids (not his) were bad and didn’t help around the house to I have issues from my childhood that I need to deal with, etc. He got his whole family involved and against me (while I was doing nothing but trying to help him) I hadn’t been drinking because of the surgery and he had been saying he hadn’t been drinking since January because of the medicine, I just recently found out that he’s been lying to me, not only about the drinking, but also about taking the anti-depressants. He had taken the Lexapro but none of the others. He was hiding the alcohol (he drinks whiskey) outside. I’ve threatened to leave several times and have even gone to see a lawyer, but then one week he’ll admit he has a problem and the next says he doesn’t.

    I see a counselor that told me I can’t monitor another adult, but find it hard to not know if he’s been drinking. I have to worry if he drives with my 6 year old daughter or my older boys or even me for that matter. I do check his bottle on occasion and notice he drinks in the middle of the night and in the morning. If I complain he’ll just hide it. I’m not sure what to do at this point. The rollercoaster ride is killing me. It’s just so strange to me that everything was fine before the firing and the new business (he did admit to having anxiety about going to jobs). I’m worried about codependency and what I should do. I know I can’t help him, he has to want to help himself. If anyone else wants to email me my address is

    Thanks, ~Janet

  21. Hello Janet,

    I’m sorry you are in so much pain. There are some things you can be sure of. One of them is that alcoholic lie. Period. I’ve never met one who didn’t. Another is that alcohol is a depressant, and there is no point in taking antidepressants and depressants together. By blaming others he is by definition making himself a victim. If you respond to his cry to be rescued, you enable him to continue his alcohol abuse. You don’t help anyone if you become addicted to his care. (codependency)

    Safety comes first. If you are out together, you drive and it’s non-negotiable until some months have passed after this is all worked out. (His word about his relationship to alcohol is worthless.) He NEVER drives your kids anywhere. The kids are told not to ride with him and they deserve a truthful explanation. To let an alcoholic drive your kids, even if he hasn’t had a drink in a week, is child neglect, because you cannot know whether he has had a drink or might have one when he is out with them. This all probably sounds pretty heavy, Janet, but alcoholism and codependency are that way. I go into a lot more detail in the book which should be out in late May. I’ll be notifying you.


  22. my husband of 8 years, is an alcoholic. he admits to it, and says he’s not going to quit. when he is sober, he is always apoligizing, but when he drinks, he could care less if i walked out. in fact he instagates arguments, trying to get a rise out of me. I don’t want to leave him, because 98% of the time, he is wonderful, and loves me, and treats me great. If I give him an ultimatum, I know he will go get grunk, blame me, then say go ahead he doesn’t need me anyway. what’s is my problem? Why can’t i gather enough strength to leave? i love him to death, and we have so much fun inbetween these times, i forget about the bad times…

     Confused in CA.

  23. Dear Confused in CA,

    Of course you love him! He is counting on it (partially unconsciously) to keep the cycle of abuse and apology in place. If you leave him now there will be a lot of heartache. If you put your life on hold for 10 or 15 years and then separate, there will be a lot more heartache all through that waiting period. What’s best for you? Getting a life, and if that means separating, then face the pain and do it. What’s best for him? Your leaving may catch his attention and he may take responsibility for himself (eventually). It sounds like he doesn’t want to be with you, but can’t face the responsibility of initiating a separation. If no one takes action it will only get worse as his alcoholism progresses. Find a good counselor who, without judgment, can help you get some clarity about your life, and then do what you have to do. I feel for what you are going through and wish you the life you deserve.


  24. Dear Neill,

    I found your web site trying to confirm whether or not my husband is an alcoholic. My husband drinks every single day at the same time of day. His personality goes through stages. At the beginning of his drinking 3PM he is usually happy and enthusiastic about life. He comes up with ideas for trips, vacations, purchases etc. Then as time goes on he becomes angry and mean. By 6pm , I am afraid to come home. I have twin 3year olds and a 4 year old. They are now frightened by their dad’s evening behavior. They want to spend time with him in the evening but I must keep them away from him for fear that any contact with him will trigger an episode. Nothing I do is right though, If I do not contact him , he will be angry. If I do , he will be angry. We have frequent calls from bill collectors and banks. He always claims they are wrong or just annoying. We live in a big house with a large mortgage. I know nothing about our finances because he keeps me isolated. He won’t talk about anything without anger, especially his drinking. He says he drinks for stress, mostly that I cause. I have 3 small children and always believed a family with a mom and dad was the best. I am now wondering whether staying with this man is really beneficial in the end , to the children. The answer seems obvious, but I am still unsure. My husband will not admit his share of the problem. thanks for being there.


  25. I came across your site in search of help.I am a codependant and my husband of almost 20 years is a binge drinker. He has had doctors talk to him about the shape his liver is in for a man his age(41). He has said many times he needs help, but he has made no effort to get help. I have recently decided , once again, to leave him. I have told him before i was leaving, but after tears, promises,begging, and threats, I would always stay. This time I’m looking for an apartment first and moving out while he is at work. It does’nt feel right, almost cowardly, doing that way, but I think once I get out I wont move back in.This will happen in the next 2 weeks or sooner if I can find an apartment I can afford. Any suggestions at all for me.We have no children and he has never hit me. The walls get a beating but as far as me it’s verbal abuse and making me feel like I’m a terrible wife.

  26. Dr. Neill,

    I have been married 25 years. I had to file for divorce because I could not take the drinking anymore. What I worry about is did I do enough to try to get him help. His excuse to drinking is money situation and stress. Everything seems to be that I am the problem. He has been drinking pretty hard for 6 years now. I have begged for him to get help and he has even quit a couple times, but money situations seems to always be the reason he goes back. I have even tried to get his father to help him but he says he’s a grown man and he’ll have to make his own decisions. We have a daughter that is 19 and he has even threatened to not have anything to do with her if she shows even the least bit of kindness towards me. I had to have him served with a mental hygiene petition because he stayed drunk for 3 days and urinated himself repeatedly. They picked him up and put him in handcuffs for 5 hours while he sobered up. After 4 hours of sitting there they check is blood alcohol level and it was at 2.86. Of course since he sobered up he was mental able to talk his way out of the petition. But to this day he says that was the turning point in our marriage. The officer told me it would either make him realize he needed help or turn him against me. Well it turned him against me. All his friends he has now are drinkers and they are backing him up and turning on me. Did I do the right thing? Or what would you have done different?


  27. Hi Teresa,

    From what you say, the only thing you did wrong was wait too long. By waiting and trying to help, you dug yourself in deeper. Alcoholics refuse to take responsibility for themselves; otherwise they wouldn’t be alcoholics. Blaming you for his addiction offloads his responsibility onto you. It never was your fault. It never was your responsibility to get him help; it was always his. And only a truly insensitive boor, and addict or a psychotic would use his child as an instrument to bully his wife. His father is right. Don’t walk, run. And stay away from his poisonous friends. Leave all the negotiating to your lawyer and thereby attempt to maintain your sanity. Your daughter will figure things out. Best wishes in creating a new life for yourself.


  28. Dr Neill,

    My husband admits that he is an alcoholic and tells me he has no intention of cutting back or quitting because he enjoys it. He is not abusive and functions with regards to work and most of his responsibilities. However he starts drinking as soon as he gets home from work and often stays up late. He always seems to get the drunkest at functions in which I attend. He really celebrates my special occasions until he totally ruins it for me. He says he is just having a good time. The past number of occassions he was so drunk he started falling down on the floor. I have tried to talk to him about what this is doing to his health and our family, he just ignores me. He doesn’t fight with me, he just gets up and goes to another room. I may be upset about this and later he will go along as if there is nothing wrong, talking as if everything is fine.

    I am not a rude person, if someone speaks to me I will answer. He pays no attention to the sadness on my face or in my voice and I feel like I am dying inside. I have become a workaholic in order to avoid social functions. Friends have come to accept that I am very busy and have given up inviting us out. He then says he drinks from boredom because I work too much. He nows goes out a few times with guys from work and that gets me off the hook. I am tried of always being with the drunkest man at a party, but I am also tired of sitting with a drunk man in our home so much. I have been very seriously thinking of leaving lately but I have a couple of reservations. I have worked very hard to get where I am today and at the age of 52, I do not want to start over as I have no retirement pension or medical insurance and he does. Also I am worried on how God looks on divorce. I feel helpless! I would really appreciate any advise you could offer.

  29. I’ve been with my husband for 3.5 years…there were only about 4-5 days that he didn’t drink(before oparation, the visiting of his oder sister whom he hides his drinking behavior from). He loves Vodka, easily finishes 1.5 liter(half gallon) in 2-3 days. He always drinks after work, starts from 5pm until be goes to bed. I DON’T DRINK AT ALL…so, I can see how he changes from time to time during the evening. He denies it all the time and always blames me on everything I do. His father was an alcoholic and died when he was only 55(my husband is 52 now). Actullay, my husband is a very sweet person but everytime he gets drunk, he’ll be very angry, nasty and vicious. I didn’t know what it was before until 8 months ago. I always thought that because we didn’t get along or I didn’t do good enough for him. Everybody seemed to know that he was drunk when they talked to him on the phone but I just never thought he was that bad. I start to realize that we have nothing in common, he loves to drink and hangs out at the bar..I can’t drink and hate sitting at the bar, he’s 52 and he’s not gonna change it.Thanks god we don’t have kids together. Yes..I’m hopeless and helpless. His family knows about his problem and understands if I’ll leave him. I love him very much but I’m SO UNHAPPY. It’s getting worse, he just drank up all 2 bottles of 1.5 liter Vodka in 4 days. I hate the weekend because he’ll start to drink since 12 or 1 pm and will gets drunk by 6 pm, the nightmare will start from there. He’s also very verbal abusive, he doesn’t hit me or anything though(i’m sure he’s afraid to go to jail). He wouldn’t admit that he’s an alcoholic, he had got DUI 3 times, he went to rehab once..and he’s STILL THE SAME. Please advise..THANK YOU

  30. My dear husband is 39 he is never mean no matter how much he drinks…he isn’t even embarassing and doesn’t fall down. He goes to work like he is supposed to and always does a project around the house when he gets home. Spends a few moments doing something with the kids and holding me affectionately saying how much he appreciates my love and patience. He drinks at least 12 beers every night, eats like a bird often skipping dinner, and seems to be losing his memory …we never argue about it, because I never say see, my first husband died of a drug overdose(I have never done drugs) and my 2nd husband died shortly after we divorced…the doctors felt he may have damaged his heart in his binge drinking 20’s…I can’t face it again…I can’t beg someone to stop killing themselves again and I don’t want to leave because I love him so..he has 2 kids, I have 2 kids and we have a 6 month old daughter together…he has never, not once in 2 years raised his voice at me or said anything negative or cruel..he admits he has a problem but does not want to go toAA because he feels some members are addicted to meetings and doesn’t want to deal with corny chanting and what-not..will he need a doctor’s help to quit since he drinks so much? That is a lot isn’t it? Thank you

  31. I wrote my first comment back on April 17, 2007. Here is my update: After trying to recruit help from his family with no success, I tried to go to counseling together with him, he made it extremely difficult to the point the counselor only wanted me there. Then I tried to get him to go see a different counselor alone and he made up some excuse about her cursing at him, which was untrue because I called the woman the next day and of course she said it was not true. At times it did seem to be getting better, he was at least working (so I thought). Come to find out he had hired workers and was coming home and paying them to do the work while he drank all day at home alone. He continued to lie to me about drinking during the day by hiding the bottles (I found stashes all over). He would be good for a while and then something would set him off and he would run away to the mountains for days. Finally almost 3 weeks ago he ran off again. He called his workers a few days later and told them he was folding the company. I had to have a few of the jobs he left finished and collect what ever I could. I sent him separation papers the next day. Which he signed because there was a monetary settlement involved. My only issue is that he is telling everyone that the reason we are separated is because I cheated on him – 4 times for that matter, which is an out and out lie. I never came close to cheating on him ever. He also is telling everyone intimate details about our sex life during our marriage trying to persuade them to believe him. We’re now separated and he still trying to ruin my life. HELP!!!

  32. Hi Janet,

    Congratulations on moving on. When he tells lies about you and tries to ruin your life, take consolation in the fact that all alcoholics lie. Most will recognize that he is not telling the truth. Move as fast as possible to complete a divorce. While you are still married, he will continue to abuse you. When you are divorced, there is little point and he will probably lose interest. If he doesn’t, you have legal remedies. Whatever happens, don’t cave in when he tries to sweet talk you into taking him back. Don’t even let him stay on the couch overnight. You may be tempted, but don’t give in.

    Best wishes,


  33. Dear Dawn,

    Your post touched me deeply. I couldn’t answer you right away because I have personally had to face the deaths of a son, three client, an uncle and a close friend in the past 9 months. Your husband sounds like a really good man who for some reason is on a self-destructive path with alcohol. That was my path years ago. I was a good breadwinner, husband and father, but I wouldn’t alive today if I hadn’t stopped drinking. I don’t know what he is keeping buried by drinking; he may not even know.

    I didn’t realize till years later that I was burying the pain of being separated from my first two children You said, “I can’t beg someone to stop killing themselves again.” You are absolutely right not to do that; it only makes things worse. But by all means do tell him of your fears and what his drinking is bringing up in you. He cares about you and need to know that. Do your research on treatment options so you have the info at your fingertips if and when he wants to change. He says that some AA members are addicted to meetings. He’s right: some are addicted to meetings and some will be “in recovery” for the rest of their lives. But many people use AA and its principles for short-term help and move on to live fulfilling lives without alcohol. You asked, “…will he need a doctor’s help to quit since he drinks so much?” Your husband may be able to quit on his own. I did; but if I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have attempted it on my own. There can be very serious symptoms during the detoxification period–sometimes even death–and there is no way to know in advance what any particular person will experience. So medical supevision is the best option. However, quitting and detoxing is just the first step. During the post-acute withdrawal phase, which could last several years, a lot of old baggage will come up. Failure to recognize and deal with the underlying mental health issues, with or without professional help, is a primary cause of relapse into alcoholism. All of these issues are covered in more detail in my forthcoming book, Living With A Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide. I hope this has been of some help.

    Love and Blessings,


  34. I am in love with a fireman… and i know he really loves me too… but I think he is an alcoholic. He denies that he has a problem… but he drinks almost every single day. He comes home from his "part-time" job, usually getting off around 2pm. If he doesnt stop for a drink on the way home, he opens a bottle of wine once he gets home. On good days, he will lay on the couch and watch baseball, finish off a bottle of wine and go to bed. Other days, he is out with his buddies "celebrating". When I expressed my concerns over his drinking, he gets very defensive… denying he is an alcoholic, stating "I hang out with my buddies… it is just what we do." And his tone is telling me to just "drop it".

    Every social activity or outing involves stopping for a "cocktail" or having a drink with dinner. He is a wonderful man, caring and loving. He never misses work and is able to function completely in his work environment. He usually cuts back on drinking the day before his firefighter’s shift or doesnt drink at all. His drinking is far worse in the summer months when the temptation to be "out" with his buddies is a daily carrot dangled before him. He is inhibited by weather during the winter, and social activities are minimal. Every summer he retreats from me, disappearing for weeks at a time. I think it is because he is hiding his addiction. I’ve noticed memory losses too. He breaks his promises to call constantly when he is "out" with his buddies. He was involved in 911, but we dont talk about it. I’m worried about him… and I love him, yet I think for my own happiness, I should move on. He has disappeared for over a month this time… and I’m broken-hearted. I dont know if he is okay, or just hiding. My friends think he cheats when he is out drinking, and then he is so consumed with guilt that he cannot face me. The fireman needs saving, but I dont know how to save him. Any advice? Or should I just move on?

  35. Dear Cyn,

    Any man who denies heavily and disappears is a very troubled man. And alcohol helps him to further dissociate from reality or whatever else he doesn’t want to face. Whether he is fully addicted to alcohol or not, he is showing all the usual signs of deterioration into alcoholism. There are a few articles on my website in the category “Alcoholism” which you may find helpful. Everything is covered at a deeper level in my ebook, LIVING WITH AN ALCOHOLIC – A WOMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE. It will be available for sale on my website about September 15, or sooner if you are on my Newsletter list. I’m sure this is tearing you up, Cyn, and eventually you may decide to leave because you can’t accept living with an alcoholic. I suggest you continue to educate yourself about alcoholism and what you as his partner should do and not do, whether you are still there or have moved on. I hope this is of some help.



  36. I am a mother of three children under 7 and one of my children is a very well managed type 1 diabetic. My life is complex and I know my lawyer/husband is a functioning alcoholic. What I have recently discovered is how stupid I have been. For years he convinced me he didn’t get drunk, but BUZZED. Now that I have snapped out of denial I am proud to say "there is no difference between buzzed for hours and being drunk". Now I am building my own life with our children and forgeting his chaos. The loss of our family, but now my children will have a choice of how to live.

  37. Dear Dr. Neill Neill,

    My heart goes out to you for being such a giving and supportive individual to all the people who have written to you this year. I am sure your comments have lifted many of them and I was happy to read that Gerald has had some success with his wife. It saddens me to hear there are so many men/women with this disease. All the best to you and yours. The world needs more caring individuals like yourself.

  38. I’ve been with a wonderful man for the last 3 years. He’s definitely an alcoholic, but is never abusive or violent. He drinks beer, liquor and wine daily. He is divorced and has a 10 year old daughter who is with him every other weekend and one night per week. I am not much of a drinker, but will have a glass of wine or a cocktail in a social setting. His father is an alcoholic, and his mother drinks, too, but I don’t think she’s a problem drinker. The problem with him is his emotional distance. One minute I’m the love of his life and the next, he wants space. He’s admitted repeatedly that he has a "bad habit" and that he needs to cut back, but never seems to do it. Recently, his daugther has started displaying signs that she doesn’t want to spend time with him (crying, wanting to call her mom several times a day, telling me confidentially that he acts "weird"). All his friends are heavy drinkers, and one in particular is one paycheck away from living on the streets. He has no structure in his life to support him should he decide to stop drinking. About a month ago, he went 13 days without a drink (on his own), caved in, and then went another 8 days. He recently ended our relationship – which may be a blessing in disguise, I suppose – but I don’t understand it. He claims to love me, has acknowledged many times that I’m the only non-drinking person in his life and that I’m so supportive. So what gives? I’ve heard from a close friend ours that since our break-up he’s been drinking heavily with one of buddies. Should I simply walk (or run!) away, or should I try to offer support in the capacity of a concerned friend?

  39. I divorced a man who had drank for 20+ yrs. I was dumb anough to think having a family would make him stop. It didn’t….he went to the bar 5 days/week. Made promises he didn’t keep, and after 3 yrs. of being divorced he continues to drink. Only now it’s 6, sometimes 7 days a week. He’s had 2 DUI’s which did not affect his alcohol abuse. I wish there were a ‘magic cure’ for alcoholism.

  40. My husband has been a functional alcoholic for at least 20 years. He’s had more than one doctor tell him to quit drinking, although no medical problem has resulted from his drinking (so far). He drinks whiskey daily, most of the times until he passes out. He also has a shot (or two) in the morning on weekends. If he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, he has a couple of drinks, and this morning, in fact, he was drunk at 6:30 AM when my son and I got up, and had to call out of work. I "disassociated" myself from his drinking years ago (when I stopped drinking myself). However, my problem is my two children. I have a 17 year old son we just discovered is smoking pot regularly, and a 15 year old daughter who hates my husband’s drinking, and has hidden and dumped out his cache. We’re starting family counselling this week for my son’s issues, but I know my husband’s addiction will surface (how could it not?). I’m just hopeful he will stay with it, but I have my doubts……. I just wanted to let you know your "test" was right on. I’ve read a lot about this over the years, so nothing was a surprise to me, but he sure fit the profile. I hope I’m not enabling him, I try to be aware of it. I do cover all the kids evening activities because he can’t drive, but other than that I don’t even bring up his drinking anymore because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to fight about something only he can decide to change. Thanks for listening.

  41. I found you through an internet search. I was searching for some guidance to tell me whether or not I am an Alcoholic. I figure I am; and pretty much knew I was from long ago. I am a 36 year old single parent of two wonderful and successful children; girls the both of them. They have developed into strong, smart, self determined, and unique individuals of the age of 13 and 14. I am their best friend without a doubt, but as a human being and father I feel less than adequate.

    I drink daily to the point of "numbness," physically or perhaps more importantly physiologically. As an individual I suffer some medical consequences some or none of which may be related. I am a diabetic at the age of 36 an have high blood pressure; apparently no high cholesterol. I exercise every day walking 8.5km a day and 7 days a week to mitigate the health issues associated with my physical problems.

    I haven’t told my doctor of my drinking problem mostly due to the shame I feel associated with it. I’m curious if my drinking has much to do with my health problems or if that is just a result of my family history associated with it. I diet religiously and exercise religiously, though I continue to consume on average 800 calories worth of alcohol a day. I’ve lost over 60lbs of weight in the last 2 years despite my unhealthy practice of drinking nearly daily. I’m religious in my diet and exercise routines; how is my lack of transparency affecting my health and my doctors ability to diagnose and treat me? Any information would be appreciated.

  42. Casey-
    I have noticed the same behavioral changes after one drink. My husband thinks I am crazy, but there is a marked difference. I have left my husband with my four month-old, because I was scared of his actions. I can still see the man behind the disease though and am wondering if its foolish to hope he will change?


  44. Hi Jackie,
    First of all he should go to his doctor and be checked for any physical problem–prostate, bladder, diabetes, etc. If all is clear there, the bed wetting may be psychological in origin.

    Regardless, it sounds like he is alcohol dependent, that is, he is an alcoholic. The reason for his alcohol abuse may be to avoid facing the same past events that are leading to his bed wetting. So my second recommendation is that you both stop drinking completely for at least 5 months and see what happens. If he can get some good psychotherapy too, that would be even better.

    A good marriage is worth fighting for.

    Love and blessings,

  45. My boyfriend and i have been together for almost four years. I have a eight yr. old son that just adores him the problem is my boyfriend drinks every night. on the weekdays he will have 6 to 8 beers, on the weekends he will go through 12 or more a day. Every night he falls asleep on the couch around 8 or 9. i am having a really hard time telling if he has an alcohol problem because he does go to work and is doing a great job, he also comes home and helps clean on occasion. I am just concerned because my son is starting to make comments about his drinking and says all he does while i am not home is drink and not play with him and is always sleeping. i have also caught my boyfriend a few times waking up at 1am and peeing in the garbage can (on those nights when he has 12 or more beers) please i need to know what you make of all of this. I have no idea if he really is a functioning alcoholic or not. I need to know for me and my son.

  46. Dear Kim,
    My heart goes out to you. There is little doubt that your boyfriend is an alcoholic. He may be still functioning at work, but he is past functioning at home and without a change, he won’t last. It is a slow way to die. There are a lot of things in my book that will help you to help him, while still looking after yourself and your son.


  47. I lived with an alcoholic for 3 years. He lost his job 3 months ago and seems perfectly happy to sit home all day, drink an 18 pack and not try to find a job. All of his unemployment is spent on cigarettes and beer. He has not given me any money towards bills. I work 4 jobs and have two small children 9 and 7. He told me the other night I shouldn’t buy things for my children. I blew and told him to get out. He can spend 40 a day on cigarettes and beer and I don’t drink and the bills are paid by me and I’m not supposed to buy my children things! I don’t think so. I asked him to choose between the beer and me. Surprise, he chose the beer. I hope he’s happy with her, hope she pays his bills for him. Chalk another relationship destroyed up to alcoholism.

  48. I have been married for almost 10 years. My husbands drinking has been a problem for at least 3-4 years. I have confronted him several times and he is currently doing the right thing. I have prayed a lot about it. He is a good father as far as playing with our 7 and 5 year. He helps with them in all ways, including shower time, eating, etc. He tries to quit drinking and has been successful in about two week increments as far as I know. In the past, I was ready to leave him but now am a bit more relaxed about it. Currently, if his alcoholism is not affecting the kids and I, I feel unjustified for leaving him. We are doing good at this moment. But just a little over a week ago, I left the house and came back unexpectedly. He had a drink fixed and poured it out when he knew I found it. I have become so calm about it. I just keep telling him that he should remember that he is responsible for his drinking, NOT ME, and that eventually it will reach the bad point again (driving around for hours after work, yelling at myself and the kids over little things, being disrespectful) but do I wait until the next time he messes up. How do I determine when enough is enough? He recently started Paxil as prescribed by his doctor to assist with him to stop drinking. He took it over the Thanksgiving holiday and it made him lie around and sleep the whole time. What do I do?

    Also, when he is not drinking, I love to be around him. I still love him.

  49. I think the term "functional alcoholism" is amazing. As an aspiring alcoholic I think the issue truly lies in sobriety. If people would spend a little more time making the sober world better, we would spend more time in it.

  50. Hi Jesse,
    You are one of the “people” and you are already making the word better through your amazing artwork. So lets together do our bit to make the world better. I would invite you simply to be more conscious of your gifts; and that may mean sobriety or significant periods of sobriety.

    Best wishes,

  51. My exhusband is a functioning alcoholic. We were married 20 years before he left me. He is rarely visably drunk, but can’t go for more that 4 hours without a drink and drinks himself to sleep every night. At time of divorce he was charging about $250 a month at the liquor store. That didn’t include cash and what he spend at bars. He says he needs a drink just to be able to act "normal’. When I asked him to cut back, he hid it in the garage. The problem is that he now has joint custody of our now 10 yr. old girl. I voiced my concerns about his drinking at our divorce hearings, but lawyer said with no DUI’s or proof (other than credit card bills) I didn’t have a case. He is not supposed to drink 24hrs prior or while he has custody of our child.

    Our daughter says he drinks while he has her, but I don’t know how to prove it. She is terrified to spend the night with him and cries hystericaly if he tries to make her. Right now, he is not "forcing" her to spend the night, but he hints that it is his right and one day she will HAVE to stay over. She knows from experience she may not be able to wake him in the night if she has a problem. He uses the fact that he could "force" her to spend the night and is not doing so to intimidate me. I don’t want to keep our daughter from him, but I DO want him to be responsible and sober when he has her. What should I do? I don’t have money to hire a lawyer, nor do I have the proof for a case…yet. In the mean time, our daughter is being traumatized by the thought that she may be forced to spend the night with her alcoholic father. Thank you.

  52. my boyfriend drinks from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed (at least 12 a day ) but almost always more than that ! he is never mean abusive or anything like that, he helps with the house chores and attends school functions with me for my 2 children ,never slurs stumbles around or wets the bed, he and i are not working i recently had surgery and he recently was fired (unclear of reason why) I just found out this time ariund he had been to rehab prior to our meeting my son admires him for who he is w/o the drinking (he is 14) my 12 yr old daughter and he tangle all the time she says he is weird. he and i are both 43 yrs old theres alot to this way to much to carry on . i loved him in the past with all my heart now somewhere in my heart i am trying to find where and why i do love him money and jobs are scarce but when there is a few dollers he does bring home bread milk etc. but there is always THE BEER for 6 months now i have never seen him drink anything not even water just beer and an occasional jack daniels shot even when he takes his "HAVE TO TYLONOL PM " to sleep he drinks beer to wash it down. he goes nowhere with friends at all only to events we ask him to most of the time then its straight to the fridge with shaky hands hes a heavy smoker too He is a gourgeous man and im watching him crumble in size skinny skinny legs belly getting bigger and bigger I could go on but i think you all are getting the picture here . We dated 3 months I was totally in love scared but totally in love (not scared of the drinking because i didnt know then but scared of the feeling of what was happening to me ) then out of the blue he sent a txt just want to be single .hope you understand ! i was devastated I lost a good position at work for failure to show ,I lost interest in my kids and myself i lost 30 pds — then outof the blue again a friend calls and says there is a problem with him and i go to him seriously though I think if i had went or anyone had of went a day let alone an hour hed of been dead I took him under my wing and brought him out of it except for the drinking he has his rental house rent 3 months late a nice truck 3 payments late staying with me (long story ) i seem to not be able to stop but truth is I love the man I first meet although he broke my heart to pieces I love him now but just not the same , I am afraid to tell him to go home although the hints are there be it my friends family or my daughter I think what if he does commit suicide – by the way did i mentoin he brought guns to our home – Am I afraid ? HELL YES !!!!! But part of my heart loves him so much !!!! i cant sleep and am afraid to leave him with my children especially my daughter (remember shes says he is weird and strange )even though i feel and trust in my heart and soul hed never harm my beautiful baby — WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME ?! did i mentoin he eats like a bird , sometimes does not shower for 3 days and to brush his teeth maybe 4 days w/o ,he use to smell so good now its hard to sit near him . I go in for lung testing soon he knows and still smokes in our home Remember I LOVE HIM —-Please help me lofe is short i know and i am doing this fast as i can type he just sent me a txt he is on his way to try to see about his income tax – and the money and the beer are all gone

  53. Hi CC,
    I have no doubt you love this man. The problem is that loving someone does not mean you can live with him. He is an alcoholic on a self-destructive path and there is nothing YOU can do about it. Your choice is between going down that path with him or leaving him and deciding for yourself and your kids that you want to live. I know this is harsh, but reality is sometimes harsh.

    Whatever you decide, you have my best wishes.

  54. Hi. I was wondering if you could advise me. I live with my long term partner of 15 years. I am concerned about his drinking habits. He has drunk steadily all the time I have known him, mainly lager maybe two – four cans daily. Usually when he has done a 12 hour shift at work. Is this quite normal ? He sometimes works nights and does not drink at all when he does nights so I do know he does not need to drink but I worry he drinks too much. He is normally fit and well in himself and is never violent or aggresive in drink. He is a loving father and a kind and generous man. Is this about a normal intake of alcohol?

  55. Hi Jo,
     Your partner sounds like a really good man. The drinking pattern you describe is on the high side of healthy but may be OK for him. The problem is that it is a habit, and habits can become obsessive and can turn into an addiction with all the related health and social consequences. It’s often a long slow process.

    The only real way he can know for sure that he isn’t headed that way is to quit drinking completely for a few months, say five months, and see how he is with it. He will learn a lot about himself in the process. He may or may not resume drinking his beer after the five months, but I’ll bet it will be at a reduced level if he does.

    My best wishes to you both.

  56. My husband has admitted that he may have a problem. It’s not as bad as it was years ago- but he a completely different person when he drinks. The beer cans he actually tossed out (I’m imagining there are more because he hides the cans throughout the house)totalled the equivalant of more than 3 cases in the span of 3-4 weeks. This is just from home- no social drinking. He hides his drinking and when I call him on it, he says he hides it because he doesn’t want to hear about it from me. He’s never physically abused me, he holds down a job- never calling in sick (though some days he smells so bad theat he probably should) he doesn’t drive drunk. So is this a functional alcoholic? I don’t want to believe it because I would like us to be a normal couple that can go out and have a couple of drinks at dinner or socially- he handles that great, but the home drinking is a different story. We have an 18 month-old daughter and I’m afraid that she will learn that Daddy acts different when he smells funny. I’ve put numbers for help right in front of him and yet he refuses to call.

  57. I have been married to my husband for 19yrs. We have 3 teenaged sons. My husband DOES NOT admit that he has a drinking problem. However, I have a problem with his drinking and so do our sons, his parents, his siblins, my family, some friends, etc. He has had one DUI two years ago. He was supposed to refrain from alcohol for 1yr but hasn’t. Can you tell me if you think he has a problem?

  58. I am pretty sure my husband is a "functioning alcoholic". He drinks at least a six pack a night and spends most of his time alone in the garage. We have two children together a 5 month girl and a 9 yr old boy. He spends very little time with them and even less time with me. I guess I make excuses for him to other people who do not know him, but I am very blunt with him. I have had to resort to telling him that he either quits the drinking or he loses his family. I am not sure what else to do….He is now very defensive and pouts the whole time he is home, he has been "sober" for three days now. I am so scared of what else to do, I cannot leave our children with him becuase he drinks so heavily he forgets about them. I had to beg him to not drink so I could attend my orientation for college. Am I doing the right thing??? Or should I just leave him???

  59. My husband and I have been together for 11 years and married almost 10. We lost a daugther due to prematurity 9 years ago. We have another daughter that was also premature and she will be 9 this summer. She has cerebral palsy and is totally dependent on us. She is a very happy little girl.

    My husband has drank ever since he was 13 years old. He is definitely an alcoholic. He doesn’t miss work for it, but he drinks beer every single day after work. He tends to drink more on weekends. He usually drinks at home, but he never wants to go with me and my daughter when I take her swimming or do anything with us like that. He would rather go to a bar for a drink until we come back home. My daughter requires us to feed her via g-tube. I usually do all of her feeding and when I ask him to do it he says "Why can’t you?" He is pretty much lazy when he is at home. I also work full-time and do all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. at home.

    I am getting pretty tired of it. I am getting ready to tell him "it’s either his daughter and me or his booze." I really feel alone. My family is starting to hate him. He makes people feel uncomfortable when they come over. He is very demeaning and can be very rude when he has been drinking. His body odor is not that pleasant either. We don’t sleep in the same bedroom anymore. He has his own room and my daughter and I have our own as well. I am really needing some help here. What would be the best way to approach this situation. My daughter requires a lot of attention and it seems like I am her sole caregiver. She definitely favors me versus her father. HELP, DESPERATE IN GREELEY!

  60. I am in a similar situation where my husband is a good, kind and generous person, but had behaviors that made me nervous and seem unhealthy. It used to be that he had a drink every night, sometimes fell asleep with the drink in his hand. At some point I let him know that it was bothering me, then one day I found dozens of empty bottles hidden in his clothes closet. He has sought counseling but still I continue to find hidden bottles or carefully emptied beer cans placed among the full ones in a case after a house party. He seems normal most of the time, takes care of our kids and is a great dad, but I am tired of being lied to. He doesn’t seem to have the sloppy drunk behaviors, but I can’t live with the hiding. I feel angry about this, and scared b/c I don’t want our family to go through pain or break up.

  61. I think my husband is an alcoholic. Over the last 5 months he has gone from one beer to several beers. He drinks during the daytime and even forgets to pick up the children from school because he’s drunk. Lately he’s become violent. He’s hit me on several occasions and the last time I had to go to the hospital due to bruising and a bite mark that is now a scar on my face. He says he’s sorry and he’s stressed out. He ignores our children and he seems very possesive lately. He’s a wonderful man when he isn’t drinking but now he’s always drinking. I dont feel safe anymore when hes drinking and no matter what i say to him while hes drunk he turns it negative and becomes confrontational. I dont want to end my marriage but I’m afraid he will only get more violent. Can I fix this and save our marriage?

  62. I am very disappointed by your questionnaire, especially with regards to questions 1, 2, 5 & 7 — I have answered yes to all the other questions, but not to those. If most alcoholics admitted that they have a drinking problem and sought help for it, that would be half the problem solved. My husband has never admitted he has a problem. And as far as questions 5 & 7: if the quotes he "often has a drink in the morning" and "lost days at work or school because of drinking" were true, he would not (in my opinion) be a true functioning alcoholic. The point is, and why no one else really knows the truth, is because he functions normally during the day and never misses work (or is even late for work) because of his drinking, nor does he drink and drive (thank God) — these are the things that make him a functioning alcoholic. I was really hopeful that this would be a good questionnaire, leading to some true answers and help, but it’s not. I will try to seek help elsewhere.

  63. Sylvia —

    My heart goes out to you. It’s bad enough to deal with an alcoholic husband, but you have so much to deal with with respect to your daughter. I am not a professional and I don’t know your whole situation, but if your husband doesn’t get help AND if he’s at all abuse towards you or your daughter, you would be better off without him. I know how hard leaving is. Because of my circumstances, I cannot leave my husband, but if I could, I would. You are not alone. You and your daughter deserve to have a life, a good life. I wish you and your daughter all the best.

    Take care

  64. Hi Sylvia,
    I can’t say it better than Samantha says it. You don’t deserve this. You deserve a better life than you describe.You took the first action of writing your comment/ question. what will be your next step?

  65. Hi Samantha,
    Thank you for your comments. The questions about whether or not your husband is a functioning alcoholic are merely areas to look at to see if any of them apply to your situation. They don’t all have to.

    The fact is that all of the items relate in one way or another to alcoholism. Notice I said "alcoholism," not "functioning alcoholism." I’m not sure there is any such animal as a "true functioning alcoholic," but there certainly are alcoholics and your husband may be one.

    Your husband may function at work and not drink and drive,(that’s the way I was) but your words suggest he is not functioning as a marriage partner. You might read my article about whether there Is there any such thing as a "functioning alcoholic" Does anyone else want to weigh in on this discussion?


  66. My husband is a "functioning alcoholic" he and I both know it. I am a hugh co-dependent. He goes to work everyday- drinks everyday after work…beers at home…"watching the game." On weekends he super iduldges- drunk Friday – Sunday night!! We have 4 children in the home- and I react negatively to his drinking- and I feel guilty because the kids always see me yelling and saying mean things to him. The kids don’t realize that mama is the one providing all care for them because daddy is too drunk and in-attentive to his children, so therefore I look like a big meany. On weeknights he is mostly in the garage- the "devils dungeon" as I call it, doing his drinking. ocassionally we have hugh blow out fights, and it is usually when I can’t take enough. Like when I find him sleeping on the toilet, or he has drunk himself to such a stuper at a gathering he sleeps in the car because I can’t carry him in the house as well as the 4 children. Financially we can’t afford for him to drink. He will overdraw the bank account for a 12 pack. He knows he is a alcoholic, he laughs it off and says well my daddy is too. He thinks that divorce is out of the question, because his mother is still married to her alcoholic. I need a way out. i want my family and marriage to work. But my husband doesn’t want help= he says he was like that when i met him 13 years ago and he is who he is and he doesn’t need to change.

  67. I just stumbled upon this website today – my first hit after entering ‘marriage alcoholic’ on google.

    I came home last night to yet another evening of my husband consuming wine on the couch. At 11:30 at night I heard him open up another bottle. At 1:30 I was awakened by some noise he made. When I went to see him (I don’t always, but did this time) I found him in a very drunken state. I know it is severe with anyone when they seemed to be completely off in another world, their eyes don’t focus and they have a particular look on their face. It’s difficult to describe, but I am sure many would know what I meant when they saw it – not in reality, dazed, almost another individual.

    To me, a person reaching this state is extreme and serious. My husband has drank since before we got married 21 years ago. He has gone through various periods where it hasn’t seemed to be an issue at all to almost splitting our marriage last year. I am very interested in pursuing the approach indicated on this website where I focus on the relationship and being healthy myself. Everything that happens in our lifes offers us opportunity to learn about ourselves. I find this situation brings up a lot of fear in me and I worry a lot.

    I worry about my safety, whether the house will burn down because he lit a candle and left it, whether he will hurt himself while intoxicated, whether he will have a short life due to illness because of this, my children and what they see (which at this point luckily hasn’t been anything to the extreme I mentioned earlier). I find the approach I want to take is to just leave…run and leave. I have a thought that it will be easier on my own and not living in such a stressful environment will be easier. Yet, on the other hand, it’s not what I really want which is a healthy environment, happiness and more health! How do I manage these struggling thoughts? Of course with them, the relationship suffers because I have a lack of trust and also distract myself by keeping busy and doing other things – however, that doesn’t get rid of the problem and it’s always still on my mind. Any advise on first steps you have would be appreciated. Oh, we have been in counselling a few times in our years together, however we have never focused specifically on the alcohol problem – which really is the underlying biggest issue.

  68. Dear Dr. Neill,

    I have taken the alcoholism test and my answers are as follows.

    1. The word functional comes up by wife on a regular basis and this is supposed to be o.k.
    2. She has never sought help and is in total denial.
    3. I go to Al-Anon and a psychologist that helps people living with alcoholism.
    4. My wifes father was a heavy drinker but her brother is an alcoholic.
    5. My wife gets drunk without knowing it and denies she is drunk and tells me she is really tired.
    6. I have discovered 2 stashes in the house and since going to Al-Anon I don’t even look anymore.
    7. We have marital problems with my wifes drinking being the contributing factor.
    8. My wife does not say she needs a drink when under stress but always reaches for a drink when stress is there.
    9. Always drinks after a quarell and blames me.
    10. I have threatened to move out, divorce, …….
    11. I feel very alone and anxious and don’t see a lot of hope.

    I am doing the best I can and have learned very good coping skills however it is not easy. This is the biggest challenge of my life and I am trying to concentrate on myself but it is difficult as I live with my wifes alcoholism every day. My wife drinks 1-1.5 or more litres of wine viturally every day with some days being 500-ml. to 600-ml. on the good days.
    I am a male and have 2 children aged 11 and 14 and my wife is a stay at home mother. I am 50 years old and the laws in the Province of Ontario make it very difficult for me to get custody of my children and my wife plays a very good game with people as far as hiding her alcoholism.
    I live one day at a time and pray that things get better.


  69. It kinda sounds like my husband. We have 1 son that is 3 and a baby girl on the way. He doesnt go out a lot but he drinks by himself or has an excuse if he didnt come home from work that the guys from work pressured him. Its a sad thing because i feel like what am i doing wrong and im his wife not them and they know hes had a few drinks what kind of friends are these to let him get behind the wheel. When we use to go out together he would actually try and start fights. I look at him as a binge drinker which sometimes can be really bad you never know what to expect when you know there going to drink. They say things they would never say if they were sober and make so many excuses for why they drink. Keep your head up if you love him sometimes its better to show tough love its hard but im sure your a bright person and if you delt with this you can get through anything.

  70. My husband is 40 years old and been drinking heavily for most of his life(since about 15), He doesn’t always drink everday, but usually 24-35 beers at a time, atleast 3-4 times a week. I am in the nursing profession and I know how hard this kind of drinking is on a person.
    I know my husband is an alcoholic, and I think he knows it too, but he has made several comments in the past about having no intention on quitting.
    I have a 10yr old and we have 5 yr/o twins together and they are already showing signs of co-dependancy and feeling they need to take care of Daddy.(wake him up, if he passes out, help him to bed, etc)
    His attitude towards me is tolerant at best, when he’s sober, it’s almost worse, he is anxious and can be very innapropriate, and degrading.
    I am financially, unable to leave,(he drinks all the money) The dredded payday.
    I need some help learning how to cope, and not enable while I live here, he wears me out…….
    This deeply saddens me.

  71. Dear Samantha,

    I had not forgotten you. With my son dying this spring from heart failure as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, I have neglected a lot of things. Sorry.

    I have frequently seen adults in my practice that tell me that they remember when they were 10 praying every night that mom would leave dad because of his drinking. They come to see me to deal with their anger about why their parents stayed together until the kids were grown up.

    Be careful what you model for your children. You both made a commitment when you married. He no longer honors his. Would you want your daughter or son to stay in a marriage no matter how bad, or would you want them after serious attempts to make it work, to seek a happier, more meaningful life apart?

    You have some tough choices to make.

    I understand your sadness.


    PS: If you haven’t already done so, read my book. It could help you gain some clarity.

  72. Dear Glen,

    In the turmoil and heartache of losing a son to drug and alcohol abuse this spring, I missed your letter (and a lot of other things.) I’m sorry.

    You have children, so please read my response to Samantha above.

    I know male custody is difficult in Ontario, but not impossible. My two divorces were in Ontario. Then I met Eileen and we have been together for 30 years and going strong.

    It’s not easy to figure out what’s right, so just hold a strong intention to do what is right and take action. The future is never knowable in the midst of change.

    I hope to be posting an article on personal change on my other website, in the next couple of days. You might find it interesting.

    you have my very best wishes through this difficult time.


  73. Hi!

    I believe my husband is an alcoholic. He says he is not, but he gets drunk almost every night. He doesn’t just have a few drinks, he gets drunk.

    Right now it is 11:00p.m and he is on his way to work, and he is very drunk. The problem is he is a truck driver, so he is putting his life and others at risk. I will not sleep for fear of getting a call from the police saying he is arrested or dead.

    When he gets this way his personality changes. He acts crazy. It is only getting worse, and he has put me through so much this year. Alot of verbal abuse and on some cases physical abuse. I can live with it, and be ok but the problem is my kids. I have two children, and I have to keep there best interest at heart. I am not sure to wether the best thing for them is to stay in this situation, or to remove them from it.

    How do you know when to leave for your childrens benefit?

  74. Dear Scantey, The violence has already escalated from verbal to physical. His personality changes. You are in danger. Get out. Your children need (a) a mother who is alive and (b) a mother who models self care. When your kids are grown up and your daughter gets into a relationship where her life in real danger from her partner, would you want her to stay with him no matter what, "until death do us part?" If not, then don’t model it. Get some professional help. Chapter 24 in my book is "When to Pull the Plug on an Alcoholic Marriage."

  75. Dear Doctor Neill, My husband is 41 and drinks everyday. He drinks 2 cases (24 ct) of beer a week….one case during the work week and one case over the weekend. We have been married 17 years and he has always drank, but the quantity has only been like this over the last ten years. The previous ten years the routine was the same, but it was 12 pack not a 24 case. He visits up to four different liquor stores when purchasing his beer. He thinks he doesn’t have a problem because he doesn’t try to hide it from me and he drinks at home for the most part, while he is doing stuff around the house. (an alcoholic would hide drinking from a spouse and an alcoholic goes to bars). He is very successful at work (an alcoholic doesn’t keep a good job), we have a beautiful home (an alcoholic drinks his money away) and we drive nice vehicles (an alcoholic drives beaters) and he only drinks beer for the most part (an alcoholic drinks hard liquor, not beer on a regular basis). So my husband doesn’t think he has a problem with his drinking, he thinks he has a stress problem at work and a “bitch” for a wife problem at home that make him drink.

    He has a DWI from his college years, and his father had issues with drinking. My husband’s siblings feel they were impacted by their father’s drinking, and my husband’s comment was that he had a good time with his dad growing up fishing and hunting and thinks the others should quit being pusses. He quit drinking for about a month about 5 years ago. He was on a low carb diet and lost a lot of weight, but then someone explained to him that beer was low carb, so he began drinking again.

    He has said that he knows he needs to cut down his drinking (he says he will never completely stop) but he cannot right now because of his stress level ‘10’ at work. He has a good job and does have a stressful job. He starts work really early and has always been able to get up out of bed after drinking and get to work on time. The few times he missed getting up were because the alarm didn’t go off. A couple of years ago he was almost fired for saying something negative about his direct supervisor who is part of upper management. He had some time to “think” about what he said and was told to not do it again…he didn’t offer up the exact details of this incident, but I can’t help but thinking that someone at work must notice the smell of booze on his breath and he becomes very cranky as the day goes on and if he has a late afternoon meeting he tries to get home before the boys school bus since I’m not home from work yet. He cracks a beer the second he gets home (usually in the garage even before he comes in) and continues all evening until he goes to bed. He doesn’t like it when the kids have evening activities and “doesn’t like his time to be wasted” when he goes to their athletic games….he expects them to win, and doesn’t have patients for when their team loose. If he gets the impression that our child is not performing up to his expectations and/or if the team isn’t performing up to his high standards, he refuses to go and stays home to drink. Then I take them. He does try to go as long as he can stand the coach, the ref or the team. Sometimes he gets upset about how the other parents act or just plain old driving to the games….the traffic bothers him (but it isn’t his problem, the other drivers are idiots) and for the most part I drive when we are going places together.

    As you can see he doesn’t think he has a problem, it is everyone else that causes the problem. I cannot say that he has lost any friends over drinking…because he seeks out friends with habits/hobbies similar to him. He often tells me that my problem with his drinking is just that, my problem. Since I don’t drink he tells me I should drink and relax more instead of worrying about him. His mother feels that all I need to do is tell him to stop and give him an “ultimatum.” She told me that he will stop when I decide I am no longer going to put up with it. Basically they see me as the problem too, that I have enabled him. When I have had that conversation with him, he has told me not to tell him what to do, and that if things are that that bad, why then I should leave, because he doesn’t have a problem, but I’m a bitch and that is the problem. He tells me he doesn’t know how we have managed to stay married as long as we have because I am such a bitch and I have it so good. (nice house, nice vehicle, etc.) He says other women would be lining up to take my place, so I had better knock it off. He also says if I leave him I will be living in a trailer court with nothing.

    Then there is our love life. I love him, but I am no longer turned on by him. I am repulsed by his smell of alcohol that seems to excrete from his body at all times and I have hardened my heart for him. Basically I just can’t stand to be intimate with him. Sometimes he gets up to pee at night and he pees in the tub sink in the mud room, or the closet thinking he is in the bathroom. He has fallen down a flight of stairs when drinking, but blamed the kids for leaving something on the stairs. He has passed out in the bathtub and in his chair downstairs. He snores and he makes choking/gasping sounds when he is passed out, it totally freaks me out. He tells me that he has really bad nightmares at night. I have not got a good night sleep for quite some time now. He has gotten into arguments with family members when he is drunk.

    I am very tired all of the time. I work outside of the home and we have three children. My husband is great for a couple of hours a day, but then he gets mean and I know I cannot leave the kids alone with him after he starts drinking. He has never hit me or the kids, but he is verbally abusive when he has been drinking. Because I do such a good job with sheltering the kids they actually are resentful towards me for not letting them do more activities with their father. I fear they will get hurt. Yes, we do have a nice home and nice vehicles, but there isn’t any money left after his drinking & hobby expenses. My family’s philosophy is “you made your bed you lie in it” and they also feel the boys need a father…even if he is an alcoholic. They would not be in a position to offer me support if I chose divorce. My life pretty much consists of working full time (thank god I love my job) and being a parent to my kids. Our third child is “developmentally delayed” so this is putting even more stress on me, my husband says it is my fault because I was too old when I conceived him (I was 36). When I ask my husband to do things (like pick up our son at daycare after work) he forgets or doesn’t remember the discussion…so he thinks I’m making stuff up or “being a bitch” as he puts it or I should just do it because I’m the one that wanted kids. He also gets all bent out of shape over the littlest of things. “Where are my tan sox? “How hard is it to keep my tan sox in one place” “You really have a problem keeping the house clean” or “Can’t you control the kids, their stuff is everywhere” Sometimes he appears severely intoxicated after just a few drinks which is really scary. I never know what will happen anymore. Pretty much everything gets blamed on me. The weekends are really bad. He drinks until he passes out, then he gets up and eats breakfast and starts drinking again. Sometimes he goes on ebay when he has been drinking and purchases a lot of things on the credit card. He is really into guns lately and is planning to take our oldest son on his pheasant hunting trip this year. I came across an email he sent to his hunting budding on our joint email account describing that he has to convince me that our oldest son could go….and that he probably couldn’t be a total boose hound if he came along. So I know that he knows that he is out of control.

    I get really sad when I think of everything all together. I’m a smart person, I’m educated and have a great job, I don’t discuss this problem with others and I’m sure people who know my husband think he is a great guy, and he is when he is somewhat sober at home which is about 2 hours a day when he first gets home from work. Things need to improve, but I’m not sure how to make it happen, short of just leaving him and right now that whole process seems like it would be a nightmare. Even if I divorce him, I think I still would need to deal with him about custody of the kids. He tells me I’m not ever taking his kids from him…that isn’t going to happen. He will make sure I don’t get full custody if we divorce. However, he is very indifferent to them the majority of the time or else very angry with them. I get the feeling he would fight for joint custody just to make things difficult for me…not because he wants them, just to hurt me. His brother is divorced and doesn’t pay child support or has a relationship with his kids, he just remarried and started a new family. I don’t want my kids to loose their father, they will blame me.

    Would you agree that my husband is an alcoholic? I took your test for spouses and most of it was a yes. Much of my self esteem is tied up in my relationship with this man because I come from a dysfunctional family, I take responsibility personally for the family I chose and made….and I apparently made a bad decision in who I married. What specific things can I do to improve my quality of life and my children’s lives? Will there be any hope for my husband to reduce his drinking or just stop? A couple of weeks ago my husband admitted himself to the ER because he thought he was having a heart attach. Now over the next month he is seeing a Neurologist for testing because he keeps getting this feeling he is having a heart attach and experiencing numbness and weakness. He won’t allow me to come to appointments, so I’m not sure if he is admitting to his drinking levels accurately. His mother told him it was lymes disease, funny how she thinks I’m the enabler! He thinks it is just stress from work. I think he is having physical anxiety symptoms on days that are stressful at work because his body needs a drink due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome he is experiencing on a daily basis. I also think the numbness is caused by alcoholic neuropathy. Obviously I’m not a doctor but, will they be able to figure out his drinking level with their tests…..even if he doesn’t admit to drinking? What do you think?

  76. Hello Wendy,

    Yes he’s an alcoholic and his alcoholism sounds advanced (memory loss, not much alcohol to show the effects, health problems).

    One of the characteristics of alcohol brain damage is delusional thinking, and the biggest delusion is usually that he doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. Personal insight is gone, if it ever was there (everyone else is the problem. He’s unhappy with life and he’s on a self destructive path. He blames you.

    Wendy, I wrote my book for you. Read it. It will help you understand how you have become part of the problem. No matter how much he abuses you and gets others to abuse you, you stay and cover for him. Furthermore, his abusiveness has reached outrageous proportions.

    You admitted your self esteem is tied up with the relationship. Healthy people don’t do that, although they care deeply for their partners and the relationship.

    Make self care your number one priority and refuse to buy into the family secrets. Does your doctor know he’s a drunk? Does your minister? do your friends? They all should know. Do you talk openly with your children about their father’s alcoholism? You should, lest they also become part of what keeps him drinking. Do they understand that his moods are not about the day’s stress, but come from his being a very unhappy drunk?

    Yes, he may try to cheat you out of assets and child support. He may try to get joint custody just for spite. But so what! You are dying where you are. If one of your children grows up to marry an alcoholic and the marriage dies, would you want your child to stay no matter what? Then don’t set that example. Overcome your addiction to his care and act.

    For things to change, first you must change. Talk to a lawyer and make a plan. Read the book so you are better equipped to deal with lawyers, doctors, psychologists, rehab centers, etc. Do it now. It will be a lot harder if he has a heart attack or becomes disabled in some other way.

    Wendy, I’m saddened by what you are going through. You have my very best wishes in your recovery from your addiction and your regaining a life. You are not a bitch; you are a responsible, caring woman who is fighting for her life.



  78. Hi Penny,

    Please read the first three paragraphs of what I wrote to Wendy just above. They apply to you.

    It sounds like you are preparing emotionally for you and the children to separate from him.

    I’m sure that reading Living with a Functioning Alcoholic, A Woman’s Survival Guide would help you reduce your confusion and find some clarity.

    Best wishes on some tough choices you may be facing,


  79. I have been married for 5 years & am now separated, having had to gain the courage to leave even though I didn’t really want to & would have rather made the marriage work but couldn’t due to his non comittal.

    I believe my husband is a functioning alcoholic. I have spoken to him on many occasions about this & pleaded with him to get help or come with me to Relate, but he denies he has a problem & just laughs at me, calling me a drama queen, amongst other things.

    He drinks every day, feels uncomfortable with people unless he has had a drink, drinks very quickly & admits he has drunk alcohol since he ws 12. He is now 42. He was also on drugs for 15 years & quite freely tells people. He says I make him drink, verbally abuses me & has been violent, controlling & a bully. This led to me having a breakdown which he didn’t support me through, but just went out drinking.

    At weekends he will generally go out at around 1pm & return home anytime between 12am & 3am, having been drinking the whole time both Saturday & Sunday. As a result he invariably misses Monday at work. He drink drives, demands sex when drunk & blames me for not wanting to. He falls asleep on the sofa with cigarettes, spends his money then goes to his mother for more & she gives it to him, which he then spends in the pub. He had an ulcer in his early 20s ,where the doctor told him to stop drinking. He did for 3 months until he got the all clear but then went straight back to drinking & drug taking.

    I would like to know how this comes across to you & whether in fact he is right, he doesn’t have a problem & I am a drama queen!

  80. I’ve been married to my husband for 24 years. In my teens and early adulthood, I developed chronic depression and severe self-esteem issues, probably caused by a very strict and isolated family life with a verbally abusive father and a depressed (but loving) mother. I was attracted to this man in college because he loved me, and I thought it was amazing that any man would love me. He drank in college. He still drinks.

    His drinking and inactivity has made him obese (340 lbs. at 5’8") and way out of shape. He is currently unemployed. But just this last weekend, while I went to church, he had his first drink of the day to kill the pain of a bad back. He continued drinking. At around 6:00 p.m. he got into a very foul mood when I had chores to do that were keeping me from relaxing and hanging out with him. He tried to help me get a plexiglass storm screen in a back window, and was flying into a rage. I told him I could not stand his yelling; it was as though he was totally out of his mind. I told him I was leaving the apartment to get some peace, and he called me a bitch. I stayed outside in the yard, while I heard him yell and bang things around inside our apartment.

    I could hardly wait to get back to work on Monday. This is ironic, because I am working only to make money and other than that, I feel I’ve wasted my potential and my life. Anyhow, my husband’s fits of rage happen at least once a year, whether or not he’s had a drink. I cannot drive, and depend on him to get me to work. But I won’t let that make me feel inferior to him. Since I rediscovered my spirituality (I’m a former Catholic who’s now a member of an Episcopal parish), started getting chiropractic work to straighten my hunched back and have been working out at the gym to lose weight, I’ve found it easier to be happy and to live in my own skin.

    The problem is – though I still love him in one way and do not want to hurt him, I find myself less and less attracted to him. We haven’t had sex in years, simply because I have no sexual desire at all. It’s no problem for me, but I feel this is very unfair for him! So I find myself imagining a life without him. These thoughts scare me because they seem selfish, and if he dies, in my grief, I will be sorry I had these half-wishes that he’d be out of my life. After all, he loves animals, and is very tender and caring of our budgie and our parrot. I also love it when he hugs me.

    My husband has always been a very forceful, sarcastic, intelligent man. And he is stubborn. I gave up talking to him till I’m blue in the mouth about his drinking, not taking showers, (He takes a shower only once a week, and usually after I tell him to.) and leaving the apartment a mess.

    He tells me to stop nagging him, so I give up – I cannot help him. Am I copping out here? Short of kicking him out of our rent-subsidized apartment, what else can I do for myself and him?


  81. Dr. Neill,

    I am married to a man that was sober for 9 years and started drinking again 7 months ago. Even when he was sober, he was not really working a program. We had intimacy issues in our relationship. Over the course of our marriage I had two children now ages (3 and 6) and suffered from what I thought was post partum depression. Approximately 2 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I guess what I am saying is that our family life has been filled with stress due to pregancy, births, and disease. After my diagnosis I have worked very hard to get healthy, seeing a therapist and consistantly taking my medication. I began to get more confidence in myself and my husband and I began having more problems due to me wanting to fix our intimacy issues. It was around that time that I found out that my husband had been secretly drinking for a few months.

    I must say that my husband is never mean and never misses work. But he does not connect with me or my daughters for more than a few minutes at a time. He is much more interested in removing himself from us and working or drinking. I have set boundaries by saying that he can’t drink in our house or in front of our daughters, but then he just leaves and goes out drinking. Last night I couldn’t take our distance anymore and while we were out on a date I said I didn’t care if he drank, we had fun for the first time in a long time. He opened up and we were talking and it didn’t feel forced. Neither of us got drunk, only had a few drinks. It was a perfect evening. Unfortunately, on our way home he asked if I would mind if he “went out” when we got home. I was devistated. I guess I thought if we were able to relax together and drink that would be enough. I felt abandonded when he left. I know I shouldn’t have enabled him and I wrote him a note telling him such. I would love advice as to my best course of action because I can’t take the lack of interaction/intimacy at the same time I really love this guy and don’t want him to continue down a road of alcoholism that is getting worse.

  82. Dear Angela,

    The man you describe is an alcoholic and a bully. He appears to have zero insight into his condition and he is in the process of self-destruction. If living with a death wish is a problem, he has a huge problem. The fact that he doesn’t have any insight into his problem is irrelevant. And you cannot and should not do anything about that.

    He is following the usual pattern for alcoholics with no insight: he blames you and he blames everyone else for his life. He may even belief his own hype. That’s what alcoholics do. It has absolutely nothing to do with you beyond the fact that you were there.

    You did the smart thing in leaving him. Congratulations! You are not a drama queen; a drama queen would be still there fighting it out.

    Have you considered moving as far away as possible?

  83. Dear Nora,

    I am glad you are going to church again and looking after your body. What that tells me is that you are taking steps towards getting a life again. For you to gain or regain a sense of yourself, independent of your husband, is the single biggest thing you can do for yourself…and for him. So take a course, learn to drive, take up a sport, see a therapist, get a more fulfilling job, in short, do whatever you can to build a life for yourself.

    Self care is not selfishness. We don’t think of Mother Theresa as selfish, but she is reported to have said,”I always fill my own bowl first.”

    Of course you love him. But what I just said about taking care of yourself is important to your self worth if you are with him or if you are apart, whether through choice or his death. (You did indicate he is on a self-destructive path.)

    When he sees you as capable of taking care of yourself with or without him, he may take notice and do something about his own self care. Many men have, some after years of self abuse. Talking to him about his drinking is useless, as you have found out. The single biggest help you can be to him is to look after you.

    I go into a lot more detail about this in my book.


  84. Dear Dee,

    You can’t do anything directly about his drinking, except to tell him how you feel when he goes out. Everything I said to Nora (above) applies to you. Maybe he will change. Maybe he won’t. What you have to decide is whether or not you can accept the present low level of connection and intimacy, or whether you will have to leave and create a new life for yourself. It’s probably one of the toughest decisions you’ll face in life, but you do deserve a chance at fulfillment.

    Best wishes.

  85. My comment is in regard to the denial of a functioning alcoholic. Since they don’t lose their job, pay the bill, keep the roof over the families head, they feel there is no debating the alcoholism. The challenge in my opinion is to show them facts rarding their drinking. I left my spouse, went to counseling with him, and the counselor told him my “big ticket” items were alcohol and anger. The response was always, “yes, but those arent our only problems”. It still amazes me to this day that the only one not being able to see his problem was himself.

  86. I need help so bad, I just want to know how one can stay with someone that drinks and hurt you with words all the time.

    I’m a very positive person, and he’ a nagitive person in every way.
    I’ve done everything that I can think of to make this marriage work.

    We have not had sex for over 2 yrs he’s older than I AM AND HE ALWAS TELL ME THAT I’M THE BLAME…

    Please help me because I don’t know what to do.
    He gets mad and stays mad for weeks….


  87. My husband who I have been with for 10 years now is an alcoholic. We have three children but are bothfairly young. I am 27 and he is 29. He comes from an alcoholic family and struggles with alcohol daily. When he is stressed he drinks. He has gotten 3 dui’s and is verbally abusinve and breaks things to keep me from yelling at him when I am upset that he drinks. He has cycles where he only has 1-3 beers a day all the way to a half a case a day. He lies and goes out to the bar for “just a beer and a shot”. I feel this is unfair and we are always fighting about it. He proceeds to drink 4-10 more beers when he gets home. I hate to be around him when hes drunk and makes no sense! I do enjoy his company when he is sober but I just cant keep going on this roller coaster. He did say he was never drinking again after his third DUI (which we had dropped after spending most of our saving on a good lawyer.) and attended 1 AA meeting. Any suggestions???

  88. Do these two go hand in hand? The alcoholism has increased in my husband and now he has switched from the TV Playboy channel to internet porn. I travel once a month for a week at a time. I worry about what he is doing while I am going. I am starting to snoop more since I opened the computer to find a message from a dating web-site. What are your suggestions. Are these two addictions?

  89. Dear Neill
    I have been married for 10 yrs and we have two children. A son eight and a daughter 4. I have been living with his drinking problem for a long time. He has been arrested twice since we have been married for DUI and hit and run accidents, Thank God no one was hurt. I used to cover up for him, but in the last couple of years I have had enough and I let everyone know how he is. This past holiday he has missed holiday gatherings , because he is out with friends drinking. He lies to me and trys to cover things up. In the last two years he has gone behind my back and made two huge purchases and tried to hide them from me. My son is a lot like my husband and I am really worried that if I continue to let this happen that he will grow up to be just like his dad. I couldn’t handle that!!! He is ruining our marriage and his own life. He has a strong family history of alcoholism, uncles, father, grandfather, etc. I want to break that chain with my son. How do I go about doing that? I have talked to my husband about this until I cannot any longer. Am I doing my children more harm than good staying together.

  90. Dear Dr. Neill,

    I believe my boyfriend is a functioning alcoholic. He told me he drank alot for about 5 years then stopped about 2 years ago. He drinking came to a halt because he passed out and fell on his face and knocked out his front tooth. He realized then he should stop. Our relationship is only a few months old and I see the signs already. He doesn’t drink drink much when we are together; an ocassional drink or 2 never more than 3. I notice after one or 2 drinks he slurs his speech,acts very immature, repeats himself and doesn’t make sense. Ive called him out on this and he denys drinking. Sometimes he is perfectly fine then he leaves the room for like a few mins.. comes back, and is all weird, like he is drunk. Night and day. Where the hell is he getting it from?? His car, his room? He is starting to sneak a drink in when Im not looking. He lies like you wouldn’t believe even when I tell him

    I know the truth.He often gets angry, blames me or the ocassion for drinking then apologizes within 5 mins. I am starting not to be so sensitive about it. I just let him cool off and then he comes back all lovey dovey and says he is sorry and doesn’t want to lose me. Of course I take him back but tell him one more time I am out of here. This is now the 3 time and I haven’t talked or seen him. He is contacting me but I haven’t responded. I just don’t know what to say. I want him to realize he is losing a great thing due to his drinking. Otherwise, he will never understand the reprecussions of his actions.

    We casually dated 9 years ago but it ended because we moved in different directions. We met up again just recently and realized we are totally in love. I waited 9 years to finally be with what I thought was the one and now all I do is worry. I have found him in the middle of the night relieving himself in his room. He believed he was in the bathroom. How does he not know where he is? Another time I found him passed out outside in a corner on New Years. Had my friend not said "oh look at the drunk guy on the floor" I would have walked right passed my boyfriend. He had no coat and could have froze to death. I couldn’t even help him up because I was crying so hard. I cut back my drinking around him, don’t go to places where he could be tempted and Ive told him he needs to get help.

    He knows there is a problem then cries and asks me to be there for him and not to judge. He claims his family labels him as a screw up. His father mind you is a recovering alcoholic-16 years. I don’t know how to help him. I can’t help him if he doesn’t want to help himself. He can’t do this on his own.

    I want to help but what about me and my happiness? Do I mention something to his family? Do I have someone from AA come to his house? Intervention? need help desparately thanks

  91. I can relate so much to what you are saying, I have been keeping this dysfunctional family together for 15 yrs. I have a son from a previous marriage, that husband was alcoholic. I have a daughter from this marriage and I have tried everything to fix the problem of alcohol. There is no fixing, you either decide to stay in the dysfunction or you get out. I met a lady whose family said the same thing as yours, you made your bed you lie in it. But if there is shit in the bed you shake it out.

    I have become an enabler, I am co-dependent and go to al-anon, my husband sits in the room in the bottom of the house, the one that he has made his and drinks everyday from 4pm till bed, sometimes he eats if I cook for him. He has always drank, and he has embarrassed me at functions, spoiled so many xmas’s, birthdays and weekends, I cannot count anymore. We used to have the best sex and I loved being near him, but he just sits in his chair staring at the austar with a garbage bin (big) next to him for the empties, he is a big man 6′ 8 and can drink a carton with no problem.

    He is jealous of my son who is 18, my son thinks he is a dickhead and I should have thrown him out ages ago. I work full-time, 2nd yr teaching degree and my son is doing university study too. I have told him to leave before, but missed him too much and we got back together after many promises and one visit to AA.

    He told me that I had ruined his life, that he drinks because of me, I took him to pyschologist who told him there was nothing wrong with him lubricating are marriage he put it. The Dr I found out also had drug and alcohol problems.

    I have read everybook, scanned the internet, talked to everyone, been to al-anon for years at a time. I loved my husband more than anything and the thought of him not with me, kills me. I wanted him to be a good father to his daughter, I wanted to go on holidays and camp and have fun and our marriage did have some good moments. Not many. He works at a club as a bar manager and works 6 days a week shift work. He associates with all the other drunks and has started playing the poker machines as well. He borrowed money in January and didnt return it for the first time. I have paid his mobile phone bills and looked after him all our marriage.

    I have come to the conclusion that there is no alternative. For my sanity and health which are slowly deteriorating and also for the terrible times my kids have been thru it is time to go. I bought a bigger house six bedrooms so we could have more space, I thought he would help me paint and fix it up, he cant even clean his own room. He tells me to f.. off upstairs when I used to sleep downstairs and one night when he told me that, when I was sick I told him if I went upstairs I wouldnt be back.

    There is a housing market slump at the moment, the boxes are piled up in the basement, but I have decided to get rid of all my excess stuff and finish the house myself and leave. I dont have the heart to tell him to go, will just tell him that I am putting the house on the market, if he objects I will legally separate with a solicitor, otherwise I will do it myself. He apologises the next day for his outbreaks, he sits and cries because I think he hates the way he is. But everytime I fall for his con job I get hurt again and again, like a cow going near an electric fence, when it stings enough you dont go back…. anyone can email me

  92. my comments I hope will help everyone, so glad I found this site, you think you are the only one going thru this shit and when you read all these letters you see that there are so many people (families) with this terrible problem. I hope wendy @ 7.00 reads my reply. email me.

  93. Hi Sue,

    Your description of your boyfriend’s drinking says he is alcohol dependent, that is, he is an alcoholic. Furthermore, his addiction sounds quite advanced. It is not your fault. I repeat, it is not your fault. However, by being with him and taking him back, you become part of the problem.

    Your happiness is important. You cannot fix him. The best thing you could do for him is to leave him permanently. He might turn it around, or he might not. But if you don’t go, he probably won’t change, and you don’t deserve the life of misery that would be in store for you.

    Having to leave someone we love,through separation or death, is one of the toughest parts of the human experience. The grief that will follow is normal. In fact, you were already grieving as you wrote.

    You have my very best wishes.

  94. Hi Shaz,

    Thank you for your courage in baring your soul. My heart goes out to you as you take these difficult actions.

    I see that you bought “living with a Functioning Alcoholic, A Woman’s Survival Guide.” If reading it helps you, I’m sure others who are going through what you have suffered would love to hear your comments.


  95. Hey Doc,

    My husband and I decided that he would only drink 3 nights a week (suppose to be weekends) when we were to become pregnant. Well we found out we were pregnant about 5 weeks ago and he’s been keeping his word for the most part. He’s not an aggressive drunk if anything our relationship is better when he drinks. He’s more layed back and seems happier and well not as annoyed with me.LOL. He’s a great father with our first daughter and so on.

    Our problem lately has been in the evenings before bed (when he usually drinks) he’s just sensitive, on edge, impatient, and hot tempered. Its pretty consistent the nights he doesn’t drink we get in some sort of "tift" and occasionally a heated argument. Are these signs of bigger problems to come and should I intervene in a different manner or just ride this out?


  96. Hi Britt,

    Drinking before bed, and not drinking and provoking a tiff just before bed, are both distancing strategies. He is trying not to get emotionally close. Ask yourself if the quality of your sex life is suffering.

    The pattern is a pretty strong indicator of something being wrong. Get professional help, but understand that it is probably not about the alcohol.


  97. Hello…my girlfriend is a police officer. She often drinks when she gets off work in the morning (a few beers) and drinks most of her nights off (6-12 beers). She says that drinking relieves the stress of the job. She has a family history of alcoholism (although not her parents). I have found evidence that she’s put beer in a cup for her trip from her house to mine. Most of the nights off, she drinks enough to make her speech slurred and when she lays down, she goes right to sleep. We’ve dated a year and I used to indulge with her often, however I’ve stopped now because I’m beginning to see a problem. We’re both in our early 30’s. Is this alcoholism? Thank you.

  98. Hi Jesse,
    Her drinking pattern certainly suggests alcoholism. She sounds like she is needing to medicate something painful in her life, but it has got to a dangerous level. 3 drinks a day put a woman’s risk of certain common types of cancer 38% above the baseline. There has been no research that I know of to show what the risk is when the consumption level reaches the excessive level you describe.

    Sorry I can’t be more positive.

  99. Dr. Neill,
    I’m so glad I found this site. As I have read all of these letters, I have been surprised that so many other women are dealing with the exact same symptoms of their husbands that I have with my husband. My husband has been an alcoholic for at least 20 years. It has gotten progressively worse these last few years. He is never abusive, physically or verbally. He is a functioning alcoholic–he goes to work every day and is a good provider. However, he now admits that he is an alcoholic and is attending AA meetings and has a sponsor and thinks that he is cured. Sometimes, he will admit to drinking (he drinks secretly–even though it is very apparent to our children and to me that he is drunk), but lately he doesn’t seem to remember buying the alcohol or drinking it. If I can find the bottle and prove it to him, he is shocked, but if I can’t find the bottle, he will be adament that he DID NOT DRINK ANYTHING! But will have no explanation as to why he can’t remember what happened during the evening. Is it possible to blackout and truly not remember that you drank so much that you couldn’t even stand up straight or walk straight?

    I’m so confused and his reasoning and seeming truthfulness make me doubt myself.

    I would so appreciate an answer or some information that would help me clarify this whole situation. Thank you.

  100. Hi Paula,

    He seems truthful because he really believes he is telling the truth.

    When someone is hit on the head and knocked unconscious, the often have a gap in memory. However, the event is not just for the events following the blow, but often for the events leading up to the blow.

    Likewise, when someone’s brain damage is from alcohol intoxication, they often don’t remember events leading up to when they started to drink. They are quite conscious of buying the alcohol, although they can’t remember anything the next morning.

    As I explained in the article, “Alcoholic blackouts-the Big Lie” and in subsequent comments, the blackout is about memory, not consciousness. If this is not understood, a blackout is a wonderful excuse that has even been used in court successfully, given the right “expert witnesses.”

  101. To confused in california,

    What you said sounds exactly like me and the situation i am in right now. I have been married for three years and everytime my husband and i get into an arguement he just tells me to leave. He has been an alcoholic for 10 years now and doesn’t want help. We have a lot of fun together and whenever we are having good times they are really good but when they are bad, they are really bad. I can’t seem to get enough courage to leave him either and it frustrates me. Everytime i try, i remember the good times and end up staying. Why do we do this to ourselves and our children? I have no clue but i feel stuck between a rock and a hard place right now. I’m glad i’m not the only one in this world going through the same thing.

  102. Thanks for your reply. It really helps me to understand a little. What can I do to help??? I’m so afraid that he will hurt someone while driving in his blackout state. He does that! I worry about that alot and don’t know what to do or how to make him believe or understand that he is putting not only himself in danger but other innocent people. I also don’t feel comfortable letting him be alone with the grandkids or driving them anywhere–even in the daytime (he usually only drinks in the late afternoon or evening). Do I just have to wait until something horrible happens? I feel frustrated and totally out of control of the situation.

  103. Dear Paula,
    Sometimes it’s necessary to involve the police if you know he’s out in the car and has been drinking. It’s harsh, I know. Perhaps you would have to get a friend to do it if you can’t. Or you could take yourself out of the equation by leaving.

    The alternative of waiting can be tragic. Some time after my father had died, a drinking driver killed my mother, leaving four children. I was the oldest, at 16.

  104. My husband is a self-professed alcoholic and doesn’t want to quit. He had an ovi (2nd one) accident 2 years ago and quit drinking for 6 months. He goes to the bar after work every day and gets drunk. I am afraid he will get another ovi and my son who is 9 and I will have to fend for ourselves since he will likely go to jail. I am waiting for the law that makes those with ovi get the breath system to start your car. I hope he will still qualify. I told him he can drink at home but he says he will drink too much then.

    He wants to die and leave us his life insurance. He also has ms but he uses that as an excuse since he has it under control with Tysabri infusions.

    Anyway, just waiting for the world to come crashing down.

  105. Hi Martha,

    I invite you to not just wait. Victims wait to see what will happen to them. Start now to do for yourself and your son whatever you will have to do anyway if he goes to jail or dies. Self care starts now, and that is the one thing you have control over.


  106. The two are downloadable:

    Just enter your first name and email address at the top left of this page for the codependency ebook.

    Go to and do the same for the Change ebook.

  107. I have been looking all over for some help.A close relative of mine,drinks 8 PINTS of beer each night.It doesn’t get him drunk,he doesn’t drink in the day,doesnt miss work because of it.But here are my cheif complaints;

    *His health number one.I have tried to find information that is specific to his situation and to prove to him (the man who won’t take asprin coz it might hurt his liver) that what he is doing is SO dangerous.It scares me

    *Toward the end of his beers (around the 6th/7th) he starts to become forgetful,repetative and just acts a little stupid,it’s a turn off and he makes himself appear oaffish

    * When he drinks liquor or more beers that his ‘usual 8pints’ he becomes nasty and verbally abusive,he has never physcially hurt me and don’t believe he would,but he calls me really nasty names and then blames me for causing it.

    *He has tried to stop and cannot sleep when he doesnt drink,his argument,if he cant sleep he cant work and earn the money,so thats that.

    *He doesnt see any harm and it’s “my problem”

    * He honestly doesnt blieve there is any harm in what he is doing or anything unhealhty,he tells me when I can prove it through a reputable source then he will listen.

    * MOST of the time we are fine,but even when we are not haing big blow ups it bothers me for the health reasons.

    * When we do have big blow ups its awful and upsetting.

    * I cant FIND any solid information/studies that are specific to the amount HE drinks,he wants specifics not just a general ‘more than 4 beersis bad for you’ he needs someone to show him exactly what it’s doing to him and scare him.Right now,he has offered to me,to take a test and check his liver (he did one a few years ago and it came back fine even though he didn’t drink for a week before hand) I am not sure how long it takes for your liver to repair enough for the tets to be ok,but his were fine.(liver specific tests and others)
    * whenever he goes out with people to a bar,he drinks liquor and usually can’t remember what happens,he blacks out,does stupid things,pee’s in random places,get;s mean,falls over and generally makes an ass out of himself.He is 38 but acts like he’s 18.

    I don’t know what to do,I am at my wits end.As long as I don’t complain,we are fine,but it bothers me and upsets me daily.I wish I could show him something that would jolt him.I tried calling a couple of liver specialists but I culdnt speak to a doctor,they told me I would have to come in,I know he wouldnt do that. Sigh…any suggestions?Thanks


  108. Oh and by the way,he doesnt ever drink and drive,he hasnt ever cheated on me and when we argue he brings these things up like it makes it all ok

  109. I’ve been married for almost 7 years. When my husband & I were dating we did our share of drinking. After we were married and moved in together I realized just how much he actually drank. I took the test and now believe I am married to a functional alcoholic. He slowed down his drinking about 4 years ago and now I think it’s getting worse by the day. The last year of my life has been hell. It seems he is drinking more and he claims he does not have a problem. He becomes very angry and very abusive. (mainly verbal) Lately he’s been drinking every day. He drinks beer, mixed drinks, whatever has alcohol! He doesn’t always go overboard but honestly I’m scared when he drinks because I know he can become an animal.(which I know is not him unless he’s drinking) He is a 46 year old man that has been drinking probably since he was 15 (thanks to his drunk dad that gave him his 1st taste of alcohol). I guess what I really need is advice. Is there any hope for this man? I love him but I don’t want to be stuck having to pick up the pieces because he doesn’t care enough about himself. I wan’t to help him but I don’t know how when he doesn’t see this as a problem…

    Thank you!

  110. Like you, I also have a husband that claims to be just “buzzed” but I never put into that context. It makes sense that you can’t have a buzz for hours. I have been battling with my husband over his drinking over the years and it has worn me down. For a while I even began drinking with him, in hopes that this would somehow make me not feel so alone in all of this. Lately, I find bottles hidden and receipts from alcohol. He has taken to refilling his bottle slowly that sits in the cabinet so as not to look as though he is drinking more than he claims. I don’t know what to do.

  111. Hi Kim,

    As you read the book, you will get lots of guidance as to what to do. at the core, you have to disentagle yourself emtionally from his problem, to make sure you are not contributing to his continuing to drink.

  112. I just read your alcohol test. I am an RN, my husband is also a medical professional and is a functional alchoholic with what has been referred to as late onset or adult onset alcoholism or about 5years ago alcohol abuse(he’s turning 53 years old in June). He has never missed a day of work but has had several episodes, one a year and a half ago I found him at 5:30am in the spare bathroom blacked out on the floor with our front door open. I put it to him, get help or move out. He has been seeing a therapist regularly since then who has expertise in addictions and she is aware of his problem, simple assessment can verify that. Also, his brother and father are also alcoholics, his Dad presently, not in good shape.

    Anyway, he admits he needs to be more "moderate" but I am well aware of his denial and obviously abstaining is the only answer with treatment. He willingly did couples counseling for about 12 visits last year I’m sure with the urgings of his therapists but stopped when our last visit I calmly stated my feelings of neglect and emotional abuse….24 years of marriage, no kids, but we were very very spirtual active and focused through the first l8 to 20 years; a year ago I reconnected with my faith and also speak with a therapist, and recently started to attend alanon in earnest (two years ago I went for alittle over 2 weeks every day) but realized I needed to focus on my connection with my higher power…It has been a major source of comfort, balance and strength for me and, although I am a nurse, understanding alcoholism and using the tools of alanon, detachment, etc has been helpful; also going to open AA meetings to hear the minds of those struggling and recovering from their addiction. I must say though sometimes fear and sadness overwhelm me, grieving about what was and being anxious about what future crisis there may be in view of the fact that alcoholism is a progressive disease. Any comment or contribution to my words I would consider to be a wonderful help. Thank you.

  113. Hi Patti,

    “Alcoholism is a progressive disease” is a popular myth promoted by AA and uncritically accepted. Unfortunately, believing it leaves both your husband and you as victims, basically without hope. Abstaining may be the only way for your husband, but he may fear “being in recovery” for the rest of his life. He doesn’t have to be. With some appropriate work on his life after he quits, he can get past the need for alcohol, if he wants to. I did, and I didn’t go to some rehab resort.

    If he takes action and overcomes his alcohol abuse, then neither of you need be a victim. You can just get on with your lives.

    Call me if you like.

  114. Tonight I surfed the net to find out how I can leave my Alcoholic husband. I found this test. Almost every comment sounds like my husband. Only he starts drinking after he has had his morning coffee, drinks wine all day (literally I never see him without a drink of wine in his hand) and doesn’t stop until he falls asleep on the sofa after sitting there for all of 2-5 minutes to watch tv after supper (which by the way is his only meal of the day).

    He is not abusive to me, but if something doesn’t go right he has a very nasty temper and mouth and yells and curses and throws things till he gets it out of his system. Now that I think about it, I never give him anything to be upset about because I always do whatever he wants to keep the peace, but if I did ever do something to make him angry he may treat me the same way, I think that is why I have stayed in the marriage so long because I am afraid of what he might do if I mention to him I want to leave.

    I have wanted to leave him since January of 2008 but haven’t had the guts to do it. So I have been living in misery for a year and a half with this man. I have had my clothes and the few sentimental things I want to take with me packed since Jan 08. You see I live a 2 days drive from my home so I kind of feel trapped here, knowing I have to make that drive by myself. I pray every day that God will deliver me from this drinking life, it is like I am on a roller coaster, never knowing when his temper is going to flare.

    I am not happy and that is one reason I went to find an answer on the internet because I don’t have any one to talk to about this. I don’t think I can stay in this life style much longer. My husband says I am the one who has the problem when I bring up his drinking or try to explain why I am so unhappy. Needless to say I do not want to be around him. We have not been intimate for about a year. Before that I only did it to appease him but now I feel sick if I even think about being intimate with him. He tries to tickle me by playing but I can not even stand for him to touch me, I just grin and bear it. I feel bad for him and quilty for staying, because I feel if I left he could find someone else that he could have a life with, someone that would want to be around him.

    I talked with him about his drinking and my feelings Jan of 08 and about 3 times since then. He told me if I am that unhappy I need to decide what I want to do. I have told him I can not stand to be around him when he is drinking. Tonight at the dinner table we were talking and I looked at him and got sick and had to stop eating and get up from the table when I saw his eyelids almost closed because I knew he was so out of it. Although he is a functioning alcoholic and he can carry on a conversation even tho he slurs when he has has just one drink too much.

    Well I know I am just rambling. I don’t even want to get up in the morning, I wish I could just sleep all day, I have nothing to look forward to for the day. Nothing means anything to me any more, my life is empty. I feel sad. I wish I could tell him tomorrow what I am really feeling and just tell him I just can’t take it anymore and load up and leave. I dream about taking off and never looking in my rear view mirror and just going forward to be able to live my life the way I am accustom to with NO DRINKING!

    Thank you for listening.

  115. Dear B,

    Your husband’s drinking is a choice he makes daily. After all, he could decide to change, get whatever help he needs and move on with his life. As for you, you have been making the same choice every day since January ’08, the choice to numb out in your unhappiness and stay put, hoping for the improbable.

    There is no good time to leave, but you do deserve a life. You just choose to have a life, privately plan what you would have to do to make a happy life possible, however uncertain it might be, choose to pursue a life, and then just do it. No discussion! Years of discussion haven’t changed anything, so why would you expect discussion to help now?

    Reading “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic” would help you understand what’s happened. But if you need to leave him to pursue a life, don’t wait for a book. Just do it, and don’t wait for “a good time to leave,” because there is no good time.

    Please add another comment if you want. I hope it’s from your new life.

  116. Hi there,
    I am beside myself. My husband is barely a functioning alcoholic at this point. He drinks vodka, a 1/5th at least 5 nights a week. When he drinks he becomes verbally abusive and mean. He constatly wants to start fights. It has overcome our lives (especially mine). I feel like I can’t leave the house, I absolutely can’t leave my two boys with him, we don’t have any intimacy, or really a relationship. I am totally the condependent, I hide his alcohol, make excuses, and lie to family and friends.
    At this point he is working but the “sick” days are starting to add up. When he does take a “sick” day he just drinks and passes out, repeat,etc. He hides alcohol in the house and garage.
    I feel so overwhelmed and alone. I worry all the time and the fighting is exhausting. He either snaps at the boys or wants to be super dad. I try to seperate myself from him when he drinks but he constantly wants to engage. I feel so alone because I am too ashamed to tell friends. His family knows and so does my mom and step dad. His father is a recovering alcoholic and his paternal grandfather was an alcoholic too.
    I don’t know what to do. I can’t continue like this but I don’t want to give up…He won’t get any help. Ofcourse he says he can do it on his own…How do I stick to an ultamatum? I’m mentally exhausted..I feel like I’m going to loose my mind..along with my family


  117. You are doing a number of things that support his alcohol abuse. Read the book and make some small changes that will help both of you.

    Like Sharon said in another comment, sometimes you just have to put your heart on the back burner and use your head.

  118. I’m a recovering addict alcoholic,ive lost my twins to to my drug addiction i have a total of 5 children age ranging 7-13, it took me 3 programs and many years being in jails institutions untill i finaly got "the message." i woked my self from the bottom straight to the top, 6 years later i am now married and things were awsome until i found that my partner was not on the same maturaty level as i am. my income allows me to stay home and "make up the lost time with the children, However my time and energy is now consumed with m husdbads behavior problems. I have a part as well, i know better than to engage in nonsense, but i am only human.

    I know from my own experiance that i cannot do this for him i am an enabeler and now im in to deep. im drowning within myself, i used my recovery tools and have the girls in counceling, as well as myself, we also attend a session together as a couple. im not looking for anything from any one…..just needed to vent. already working on my back up plan. my heart hurts, my eyes are wet, but i still smile, laugh, and play. to let go is not to enable, but to learn from natural consequinces.

    thanks, much better.

  119. I love my husband. I dont love his problem. Well over a year ago I stopped helping him. I have been working on my own co-dependancy, but I still worry about him. I worry about our marriage, but it almost seems to be a total loss now. He doesnt admit he has a problem he “just likes the taste of beer” all 12 of them each night I suppose. Im angry now, Ive been hurt and felt let down, now Im just angry. I dont know if this is good. But last night was my last straw, am I going to leave, I dont know but I know I cant go on like this any longer. Not with a son in tow. He is either going to kill himself slowly or cause an accident. The death of his father was the catalyst, but wasnt the beginning, I think there were underlying problems prior to that, I was just to blind in love. Besides, I would have a drink or two at that time as well, but my priorityies changed with children. He seems to miss the past, blaming me, teling me Ive changed, Im not the same person. When in fact he is right, Im not the same, I havent been for a long time. I dont know where to go, where to begin, but Ill get there…eventually.

  120. My story is very similar to the above messages. My husband is also a functional alcoholic. We have been married for thirty years. In the early years I wasn’t all that aware of his problem with alcohol. He has a very demanding job and always managed to keep on top of things in the work place. He drank but was at work at 7 am performing delicate procedures with amazing accuracy each day. I was telling myself that he couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic if he never had problems at work.

    Fast forward some twenty years and we have an adult son who is hopelessly an addict, a daughter who is anorexic, and another daugher who wants to be a male. I am in shock. How did this happen? He has never been violent towards me but he has with our oldest son. My son is now facing charges with a third DUI and is awaiting trial in a sobriety house. I am in shock. My husband still is functioning in his profession and makes a great deal of money. I am waiting for the floor to fall out from under our feet. Everyday the stress is unbelievable. I have learned to cope and I am not in the position to leave.

    I have lived a life of solitude and without real love. This is a sad time for me. I have come to realize that I should have made changes in my life that would have opened up opportunities for him to make changes in his. My son has never learn to function with his alcoholism and in some ways I think his recovery may come earlier because of it.

    I hope that my story may help a younger women gain the wisdom she needs to read your book and help herself gain her life back before she is faced with a family that has been torn apart because of this horrible disease.


  121. I have been with the same man for 35 yrs. but married for 30 yrs. Many times I wanted to leave but I’ve stayed because I love him. We are both 51 and in the last 5 years it has gotten worst. He was only drinking beer and now it is hard liquor and smoking cigarettes and marijuana. I didn’t realize how serious it was until I would clean the garage to find hidden liquor bottles behind the refrigerator or in cabinets.

    I just don’t understand him at all. Instead of acting like an adult he acts as if he were in his early 30’s. He tells me that I am not cool and that people don’t want to come over to our house because I have too many rules. I have a nice house and we have worked had to get where we are today and I am not about to loose it because of his stupidity. He works for the post office and he does work to pay the bills but the past 2 years he has drank to the point that he will miss a Monday off from work because he has gotten sick. When I ask him if he is fine? He gets angry and tells me not to worry. He is a diabetic, has high blood pressure and cholesterol. But when he sees his doctor she tells me that he is healthy. Is there something wrong with this picture?

    He sometime wakes up vomiting several times and that doesn’t seem to faze him either. He has never been physical towards me but he is verbally abusive. To the point that when I know he is about to come home I get nervous because I do not know what will set him off to argue about the stupidest things. I work too and I just recently voiced my pain to a couple of co-workers of mine. They were very surprised because I hold my pain very well. My husband tells me that I am controlling, that I am the problem and that I have a problem. I believe him put if it weren’t for me he would be in jail with a DWI. I am always the designated driver from all gatherings since we were 18. In NYC the legal age for drinking was 18, but that never stopped him I later found out that he and his sisters and friends used to go bar hopping at 15. How sad is that?

    He recently saw the book that I had purchased “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic A Woman’s Survival Guide” Do you know what he said? Arlene, why don’t you just drop it already! How insensitive could he be! The man that I love doesn’t see that he is hurting me so much. A lot of people wish for money, but I wish for good health and happiness for all! I can only wish that my husband could some how find it in his heart to know and understand that I love him and to get the help he needs. I really don’t know what else to do.

  122. Dr. Neill,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I wanted to comment to thank you for your website. My alcoholic husband and I have been married for 8 years. He has always made excuses to talk me and himself out of believing that he was an alcoholic. “I only drink beer.” “I don’t cheat on you.” “I don’t beat you.” “I don’t hang out at bars.” “I bring home a paycheck.”

    He has been drinking/smoking pot since he was 13. He stopped pot about 10 years ago, but increased his drinking, until 6 months ago. He pushed our 2 year old son down because he was angry at him. He is in AA, but not working the program.

    He is extremely mentally disconnected to me, has a negative attitude, only talks to me to complain about something I did, so hateful, and is verbally and emotionally abusive to me.

    I already checked out of the marriage. Now I am getting things lined up and ready to leave. I plan on reading your books. Thank you so much. I am educating myself as much as possible, so I won’t second guess my decisions.

  123. Arlene,

    His sorry life is not your fault. Take care of your own needs.

    Principle: Just because we love someone does not mean we can or should live with them.

    Many lives have been made smaller by going against this principle.

  124. Christie,

    If you find yourself wavering in your resolve to get a life, think of your son and what you would be modeling if you didn’t take action.

  125. my husband comes from an alcoholic family. his father is one and his mom goes thru way too much. now i am going thru way too much, he( my husband) is i believe a functioning alcohlic on week days b/c of his job.but on w/e he is an ass.we have a son who i do not want to end up like his dad or grandfather, i want to leave him but i am trapped….. he becomes violent and scares us-me even though i will not let him see it. my children are my world to me and i want out of this shit so bad. today. after his drunkin rage (last night) he acts as though nothing has happened. i am terrified that one day i will hurt him while trying to protect my children, or worse yet he will hurt me, he will never put his hands (yet) on the kids, but "his dad" has a couple child abuse charges on him.he is on tether today for getting drunk and hurting his grand son (my nephew)….. but he( my husband)was raised by that man and now his son -my husband-is raising my son…. i know it was not his intention to be a alcoholic any more than my own son is intending.. but children live what they learn .and learn what they live.. .i want to do all to insure that my family is protected and safe. we havnt felt safe in our Family HOME IN A LONG TIME, i have no family to go to for help i am on my own and his parents ;like i said they is in the same boat; she never took the time to protect her children from her alcoholic husband. if me i would have been gone long before he put hands on her or her children and that is exactly why i am seeking advise and/or help. 0.

  126. Hi Lynnette,

    You are feeling unsafe because you are unsafe. There is always a way to leave. Talk to a lawyer, minister or drug and alcohol counselor. Talk with your friends about what’s happening. Find out where there is a shelter. In other words, don’t try to do everything on your own.

    Remember, if you stay no matter what, you are providing the worst possible model for your son. Finances, geography and everything else pale in comparison to the importance of letting your son grow up safe and healthy. He needs a mother…alive.

  127. Hello,
    My Boyfriend started Drinking when we gave up smoking weed, In may of this year. He would drink before, but really it was when we went out or maybe a beer or two after work. Now it’s more a 6 pack and/or what ever else is around everyday… Now it’s like he needs to want to drink, (If that makes since?) Our live is not Bad, you know he don’t like his little job, But who truly dose. It hasn’t changed other then the no smoking. I have tried pointing out that he has started drinking more, That didn’t go well. He pretty much came back with – It doesn’t affect his job or his Home Life, So it can’t be that Bad. And That is mostly because I Don’t want to spend our time arguing and complaining. we get a little bit of time together a week as it is. (He work mornings & I works Nights)
    Anyways, I was getting ready for work last week and over heard the T.V. Say something about a functioning alcoholic. He happened to be there at that time, I looked at him and smiled (Kinda). He said whats a functioning alcoholic? I said I don’t know the true definition, But I would assume it is someone who drinks Daily and is still able to go to work and function, and not affect their home life. Even though he is spending a great deal of time drinking, we might be watching a movie or playing a game (on my days off). So I can see how he would think it doesn’t affect his home life. But honestly I am starting to worry a bit. I like what I have with him, I don’t want to it change for the worse if it doesn’t have it.
    So my main question is What is the true definition of a functioning alcoholic? and What would be the steps to take on this? I just don’t want this to get any worse…
    Please Help and God Bless…

  128. I just resently took your test and I am wanting to look at how I can get help for both myself and him with out making him so angry that he feels like he is loosing everything.

    I also have seen what he is doing and it makes me angry espesially recently when he said that I was leaving my son with him as a consequence and he stated I was leaving my son with him thanks in a very angry tone. I feel so alone even with my family knowing about the problem and I thought that IF I just ignore it maybe it will go away and see that I love him and we need him but that has not worked. I just could use some help on how to deal with this. any Ideas would be fantistic. thank you

  129. Hi Tiffany, There are several articles on this site which will help you get clearer about the concept, "functioning alcoholic." Start with Basically, it is the term alcoholics love to use to excuse their alcoholic behavior. You’ll get a much fuller understanding of the area from the book,

    As far a what to do, you can’t do much besides looking after yourself. He would love to hook you in to being responsible for his drinking. But you are not responsible. Only he can decide to live a more fulfilling life without alcohol to bury his fears.

  130. Hi Lisa,

    As I said to Tiffany above, there isn’t much you can do. Unfortunately, the harder you try, the more he will believe the drinking is your problem, not his. You have a right to be angry, because this isn’t the deal you thought you were getting when you first connected. He has a choice about his life, but so do you. Your choice is between leaving, or staying and watching him deteriorate.

    I’m not surprised you feel lonely. A marriage that isn’t working is the loneliest place on earth.

  131. Please DON’T ever blame yourself, you are the bigger person. I am Asian. I left my husband who has now passed away. With 5 children, you have to be strong for your kids. My eldest child is 24 my youngest is 15, but I am always there. Be STRONG. YOU CAN DO IT FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELF. Take care because there IS help out there if you want it. x

  132. I took the test and my husband has all the issue with drinking. he tried going into rehab but only to save his job. He always accuse me of throwing out his alchol. It’s getting hard to stay with him. he’s very mean at times and he has been arrested for dui. i need help.

  133. Dear Tee,

    If you don’t want to risk having to look after an invalid (stroke, heart attack, etc.)for the rest of his life, make a decision and take action soon. Get some professional coaching to get you through the transition. you deserve a life, so don’t give up on yourself.

  134. I beleive I have fallen for a functional alcoholic. It’s been 6 yrs and I too used to have a few (2-3 beers) but the last 3 yrs. I have gave it up because we just were not getting along anymore. He was untrue to me more than 4 x’s and I always came back for more—co-dependent woman. Now it is that we both have children of our own and have separate homes. Now a days if I want to stay at my house for a day or two he says to just stay there and maybe i’ll see you a a couple of weeks—now what’s that suppose to mean. I have two grown children that have my grnadchildren that I love very much and he has to make comments like that and it makes me feel so miserable… Is this a relationship that need to end or what

  135. Ann,

    It ended long ago. Please do the humane thing and put it out of its misery soon.

  136. My Husband has had an alcohol problem since he was about 19 now he is 27. When we first started dating he lived within walking distance of 3 bars which also happen to be right outside of his work. He would go to work and then straight to the bar. That lasted for about two years until we got together, he was 24, he would drink but I got him to cut back dramatically. About a year later I became pregnant with our daughter and we moved into a house across town(away from the bars) and he would go occasionally(1-2 times a month) with his friends even though he knew it stressed me out.
    He still drinks, every once in awhile. He thinks it isn’t a big deal because he doesn’t go out and get drunk as much as he used to. However when he does go out and drink he can’t seem to control it. He goes with the intention of having 1 or 2 beers with his friends and it turns into shots and into hours of hanging out at the bar or we might go out to the pizza place and he will have a few really strong beers and get drunk and if I try to cut him off he gets angry because *I am trying to control him*. He has left his credit cards or wallet places, he has lost his cell phone. All because of his drinking.
    He has also called in sick the day after he gets drunk because he wants to sleep all day, but when I ask him to take time off for medical appointments he seems reluctant to use leave.
    I really just do not want to be around him when he drinks and I definitely do not want our daughter to see him that way.
    Lately the past year or so when he gets drunk he gets angry with me. He has never hit me but he has said some very mean things to me and cussed me out. He has grabbed my wrists or my arms really hard. I am just afraid that if he doesn’t get help it will continue to escalate.
    I really do not want to leave him but if he doesn’t quit I will have no choice. I will not continue to be treated like that and I will not have my daughter in that sort of atmosphere.
    I am hoping his parents will be able to support me in this, his dad was a huge alcoholic and quit when my husband was born.

  137. Hello Dr. Neil-my husband is a professional Dr. (DVM) and has always drand ever since we have met and prior to our meeting-he comes from an alcoholic family not so much abusive but grandparents that drank heavliy and his Dad when he was younger-however, his parents are great successful people as he & i are as well-we both own our own businesses and have 3 great kids-he always drank heavy and at first that was what we both did but then we had our 1st child and so on to the 3rd child and he never seemed to stop when I obviously did to become a responisble caring parent-he does not have to get up and drink at all-he goes to work, takes our kids to school and continues daily activity but by the end of the day he is usally drinking and not just one or two but several-he manages to function day after day with such a high tolerance it is often unbelievable for the amount that he consumes-for the last 5 years he has developed a tremor effect only on his left side with a duration of 30sec to 2 minutes-totaly unvoluntary motion and he cannot stop it-i have left him at least 3 times he has tried to quit but only went for 3 months-we have had peaks and valleys with our marriage due to the drinking and my anger that i have towards him-i come from an alcoholic father who was absolutely a crazy drinker-binge drinker not abusivive physcially more just mentally abusive towards-he was like no other however but i don’t feel that i should blame him for what is going on now in my life-i have people tell me that i am co-dependent which i don’t fully understand and i know that i am an enabler-we are not currently on a roller coaster ride were he was arrested because we got in an arguement that i started but he ended up hitting me as well as i did in defense-i called the cops and he was arrested and now currently is court ordered not to consume alcohol becasue of the bond release which allowed him to have direct contact with me and return hope to me and kids-we are working on everything now i just don’t know were to start

  138. My husaband has lied, has hidden his drinking, has been charged with drinking and driving. He is irresponsible with important things, and his mother was an alcoholic. He goes to work, works around the house, but I feel it is just the guilt that makes him work so hard. I have lost myself through all this. Our daughter was born with cp and the first 3 years of her life I concentrated on getting her walking so I put his alcohol problem on the back burner. We have had domestic sistuations where I was charged once and him another, WHile he was out of the house because of the courts he was caught drinking and driving. He did not listen to his end results of the trial and has avoided getting his ignition machine installed in his car to prevent drinking and driving. I have kicked him out, and he is not taking ownership of his porblems and telling everyone that I suffer from depression. Is this guy who acted so NICE an alcoholic, from what I have reaseahed he is!!! My heart is broken because he has choosen to carry on and has no words or remorse in his part. His family is in denial as well and thinks I am crazy. Maybe I am would’nt you be after having a child with a disability, working like crazy to get her to walk, and living with someone like this!!! He does not fit the typical alcholic person, very sneaky and accomadating when needed. He has painted me as the BITCH!Sorry for the type o’s

  139. I guess I should explain my problem…but I don’t know where to start…I guess ‘feeling like up against a brick wall” would be the best description for my situation…well..I’ve read every post here and realized I am not alone…my husband of 6 years is alcoholic…same as many of husbands mentioned above…his personality changes when he drinks…don’t get my wrong..he is never voilent or anything..he is a happy drunk..but he does get very defensive and could be abusive verbally when I even show slight anger about his drinking problem while he is drunk…anyway…my problem is that we are in a country in Asia where there is no counseller or supporting group like AA…we don’t even have rehab for alcoholics here…so I can’t get any medical help for him here…and another thing is that he came from another country to marry me.. he doesn’t speak the local language so he doesn’t have many friends here…the only ones he has are his drinking buddies…He tried to give up drinking for a few times but failed because when he stops drinking, he loses contact with all his friends…and with minimum choice of foreigners here, it’s almost impossible for him to make new friends…I wants to help him but I just realized that over years, I became so weak…i dare not mention his alcohol problems any more and we just avoid the problem…prend it doesn’t exist..because I don’t see there is any possiblity of solving it…I thought about divorce…but we’ve got a 3 year old daughter..once after a fight over drinking…he stormed out and I was crying…my daughter asked me…what’s wrong mum? why are you crying? …I said…because mummy doesn’t know the answer to a question…then I mentioned to her:” what if we don’t live with daddy any more? what if mummy kicks daddy out…? …I didn’t expect a proper answer from her since I didn’t think a three year old would understand that…to my surprise…she replied..”’s not good…if mummy kicks daddy out..I wouldn’t have a daddy any more.”……..sometimes I just feel I should run and start afresh…but then thinking about my daughter…I don’t know what to do…

  140. Dr. Neill,

    I think my husband is a functioning alcoholic. He grew up in a very religious home where alcohol was seen as evil and banned. He did not drink in high school or college.

    But then, after about 20 years of a bad marriage with me…he started having a few beers on occasion.
    But that quickly grew to anywhere from 6- 15 beers a night. He has driven when he was drunk…and he often drinks alone..and secludes himself in the computer room and blasts old rock for hours on end by himself.

    He has destroyed my personal belonings after a night of drinkig, and he does stumble and pass out most weekends. My children have asked him to quit…and he has made promises to them (including grand gestures like pouring all the booze down the drain) but then he starts slowly brining it back into the house and the drinking resumes.

    When I ask him to consider the effect of his drinkig on the kids he says,”If this was coming from someone who I thought gave a damn about me, I might listen”.

    He doesn’t drink every night…but starting Thursday night he starts his routine of drinking heavily every night of the weekend. He is often on the road…and he often works at home alone all day…so I don’t know his habits then.

    In your opinion, is he an alcoholic? And, how can I get him to do something about it, as he won’t listen to me or the kids?


  141. Anna,

    there is little doubt he is alcohol dependent, that is, an alcoholic. There is little you can do for him until he is ready, except to look after yourself.

    Get my book. It should give you a lot of help on both counts.

  142. I have been married for 22 years. I have two grown children, he has one grown child and we have a 15 year old son. When all the children were at home, and our son was 18 months old, (married 8 years) I caught my Husband smoking pot, I took my three children and left him and his child at our home, I went as far as filing for divorce but when it was in the last week, he promised to never use drugs again, and I moved back with him. He was an occasional drinker during those years, but for the last 8 years that I can remember, I caught him smoking again, but have learned to deal with it, also he is a heavy drinker, he buys a 12 pack a night and usually drinks all of them, he is not abusive physically, but mentally he is. He is a very layed back and on the weekends he starts drinking at noon and drinks till 11pm or till he passes out, he only drinks beer, but recently he is getting more verbally abusive toward me and our son. He has been lying about things, we do not go into bars at all, but when he is with his friends he is going to bars and this weekend he went to a casino and did not mention it to me at all, a friend came up to him at the races and asked why he left the casino last night. That leads me to believe that there is more secrets he keeps from me. As far as our sex life, I am in the same boat as a previous writer, Who wants to sleep with a drunk? It really irritates him, he asked as he is going to bed, but by the time I get dressed and up to bed, he is passed out, the when morning comes, EVERYTHING is all OK and he is not drunk, so I should give in, which I do, but he don’t wake up till my alarm clock goes off, so it is always a hurry up thing. I have threatened may times that I am going to leave him, but we own our own business and we both work here, I run the office and he runs the day to day operations, He is always at work during the day, If I need him he will work, He complains if it is past 4 because he needs to drink Beer. In the evenings if I run to the store after I close the business, I am asked where I was at, who I was with and the whole nine yards. I do not have any friends that I do things with because I caught him with one of them many many years ago, and at that time, I realized I was not going to put him it that situation again. So I chose to have my children as my friends. In the evenings I hate to go home, I have a drunk husband that I can not talk to because come morning he forgets what I said and How many times he told me the same story over and over, I spend alot of time in the basement doing laundry, or watching TV. I recently started playing Farmville on Facebook with my sister in Michigan, and I get ridiculed for spending an hour on the computer in the evenings, chatting and playing with her. I feel I have too much time invested in this marrage, but the breaking point was that I asked our son what he would do it I drank as much as his dad, and he said he would move in with a Friend of my husbands that does not drink, he said he could not stand two parents that acted like his Father. He denies that he is an alcoholic, and all reality of anyone that drinks 12 beers during the week every night and 18-24 each Saturday and Sunday. He tells me he is always broke, I tell him to add up what he spends a week on his addictions and if he would quit he would have money in his pocket. He had $700 two weeks ago, he is broke now, but like I mentioned he went to the casino and I have no idea how much he lost there, or what he spent his money on. I have never said anything like this to anyone. Our son knows what I go thru, because he is there everynight with us, while he drinks beer after beer. I am at the end. I cry all the time, I don’t understand why I put up with him. We do nothing together unless it involves beer or at a place where he can drink. We go out to eat, but it has to be somewhere that serves beer. Then we have to rush home so he can use the bathroom. We went thru this period that his whites of his eyes were RED, not bloodshot, they were totally red, I told him he needed to go to the doctor and get a check up, well he had to go for a physical one time, and the Dr. made the comment about his pupils being dialated, and he realized they knew he smoked dope so he refuses to go to a Dr. But he claimed it was his contact solution and I bought him the unbrand aerosol can and his eyes did clear up, I really thought that he either had kidney problems or was doing other drugs I had not idea about. Please give me some advise, he will not get counseling and will not admit he has a problem, but I don’t know what to do to make him realize he is a drunk, all of his friends but one is a drunk, he can not do ANYTHING without drinking, and he says everyone drinks its OK!! When he makes his comments about I don’t Love him, I tell him I do Love him, I just can’t stand him. And that is really how I feel.

  143. My husband will drink 5 nights a week, frequently I find empty mikes’ hard lemonade bottles hidden in the car. He will go to a convenience store and fill a cup with ice and pour them in and drink and drive. Every weekend night he stays up until 4 or 5 am in the basement drinking alone…he will leave social situations to go home and drink, walking 3 miles or more home. Has even walked a mile to a convenience store to buy a case of beer because I took the keys away. I haven’t spent a weekend night with him in months. He says he does not have a problem.

  144. Brenda and Susan,I’m send you the same response.

    Your alcoholic husbands’ lives revolve around alcohol, and you are just part of the furniture. It works for them, so why would they change?

    To compound the neglect and loneliness I’m sure you both experience, one of you at least is also being abused.

    Even if either of them said they have a problem and would go for a few sessions of counselling, it won’t make any difference, except perhaps to get you to stay a bit longer. As soon as they think you will stay, the old patterns will return.

    Love is not a good enough reason to not have a life. Self-neglect in the name of a cause (children, business, security, etc.)is still self-neglect.

    Many spouses of alcoholics have gone on to make new lives for themselves. Many have continued to run a business with their ex partners. The children are usually better off, just knowing their father or mother is a drunk, rather than having to see it and dodge the bullets every day.

    Please look after yourselves.

  145. My husband is a functional alcolholic! We have been married for ten years, together fourteen and he has had a drinking problem the entire time! I do not know what to do anymore! Our three children are getting older and I am not able to cover for their dad as I have done in the past! He does and says horrible things when he is drunk, which lately is atleast twice a week! Our kids hear the way he talks to me and I can see the hurt and anxiety in our oldest boys eyes! When I will not buy him beer or take him to the bar he will leave and drive himself, which scares me to death! I have made deals with him, ignored it and enabled him to the hilt! I love him immensely and have learned to view him as two different people, the one I love who is good to me and the other guy I can’t stand to be around! Many people do not see his drinking as a problem and his family chooses not to take it on either. I am very scared that one of our boys will become like him and I can’t stand the idea. I know staying is wrong because I am just as much to blame for what the kids go through because of it, but I don’t know how to leave either! I am a classic co-dependent! I need some advice!

  146. Your son turning out like his dad would be sad. But it would be just as sad if he were to find himself in a toxic relationship and couldn’t end it no matter what. That’s what you are modeling.

    Sometimes you have to put your heart on the back burner, use your head, and just do it even if you don’t know how or what will happen.

  147. Dear Dr Neil,
    I really need some advice. My husband is an alcholic and admits it. We got married in May this year. We are still young, I am 25, he is 27 but our lives are so boring. I can’t drive and its a real effort to get him interested in doing anything in the evening. A usual evening would be him drinking and watching TV, making a mess wherever he went and going to bed/passing out on the sofa about 8pm. I should have known. IHe promised me when he asked me to marry him that he would quit and that was 2 years ago.
    I know it sounds stupid but I find it hard to cope, not knowing what mood he is in, he’s so up and down – he also has a caffeine addiction which affects his ability to function at work.He only drinks in the evening but lies about it and hides it. He rarely has any money or motivation to do anything. He has abnormal blood test results which indicate he has an alcoholic liver. The doctor has said he will get cirrhosis if he doesn’t stop.
    I desperately want children and feel it would be wrong to get pregnant right now. I don’t know what to do and feel I am getting maybe a bit depressed about it. I keep crying and recently feel like I can’t breathe and have been having panic attacks.
    I told my husband all this and he acts as if I am exaggerating but I am not, at least I don’t think I am but he messes with my head.
    It got really bad and I told him if he doesn’t stop drinking in the evenings during the week and drinking redbull during the day I will kick him out. I have given him until christmas and he was doing okay. He lasted about 5 days. This week he has been dry 1 – 2 nights but it’s hard to tell. I knew he was drunk Mon/Tues but he lied and said I was watching for it so I would think that and that it was all in my head.
    I am finding it hard to cope. My family support me but there is nothing that they can do. Noone understands how lonely it is. I have near to no friends in the area and can’t drive to see anyone. I am too ashamed to tell people because I know if I were them I would think me an idiot for staying with him. I don’t know what to do – when he is sober we get on fantastically – it’s like a rollercoaster of emotions and I am sooo tired of worrying what he is doing/if he is drinking/about his health/if he will embarrass me when we are out etc.
    He doesn’t see the seriousness of it all, I get so angry I wanna hurt him so I say really nasty things because I am frustrated. Just when I have had enough he will be really nice to me and I will forgive him and so it goes on….
    Please help, I can’t do this anymore, it’s messing with my head

  148. I have just been caught drinking alone by my pregnant fiancee. I was on my 7th beer, I told her it was my third (there were three bottles on the table, the others I’d already chucked).

    I drink regularly after work, sometimes one or two, sometimes more – if I know I will get away with it. I also smoke heavily. I have mostly been able to keep this hidden from those I love.

    I do NOT want to be this man. I have a good job, a loving (normally drinking) family and a great fiancee who I will marry next year and who will have our first child soon. I do NOT want fuck this up.

    I am weeping as I write this because I am terrified that I can not stop. God knows I want to! But, but… it’s all bullshit. I know I’ll probably pick up a beer again in the next few days. Why? Why do something that I know will cause me and those I love pain? I cannot explain it, it is outside of me, a compulsion I cannot live without.

    I will now go to bed. I will make the usual resolutions that this is the last time but in my heart of hearts I know that I am already planning my next drinking session.

    My finacee’s father is an alcoholic. I do not want to visit this foolishness upon her twice or my children at all. I will stop. Please let me stop. Please.

  149. John,
    I composed a private response to you, only to find your email address was fake.

    Call me if this is not a spoof.

  150. married 31 yrs. can’t work, i had brain surgery, am an epileptic. i used to drink many years ago and found out i was not an alcoholic. 31 yrs. ago we went to marriage counseling. 4 other times. he went to AA while in the military and started again.

    he gets verbal with me, no intimacy and blames it on me saying that i gossip all the time, he is self indulgent and i know that i am part to blame in this, not putting a "gun" to his head and say drink but in the past getting his beverage.

    well, for 4 yrs or however long he drinks and drives which is dangerous, against the law, and stupid. he could kill someone and/or himself. i told him to quit or i leave. i have had it. he has not worked since the summer. he begged me to stay but from a letter on the pc i got from him it sounds like he is still drinking because he is at his job in another state and he gets aggravated if i call him too much saying he needs me time.

    well i don’t really know what to do. i have made financial mess, too many pets and i am rectifying this situation. i plan to not be so impulsive in the future but i still think when i told him last week i was going to leave and he begged me not to; i don’t trust him. i am scared and alone. my family is many hundreds of miles away from me. i already talked to a lawyer and i feel in my heart of dealing with this nonsense i deserve to have a happy life filled with positive stuff and not drunken behavior and nastiness. i agreed to sit down and write out things with him and told him he must quit and i suggested AA again. at first he begged me to stay then i said how to you intend to quit, cold turkey he says – he will need support. most folks at his jobs drink after work out of state. alot of them are divorced because of drugs, drinking, and affairs or all of the above.

    my husband says i keep him too broke to have a girlfriend – too bad i said you aren’t supposed to have one. i don’t feel loved anymore, i have never been asked how was my day in all these yrs. i get yelled at for putting a home cooked meal on the table because he isn’t hungry most of the time (buzz kill). he pops a beer in the am until night time or a beer afternoon nap. i personally am no angel. i have done my share of drinking in my 20’s. my husband suggested i was an alcoholic and i went to AA only to find out i was a lonely wife who drank to try to resolve problems. now, i rarely drink except 1/2 inch red wine as my heart dr. told me which i dislike the taste of.

    anyways, i am so frustrated and this guy is a big time manipulator. yes, i had way too many pets and lived beyond my means and now its kicking my butt and i am trying to fix it, one day at a time.

    God Bless and Happy Turkey Day Marie ; < )

  151. Marie,

    You don’t deserve this.

    If you can come up with some rational reasons to stay, then stay. If not, then leave. Staying together no matter what is sometimes a dumb idea, especially if the “what” includes abuse.

  152. Thank you for your reply. I will see how he is when he comes home from another state on wed. night and leaves on sunday. we
    have agreed as to what pets for me to part with and I am the one who pays the bills,takes care of the pets, etc. i just feel scared and know that if i walk out the door that is it – very final. i feel i have to give him an ultimatum. he said it is a money factor, i said no if it were about money i would have been gone a very long time ago. he knows that i have a lawyer waiting in the wings, my mom (God Bless her) has been helping us $ wise and will help me if i decide to go. i have always believed in God and second chances, but this is way too many times. i really believe he will drink in the other state or when he is not around me. he already told me when the neighbors got into a fight as i drove us to dinner, that is right he was already drinking; that if i acted up i could move and live w/my mom. he sounds like he is bullying me into this decision, and is a procrastinator at the same time so i look like the bad guy. everyone loses in this situation. i lose so much, his selfishness (if he chooses to still drink) leave me w/no medical coverage and i am an epileptic w/no income; i lose my cute puppy, the only home i ever had w/him. then i acquire a mound of debt. so no one wins. it really is a sad situation.

  153. Marie,

    It is a sad situation. If you choose to leave, you are choosing not to be a victim of his abuse. But it is your choice

  154. I have been married to an functioning alcoholic for almost 30 years. Over time I have given myself numerous target dates…once the kids are out of high school….after they get out of college….once we get college paid for is my current one. I feel like I’m caught in a vortex of my own making and I can’t figure out how to stop the spinning.

    A couple of years ago he got very sick and almost died (MRSA). While he fought the virus, he also fought DT’s and when he was finally released from the hospital he was alcohol free. And I thought now things will work. Once again I was wrong. You see he didn’t remember what happened and I’m not sure he believed the DT’s part. Anyway, it started out slowly and now he is doing exactly the same stuff he was doing before he was sick.

    I think I know what I need to do, but I just don’t have the courage to do it. And I’m scared that if I leave him he will spin out of control. It’s as if I am more worried about him then he is about himself.

    I’m not sure I have a question, I just needed someone to tell this to. I’m just so alone.

  155. I married an alcoholic. He knew he had a problem, and checked himself in a rehab center & went to AA for a year. He was sober for almost 2 years. (our relationship was nice then) Then he started drinking beer instead of whiskey thinking it would be ok.

    It’s NOT OK. I never get to talk to him sober. He works & when he comes home he leaves to drive around and puts away so much beer he comes home a different person. If I want to tell him something goofy or just have fun. He wants to take any happiness from me with comments that he would never say sober.

    I’m beginning to never see him sober & now if I do, it’s like he is mad at me. I don’t confront or fight with him. My daughter does point out the drinking which makes him mad. Most of us just try to avoid him when husband comes home by leaving the room, because they do not want to be around him. He treats our pre-teen children & teens so different. Picks on them and makes them think they are stupid.

    As for me, I don’t like him. Right now he has turned up the TV so loud, and wants someone to say turn it down, so he can get mad. I don’t feel like my happy-go-lucky self like I used to. I want my children to be happy.

    DUI – 2 times. Makes me feel like it’s my fault – yes I’m rambling, but thanks for reading, this helped just saying it. I’m going to go, because I do not want him to see what I’m doing.

  156. Hi Tina,

    You have taken the first step in getting out of the vortex — you have recognized it. Alcoholics are very skilled at making others feel responsible for their well-being. Getting out of the vortex means giving that responsibility back to him. It never was yours to have.

  157. Pam, you come across as a woman in a lot of emotional pain. You don’t deserve this.

  158. Hi Dr. Neill Neill,

    I gave my husband an ultimatum and said I was leaving. This was the Friday before Thanksgiving. He begged me to stay and said he wouldn’t do any more of his negative priorities like drinking. He said we’ll write it all out on a piece of paper. Well, he is home for 3 days. On the 3rd day I am wondering why I felt I had to be the one to get 2 sheets of paper out and write down things we would not do anymore and things to improve on in our relationship. Ironically he read his list folded it up and I didn’t see it. Mine was on the table and I read mine off. So far I have placed 7 of my pets elsewhere and 3 more to go and I have to sell a gorgeous golden pup that is to be my Epileptic Dog.

    I feel since he went back to work in TX I had a feeling he would still drink and I was right. He came home on Sat. for 1 hour to fill in for a guy 3 hours away who had seizures. Well I said have you been drinking. Yes I might have had one in TX. My heart sank. I said why? He said because I don’t f**king care. Then a present he handed me for Christmas was a movie and I said you wrap it and I saw a receipt for that and a 6 pack 2 days prior. Then his email he says to his boss, hey lets grab a cold one. He lied and said our older son hadn’t contacted him, he went to England. Evidentally my son mentioned that 1st wives should be starter one LOL. So he has been talking back and forth w/our son. This son does’t want to talk to me – he is alcoholic, so is other son. I went out of my way to get my husband Eric Clapton tickets, if I knew this was gonna happen, I would have left.

    I feel like a dope. I decorated everything for xmas and my momma is supposed to be driving down here next sunday, 10 1/2 hour drive. I don’t know what to do. I still have to place his cat and the others and sell pup. Please I am desperate.


  159. Oh I forgot to say my husband got cocky with me and says you don’t walk out after 31 yrs – like I threatened him. Its not a threat, its a promise. this is ridiculous.

  160. Sometimes, Marie, you just have to put your heart on the back burner and use your head. There is no future for you there.You haven’t had a life for a long time. Placing the animals an excuse, because anyone could handle that for you.

    You have been waiting for the right time to make a move.There is no good time.

    There will be pain, but sometimes a short period of pain is a necessary part of healing. Weigh it against prolonging the pain you already experience.

  161. Hi Dr. Neil Neil,

    Well I did go to ALA Non and a church. I am trying to change my ways. It seems/appears as my husband is asking me to let him know my plans as he would not let the house go to pot and rent it out. He also mentioned he needs to find a place to take his cat w/him to TX. Well, after 4 weeks ago of him begging me to stay why he is thinking this way unless he figures this is “his way out” and says neither one of us is in any position to get an apt. Well, my mom is willing to help me – but
    I have come to the conclusion that I have to take care of me and I plan on getting a job. I refuse to be put down anymore. Yes, the pets I saved them and I wasn’t mentally “with it” for a long time due to the brain surgery many years ago. Now it is like a light bulb went off in my head. So, he kept telling my today ALL day via text message, and email that once I make
    a decision its permanent. So, this I know – I stand to lose much, you are right NO time is “right” for the move. I think I am so very scared for the first time in my life to “cut” the cord… Thank you again. Enjoy the Holidays and God Bless.

  162. Dr. Neill, Sunday night I told my husband he needed to find a place to stay for a while. Not the start to 2010 I was expecting. I don’t know what happened. I was upset with him for something that happened New Years day (that was alcohol related, it could have been building?). Anyway he was out most of Sunday, but came home and made dinner, I figured he was ok. Within a period of 2 hours he was so drunk he could barely stand. I had never seen him like this in all of our 15 years of marriage. He was a mess in front of our 10 year old daughter. I have believed for quite some time that my husband has a drinking problem, but it has been difficult because he doesn’t drink anything in front of me except beer, and only a beer or two a night at that. He hides his drinking and lies about it. I have found bottles of booze hidden in his work bench (at first by accident). Also any alcohol in our house that we have ends up disappearing or has less than an inch left in the bottle eventually. My husband swears he doesn’t drink it, but it has to be him because it isn’t me. He has denied it all. He goes to work every day. Never missed a day of work. Any evidence I put in front of him he lies about. He is one of five boys in his family. Three of them have acknowledged problems with alcohol and don‘t drink now (they all live in another part of the country). His father was/is an alcoholic as was at least one of his uncles that I know of.

    So here are my two immediate questions Dr. Neill, since we have been living like this for years, is it possible to change really? If he hides it and lies, how will I ever really know if he stops or if he starts again? I have told him that he can not come back home until he figures this out. I am so scared and alone (and wondering how I am going to do it financially) but I won’t live this anymore. I am tired of the lies. I am done.

    My daughter will not see her dad like that again. She will not grow up in a house with a alcoholic….and I believe with the things I have been reading the last two days she has been. How could I not have known all the non-drinking signs? We really had a decent life.

    Next question, is it normal for an alcoholic to just lose it one day out of the blue like my husband did? I know you can’t really tell me. I just don’t get any of it.

  163. Kathleen,

    Yes it is possible to change, but it seldom happens in a “closed system” like a marriage. Usually change requires outside professional help in addition to a commitment to change. Then when the change occurs, everything else changes, sometime including the one who wanted their partner to change, not wanting to be with that partner any more.

    His ‘losing it’ may have been a lot less “out of the blue” than it appeared.

    The point is, whether he changes or not, you deserve a life. So does your daughter. And part of having a life is being able to trust the people in your life to be honest with you. That’s the issue you need to examine…for you.

  164. Dr. Neil. Neill,

    Thank you for the reply. I do deserve a life. I read about so many women that stay and stay, I don’t know how they do it. I can’t live a moment longer with my husband if he is going to continue to drink and or lie. It just isn’t a life I want or deserve. I have made an appointment with a therapist, for myself. You see, the more that I have read about alcoholism this last week, the more that I have realized just how long the problem has gone on in our house and just what he has taken from our family in time. Falling asleep every night way too early, having sleep problems, no energy to do anything, no family vacations, going to the hardware store how many times a weekend, and the list goes on! How absence he has been, etc. I also have found out that he has been spending a lot of money each month. Oh my, was I ever the trusting…or should I say stupid wife. My eyes are wide open now.

    He came home today, with the promise that he has contacted someone for help and is making an appointment. I told him all that I know and that he will only be able to stay if he isn’t drinking and if he is making progress, not just promises, in getting help. I also told him that I will leave him period, if things don’t get better. I believe that he wants his family, but I also realize that alcohol has a very stong hold on people.

    The bottom line is that my daughter and I will have a better life without him if he decides to continue to drink. The most difficult part for me is the lying. I am not sure I can really get past the lying. I am hoping the therapist will help me work through all of this. I feel like I have been hit with a ton of bricks, but am determined to pick myself up and dust myself off and figure out what is next for my daughter an I.

  165. Hi,
    I am newly married to a husband who is generous, gregarious, caring, and intelligent. We have a lot of fun together and have been called “the perfect couple.” We have a large circle of friends who go out drinking and drink at cookouts, etc. They tend to call out anyone who gets out of line. He and I have had several nights where we drank together and had a ball, no problems.

    For work, he comes and goes for months at a time. He has never missed work because of drinking. He never hides alcohol. He may even be at work for a couple of months without drinking a drop.

    However, my husband is beginning to worry me more and more. I have started drinking a lot less when we go out because I worry that I will have to “wrangle” him again. The more I lay off on my drinks the more I notice his inability to stop drinking once he starts. He has said to me before, “Why aren’t you drinking with me?” He gets defensive if I suggest that he is drunk. There have been several occasions when he complained about “our” $120+ bartab when I had only had 2 drinks. I didn’t mention it.

    The night before our wedding, he got angry because we didn’t stay out drinking with his friends longer. We did not have sex on our wedding night because he was passed out.

    When we were first drinking together, I didn’t know how to react to his behavior. I thought, “Well, I’ve had a few drinks. Maybe he’s right and it IS me.” He would try to intimidate me with his size and yell in my face. I yelled right back and once got so angry at how patronizing he was that I threw my glass at the wall beside us. He made me feel so guilty the next day for throwing a glass and in turn minimized his behavior.

    One night he grabbed me and squeezed me so tight that I couldn’t breathe and had to drop all of my weight to the ground to get away. He said he was trying to “get control of me” because I was “freaking out” when in fact I was trying to hurry into the house so the neighbors wouldn’t hear him yelling. I was not freaking out and was attempting to talk to him in a soft voice.

    I have learned to sit calmly and talk to him in a slow voice and an understanding tone. It doesn’t help tremendously. Everything he sees and hears is warped; I call it his “drunken magnifying glass.” The slightest comment can make him defensive. When I tell him he needs to stop doing something he says, “I have lived over 30 years without you, I think I can do just fine.”

    Once, my sister was visiting us and we decided to go home after being out on the town. My husband was out of control and did not want to go home. He tried to open the door and jump out of my rolling car! He was also very rude to my sister (yelling, bringing up her personal past) when she told him he was out of line.

    One night we vowed to stay in and not go out. I fell asleep in his lap while we were watching a movie and he was drinking. I woke up alone and his car was gone. He drove to the bar down the street, completely wasted. When I went to pick him up he said, “it’s no big deal, I wasn’t chasing girls.”

    He has said things to me while drinking that I will never be able to forget. He doesn’t call me names or hit me but he will look me right in the eyes and try vehemently to cut me to the core. It is so unlike him that I always end up crying in a heap because arguing does no good. I am also afraid to just walk away (he has driven away a number of times or walked down the road.) I wake up feeling empty and somehow like it’s my fault. He usually tries to blame me and sometimes I get trapped into apologizing.(!) Sometimes he blacks out and can’t remember things he says but it seems to have less impact when I repeat the scenarios and words back to him the next day. I tell him how damaging it is to me–always tearfully. He even apologizes sometimes. I tell him that it feels like I lose him when he is that way.
    I have also noticed that his drinking has stages. I have named them:

    Eeyore–kind of sad and melancholy, drinking begins

    Clown–the world is great, everyone’s happy, he’s telling dramatic stories

    Don Juan–suddenly I am the most beautiful girl in the world, he is very complimentary, seems to lose ability to stop drinking at this stage

    Lightswitch–the man I know turns off, sometimes speech becomes really slurred (I have watched it happen in mid-sentence) or sentences don’t make sense, gets loud, turns into any of these:

    Xerox–he gets stuck on one thought, or demands repeatedly that I answer his questions with only “Yes or No!”

    Executioner–has to have the last word, threatens to end relationship because of something I have said to him

    Blindman–blacked out, stumbles, knocks pictures off walls, wanders off in wrong direction, falls, leaves doors open (our dogs once escaped and ran across a busy road at night)

    This doesn’t seem like typical alcoholism–or does it? Is it just bad binging? Am I enabling? Very tired of thinking about it and afraid it will happen again when he comes back.

    Thanks for reading. Sorry it is long but it is the first time I’ve told anyone besides my sister.

  166. My husband of 32 years this past December is an alcoholic. I left him in April of last year and he is still killing me. This past December he passed out and the furnace went out when he was found his body temp was 86 degrees. Everything was shuting down. Well believe it or not he pulled through, he is back home, alone, and drinking again. Our daughter is beside herself with guilt. While I have tried to tell her he won’t listen, and I think I should know because I tried for 31 and a half years, to get him to stop.

    The last 10 years have been hell. He has gotten so nasty. Screaming, smashing walls for no reason, smashing anything in front of him when he got in one of his moods. I have my periods of guilt but I will not go back. I would only make it easier for him to drink, at least now he has to go and get it himself. He will be dead soon, either from an accident or another issue like he (and my daughter and I just went through with him in Dec.) Yes he wasn’t the only one suffering, they never seem to realize that, or care who else suffers. Just so they get that drink.

    He doesn.t even know he suffered a bit of brain damage this past December, or maybe he just doesn’t care. I understand it is an illness but when everyone around you is in pain isn’t it time to seek help? His grandson is afraid of him, yet he says to me every now and then "I miss Pappy, why is he so mean?" His grandson misses him and he doesn’t even appear to care, maybe he doesn’t.

    It has been a rough 10 years or so. I tried, he didn’t, What happens now happens. He only has himself to blame.

  167. I have been going out with my boyfriend for about 6 months. I always knew he drank a lot when we were out…but now that we are spending even more time together, I notice he drinks about 1 bottle of Vodka (with Red Bull) on the weekend and it only lasts 2 days. This past weekend, we were out of town and he finished 2 bottles (one bigger than the other) in 4 days.

    His ex-wife said she thought he was an alcoholic…I’m not sure. I like to drink on occassion…but not all the time.

    I wonder how often he drinks when I am not around. Please let me know if you think he may have a problem and what I can do (or should I run) about this now before we get too serious. Thanks…

    Signed, Trouble in Paradise

  168. Hello Michelle,

    Clearly he has a problem with alcohol abuse. If he doesn’t change, you are in for a mountain of grief if you stay. He you push him to change, he probably won’t, but he will resent you, and then blame you for his drinking. Fundamentally, alcoholics do not take responsibility for their condition or actions.

    Read my book, particularly Chapters 19 and 20 about what not to do to avoid making thins worse and and what steps to take to help.

    Continue to educate yourself on problem drinking, so that even if you leave, you will spot the signs of alcoholism sooner the next time.

  169. Dr. Neil, I ran across your site by doing extensive research on “functioning alcoholics.” My husband is DEFINITELY in that category. He is a VERY good provider, works from our home, shows love and adoration to myself and our children (mostly when he’s drinking), and has a wonderful positive attitude in life. Here’s the thing: He drinks a half bottle of hard liquor EVERY SINGLE DAY and has for approx…7 years now. Prior to that he drank beer/liquor nearly 4-5 times per week for 15 years. He’s 44 now. He also smokes nearly a pack of cigarettes per day and has for 15 years now. He REFUSES to see a doctor…although, I know that he needs to…there are signs such as ascites, coughing at night, only eating one SMALL meal per day. (no breakfast or lunch) He complains of digestive problems of which he just takes antacids. And has frequent “yellowish” diahrea. (sorry to be so gross) These changes and more have really onset over the past 2-3 years. He is bloated beyond belief. He starts drinking at 8am every morning and ends at about 9pm at night. He hides it from our children…so they have no clue. He does NOT act like a “drunk.” Which is why it is so unbelievable. He functions in a high level financial position and does EXTREMELY well…well respected and highly successful. HE REFUSES to get help although he says that he realizes he definitely has a problem. He says, “someday.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that “someday” will probably never come…especially since I’ve been hearing that for the past 8 years. He works from home, so he doesn’t have to drive anywhere or be in an office. (which unfortunately only fosters the behavior) AND I NEVER let my children in a car with him or for that matter…I never leave them alone with him…because He is ALWAYS drinking. Saying all of this…I have a VERY strong faith…and God has blessed me and my children BEYOND belief through this. I cannot change Him…many relatives and friends have tried reaching out to him…and nothing. Even after tragic deaths of friends and families…he refuses to listen. So, the inevitable is certain…he will most likely die from this disease.

    My question is…how long can someone drinking THAT much and smoking that much EVERY SINGLE day live? AND what will go first? (my grandmother died of cancer at age 62…from smoking-no drinking…I’m scared to have to face the tragedy of cancer again) These may sound like very cold questions…but it is frightening and something inside just wants to in someway be prepared. Hope you understand and can lend some thoughts on these types of alcohlics.
    Thank you SO much!

  170. Dear Seeking answers,

    If a person decides to commit suicide by drinking themselves to death, they are playing a deadly game of roulette. There is no way of knowing how long they’ll last or what will go first. My son stopped drinking before aged 30, but died of liver cancer at 41. My daughter continued to drink and smoke, but got a rare liver disease and died of organ failure at age 51. My alcoholic brother-in-law lived to his late 80s, outlasting his wonderful wife.

    There is also no way of telling in advance whether his death will be sudden (accident, stroke, heart attack) or whether you will be faced with caring for an invalid for 20 years (stroke, early onset Alzheimer’s.) There is also no way of knowing in advance whether his pleasant personality will deteriorate with the progressive brain damage from alcohol abuse.

    He still has a choice. So do you. It is important that you look after yourself and build a life for you and your children independent of him, even if you all stay together. Getting prepared is part of doing just that.

  171. Hi,
    This website has been very helpful to me. My husband is exceedingly high funtioning – Harvard educated, star athlete, full professor and author of several books. This is a second marriage for both of us. He is a very serious alcoholic and has been one for over 10 years. When he drinks too much, he becomes disgusting to me and I have to pull away. This ‘pulling away’ seems to trigger the rage in him – to leave a room, leave the house, make other plans when he is drinking is absolutely unacceptable to him.

    Because I love and admire him so much, I have tolerated the cycles of abuse for a few years and hoped, each time there was a serious outburst, it would be the last. Some of my most painful memories are of being stuck in hotel rooms during conferences. After he has given very important lectures and appears to be so ‘important’, heavy drinking will take place and I become a hostage/victim to the raging that ensues. Talk about feeling desperate and alone when you are so far away from home.

    This time, I said ‘no’ to the conference. It was in San Francisco and I told him that was just too far to go to suffer another incident. When he drinks too much, he is out of control. My boundaries are meaningless and I become the target for hours of raging abuse (I am never sure quite what I have done- he usually gets his brain locked on some small, insignificant comment and the rage will revolve around that for hours until he finally passes out).

    This fall he started to shove and push me onto the bed forcefully. If I try to close a door and keep him out, he will force it open. I called the police once and he claimed they physically assaulted him and blames me constantly for his bodily pain, now.

    I have ordered him to leave and he is. His mother is taking him back. I begged her to let him fall down this time (she always soothes him – her husband was an abusive alcoholic and she lived with it for 50 years, so I see her as a classic enabler). Anyway, I figure as long as mommy will give him a safe place to fall, there is no hope for me and no hope for him.

    Thanks again for this website. I don’t know you, but I feel so sad for your loss. I have a severally fragile son who has CP and can feel your pain deeply without sharing the same story.

  172. Hi Sandra,

    We don’t forget our losses and trauma, but we do recover from them, as you will see, if you don’t take your husband back and restart the cycle. Please read the comment by Linda at or near the bottom of the comments under "Alcoholism and Marriage."

    Academe seems to be a trap for alcoholism. Some of the most severe alcoholics I have met have been on universty faculties…and I was one of them. I was an associate professor with tenure. However I left that life, first the alcoholism, and then academe. My unhappiness in academe was not apparent to me until I sobered up. It seems I was using alcohol to avoid facing the pain.

    You deserve more. Best wishes in creating a new life for yourself.


  173. Thanks Dr. Neill. I appreciate your validation more than you know. Your service is a very valuable one simply because so many women need outside feedback from a professional, but have neither the funds nor the emotional energy to seek help outside the home. My husband is moving his furniture and belongings out this weekend, and will leave for good when his term is wrapped up. I am strong and committed to not taking him back, ever, right now. The real test of strength will be down the road when I am financially stressed, lonely and vulnerable to believing he has recovered (post-rehab, etc.) I firmly believe, today, that the domestic violence I have experienced will escalate and, more importantly, that it is ‘in him’ with or without alcohol. All my loved ones support your advice to me.

    Thanks again for your feedback and for pointing me to Linda’s comments. I look forward to reading your work.

  174. Hello

    My boyfriend is a great person, he is extremely intelligent, noble, proper, loving, etc… but he has a problem. He drinks too much. He is incapable of having just one or maybe even three drinks. He says its because there is no reason to drink if youre not going to get hammered. We recently started dating and I noticed a problem but thought it was just due to christmas festivities. I was obviously wrong since he drinks every day and usually goes to bed after 2am, every day. He doesnt have a job, up till a couple of weeks ago after all my nagging he decided that he should finaly get one.

    We moved in together to his grandmothers house, we live upstairs and she lives downstairs, I obviosly pay my bils even though she didnt ask me to, but hey… Ive been working since I was 17. My mother gave me away when I was 2 weeks old to my father so he and my abusive stepmother raised me. I went through hell with that woman but thats another story.

    Anyway, I have always had to fend for myself so for me to see this man sit on his butt all day is incredibly irritating. He has never paid a bill in his life, he has a bachelors degree in economics and is "working on his thesis" for his masters degree. He is 25 years old, he wants to marry me but Im not sure if I should. I love him to death and there is no doubt in my mind that he loves me too, but I cant help feeling like this relationship is not going to work due the fact that to me he is an alcoholic. He drinks by himself, he goes out to play with Magic card and gets back home wasted. I already left the house once and I came back because he promised to change, but he is still drinking. He uses the only money he gets from his parents which is about $30 per week, to drink. He used to drink millions of beers but since we would always get into arguments about that, he switched to vodka, so he drinks a whole bottle every two days. He also buys wine and drinks the whole bottle up.

    He never takes me out and when I do got out by myself, he gets all paranoid.

    I need some advice as to what to do…I dont know if I should leave him or if I should stay and wait it all patiently.

  175. I am 35 and my husband is 38. We have been married for 15 yrs. We both drank when we met. I had our first child at 21 and the going out drinking was important anymore but he still did it. Guess I was stupid back then cause I am still here. We now have 2 kids girl 14 and boy 9. He drinks daily. At least 8 to 10 a day. He works but goes in late if he is hung over. He has his own business so he cant get fired. He can be the best guy when he is sober but when he drinks most of the time he is not that nice.. He yells at me and the kids. They just try to avoid him. He makes jokes saying he is a functional alcoholic and that’s not that bad of a thing. He wanted me to stay home and take care of the kids and I love it. Its the best job but it also gives him a reason to complain when he drinks. He says he works and I do nothing. Then the next morning before he drinks he will come to me and say he was sorry but it still hurts and doesn’t make it any better. It makes me feel useless.

    I am currently looking for a job that works with my kids schedules. But what else should I do? Its to the point where I feel happy and more at ease when he is not here and I look forward to the peace and quiet when he passes out at night. Am I wrong for that? I love the sober him and have tried to talk to him about it but he just says he is sorry and may not drink for a day but then goes right back to it. Any advice you can give me would be appreciated.

  176. I have been married for almost 17 years. When we first met, he would drink on weekends only. After we were married he told me “I’m glad you came in to my life because I would have headed down the wrong road.” Meaning, he would have ended up a drunk. Well, somehow he ended up down that road anyway. When our children were young and we would have parties, he would adamantly oppose alcohol being served at a child’s party, so we did not serve it. We also never had beer or alcohol in the house. When our third child was born and we bought our first home, that is when he started drinking. His drink of choice is beer. He drinks about a half case a night.

    I have heard all the classic lines from him…”I drink to relax.” “I provide for you.” (Meaning, I should be allowed to drink since I make most of the money.) “I’m not an alcoholic.” Most days, whether he is drunk or not, he is just miserable. I grew up with an alcoholic. My mom was an alcoholic and she never married and I had no siblings. I feel that as a child I had no choice, but as an adult I have choices. Unfortunately, our finances are a mess and we are on the verge of losing our home, so I feel like I do not have the financial resources to leave, nor do I have a home I can go to. I also worry about uprooting my children, particularly the youngest one. He does not adapt well to change. Our children are almost 14, 12, and 10. Our 10-year-old befriended a little girl whose father does more with him than his own father does! I have pointed this out to my husband but it seems not to matter. When something good happens and I say something about it, he always finds something negative to say, or says “it won’t last.” He loves to burst the bubble. I cannot get him to see what this situation does to me emotionally.

    He is against talking (in terms of therapy). He has always had a problem with communication with me. He does not think he has a problem. I have never believed in “staying together for the sake of the children.” I am vehemently opposed to that. When the children show an interest in something, he finds something to criticize. The kids are afraid to ask him for anything because his answer is always no. I tell him he cannot say no all the time. I also tell him as parents we have to pick and choose the battles…we can’t battle everything or it will just make us crazy.

    I question whether I even love him anymore. I care about him and he is the father of my children, but he is not the man I married. The man I married loved me and was totally into me. This new person is not. He says he loves me, but I tell him they are just words and they do not sound very sincere.

    I have always been the type of person that when I am out and about, shopping or whatever, I always stop and think “is this something our family needs,” or “does my husband need this.” I always think of everyone in the house and make sure everyone has what they need. I pay all the bills. He will get mad when there is no money and blame me. I do not buy myself jewelry or clothes excessively. As a matter of fact, I own three rings–my engagement ring, another ring I wear with the engagement ring since my wedding band no longer fits and I gave it to him long ago when his went through a chipper–and another ring I wear on my pinky finger. All the other jewelry I have was given to me and is “cheap” jewelry. Most are earrings that I can’t even wear because I’m allergic to anything except real gold. I do not buy real gold because I don’t have that extra money. I ask him to take over paying the bills but he does not seem interested. He tells me the reason for his lack of motivation around the house is because “I don’t know how much longer we will be here and I don’t want to put time and money into something if we are going to have to move.” My retort is “you can call the mortgage company and try to work things out instead of me calling all the time.” His retort is “I don’t have time.” He has more excuses than a pregnant nun.

    I am very involved in things. Sometimes he says “you are never home.” I think the reason why I am involved in so much is because I don’t want to be home. I feel bad that I’m not home much for the kids, but I’m always there when they need me…if they call, I go…if they have something at school…I take them and I am there. I have only ever missed two back to school nights…one because I was laid up in bed after a major surgery and the second because I was teaching a night class and it was the first night of class so I could not get out of it since I had no sub. I have never missed a concert, art/music night, game, competition, or other activity that the kids belong to. The only activity I tend to not be involved with or only go to limited activities for is Boy Scouts. Our youngest is in scouts and my husband does take him to every meeting. I try to leave this for them so it is their time. Unfortunately, he needs to do things with our older children too, but does not. The only thing I have been able to get my husband to do with our oldest is to pick him up from his racing on Thursday nights, but every Thursday I get home and my husband says “he didn’t even try.” I try to explain that our son is still new to this and he has to build up the stamina and the energy, but he just thinks he isn’t putting forth the effort. Like I said, always a negative comment.

    So in a nutshell, I feel stuck…no money to go anywhere and no place to go…feel like I am stuck here forever, or at least one more year when our youngest is finished elementary school and then I can move anywhere in town and they will still go to the same middle and high schools. Oh…my husband is diabetic and for the most part takes his meds and all, but I know drinking is making the diabetes worse. (I am a medical transcriptionist and have been involved in the medical field most of my life.) I feel it is going to take something catastrophic for him to realize he has a problem and to do something about it, which is sad. I don’t know what else to do. I just want him to wake up and realize he has a problem. I’m tired of walking on eggshells all the time. I’m tired of the mood swings and the drunken stupors.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

  177. Dear Dr Neill,

    Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your work in supporting those effected by alcohol abuse.

    My story began 10 years ago when I first met my husband. We were very young, I was 19 and he was 23 and we were at University, where drinking (or infact doing anything) to excess is perfectly acceptable, if not expected.

    We are in love and lived in eachothers pockets from the moment we met. To our surprise, 6 months after dating, I fell pregnant with our first daughter. We discussed all our options and decided that we would have the baby.

    I knew early on that he had a drinking problem. Just a few months after we met he got drunk and got into trouble in a restaurant. All the staff tried to stop him leaving and he went into a rage. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. He was so angry he was foaming at the mouth. That was the moment I should have left him, but his lack of memory alond with the promise that it would never happen again had me sold and we continued with the relationship.

    The following years were a mixture of “good” days and “bad” days. The good days being the sober ones and the bad days soaked in the smell of alcohol. I was aware of his struggles with alcohol and his fears of turning into his alcoholic father. Whenever he cried for help I was there to pick him up and dust him down.

    And so, 1 year turned into 2 turned into 10. 3 daughters later the purgatory of living with an alcoholic continues. The drinking, the lying, the apology.

    I took a good hard look at the shadow of my former self yesterday in the mirror. I am a 28 year old women with the weight of the world on her shoulders. There is nobody I can share my pain with. Why am I allowing this situation to destroy me?

    It was my 3 year old daughter telling me that “Daddy was sick all over the toys in the playhouse” which tipped me over the edge. That combined with the car crash (under the influence which invalidated the car insurance), and the fight he had which ended up in him being arrested has made me wonder if this relationship will ever improve.

    What scares me the most is that he is a terrible drunk. What would happen if I was to leave him? Wouldn’t it tip him over the edge?

    I really appreciate your advice.

  178. Dear Mrs. M,
    I wrote to Dr. Neill a few weeks ago and would like you to know my story. I am older and my alcoholic husband is my second husband. He is a star, as I told Dr. Neill – Ph.D, author, athlete, etc. When he is sober, he is a dream. When he drinks, he smells, talks too much, flirts, starts fights and physically/emotionally abuses. He hates all police officers and goes looking for trouble with them every chance he gets. Yes, he has been arrested and is still on probation for assaulting three police officers. This man is an ethics professor!!!! He violates my personal boundaries when he drinks as well as my safety – not just drinking while drunk (I put a stop to being in the car with him a long time ago) – but he will make off with my car without my permission which could get me arrested AND he shoplifts occassionally while I am out with him (obviously I am not aware of this until it is too late) – jeopardizing my freedom! If there is a rule to be broken, this ethics professor will find a way.

    Finally…I kicked him out. Please know that every day my heart aches for the beautiful man I know him to be, but when I go to bed at night I rewind in my mind the cycles of abuse (pushing, shoving, raging, name-calling…cruelty in every moment). I usually pick one horrible episode to reflect on and try to relive it in my mind. When I do this, the thought of ever opening the door to him again sickens me. Every 4 to 6 weeks there was a crisis in our relationship – it took between 4-6 weeks for the sobriety to end and reach the 18 beer a night limit that brought the building nightmare to some kind of crisis). When I relive the details of at least 100 horrible, traumatic episodes, I KNOW I have done the right thing. The only way to put an end to all of this is to remove myself from it; if not, my attachment to ‘who he used to be – who he could be again’ will keep me hoping for a miracle, quick to forgive and blind to what is really needed. My husband will not get better in this closed system of ‘wife – friend – lover.’ He needs to be abandoned. Tipping him over the edge is probably the kindest thing you could ever do for your husband.

    I wish you the very best in navigating this. I hope my story gives you some encouragement.

  179. First of all I want to Thank You for all your information.The reason I am writing you is because I am confused .I feel as though I know what I want to do and should do, but I am always second guessing myself because the people that surround me make me feel this way. I have been with my husband for 16 years married for 9. When I first met him I was 19 and he 21 and drunk. That should of been the sign there. I don’t like taste for alcohol, I never have.The thing is now that were married and have two kids, a 5yr old boy and a 3 yr old girl, I want better for them than I had growing up. I have come from good parents that are very loving and supportive, yes they do drink, but they are happy drinkers and social drinkers. My husband, on the other hand, when drinking becomes very cocky and says rude comments. The majority of the time is when he starts drinking he doesn’t stop until the night before going to work. I consider him a weekend alcoholic, if there such a thing. When I see him begin to drink I think here we go again especially at parties which I really don’t look forward to going because i feel as though i got to watch what he is doing or saying.

    I have enough on my plate with to young kids. I have advised him he is setting bad examples for our children by doing this. His excuse is there going to do whatever they want when they grow up whether or not he drink. I am saddened because they have seen their dad vomit and pee on the bed because he is so drunk or they wonder where is daddy why isn’t he coming home with us after a party. I finally have just told them that your dad is drunk this is what happen when you drink beer. I know that was wrong but I cant take it anymore. I feel stuck because I was a working mom that had a good paying job but my husband and I wanted me to be a stay home mom until they go into elementary. I have threatened to leave him and he says leave then. I look at him like are you serious do you not even care, he has come from an abusive father. i thought he we would better for his kids. My mom always tries to justify his action by saying he grow out of it. Are you kidding me he is 37. My sister says make sure this is what you want because her and her husband divorced right after her daughter was born and it has been very difficult for my niece. I was packing my kids stuff yesterday and I felt so sad my son was crying telling mommy please don’t make us leave I don’t want to leave my house or room what about my dogs and toys,what about daddy he is going to be sad.This hurts so much what do I do he is a good husband he goes to grocery store ,takes us on vacation, hard worker. But this one negative quality I can’t deal with anymore, it hurts me time and time again. And when my family tries to talk to him he because defensive.Yesterday we went to a family event and he had already had about 8 beers in him had the nerve to tell my dad that I bug him too much and he can have me back. My dad looked and him as though are you serious and with such sadness in his eyes. He said o that’s not a problem son my daughter and my grand kids always have a home.The sad thing is that my husband could not even look at him without his sunglasses on and in his eyes to me that is a week man hiding behind his beer bottle

  180. Dear Dr. Neill,
    I’ve been married for 40 years to a good man. Our 2 sons are grown but struggling with their financial independence. Husband started drinking about 15 years ago in a stressful work time. I told him from the beginning that I wouldn’t stay around if he continued it. Well he has continued and I’m still here.

    Tonight he had 6 glasses of wine. He finished a small bottle and then opened a second one. I really hate it. He isn’t mean or anything but he isn’t himself. He is silly and stupid and we can’t really talk. He goes on to bed.

    I want so badly to have a good husband who doesn’t drink but I can’t make him stop. Al Anon doesn’t help me. I have a good family and friends. He admits he has a problem but won’t do anything about it.

    How do I get him to understand? I am so miserable. I am financially independent (not wealthy) in my own right. Thanks for your insight.

  181. Hi Sandra,

    You’re right when you say you can’t “make him stop.” It’s his choice alone and he can make the choice to stop if he wants to. He probably does understand the problem and even the effects on you, but as you say, you’re still there. Al Anon helps some in the short run, but the group energy can sometimes pull you down. It isn’t for everyone. The important thing for you is to accept what is and live your life according to
    your values.


  182. My husband drinks frequently, not every day, but it only takes a few beers for his personality to change. At this point I have no patience for him when he’s been drinking and won’t be around him if possible. When we met fifteen years ago we drank together a lot. Then we had children and I cut down over time to almost nothing. It is nice to have a beer or a glass of wine with a friend, but with my husband it usually turns into more.

    In the past he has been rude, stupid, angry, embarrassing, and abusive. Lately he’s gotten those things in handle.

    He can’t quit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this. I could probably live with him if he quits. But at some point I need to get my own peace, and my own joy of life back. I have gotten to be an angry, disappointed, hopeless person.. I feel trapped!

  183. Dear Barbara,

    Of course he can quit! So far he has chosen not to do it, with or without help. I’ve worked with heavy duty alcohol abusers who regained health, hope and happiness. They started with reaching out for help.

    As for you, please don’t stay in a situation that steals your inner peace and joy, and leaves you “an angry, disappointed, hopeless person.” Those emotions are your body’s way of telling you something must change.

    As with your husband, it is your choice. Just make that choice before your personality changes too. I interpret your writing here as reaching out for help. Take it as far as you need to.

  184. Well, from what I’ve read…I am dealing with an alcoholic and the more I read the more I don’t feel so alone with this because some of these situations are so close to home it is scary. My husband and I have been together for 8 years and been married for 5 of those eight. I am 25 and he is going to be 29 tomorrow. We have a son that will turn 3 in July but soon enough I will be divorced from him.

    It started out all grand…met him when I was 17 and him 21 and in the partying stages of my life and never realized just how much he did drink because it didn’t matter back then. We got along great as long as it was a big party all the time but I eventually had a light come on in my head and got tired of picking up after him and all his drunk buddies from the night before and told him something had to change. Then came the DUI’s that he has tried to buy his way out of time after time because he believes to be above the law. I have probably seen 25,000 easy pissed down the drain on lawyer fees. I started holding a grudge against him and his alcohol and I have fought him from getting in trucks and driving, I have screamed at him, I have begged and pleaded with him, I have cried, I have made threats, I have left for months at a time and he will change just long enough to get me back under his good graces and then here we go again. I am leaving him for good this time. There is no more tears that I can cry and the pain has turned into nothing but pure anger and hatred towards the man. You can’t help someone that doesn’t care to help themselves and as much as I wish I could do it for him…I can’t. My son will not grow up in that kind of environment and if I have to provide everything on my own for us, then I may as well be alone doing it and not have the headache or worrying over a drunk.

  185. I’m wondering if you could give me some advice. It is not my husband, but a co-worker at school – a teacher. The fact that he is a teacher is most concerning to me because he teaches my daughter as well. We are suspecting that he is an alcoholic, but not quite sure how to ‘prove it’.

    One of my other co-workers suspected it, so she followed him after school – he went to a convenience store and then went to the liquor store, right next door. Once is not an issue, but this has been his pattern now for the last 4 days and yesterday, it was observed that he took his liquor store package, opened the passenger door, and put the package under the seat. We are very concerned now, but again, not sure how to prove it and then bring it to the administration. We have noticed other behavior – every day he leaves the building at 10:30 and multiple people have made comments about the smell of alcohol. Yesterday, he had the ‘bar’ smell – cigarettes and liquor (he also is a closet smoker).

    Now that we suspect this, his lack of creativity and teaching ability is making more sense. At the beginning of the year, he seemed fine, but we think the stress of a not so stellar first year teaching has made the year go downhill and thus, has made his drinking seemingly more apparent. We are truly at a loss as to what to do…..we do not want him teaching our high school children anymore!!!

  186. I was married to an alcoholic 14 years ago, and it was a nightmare. After we divorced, I swore I would never ever hook up with a alcoholic again…..well, I did.
    My boyfriend of 4 years and I live together. We bought a house 6 months ago. He drinks, but he was always a “fun drunk”. When he drinks beer, he’s jolly, jokes around, teases, but when he starts on the whisky, all he can do is argue. I can say, “It sure is a beuatiful day!”…he will rant on and on about what a crappy day it is. I just learned not to talk to him when he’s like that.
    Lately, I’ve been very concerned about his drinking and driving. He stops off at a bar near his work almost every evening. This bar overpours. They serve him 3/4 whisky and 1/4 pop in a large drinking glass. He has come home so drunk, he weaves and wobbles standing in front of the fridge. As soon as he eats, he passes out in his chair, snoring like a lumberjack. If he gets a D.U.I., he loses his job. Well….dummy me, I’ve been nagging him like crazy about driving drunk. I know from past experience, you can’t nag a drunk. It just makes it worse…which yes, it has. I just hope he gets that D.U.I. before he kills someone on the road.
    Last night I mentioned how late he was when he finally stumbled in, and the fireworks began. I was told that I’m “bitchy 24 hours a day”, among other things. I shut myself in the bedroom, because it does absolutly no good to fight with a drunk. I was numb I was so hurt by his vicious mouth, but after some soul searching, I realized what was really happening. I can’t nag or bitch about his drinking…..he feels like I’m trying to control him, and in turn, he drinks more. I can’t save him from a D.U.I. and losing his job. He has to figure that out for himself. I don’t have to hang around and put up with his crap when he drinks. I can do something else. I don’t have to hang around at all….I can make a nice life for myself and be happy! I love him, but I hate the idiot he turns into when he’s drinking. I can NOT help him. The only person who can help him is himself.
    I am sad, because I truly do love this man, but I also don’t want this in my life again. It can be really hard to take a stand with yourself and realize that you are a good person, and deserve what is best for you. You don’t need to let someone’s illness become your own.

  187. Dear Dr. Neill,

    I am also married to a functioning alcoholic. He has a good job and is well respected at work. We have been married for 19 years and have two wonderful kids – a 15 year old and a 12 year old. He has been drinking alone and secretly for many years – I never knew the real extent of his drinking and just thought it was a weird annoying habit (that he hid his liquor) until about a year and a half ago. At that time, he said he was depressed and I urged him to get help for depression. He also started to drink more – I thought his drinking was due to the depression and thought with counseling and medication he would stop the drinking – wrong! He went through 6 months of counseling and took medicine and told me he’d stopped drinking during that time – I believed him until he drove home one evening so drunk he had actually peed on himself. He then went through detox and inpatient rehab and quit drinking for about 70 days – but he’s back to it again. Most recently we went on a church trip and he drove down separately and drank a pint of whisky on the way – I was driving in front of him and could see him weaving on the highway.

    He says he won’t go through rehab again because it won’t help – he already knows what they will say. I am so sick of the lying I want him to leave. My concern is that the kids don’t realize what is going on – we told him he’s an alcoholic but they can’t see that he’s drunk, he hides it so well. I know that my son will be angry with me if I make his dad leave. Also, I wouldn’t want my husband to have any custody of the kids – he drinks and drives. Is it worse for the kids to be totally without a dad or be with a dad who drinks?

    What are your views?


  188. hey doctor…
    so my wife thinks i’m a functioning alcoholic, but i read through these stories, and honestly compare them to my own, and i have to think, wow, i am not that bad. but then am i?

    out of 7 days a week, i have drinks on 5 of them. some nights it is one beer. some nights it is one beer and a glass or two of wine, or a cocktail or two, or a shot of tequila or something, but never more than 3-4 drinks (so about maybe on average 15-20 per week). i don’t drink to ease stress (well, mabye once in a while) – mostly ’cause i like a good beer, or a tasty wine pairing w/food, or a fun new cocktail that is the latest & greatest. we’re really into food & flavors and stuff, so its part of the hobby/lifestyle we’ve chosen w/culinary things.

    about once a month, i’ll be with some friends and maybe have 4-5 glasses of wine/beers/cocktails and won’t drive home, may slur a word or two, but for the most part would not be what i would label “hammered”. my wife though, she gets pissed.

    then about once every 12-24 months, i’ll be in a situation where i drink too much and get completely enebriated – for whatever reason – fun being w/friends, ate too little, drank too much hard alcohol, whatever the reason. The last 3 times starting back 5 yrs ago, at a beach house, i was messing around w/some buddies on a driftwood log on a beach, slipped and split my forehead open. another time, at a relative’s wedding, i was too drunk to get myself back to the hotel, and my mother in law had to help me . then last night, after getting home from a party where i had been “slurring my words” i was cooking something (had the munchies after drinking too much), fell asleep on the couch and woke up to burning food on the stove. my wife and i freaked out about that, and she brought up the whole alcoholism theing.

    during all these times, i get no hangovers, i don’t miss work. i don’t drive drunk. the only times i’ve felt guilty/remorsefrul things is like when i had the stitches in my head, and the burning food last night was bad news man. stupid (and wasted some good carne asada/ahi tuna tacos if you know what i mean). the embarrassment of my wife i think is a huge part of it. for whatever reason, she makes me feel worse than any hangover i could ever get, and this is why i gotta take a look at these things.

    my question is, i guess, do these things make me an alcoholic? of course when she states this i deny it – and you always hear “denial is the first sign of a problem.” i would be fully willing to admit there was a problem if i felt i had one.

    for a long time she thought i was depressed, so i went to the dr told him, and got me put on meds which seemed to help a little. 10 years later, i talk to a friend who introduces me to a psychiatrist who says, you’re not depressed, you’re adhd. i took meds and damn – my life has changed in amazing ways. so, i’m willing to be influenced by my wife – and i’m willing to stop drinking if i do have this problem. however, i look around at friends and others whom i know have serious issues w/drinking and i have to think, no, i do not have a problem with this. but since she thinks i do, i have to deal with it.

    i’m not looking for ammo to use againsst her, not looking for a “see this dr. or that article says that i’m not.” its just that in your own life, its hard to find stories/people to look at and say, “wow – based on their lives i’m a total alky – but looking at those guys over there, i’m a teetotaller.” do you know what i’m saying?

    one thing i’m thinking about doing is attending some aa meetings just to see what its all about. i’m a little nervous about the whole “hi i’m pedro, and i’m an addict” thing that i might have to say – ’cause i’m not convinced i’m an addict, but then if i say that and i’m at that meeting everyone will likely prejudge me as someone who is, even though i may not be (or maybe i am…?). feeling confused.
    i appreciate your words and thoughts – you can either do a public message or private email- if you had words to share that would help me and maybe some other hombres thnking through the same things as i am, dealing w/the questions, man, that would be a good thing to help us all out.
    peace out dr.
    pedro m. – los angeles

  189. Hi Pedro,

    The first thing I suggest you do is drop the distiction between “alcoholic” and “non-alcoholic.” I doubt very much you are addicted, but you could be. The way to tell whether drinking is “problem drinking” (alcohol abuse) is in by its effects. In your case it’s slurred speech sometimes, getting drunk very occassionally, a couple of accidents which could have been much more serious. However, in your case the most serious effects may be marital: your wife gets embarrassed and worried, and when you overdo it, she really overdoes it. Do take these two effects seriously.

    One further thing. When people drink, judgement is affected. You could be drinking more than you state and not realize it. You could be sometimes driving when you shouldn’t. And you make no mention of personality changes when you drink.

    My suggestion is you limit yourself strictly to 2 or 3 drinks in a evening, and don’t drive if you have had anything to drink. Your stated frequency of enebriation is so low it wouldn’t be hard to eliminate it completely. If you can’t pull this off, then you may have an addiction problem.

    Let’s assume you don’t have an addiction problem, but merely an alcohol management problem. Pay attention to the slurred words and accidents. If you still get comments about slurred speech, you may have to cut down even further. ( If all you can handle is one glass of wine, make sure its a damn fine wine with a gourmet meal.)

    I recommend you don’t go to AA. You don’t need people labelling you and telling you you’re in denial. You sound like someone who genuinely wants to know if you have a drinking problem and are willing to take action to deal with whatever you find.

    Give me a call if you think you might benefit from some coaching in the matter.

    Best wishes, Pedro.


  190. Dr. Neill,

    I just forwarded your book introduction to my husband at work. Now, I know it probably wasn’t a good idea to email it to him at work, but 9 times out of 10 he hears better when he reads something.

    I feel J is a functioning alcoholic. I have been keeping track and 8 nights out of the last 9, he has drank ALOT of beer. J has always been a beer lover, but I have seen the drinking progress further along over the last 2 years. Yes, his father was an alcoholic and an abusive spouse, although the abusive spouse part was always hidden and never talked about in public.

    He has progressed to humiliating me in front of friends, family and others, with derogatory comments. He hides these in laughter and says he’s “just teasing”. I am always at fault for something being lost or misplaced; always incorrect if I have to correct HIM on dates, times, places, etc. He often exhibits no memory of events and its usually because of alcohol. Close friends have had to remind him of these forgotten events as well, because if I try to remind him, he gets very defensive and informs me I am wrong.

    In light of reading some of your work, 2 weeks ago I began withdrawing myself from his drinking. Unlike him, I can enjoy a couple of cold beers on a hot day, while working in the yard or garden, and stop after 2. He can’t. He drinks to get drunk, or as he puts it, a little “glow” going. I have went to a close friend, a neighbor down the street and her husband for support. They too, continually witness J’s behavior and drinking, and refuse to be around him for long periods of time. Her husband has made several comments to J about his drinking, but I feel, J thinks he is just kidding.

    I told my husband that 2 weeks ago, I was beginning to follow your advise – he seemed okay with that, until I told him that I would no longer keep his secret from friends. I needed someone to confide in outside of these four walls for a support system. He was livid! He didn’t want anyone to know that I was taking steps to separate myself from his habit, and also didn’t want anyone to know what comments he has made to me in private.

    His anger was expected – I had already talked to my neighbor/friend and she told me to expect the anger. The surprising part was that I wasn’t worried, afraid, scared, or anything. I know that he will either sink or swim. If he wants to drink then fine, drink, and I wish you well. If you don’t want the marriage to fail, then get help or keep your drunken hands off me, and your mouth shut, because your behavior is no longer acceptable or tolerable. I love him, but, I don’t like him very much. I doubt he will change, but at least with your guidance, and God’s, I can get through this and survive. I have plenty of friends who sympathize and are there for me. Wish me luck!


  191. I think my husband is an alcoholic. A functional one. He has 3 DUI’s, just took me to Vegas for my birthday, and we spent 90% of the time looking for reasonably priced beer.
    I am so annoyed with him. I have asked him nicely before if he thought he might have a problem, and he blew up at me. We have never gone to bed at the same time in 3 years. Our whole relationship. He stays up drinking instead. He says it is because our schedules of sleep are different. He is a bartender…However, when I stay up too, even til’ 3am, he still won’t go to bed with me. I am in the most lonely relationship ever…HELP!

  192. Hi Naomi,

    A relationship that isn’t working is the loneliest place in the world.

    The first question to ask yourself is, “What do I want out of life?” The second question is, “Can I expect to get it while in this marriage?”

  193. My husband is what I guess to be a functioning alcoholic. Please clarify. He is a great person to be around during the day M-F until he gets home from work. He is fine for about an hour and then is just a but. His normal routine is work get home at five open his first can of beer. He drinks a 12 pack of beer every night after work. We have a local bar that is open MWTHFRI he will go there right after work have about three beers there and then come home and drink his twelve pack. On weekends or on days that he does not go to work he begins at usually 12:00 p.m. This is so frustrating. I ask him not to go places sometimes with me on the weekends or I have to ask him to please not drink because of whatever the event is. He embarrasses me. He falls asleep most of the time. He doesn’t every miss work because of his drinking, we is not at all or never has been abusive. He is just a but, grumpy, the world is a bad place, oh pity me because we don’t have any money, ( we really do, just not much) .

    It blows my mind though because he puts Jesus Christ first in his life, which I respect him for, like I said he never misses work, I just can’t figure it out. Our sex life doesn’t exist much because he would rather be outside by himself watching TV in his man cave and then go to bed. Weird, Any thoughts. Basically his beer is his first love but he of course says it is not. He has tried to cut back to six beers a day, but just doesn’t’ work for him.


  194. Yes, Susan, I have lots of thoughts about your situation. He’s drinking an amount that could eventually disable or kill him. The most loving thing you could do for him, the thing that might save his life, might be to leave him, because nothing else is catching his attention. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, because with or without him, you may be carrying the load. You’ll fin a lot of help for this in the book.

  195. I think the term functioning alcoholic needs to be re-visited, as far as i am concerned it is the same as being a little bit pregnant, you either are pregnant or you are an alcoholic. No excuses and no get out of jail free cards. Once these people admit it, and society recognises the harm they do, the better

  196. Hi Janette,

    I discussed the very issue in an earlier article: The Functioning Alcoholic: Part One/ I use it because so many people think of the “alcoholic” as the street drunk. In fact an alcoholic is someone who compulsively acquires and consumes alcohol, whether a twenty-something party-boy or a supreme court judge. The term usually carries the added meaning of addicted.

  197. Hi Dr. Neill,
    I need some advice as to how to deal with my husband who is clearly a functional alcoholic, admits it at times, says he needs help, cleans up his act for awhile and then the drinking ratchets back up again. He now has crossed the line in my opinion to not so “functioning” as he has embarrassed himself in a few social situations, where he used to be able to hide it.

    I was clearly enabling him, as I drink with him (not to excess, but I do drink), I have looked the other way because he is successful, runs his own company, never missed work, etc…and a good dad. However, my 18 year old son just came to me and told me to stop covering for him and that he knows when he drinks too much.

    He now shows signs of forgetfulness, doesn’t seem as sharp etc…He is almost 50, has been drinking since his twenties. Says it is something to relieve stress after a hard day at work. The thing that fooled me was that he can also go for days without drinking if he is with certain clients etc…that do not approve, or when he knows he has to remain sharp and disciplined.

    Do I have to stop drinking completely around him, so as to not justify his drinking; i.e., we usually drink red wine with our dinner on weekends watching movies……I know your book is supposed to be of benefit, but this is not the “typical” alcoholic situation. In a way it is more dangerous, because he is so bright, and clever and successful that he has pretty much been able to hide from the world until recently. He says he knows he needs help, but does not want anything on a doctor’s record of alcoholism, because of his business, protecting his family, life insurance etc…He found someone who does private counseling and gives medication to kill the urge to drink, but has yet to actually go in for the appointment.

    Any thoughts please…now that my son came to me, I am so ashamed, and cannot believe how I have enabled this. I guess I felt like a hypocrite because I do drink socially, but should I stop completely around him and hope he sees that I am not going along with it anymore? The hard booze is the problem for him, and he knows it, but can’t seem to just stick with wine or beer. Thanks so much.

  198. Hi Lynn,
    Your drinking responsibly is NOT enabling him. But as your son pointed out, covering for him is. Your husband knows when he drinks too much and it’s his responsibility to do something about it. It’s your responsibility to live a non-enabling lifestyle with good self-care. The book would help you with that.

    I work with men and women who want to conquer an alcohol problem, but whose public profiles require complete confidentiality and privacy. That includes no medical records, no groups, and no time off work. For some, it also means appointments in the local jurisdiction. If he has found someone who “gives medication,” there will be a record. He can contact me to discuss, if interested.

  199. Hi Dr Neill Neill,
    My name is Jill and my husband has been drinking now for four years, he is completely out of control and has just lost yet another job. We have a 15 year old son who I’m starting to get very worried about. My husband blames me for everything that has gone wrong in his life and now threatens me when I will not supply him with money to buy alcohol. He used to be able to function but now just drinks and sleeps. He comes from an alcoholic home and his family blames me as well for his drinking.

    I have been to Alanon and also private sessions and nothing seems to work for me. I feel so lost and feel I have no where to turn. Do you have any suggestions for me?


  200. Hi Jill,
    Read what I just wrote to Lynn, below. I consider that work to be coaching rather than therapy. But please understand that I also privately coach a few select women (and men) in relationships with alcoholics. Usually they are feeling stuck and lonely, but are facing their unwillingness to let things go on much longer as they are. In other word, they are motivated. Contact me if you wish to discuss.
    Best wishes,

  201. Dr. Neill Neill,
    My husband and I have been together for 6 yrs and have a 3yr old we just got married a few months ago and he lost his job a month before the wedding. Now it seems like he has no ambition all he does is drink with our neighbors every night as I stay at home to tend to our daughter and one day he says that me telling him he cant drink anymore has made him realize he has a problem and he loves me for bringing it to his attention as his dad and grandfather died of acholizism and he doesnt want to go down that root and as a 28 yr old he gets the shakes and cant eat after 3 days of no drinking but when the next day comes along and he is drinking and i get upset cause im taking care of our daughter by myself he tells me that he has always drank this way (which he has not) and that he doesnt have a problem and blah blah blah well please help me get him help as I dont know what to do and am finding myself wanting to give up but am sick of always being labeled the bad guy from his family (I do not drink I quit when I got prego with our daughter)

    Please please tell me what to do before another person asks me how i could even think about leaving him when he is such a great father (as everything was great when he had a job he was proud of what we have at such a young age as I’m 24 and yet now he wont even do anything around the house when he is sitting there all day while i work and then go to school after work and our daughter goes to daycare so he is literally home all day by himself)

  202. Hi Daniele,

    You are not the bad guy, but he has no absolutely incentive to change his life as long as you go along with his directionless, alcoholic lifestyle. You can spend the next ten years supporting him and then leave him, or…

    The bottom line is you deserve a better life. Demand it.

  203. Dear: Dr. Neill Neill

    I often find myself worried about my boyfriend’s drinking habits as my father is a functioning alcoholic. I sometimes wonder if I am just being paranoid or if I am really seeing signs of a future problem. As we don’t yet live together it is hard for me to really know the depth of his drinking habits. He is employed in a respectable trade but has admitted to drinking heavily before a day of work, drinking to the point of blacking out and he has hinted that drinking by himself for “fun” is sometimes enjoyable for him. I myself often work odd hours and am not often around during any parties or drinking incidences so I really don’t know how he is when he is drunk. I have noticed that his friends do drink more frequently and consume more alcohol than any of my friends, but are they just content young professionals enjoying some drinks, or does he have a problem that I should seriously address?

  204. Hi Yvette,

    He might very well have a serious alcohol problem already. The signs are there. Ignore it, and you could be in for years of heartache. Confront the issue now. Reading my book would arm you with some knowledge about alcoholism, which can be very helpful to you.

    Take care of yourself.

  205. Dr. Neill Neill

    My husband has a drinking problem, has admitted the problem, and even gone to counseling twice. Both times he stopped going. The second counseler he said he did not like so I told him that if he did not like her it was not going to work. He has not gone back. As far as I can see he has gone from 15-18 beers a day to about 6 a day. I ask him if he has more and he looks at me and tells me no. I want to believe him and it is killing me inside to think he might be lying to me. I have talked to him about it, and he gets “better” for a few days, then its back to the same old thing. I almost feel like leaving and telling him to get himself together but don’t know if that will work. He is in no way abusive, and is a great dad to our boys. I wish there was medicine to take to help the craving away kind of like cigarettes. Should I urge him to seek counseling again???

  206. Hello J,

    There is medication he could take to reduce cravings; he would have to see a medical doctor for that. As to the counseling issue, see what i wrote to James, above.

  207. What is the success potential of someone quitting cold turkey?
    I drank 15 – 20 beers daily for over 20 years, blacking out almost daily as my drinking increased in the last few years… I quit cold turkey on New Years Eve but often, almost daily, still crave it… I’m doing this on will power alone, can’t do meetings because it would drastically hurt my career and family.
    I thought the cravings would be gone, I know it’s got to be just in my head but when I just smell beer there is an overwhelmingly strong feeling of ‘I can have just one’…


  208. Hi Mark,

    Congrats on making a decision to quit and just doing it. That’s what I did three decades ago from about the same amount of alcohol. Consuming that amount of alcohol for any length of time is bound to create metabolic/hormonal/nutritional imbalances. I developed a whole bunch of food allergies for a few years after I quit. That may account for the physical part of the cravings. So do your research, perhaps starting with your family doctor.

    The psychological component of the cravings will fade as you reinvent yourself and your life, as you pursue things that excite you.

    I have helped men and women with this part of the recovery. Usually they are people like you who must avoid groups because they can’t risk public exposure of their problem.


  209. Dr Neill,

    My alcoholic boyfriend broke up with me about a month ago after catching him in another lie. He doesn’t see that he has a problem and has NO problem driving his 12 year old son around while he’s under the influence. He leaves this boy home after school alone until late evening because he goes to the bars after work and hangs with the guys! His son has made comments to me like “why does dad say he’ll be home in a little while and doesn’t come home until 10 pm”. My heart breaks for this boy and I’ve been the only constant in his life and now I’m gone! I’m trying to move on with my life but can’t help feeling like I could do more to help this 12 year old. The broken promises, lies, selfishness of the alcoholic really have bad effects on those around him and he won’t see it. Any suggestions for me? Should I just walk away and be done? Thanks

  210. Hi Teresa,
    You have a tough one to deal with. Yes, for you, you should just move on.

    The questions about the boy are serious ones that we need all consider when we become aware of a child being abused or neglected. Does he have a mother? Is she aware of and going along with this? Would it catch his attention if he got a DUI? Would his child be better off in state child care? Someone needs to take charge of this child’s care before he kills the child and/or himself in an accident, and it probably shouldn’t be you. However, you might have to be the one that reports the child neglect or endangerment to the appropriate authorities. If you are afraid of repercussions for you, get a friend to do it.

  211. Hi Dr. Neill!

    Thank you so much for your response! I have talked to the boys grandparents (the alcoholic’s parents) about his situation and I gave them information that could prove helpful to their dealing with the situation. There is a mother in all of this and she has spoken about trying to fight for custody of the 12 year old, but I do not know if she will follow through with it as she doesn’t follow through very well.

    Thank you so much for your website, it has given me so much to think about. I’ve been going to Al-Anon meetings since January and I have to tell you, your website has helped me SO much more.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! God Bless You!

  212. Hi Dr. Neill,

    My husband, Don, is definitely what I would consider functioning alcoholic. He can knock down a 24 pack and 18 pack of beer on a weekend and you would barely know he has had anything. During the work week he drinks anywhere from 6 to 8 beers a night( Monday through Thursday )and kicks it in to high gear on weekend. He smokes about 2 packs of cigarettes a day to boot. He goes to work religiously never takes off a day, but the few times he will take a few days off from drinking to prove to me he is not an alcoholic(he thinks that is proof) he goes right back to his old ways. In beer and cigarettes alone he spends about $400.00, and yet our sons do not have health insurance nor do we which he could easily afford at least for them, if he would stop both these horrible addictions.

    I have been living with this for 9 years and am at the end of my rope. I stay upset about it and he could care less. I cry a lot over this and the hardest thing is that I cannot seem to make his care and put his sons needs above his own selfish wants.

    Thanks for your time,

  213. Dear Dr. Neil,
    I am what I believe is a “binge drinker”. (easier to go into denial around this)…can go long periods without drinking, then bam. I go on a binge. My personality changes quickly after second or third drink. My husband is (what I guess is) a high functioning alcoholic. He cannot go one night without 6-8 beers. I addressed our issue sometime ago and we made it to one meeting together. I tried to abstain (went to some meetings) but it was hard to go to a meeting (he treated it as if it was some nice little social gathering I went off to) but coming home to all those beer bottles he drank, and had stashed and hidden around our home was hard. It was hard to go to bed sober next to someone wreaking of alcohol. In the end I gave up and began drinking with him. Trouble is I went from abusing alcohol to becoming dependent on it. (This meant I always looked like the “alcy” and he the “good guy” putting up with me.) He shared with friends (embarrassing) how “concerned” he was over my drinking but never discussed the issue with me, not once during our marriage.

    He lost his job last October and his own drinking escalated and for a while. I didn’t drink (couldn’t) because I worked a full-time job, went to college full time and did an internship, and did what I could to hold us together until he could find work again. It became obvious he was not serious about finding work and seemed happy to let me continue on my difficult work schedule.

    I found out later he was having an affair with his ex wife (she has been married four times, twice to alcoholics) and he left to move in with her. It has been a horrible time.

    I am making the best of the situation and am in early stages of AA meetings and recovery. I can see he and I enabled each other with our drinking in our marriage. However he seems bent and determined to portray me (not that this should matter at this point) as the “alcoholic” in our marriage. He is still drinking the same amount each day and she now pays his bills. He has left me in a terrible financial mess (which he never alerted me to, while I was working, he was taking care of house and bills) and I am working my way through all the horrible emotions that have surfaced (without alcohol) since this emerged (two months ago.)

    I am interested in your comments. and/or feedback. I guess I am angry that he can point fingers at me (and some of what he says his true) while he has never acknowledged his own drinking habits/issues and I resent the hell out of his enabler, the ex wife.

  214. Dear Rhonda,

    You sound like a strong woman and you will get through all this. And yes, a lot of the difficult emotion you are experiencing is emotion that you previously suppressed with alcohol. but that will pass.

    There words can be helpful in moving on: “What he thinks of me is none of my business.” Aim at seeing your husband and his ex as two needy little people messing up their lives. It’s not about you; it’s about them. Accepting that will help you let go of resentment. When you no longer have resentment, you have broken the connection to them.

  215. Hi,
    Like what you wrote, thanks.
    I’m surprised when the ‘urge’ just pops in my head, there’s not a trigger (where or when I used to drink) but just a very strong feeling that tonight “I’ll just have one”. Of course, I never do. But some of my days would be much easier if that thought stopped… I have to purposefully try to think of something else… but that doesn’t really work… It’s annoying and distracting!
    At some point does that thought stop or do people years later, still think, “well, maybe just one…”
    Thanks, Mark

  216. Hi Mark,

    In my experience, the urge does pass. It will pass quicker, however, if you are around normal healthy people who drink some, like the kind of people you would rub shoulders with at a service club meeting or a chamber of commerce meeting. The urge will persist the longest if your associates are people who think of themselves as “in recovery.”

  217. It is not the fault of the spouse of the alcoholic. I got married last Septemeber and 3 months into the marriage I saw my husband pour a drink right after morning coffee. He says he is under stress because I have a teenage son and the whole moving into my house thing. I should have never married him. I love him, but I love myself just a little bit more. I’ve gone to Al-anon, bought and read books, tried to figure out how I somehow believed him that he wasn’t an alcoholic. Yes, my mother is a functional alcoholic. I got molested by an alcoholic neighbor when I was a very little one, (still in diapers!) raped at 14 by a 15 year old boy I was dating who decided to guzzle whisky and then rape me. I don’t care if people say their self esteem is low, whatever, then DO something to make yourself worthy, not the opposite! Alcoholics are just crappy people. And now my supposed loving, caring, nice guy, humble, faithful husband is looking like a piece of garbage to me. I confronted him a few days ago that his drinking so much was concerning me, I don’t like sleeping next to someone sweating vodka (he started drinking vodka in January), I wasn’t going to play the game and wasn’t going to ask him to stop drinking, but that I can’t live like this. So, he said sorry he was such a piece of shit, said I was judging him, etc. all typical looser alcohol defenses. He doesn’t go hiking with me anymore, nothing outdoors or active like we used to when dating. He does nothing he says he’s going to do around the house, and sleeps way too much of course. I also have a recovering lush friend from Junior High who has been sober for 6 years now, but she is still a blow off and a crappy friend so I’ve written her and other alchie friends off because they don’t care about me at all. I realize he really doesn’t love me, he loves me because I am cool and let him drink. I even let him buy a kegerator with the gift cards we got as wedding gifts. Now I just don’t want to drag this out. I want out. Question is, he seems to have no money right now, he’s not taking care of his taxes, but in a couple of months when all the money comes in regularly again he should be able to move out, so how do I get him to do this? I don’t want to fight or argue. He asked me to be patient with him, and not stop loving him. Ok. But I realize after just a few days of this confrontation that the alcoholism is making me not love him. I know he loves the bottle, not me. I am enabling him by providing the house and he hasn’t been paying half like we agreed. Why do I always attract crap? Why can’t I really be loved? I really believed he loved me, what a fool I am! I want the drunk out of my house and out of my life. I can’t tell anybody because everyone loves him so much. He has a huge network, I don’t! Why am I worried so much about him? Oh yeah, because I actually have his best interests in mind. I know the society says it’s a disease, but he is hurting me, it’s an action not a disease. I blame the drinker not the drink. I am starting to hate him. I feel used, I was lied to. I want help in how to get him out because love conquers nothing. Will just laying down a time limit work or will I get a bunch of excuses? I just need to tell him he has until Thanksgiving to get the out and I want a divorce and he has to pay for it because he lied to me about who he was. I am so heartbroken but I don’t matter because only booze matters. Here I was a newlywed of three months and Al-anon was just a culty group of stupid foolish control freaks. (Sorry, but I am mentally gifted so the masses are idiots to me.) So I am heartbroken and he says he is sorry, but lip action means nothing to me. I am sorry too. What a waste of my life, my beauty, my love, my money that I could have used to fix up the house and put in the kitty for when my son graduates high scholl next Spring. Women are fools for men. Soul suckers around every corner. No wonder the stupid vampire fantasy is so popular, make soul sucking seem sexy. I could use the excuse that I love him to keep him around and use me for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t equate as logical in my mind. Shouldn’t I love myself first? Of course I should. But just like Alcoholics are victims to their human condition so am I. “Her desire will be for her husband and he shall rule over her.” Hello? Curse of the Bible upon Eve. Doesn’t mean the man is entitled to be a ruler, just means women are cursed to be pieces of garbage because of their man, even kill their own children, don’t deny it, you know I am gifted so it shouldn’t be wasted on loving a drunk. But I’ll never love another man again. If they respect me, do me good, and give me money so I have more means, not less, than I can provide for myself; I would marry again. But honestly, he was the love of my life, my buddie, my best friend, and he’s ruined it. Love is always just a fantasy anyway. Sorry I ranted on.

  218. I didn’t see a link anywhere but do you have advertising? I have several blogs in the same niche and I’d like to add my banner somwhere on your site. This site seems to have a lot of discussion and visitors.

  219. My wife drinks beer every day. Typically, 3-6 on weekdays and 2-3 times that Friday-Sunday. However, she is a functioning alcoholic. She doesn’t miss work, and is a “happy” drunk always smiling and laughing (generally the life of the party) but this usually ends in a state where words are slurred, eyes are glazed over and when its time for bed, passes out within seconds. Obviously, our love-life suffered and over time turned from unpleasant to simply unbearable. She is generally a caring person and is nice to others but inevitably drinking is the ultimate focus of everything. No matter where we go or what we do, somehow drinking is involved. She has a very close nit family who is intimately involved in our kids lives (youngest now 18). They are all very caring and loving people. Unfortunately, they are also functioning alcoholics (and place a great deal of emphasis on drinking). Now that the nieces and nephews are getting older they are all exhibiting this same philosophy towards drinking beer. Given all this, I find that as a parent/husband that I just can’t compete with beer, my wife and her family, and it is me who is withdrawing from social gatherings with my wife and family. I am looked at as the one with the problem. I will admit it has affected my outlook on life and I am no longer the happy person I once was. I’m at my wits ends and don’t know what to do.

  220. I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I’m very very impressed.

  221. Dear Dr Neill,

    My husband has a problem with alcohol; I think he is a functioning alcoholic. I’m 33 he is 36. We have been together for 5 years, married for seven months. I have always known alcohol was an issue for him, I guess I just thought I could handle it because most of the time it’s not that bad and that one day he would ‘grow out of it’.

    He has always contributed to the finances of the household, rarely missed important family occasions, never missed work due to drinking etc. He doesn’t get violent when he’s drunk, although can be obnoxious and can’t be reasoned with. He’s that guy in our group of friends who always drinks a bit too much at social events. He would think of himself as the life of the party.

    He only drinks a couple of beers in the evenings during the week but binge drinks socially on the weekends. Also, there is that point where he turns after about four drinks, and although he is not behaving badly, he is just distant, unable to be communicated with and the chances of a stupid argument greatly increase.

    Then every six months or so he goes on a real bender, and there is always a bit of a mess to clean up… mostly emotional because he says things and does things he never would when not drinking. Following these moments there have been admissions of a drinking problem and a noticed conscious effort to control the drinking but it doesn’t last.

    He has also tried going on Naltrexone once, but he didn’t stick with it for long enough and also wasn’t receiving any counselling or supportive treatment.

    The past few months things have been worse, I believe he became depressed when he left one job thinking a great opportunity was on the horizon and then it didn’t happen. His drinking became worse as he dealt with his feelings of failure and his wounded pride. He is now working again but the drinking didn’t get better.

    I admit I am no angel to live with at times. I have battled anxiety and mild depression but I sought help for it and with the support of a great counsellor and doctor have come out the other side. My personal journey is far from over and I continue to do great work on myself. He has always been very supportive of what I’ve been going through, although I do think he has used drinking to escape from my problems.

    About two weeks ago on a Monday morning I found my truth and my strength after a boozy Sunday night and following an apology from him, I told him how it was.

    I told him l loved him and I have supported him but I can’t do it anymore. I’ll leave if something doesn’t change. I told him he that if he could control his drinking and his behaviour when he was drinking it wouldn’t be so bad but if he can’t then he needs to stop and go back on Naltrexone or go to rehab or AA. And that he has to do it for himself. I told him I want a happy peaceful, calm life. I’m not spending the next 30 years being his dedicated driver and watching him write himself off three times a weekend and copping the aftermath.

    I also told him I love him, and I believe in him and in the goodness inside him and I believe in the man he can be. And that I’m offering him the opportunity for a good and happy life but he has to choose it.
    But this has to be his choice to do it for himself and I will not stand by and watch him destroy himself with alcohol. I love him but I love me more and I will choose me.

    I said I don’t say these things to hurt you but I don’t know how to get through to you. He said he doesn’t know how to get through to himself. I said you need to work this out for you, I’m here and this is the life I’m offering and it’s your choice.
    He went to work and called me when he got there to say he made an appt. straight away with our doctor. When he got home he told me he doesn’t want to drink his life away. I finally got through.

    So, he is going back on Naltrexone and he is going to start a treatment program with a counsellor who has a specialty in alcohol addiction. He is not going cold turkey, but is not allowed to binge drink.

    The hard thing for me now is that I feel like I have already walked away from the relationship. My mother is a therapist and she said that to be calm and clear and speak my truth that Monday morning it is like I have actually walked away from the relationship  – the old relationship the way it use to be.  And there will be some residual clinging to the old, and fear of the unknown as it dissolves away and I let it go.
    I’ve left the rut and now feel anxious/ curious about what the future holds and that it’s like the horizon has now opened up – for me and for the relationship. And I don’t have to decide the destination today – its just each moment in the now and then the next one and so on.
    We could end up moving in the same direction – or not. We just don’t know yet, and just have to keep doing what is right for ourselves in every moment.
    And while there is fear of what might happen (ie. would I be saving myself a whole lotta pain by just leaving tomorrow). I actually don’t know that he won’t come to the party – and stay at the party long-term.  And do I hang around for a bit to find out if it could be the new, good situation I hope it can be.
    Two weeks on and he has so far stuck to the deal not to binge drink.

    I know he has his journey to take and that at the moment that needs to be his focus and that proactively “working” on our relationship should be put on hold (we have been seeing a counsellor together)… and we agreed we still love each other and want to see what the relationship can be once he is a bit further along his road.
    It makes sense that until he can see clear of the alcohol issue (no pun intended), the relationship can’t be the focus. I also still have my own stuff to work on… and the hardest thing I have to do is to just let him get on with it. To know that I can’t control him and I can’t really help except to be there for him and I have to just kind of get out of his way and let him get on with it. Especially, I’m not allowed to ‘watch’ what he’s doing and comment etc.
    We had a bit of a fight on Sunday mainly due to my being unable to keep my big mouth shut or my big foot out of it. We had a blow up on Sunday morning. So, I was feeling all out of sorts and went to an Al-Anon meeting on Sunday afternoon. It was depressing and had a very “misery loves company” vibe. I won’t be going back. It would be easy to get sucked into the group self-help (neediness) of it. They gave me a book though which has some interesting stuff in it particularly about detachment with love and how you can’t control someone elses journey etc.
    So, I’ve decided to go back to basics and find my own happiness inside of me again. I’m going to take care of myself first, and not get in the way of his journey, not try and make decisions for him or help him make them. And I will continue to be clear about the life I want.

    Can people really change? Is there the possibility of a truly happy, love filled marriage even if he never stops drinking completely? I just hope its not too late.

  222. Dear Mrs B. If he is addicted to alcohol and wants to just cut back, he may be setting himself up for lapsing into heavy drinking again when there is a crisis. I have seen addicted people succeed with the moderation route, but usually only after they have stopped completely for five years.

    Yes people can really change. You have. If he wants to change, he will need to recreate or reinvent himself to be the person he wants to be. He may or may not evolve into the man you can truly love and can love you. That of course is the risk with any relationship as you change and grow throughout life.

  223. Dear Doug,
    As a human being, you have no obligation to be unhappy. So look carefully at what you want from life and want your life to be. Communicate that and see what happens. It’s a big decision for her, because if she decides to reinvent herself without alcohol, she may alienate herself from her family. They will blame you.

    Get help. If you don’t want to or can’t get the right kind of help locally, call me. I do distant work.

  224. This really is this kind of a fantastic resource that you’re offering and you give it away free of charge. I adore seeing web sites that understand the worth of offering a quality resource free of charge. It?s the old what goes about comes about routine.

  225. I have been with my husband for 10 years married for 5. I knew from day one that he had a drinking problem but thought it was because we were young (early 20’s). I struggled (even left him) because I feared of what my life would be like in the future. I was told “I won’t drink like this when we are married, or when we have kids.” But it hasn’t slowed down. Our children are 4 and 2 and the light of my life. John is distant and is always in his mancave after work saying he’s “working on something”. He is a good man, not violent, not an angry drunk, NEVER misses work or drinks in the morning. When he isn’t drinking he is VERY quiet almost depressed, doesn’t interact with us. It is 1st thing on his mind when he get out of work. He usually has 1 or 2 on the way home after stopping to a party store. He usually will have a mixed drink or two then switch to beer.

    I have lost that “feeling” about him…I love him…but there is no spark there anymore because I have watched this for so long. I am almost numb to it because I feel helpless and that I chose this life..when I knew how he was. I don’t want to break up my family…but I just don’t know what to do anymore. we did the whole counseling thing and he was treated for A.D. but after the counseling ended it didn’t take much longer for things to go right back. He doesn’t drink on Sundays hardly ever but pretty much every other day of the week (in the evening). He acts like it’s my fault, that he can’t do anything to make me happy and what else can he possibly do to make our marriage better. I have a nice home, and nice vehicle, money in the bank..what else could a girl want right??

    I don’t know what to say or do anymore?

  226. Hi Marie,

    You could express something like this: “I appreciate the nice home, nice vehicle and money in the bank, but what I really want is a husband, a man who can stand on his own two feet and not act like a victim.” (Every time he blames you, he is making himself a victim.)

  227. I divorced my alcoholic husband 2 years ago after many years of threatening to leave him because of his drinking. He has lost his license twice since the divorce but was recently diagnosed with diabetes so he quit drinking for a month. I was hopeful that maybe this was the start of recovery for him. However he started to drink again. I was so upset because I have never moved on since our divorce. I know I will never be with him as long as he is drinking but I haven’t been able to allow myself to let him go. I keep hoping for the “what if”s.” I was married to him for 17 years and sometimes it saddens me to think if he gets sober someone else will get to have the husband that I always wanted. He tells me he needs my help and he cant do it on his own, but I can’t commit to that. I’m scared he will go back to drinking and I would have to go through this pain all over again and the kids would suffer as well. I have told him to go to counseling and get himself help but he hasn’t made one attempt to seek professional help. He wants me back, but I can’t go back with broken promises. He has a lot to prove before I can go back, but at the same time I sit alone with walls up to protect myself…..still longing to be with him. Sometimes I want to tell him “ok, I will help support you and go to therapy with you,” but then I’m scared to do that because what if it doesn’t work. I can’t put my kids and myself through that pain. The kids are just starting to settle into their lives living with divorced parents. I want him to go through recovery and see where it takes us, but his recovery shouldn’t depend on if I am with him or not. I want to let go, but why can’t I? Should I help him?

  228. My husband of 22 years and I have 3 children we are both 42 and have known each other since we were 16 – our youngest is a jr in high school. He had a very abusive upbringing in an alcoholic household his family has not changed and has became worse since his mother passed 3 and half years ago and she was my husbands only connection to his family he is the only pne out of all of his family that made something of his life and that has been successful -which he has always accounted me for. I on the other hand have always been very close to my family until recently. We have both been social drinkers for many years with a lot of friends and we always had a great time with no issues but for the past 3 to 4 years my husband is out of control and now it is an event if I have 3 drinks a month. He does not drink every night he works m -f and is never late to work and very loving husband and father during the week but pretty much every friday night he is a very different person – from Friday to Sat and an ocassional Sunday he is drinking. He drinks heavily, he becomes loud, and sometimes he becomes verbaly abusive to anyone and everyone, and extremly mad at me, he blames me for everything wrong with his life, he says how he hates me and after the youngest is done with high school he is free of me and it is over becuase he wouldnt pay me child support and that is all he has been waiting for, then thank god he eventually passes out but not before gorging himself with anything in the fridge or pantry he can get his hands on and in his mouth. He is never angry with the kids it is always aimed towards me alone, no matter what happened or was going on to set him off.
    Our friends have distanced themselves from us -two weekends in a row at a freinds house he drank too much and was insulting to other guests and one of those nights he was grabbing another mans wife to have her her sit on his lap – which is not the first time for him to hang on and with other woman and to make unaceptable and sometimes sexual comments. I was asked to take him home but was told I am welcome back which I apologized and told them I would not be able to -but now our friends are not talking to us not even me -I dont blame them and I am so mad at my husband for this. He became irrate at me on the way home even though I didnt say a word to him just that they wanted us to leave and he said that it was my fault that they asked us to leave and he called me every name in the book pounded on the car pulled my hair and insisted I stop for more beer, I just stopped and got it; as he was going to go into the store he stopped and asked “babe do you want anything?” as if everything was fine -he got back in the car and the nastiness starts all over again. Once he is home the nastiness continues and I just do not sleep on the weekends because he continues until about 2 to 4 am being loud and all. In the morning he remembers nothing and said he was sitting next to so and so at the party and having a good time which he was but that was about a half hour before he became out of control so he remembers absolutely nothing after that and when I tell hIm what he did or said he says I am a liar and I make it all up – and eventually gets mad tells me to shut up and goes and lays in bed. Come Monday he admits he has a problem,and he is sorry and that is all I hear all week and that he needs to stop but Friday the drinking starts all over. It does not help that our friends tell him not to worry about – even though they asked us to leave becuase of it – it is very embarrassing for me on so many levels.
    Two times he has pissed himself in front of people after getting up to go to the restroom he comes back with wet pants (both those times we were home with guest at our house-thank god), he has fallin down numerous times and on occasion he becomes very sentimental and has cried like a baby to people .
    I have asked him to maybe limiting his beers to a few and stay in control of himself -which he was all for but one definite problems is he has a friend and co worker that drinks everyday and believe it or not my husband is disgusted with his drinking, and his friend is a very lonely man no freinds wife girlfriend just his booze, he complains about everything and hates everyone – he calls my husband everynight to complain about something and is always drunk – and friday after work he calls my husband over because he always has a problem and he shows up sat morning and will sit with my husband and comment that he should leave me that he would be better off without me and so on and his friend is not shy about who he says it front of and it is not that he does not like me – he does he is just so lonely that he is jealous and misery loves ompany – and then he will buy a 12 pack and pushes my husband to drink – I am not blaming him for my husbands behaivor that is all his actions and words – I dont think a friend like this is helping the situation at all and I do not consider him a friend and have told my husband which my husband agrees but he feels obligated to him because he has no one else. Even his own kids avoid him because he is so miserable. He has told his lonely friend on occassion that he was not drinking that he had promised me and we were going to somewhere or had plans for the that night and his lonely friend went and bought an 18 pack and told my husband no one needs know if he had a few – and before you knew he drank them all and of course then Im the bad guy for getting upset and asking my husband to stop and not only that but sometimes if he is at our house he wont leave our house knowing we had plans – it is like fighting the devil every weekend and Im over it.
    My oldest daughter moved out and to another city about 4 hours away and cannot stand what her father becomes on the weekends when he drinks -she is in the midst of planning her wedding and has told him numerous times he is not allowed to drink at her wedding which I do not blame her I would prefer he not as well becuase he is so unpredictable with his drinking and what mood he will end up in.
    My other two kids dont like it and tell him to stop as well, but he just becomes out of control and he cannot -it is not my husband that I am dealing with after too many drinks – I dont know who it is but I really hate that guy.
    I threaten to leave him and tell him I am over it but in all reality I honestly have no where to go. I am unemployed due to the economy and I have no more friends that would even take me in because of my husbands drinking and what he becomes, my family and I are not on the best terms which is not related to my husbands drinking and he knows it all of this – I do love him and want to help him -but I do not know what to do anymore. I am afraid what he is doing to his body with the binge drinking and what it is doing to my sanity he is killing us as indivduals and a family! Do you have any advice at all that could help me with this battle that I have grown so tired of.

  229. My husband and I have known each other for 14 years and married for 8. We have two children and they are my world. I grew up in a non drinking home as did he. He does have some relatives that I would consider alcoholics. He drank a lot when we met and we ultimately broke up for reasons that I believe were related to alcohol. He was sent to the hospital several times when he was in his early twenties for drinking too much. He took a test with the college nurse and she said that it said he was an alcoholic. He laughed it off. His drinking did die down and he was able to drink just a couple of drinks now and then. Over the past few years we have had issues with our son and he has had several deaths in his family (no one close had ever passed away for him until then). And he has become very depressed. We are seeing a marriage councelor who knows that hte drinking is an issue for me. But I do not think my husband thinks that it is a real problem. He seems to think that it is normal. I kind of thought that as he got older he woudl mature and the drinking would be much less. He does not drink every day or even every week – usually. But he does not seem to be able to drink less than 7 drinks at any one time. Once he starts, he seems he can not stop. Never mind that he is embarrassing, but he has wrecked a golf cart costing us $1800, knocked himself in the head with a door – needing stitches and a CAT scan, among other things. He also drives drunk and has recently started verbally bashing me when drunk. Is My seven year old is always saying that “Daddy is drunk” and I find that he is a bad influence. My husband likes to tell me that I have nowhere to go and no money to leave and essentially he is correct. it possible that he is an alcoholic even though his drinking is sporadic? I am getting fed up and he seems to think that I am unreasonable.

  230. I am glad to have stumbled on your web site. It makes a lot of sense. I believe there may be things that point to my husband being a functional alcoholic. His drinking has changed me from being a laid back person to a suspicious, mistrusting wife, and I don’t want to become a nag. So I guess I tend to watch how much he gets drunk, and sit quietly to avoid an argument.

    I don’t know what to do (or not do) to help. I’m afraid though that your advice might be to look out for myself and I’m not ready to hear this. But if I saw someone else in a similar situation who was not already married I’d tell them to get out now before it’s too late. How do I know whether I’m over-reacting, or whether I really do have a problem, and when to do something about it?

  231. My partner of 5 year drinks at least 4 to 5 times a week. He drinks ten cans a night at least. He gives me abuse sometimes and says horrible things to me. When I refuse to go to shop to get his drink or tell him he not to drink it starts a big argument I get abuse its all my Fault am trying to spoil his night and so on. I have two kids 1 toddler 1 baby. Its not a new thing done it every night. For over a year now always got excuse for doing it fed up with promises that never get kept. Hate my children being brought up with him drinking all the time; only at night does it between 7 and 11. Always moaning. Just had enough. Love him, but don’t think I can go on with his drinking, him damaging himself. Doesn’t seem to matter what I say to him. What shall I do is he a alcoholic or is it just me thinking wrong?

  232. Sir,

    My wife openly is blaming on me in front of Court that I am a very heavy alcoholic . But i never ever had alcohol till today.

    Please help me by which test it can be proved that I am a non-alcoholic.


  233. Hello, my husband and I have only been married 4 months. He is highly intelligent (when it comes to work and academics), successful (great job), charming and handsome BUT I believe he is a functioning alcoholic. I had a feeling before we got married, but he assured me that he would quit any time that it became a real problem for him. I’ve always felt lucky to have him because of how good he is on paper and how wonderful he is to me when he is sober. He is well loved by friends and family.

    BUT, he drinks almost every night either beer or red wine and that just gets worse with stress. When he is stressed he can’t seem to go without it. He gets himself to work the next day and can carry on with his day-to-day despite being hungover but will complain to me incessantly about how he is feeling. All his social activities revolve around drinking and they usually turn into big nights that he has little to no recollection of. He won’t remember the things he’s said or done to me. He can be pleasant when he is drunk – he is ok as long as he gets what he wants but the moment you say or mention anything otherwise he will talk down to you and belittle you and just ignore. I can’t reason with him at all and sometimes have to beg him to see sense – he usually complies in the end but that isn’t without some abusive language. I have been left crying on my own many a time on a big night out.

    He tries to convince me it’s a cultural thing and that he comes from a family of big drinkers and that’s the norm. All his friends seem to be in similar situations and they all sort of reinforce each others behaviour by trading war stories. His parents make fun of his drinking but they all seem so light hearted about it. I don’t know what to do. A lot of the women he knows also seem to think his drinking is sweet or funny and sort of flirt with him about it but no one has really experienced the other side of him. His mum has mentioned a few odd occasions but we’ve never had a frank conversation about it and the one time I called her feeling distraught she begged me not to tell my parents. My parents are also a little un-supportive because they love him as son in law 1) cause he’s good to them but 2) cause they have bragging rights.

    He has called his dad an alcoholic a few times but has never gone into detail about it – he just says his dad is eccentric and that they fought a lot when he was young. His parents are divorced but I don’t know if alcohol was behind it. He has also sometimes mentioned that he drinks to deal with his emotions and stress and that he can’t express things properly.

    I’ve been told that his drinking is so small in the scale of all his successes but I can’t go on feeling so weak. I have my own anxieties and past abusive relationships to overcome. Sometimes people tell me it’s me that’s the problem and that it is my anxiety and past that is making me overreact and hypersensitive. I sometimes can’t separate whether it is his alcoholism or my anxiety. I have regular counseling to deal with everything and my therapist has recommended he get counseling but he refuses.

    I am a newlywed and I get scared when I read stories of women who have suffered for years – I don’t want to give up on our marriage but I don’t want to suffer for years and become disillusioned by him either. I don’t want to have children that suffer and just add to this cycle. I don’t know what my next steps are. He almost left me stranded last night due to him being drunk, I had to plead and cry for him to meet with me so we could get home. My parents want me to let him off because it’s Christmas but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.

  234. Hi, I have lived with my functioning alcoholic husband for 7years. He is a good man, but most times everything evolved around his drinking rituals. Our separations during this time related to his drinking and domestic violence. We have 2 children and 10 year old from my 1st marriage. Recently I was diagnosed with cancer, my husband was there for me ,which made a permanent impact on my life. I am separated from my husband due to him having a drinking outburst on my mother who over welcomed her stay for too long in helping us. My family has interfered in our marriage and my mother worries he drank too much. My 10 year old saw too much within our marriage and dislikes him.

    My cancer changed my life and I made decisions upon my survival. I would like to ask you: I still love my husband but now am facing him wanting to reconcile as he is going to loose everything due o to property settlement and divorce. He still drinks but has cut down but not got help. I’m worried I might go back to what I left.

  235. Okay, I feel silly posting here. My husband warned me that his drinking would bother me after we were married and moved in together. He was right. But we had a CRAZY year and currently he blames the circumstances when I bring up his drinking. He says he won’t drink as much once we have children.

    He drinks pretty much every night, striving to take at least one night off per week. On weeknights he usually drinks 4-6 (unless he goes out with friends, then it’s usually more) and Thursday through Saturday is a free for all–whatever the “guys” are doing he joins in (8 or more is probably normal for a “normal” night out and more like 12-14 or more for a half day affair….). And that’s part of the problem, all of his friends drink more than him, like a lot more. By comparison he is doing good.

    Anyway, he tells me that he has really cut back since we met over 3 years ago. This just makes me worry more, about his health.

    He doesn’t miss work–though after heavy, long binges or excessive drinking over several days he has physiological side effects: sleeplessness, nightmares, memory issues, irritability, and a seeming inability to handle change. Maybe I’m crazy, I feel crazy. But I worry and I can’t seem to help bringing it up, which makes him so angry–and then he blames me for making him feel like a terrible person and like he has a problem. That makes me feel bad.

    When I bring it up, my friends tell me this is normal for a 28 year old male. It doesn’t help that he “appears” perfect to them. He is a perfectionist and has very high expectations of himself and I know his drinking bothers him. Should I worry?

  236. I have been married for 11 1/2 yrs to a functioning alcoholic. I love him dearly and know he loves me. I have no job and 3 kids and I am still not sure what to do. He will never quit drinking he says, its just him. He has always drank and doesn’t think its a big deal at all. He was drunk on our wedding day, and I knew it. I am to blame I know I enable him. He doesn’t drink every night but on the weekends he will drink by himself and a lot. I have always said he is binge drinker.

    He provides for us, never hits or abuses us and thinks he deserves to have his beers. I wonder all the time if staying with him will hurt our children more than divorcing him. I know they see it but they think its normal. They don’t know any different. I am so stuck and lost. I don’t know where to go from here and what to do. I need help.


  237. Dr. Neill appreciates your comments and how you all help one another! He is very grateful to provide this forum and all the feedback he receives! However, Dr. Neill is not able to give advice in this public forum. If you need his help, please refer to his consultations page: He uses Skype or telephone to make consulting more convenient.

  238. Hi There,

    I am madly in love with my hubby, but am at the breaking point. He drinks beer every day, and uses drinking as a way to deal with stress. I am an avid runner, so I personally cannot relate with his “stress releasing” method. If I am stressed, I run. Our marriage is on the brink of destruction. He works in the restaurant industry, and I work as an accountant, so our schedules could not be more opposite. I catch him in lies all the time. He will tell me that the restaurant is busy and that he is closing, when really he finished at 10, and drank at a local bar for the remainder of the night, arriving home between 12am and 2am. This upsets me as then he is tired and grumpy the next day, and he is short and rude with me.

    3 years ago he got a DUI and I was actually happy about it! I felt that this was the wake-up he needed and that maybe he would stop drinking. His parents have hid the fact that he got a DUI from the rest of his family. And he has continued to drink nightly. In fact I think it is physically impossible for him not to have a beer after work and if he is not working he drinks at home. I can no longer sleep when he is not home as I don’t trust what he is doing. I have showed up several times at his work when he is apparently working, only to be informed that he left hours ago. It is embarrassing.

    The only time I get to spend time with him, is if I invite myself out with him after work, and we drink together at a local bar. When out together he is happy and loving. But the entire time out, I feel guilty that I am enabling his addiction. We never go to bed at the same time, as it is more important for him to stay up to watch TV and drink beer. He believes that he cannot sleep after a stressful day at work if he does not drink. His drinking is starting to affect all areas of our marriage. I don’t trust him, and I fear that when he is lying to me about drinking, he is also lying about other things.

    He is constantly tired and grumpy and does not have energy to do any activities with me, and as of late is rude and disrespectful to me. He gets angry and defensive when I talk to him about his drinking, he claims that work is stressful and drinking helps him deal with that stress, and because he does not drink first thing in the morning, he does not have a problem. He admits that at a past job (that I made him quit before our wedding) that he was an alcoholic. But since he has moved on from that stressful job, he no longer has a drinking problem.

    My friends and immediate family are tired of me complaining about the situation, and are now telling me that I should leave before I get pregnant and bring a child into the dysfunctional relationship. I’ve tried reaching out to my Husband’s family for support, but they refuse to acknowledge that he has a problem and it does more damage then good. I have taken up many other physical activities, and now have a sport or team that I am involved in every weeknight. I did this initially to distract myself from what was happening at home, and now am using it as an avoidance tool. I feel pushed up between a rock and a hard place…..

  239. Hi, My name is Jill I have read all the posts with great interest, I have been with my partner “Bill” for 14 years. We are both now 51. I have never had money troubles in my life but because of his alcohol abuse and lies I have them now. He is ill at the moment due to cirrhosis of the liver. I would say to any male or female out there get out of the abusive relationship you are in. An alcoholic will steal and then make you feel as though is all your fault.that life is a mess. Please take the advice of someone who has learned the hard way.

  240. I am with a alcoholic. We have a 9 month old baby on the way. As soon as he gets home from work he drinks from the time he’s home til he goes to bed. Some nights it’s til 3 or 4 in the morning. We fight all the time. I’ve actually left thousands of times thinking it would make him stop and realize and it doesn’t. This past time I left, he called and said he wants to quit and go to counseling and said he needs Jesus. We have been to church but he hasn’t called a counselor.

    It’s caused both of our families to resent each other and his family hates me and tells him to leave me and find someone else. He got drunk and ran out of beer while I was driving and said if I didn’t take him to get more beer he was going to hit my car door on a mailbox. We drove with my door wide open. The last time, he took all the covers and pillows while me and my son was trying to sleep and asked if I learned my lesson. He hides stuff from me. He talks bad about me to his family and friends. But then turns around and tells me what I want to hear basically. He has tried to get with other women and has actually had sexual activity with another woman. I stay because we have kids. But I’m at the end of the rope here and I do not know where to turn anymore. If I bring up drinking, he does it more and we fight more. I’ve read u have said he has to want to quit and he says he wants to. But he’s still bringing it home.

  241. I would consider my husband and I both alcoholics. The times I quit drinking are when I am pregnant which I currently am. And during those times of pregnancy I ask him to quit or cutback. Not just because I can’t drink with him or religious reasons. But because I feel our drinking had gotten out of control and I’m worried about our/his health. His father passed away a couple of years ago from psoriasis of the liver.

    I’ve always felt we have had an honest and open relationship. And a very good marriage. But recently I’ve smelled alcohol on his breath and he denies drinking. But I’m now discovering water bottle’s hidden around the house. The last one I didn’t even confront him about and just took it. He knows he got caught. He’s a great dad and husband but I’m very worried about where this is all going. He’s promised me over and over again that he isn’t lying to me. But he is and it’s spiraling out of control. Where do I go from here?

  242. Hi, my husband comes from an alcoholic family and drinks about 12-14 beers a day. He goes to work and comes home and sits and drinks. He is totally consumed with himself and pays no attention to me and barely any to our teenage daughters. This has been going on for over 6 years. He is 47 years old but looks 60. I am very resentful and angry.

    We live separate lives in the same house. I refuse to give him money or buy beer for him. We have one car and once he starts drinking I hide the keys. We don’t fight anymore we just barely speak. I am very lonely but can’t afford to live on my own. I am really at a loss as what to do. Thanks.

  243. When we got married, my husband drank himself into a stupor regularly and alone. Any time we had a fight or problem, he would get drunk. It took me a long time to show him that this was unhealthy and was also the sign of an alcoholic. I eventually gave him an ultimatum that I would leave if he ever drank again. We used to drink together when we first got married, but watching him drunk made me want to quit, so I did.

    Since then, he has claimed that he quit drinking, but sometimes he will come up from the basement slurring his words, hiccuping, and staggering. He kept telling me I was crazy, and he wasn’t drinking. We even bought an alcohol detector. It mostly came up negative, but the one time it did come up positive, he said it was broken. I’ve never found any bottles anywhere, so I’m feeling like I’m being crazy. I don’t know what to do. We’re ready to start a family, but I don’t want to start one if he’s closet drinking. I would leave, but I haven’t caught him in the act and obviously I love him. Am I being controlling or paranoid?

  244. Dr Neill,
    My husband has a drinking problem. I won’t go into the ins and outs of it but my current concern is that it is impacting us financially. He is not currently working and my income pays for everything, including his drinking. As a result we have missed several mortgage payments and the bank are on our backs. I’ve written to them to explain the situation and hope that they will give me some time to resolve the financial issues, but my question for you is related to alcoholics and money. Today I removed my husband’s access to the bank accounts. He does some small jobs for neighbours etc so gets enough cash to pay for any day to day expenses he might have. I feel at this stage that I have to do this to retain a future and a home for our children, however he is enraged and I know he will take this out on me verbally and by going drinking every day until his money runs out. Am I doing the right thing? I feel like I am treating him like a child but I can’t think what else to do.
    I’d love to know your opinion on this.
    Thank you.

  245. Dear Dr. Neill,

    I am so glad to have found your website. I believe that I am married to a functioning alcoholic. We have been married almost 18 years, been together for 21. My husband and I did get married young were 18 and were expecting. Throughout the years of course we had our problems. All of our arguments even in the beginning of our marriage were because of his lying. He has lied about smoking pot, where he would go after work . Now our fights are about his drinking, and his other addiction to a computer game World of Warcraft, and me feeling so lonely.

    My husband lost his father five years ago, his mother is very depressed and we hardly ever talk to her or see her. My husband has a brother who is a alcoholic, they have a business together. About a year ago I found out that they had a tab at the liquor store down the street, which has been as high as 900.00 dollars. Every week my husband and his brother pay something toward their tab anywhere from 50.00 to 100.00 dollars. We live week to week, sometimes not having anything to eat for our 3 kids. It is absurd. He drinks everyday a six pack or more, when he drinks after work he drinks at his brothers house who lives right around the corner. I will call him and ask what time he will be home and he says just leaving the job, when he really has been at his brothers for over an hour.

    On the weekends he drinks almost a 12 pack a day. We have three boys 17, 15,10. I have tried to talk to him about his drinking and computer game. It turns into him telling me that I should not complain because he works everyday, and since I am not working right now I should not say anything to him. When we fight I do call him an alcoholic, and I know I should not. Our last fight was about five days ago about his drinking, and he told me that i have never made him happy and that I fight with him so much that I am going to put him in his grave. He also tells me that I want to be his boss, and want him to be someone he is not. That is very untrue. My response to him is that i want him to be healthy, have a healthy and respectful marriage, do things together like we use to, be good examples to our boys. I just want my husband.

    Our older son gets really irritated with my husband. He knows that his dad drinks too much, and he can’t stand how he can sit and play his computer game for hours and hours. Our son always hangs out with me, because he knows I am lonely. I feel that his brother tells him a lot about our marriage, like he should not let me try to change him, or tell him what to do. His brothers wife does not say anything to him about his drinking and I should do the same because they have a good marriage. I have even suggested that we go to marriage counseling and he said he would never do that.

    Right now I am staying with my parents, so I come by everyday to drop or pick up our kids and he ignores me. I will hang out with our kids and does what he usually does, grabs more beer and plays games. This is so incredibly hard on me because I want to have a conversation with him about our marriage. When I call him he yells at me. Tells me he is tired of arguing with me, trying to be his boss, and he does not know what he wants. I feel that he is trying to play games with me. What hurts most is because he would rather have his beer and World of Warcraft than have his wife. I cannot comprehend how you could just throw away 21 years. I know I have been a good wife and mother. I don’t know how I can get through this.

  246. Hi Dr. Neil,
    I have been married to a man I thought was a kind loving, caring man. I would like to believe and trust that I could still see him this way. I am very confused. I lost my first husband of 30 years 8 1/2 years ago and then my son to suicide. When I met my new husband it was beautiful, but right after we married things started to change. He stayed out late and I could not contact him; or he would be hours later than he had said he would and clearly be drinking or drunk.

    I do drink as well but not everyday and I do not go out very much without him. I have suspected that he has been unfaithful as well. He is very giving but it always seems to have to be made a big deal in front of others. I have over the years tried to address my concerns etc. Last week I was uneasy all day Friday. I thought I should check the bank account and saw a restaurant transaction at a restaurant I had seen in the past. So I just got in my vehicle and drove to the restaurant to find him holding both hands and talking very intimately with another woman. Then she touched his face. I have not been home since except to try to talk about separation. To make it short I am confused. Is he lying to me? It is so hard. He offered to go to counseling for the first time, but I am not sure if that is what we need totally maybe partially. He is a functioning for work Alcoholic. Please I am desperate to know what I should do….

  247. Hi Dr. Neil,
    My dad has been drinking for my whole life even before I was born; I’m 23. Just lately my dad has been passing blood in his urine again and has had a pain just by his intestines for 2weeks. He says he has a problem with his drinking but says he is not an alcoholic just likes to drink. We have been to doctors about the blood a few years ago and the outcome was not good. He did stop for about a year but then started drinking again. Now the bleeding started again and now he is getting these pains too. But the pains seem to be getting worse. I just don’t know what to do as he refusing to get any help. What does all this mean? I’m very confused. Please help

  248. I believe that my husband is a functioning alcoholic; he binge drinks with his friends (his best friend IS an alcoholic that fell off the wagon). He has a great job, he just completed a Master’s degree, and is about to enter into a PhD program, so of course, he doesn’t think he has a problem. Over the past year, he has become a violent alcoholic. The police have had to be called at least 2 times just to get him to calm down. This past Sunday, I put him out of the house. When a person gets to a point where they have become violent towards loved ones, with proper help, is there a chance that they could clean up their act and redeem themselves? Or, once they get violent, is that pretty much a sign that it’s a lost cause?

  249. Hi Dr. Neill,

    I have been married for over 20 years. In the last 4 to 5 years, my husband has progressed to become an every day drinker. He has 4-6 beers 4-5 times a week and binge drinks almost every weekend. While he is not physically violent, the emotional turmoil he has caused on his children and myself is becoming unbearable. He had a DUI in June and just last weekend nearly killed himself in a dirt biking accident (alcohol related). Both times, he has denied that alcohol had anything to do with it. I’m ready to leave but have my children to think about too. I’m torn to protecting them and traumatizing them by leaving. He will not admit to a problem and therefore will not seek any help. I receive the same excuses and promises every time.

    I have researched Al-Anon and because I’m in a small town, there isn’t any available in our area. My fear is that he will become violent one day and then it’ll be too late. I know I have probably become a co-dependent. I’ve attempted to detach myself, but he always confronts me in a nice way about it. I simply do not answer him anymore and ask to be left alone so that I don’t become angry.

    I don’t have the finances to make it on my own and support my children. I actually have no where to escape to except maybe a hotel for the night. I have an escape bag ready to go, but no courage to follow through with it.

    What advice can you give me please?

    Thank you for your time.

  250. My husband and I have been together 7 years married for 6. He drinks daily and has personality changes. I call him Jekyll and Hyde. I separated from him in August as he made my home life UNBEARABLE. He has had multiple affairs since the separation. Once I found out about these affairs and refused to allow him back he moved in with a bar whore he only knew for 3 days. She too is an alcoholic.

    He says he now wants a divorce. He is so angry and will not discuss anything with me. We own a home together and he won’t talk or discuss anything. My question is why does this man hate me? Why can’t he talk to me about the divorce? He is so mean and says the meanest things I cannot call or text him.

  251. Hello,

    I have been dating a wonderful man for a few months now. He is everything I have been looking for in a partner, and we connect on every level, except for drinking. I have never been a drinker, so I am not sure if I am overly sensitive to his drinking and its normal, or if he has a problem. He drinks 4-5 nights a week, usually around 4-5 beers. Once in a while instead of beer, he will drink 1-2 drinks of whiskey. Mostly, he drinks at dinner; once in a while after dinner.

    Here is my concern: About once a month when he drinks, he gets irritable and attempts to pick verbal fights. I find myself tip-toeing around his words in order to avoid irritating him more. I am not sure why it happens, as it normally does not happen when he drinks, just once in a while. In the past, before I met him, he got a DUI. Also, a few years after the DUI he had a one night night stand (unprotected) and the girl got pregnant, which resulted in an abortion.

    Finally, my other concern is that once in a while he will have a drink alone after work, and one time he admitted to having a glass of whiskey to help him sleep. I am wondering if all of these things combined means he has an alcohol problem? He is a very supportive man, who is willing to talk about everything. When I brought my concerns to his attention, he was apologetic and offered to stop drinking all together. I told him that was his choice, as I will not ask people to change, they have to decide if its needed and do it on their own. Since that conversation, he has not cut back on his drinking, but it also has not lead to anymore awkward nights of arguments.

    I am just looking for advice as to if these drinking patterns are normal for a 30 year old man, or if it sounds like he has a problem? I was in a co-dependent marriage once before (not involving alcohol problems) and I don’t want to end up in a similar situation, so I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive/cautious about his drinking because of my fears about repeating the past. I do love this man, but would rather walk away from the relationship now, then get in deeper and struggle to leave later. Any thoughts are appreciated.

  252. @ Connie – I sympathize with you. Their anger and the meanness…it makes no sense and it’s so hurtful. My AH left us a year ago without explanation. He chose to leave and yet he was so hateful and angry at me but couldn’t come up with an example of anything that I had done to him for him to treat me that way. He said it has something to do with events during his “dysfunctional” childhood and something would trigger this anger to surface and he had destroyed relationships in the past as well. We were together 7 years too. We have a house together as well but all he can say is “I don’t want to share the debt” (which would come from selling it in this market) but the law says, we equally divide assets and debts incurred as a married couple but he will hear nothing of it.

    He will call me names, laugh at me when I get upset, scream at the top of his lungs so he can’t hear what I’m saying, or just hang up. It’s insulting and demeaning. I have learned a lot about this disease in the last year though and have learned to be self-protective. I no longer try to get him to even “hear” my side of the story or point, let alone convince him of anything that society would deem quite normal and acceptable. We do not discuss anything because we cannot have a rational conversation. It becomes all about his selfish needs and wants and when he doesn’t get his way, he becomes very mean so I don’t bother anymore. I have retained an attorney and all discussion goes through her. When he really says he needs to talk in person, I set very clear boundaries (no abusive behaviors, no lying, no manipulating and throwing things back at me etc.) and if he crosses the line, the conversation is over. It has made my life much more sane and I have experienced less hurt by detaching and setting boundaries. Best wishes to you!

  253. Dear Dr Neill,

    Is there anyway that I could receive a response via my e-mail as I have to erase all site history before I get off the computer? Aside from that here is my issue. My fiance is a heavy drinker. I had decided that I would record how many beverages he drinks in a one month period from the last paycheck in February til the last one in March. As of April 1st he has had a total of 156 alcoholic drinks. He has also had at least 2 or 3 DUI’s that I know of and been in one severe car wreck that could have killed him had he not slumped over the seat when he wrecked due to being drunk. He has had blackouts, fits of rage, a domestic violence case (Just this past January against our ex-roommate), and been very verbally aggressive towards anyone around. He has even gone so far as to kick my cat as she tried to run past him to leave the room he was in while he was calling me alien scum and saying that he was going to call the FBI to take me away to area 51.

    I fear that he is only going to continue to get worse but he doesn’t see it. I have had to fill in at work for him several times in the last 6 months or so before he was laid off and since the lay off on the 16th he has drank more often. He has put the alcohol before paying the property taxes or utilities and I fear that the last step is going to be him drinking to the point of death I need to get him help but I do not know how, as I currently have many legal issues of my own dealing with an ex-tenant and my ex-husband. I have tried to tell him that he needs help as has his boss and co-worker. Many of his friends have also told him he needs help or just stopped talking to him all together. He is currently supposed to be in a court ordered counseling but has only gone once and has not gone back since. He has a second court date coming up in May and I feel that he may end up being put in jail for failure to comply to the judges orders of no drinking and going to therapy. Can you please help or tell me how I can help him?

  254. My husband is an alcoholic. When he is not drinking he is a wonderful guy, kind, smart, funny and generous, but when he drinks he turns into a different guy. I know this is everyone’s same story, I just can’t believe it can be such a drastic change in personality. Like the comments before mine from HH, I too try to avoid verbal fights and find myself agreeing to what he says to avoid showdowns.

    My husband drinks every night, sometimes a responsible amount, if he has to work and sometimes to oblivion when he is off the next day. I find him drunk early in the day on his days off and passed out on the couch with the TV on the nights he is off. He always drinks to get drunk, unless it is an inappropriate situation (office parties, family functions) and then struggles to keep in control.

    He has cycles of binge drinking. He can go a couple of months with his normal heavy drinking and then go on a bender and be drunk or drinking for an entire weekend. He drinks till he passes out, sometimes, it is right where he stands. The next morning, after seeing his reality, he will sing the same old song “I am done, that was the last time” but it always happens again.

    When we talk about his drinking he admits he has a problem. When I bring up getting help he tells me he can do it himself and doesn’t need outside help, but he never does. I feel like we have the same conversation over and over with no real results. I LOVE my husband. When he is sober he is everything but I can’t continue to live a life with someone who won’t help themselves get better.

    HH-I am not sure how to advise you, part of my wants to say, get out now, it will be easier on you. But the other part of me says, don’t give up on him, if you really love him.

    Dr. Neill, can I set a timetable or deadline for him to get healthy? How do I know when it is time to leave?

    Thanks for any comments or feedback.

  255. I’m almost 100% positive that my husband is an alcoholic. He drinks 7 days a week. He can wake on the weekends sometimes and start drinking beer at 7am. He doesn’t drink on the job or going to the job, but he always stops at a liquor store on the way home and gets a 12pack. Its like a routine for him. He said that he stopped drinking Captain Morgan which was a lie because he hides the bottles. I once found 5 empty bottles of Captain Morgan in the grill when I went to clean it to get it ready for burgers.

    We have had talk after talk about his drinking. We now have a daughter together and granted she is only 4 months and doesn’t know any better but she doesn’t know him. When ever we come home after picking her up from daycare he’s passed out on the couch or in the bed or drinking at the counter. He blames it on me saying I’m the reason he drinks because we don’t have sex that much anymore. I tell him the truth, that its not fun when your drunk all the time. He gets all upset when I bring up his drinking. He said that he would cut back after our daughter was born. I haven’t seen that yet.

    He has pretty much ruined our couch because he will actually pee himself while he’s sleeping. He does it in the bed as well. He doesn’t spend time with our baby and she cries when he holds her since she doesn’t know him. All that has to do with his drinking. I’m almost at my wits end with this and we haven’t even been married a year. His drinking has gotten a lot worse since we’ve been married and I’m starting to wonder if I am the problem.

  256. I’m 27 and live with my boyfriend, we have a 2 year old son and a baby on the way. I’m not really sure what to do anymore about his drinking. He drinks at least 4 days out of the week. There are some days that we don’t even see him until the next day. He has told me before that he knows he has a problem but he refuses to get help, we constantly fight over his drinking and he always blames me for it. There’s times when he comes home drunk and I’m asleep and he’ll just start and argument with me for no reason, and the next day he don’t remember anything that happened. I don’t want my kids growing up seeing him drunk all the time. I’m so confused on what to do.

  257. Hi, Dr. Neill

    I believe my husband may be a functioning alcoholic. He is a musician, and when he used to play with his band, he would drink heavily with his friends and band-mates, and would indulge occasionally in smoking marijuana.
    He quit the band a few years ago and left most of the friends that encouraged his addictive behavior. He never had a need to drink daily, and if there was no alcohol in the house it wasn’t a problem for him. But once the drinking would start, especially outside of a family event, such as a birthday, he would drink excessively, and not stop even when we have left the event and went home. He would beg for me to stop by a liquor store and buy more alcohol. I was always strong enough to refuse, thank God. But his wish for more alcohol is still there. The fact that he never needed alcohol if it wasn’t in the house made me believe he was not an alcoholic.

    We are now house-sitting for some friends for several months, and the house is stocked with a full bar. He used to drink heavily once or twice a month, and this has now become at least once a week, sometimes more. He will drink to excess, pass out, feel hungover for a few days, and then do it again 3 or 4 days later when he feels better.

    He is not abusive toward me, is not a violent drunk, but rather a happy, chatty drunk, and thank God we have no children yet. I have told him that I don’t want to have his children while he continues these habits. To add to this, his increase in alcohol consumption has caused him to start smoking cigarettes. He also smokes marijuana everyday.

    He has admitted to me that he has a problem and has asked that I help reduce his drinking, but whenever I do try to help, he feels insulted, stone-walls me, and if he has managed to already get drunk, we end up in a huge fight.

    I have no idea what to do. How do I deal with his behavior when he refuses my help?

  258. My husband and I have been married for almost 8 yrs. We have an almost 3 yr old daughter. I have been struggling with his drinking for years. He does hardly anything to help around the house. He goes out several nights a week spending money we don’t have. He comes home at all hours of the night and then on the weekend he doesn’t even get up till the afternoon.

    He is a wonderful father when sober, but the rest of the time he is so consumed with himself. We have been to the point of having to boil water just to have hot water for our baths because he spent too much drinking and couldn’t pay the gas bill. His whole family is against drinking and they are all Christians too. He doesn’t want them to find out he doesn’t believe anymore or about his drinking. Though they can’t be completely ignorant since he got a DUI a few years ago. I avoid his family at church so I don’t have to answer where he is or why he is not there.

    He has become the most selfish person. Most parents want to give their kids the best they can. I don’t see that with him. It is mainly whatever is cheapest. Thank God my parents have helped us out through the hard times when my husband was unemployed for 1.5 yrs. They make sure me and my daughter don’t go without. I don’t want to get family involved. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    He still goes to work just fine and all. I keep praying for him. I have tried to change things about myself and show more love to him. He is so defensive of his drinking. He sees nothing wrong with it at all. He even plans on taking our daughter out for a drink when she is old enough. I am thinking over my dead body. I am so tired of dealing with this. I don’t want our daughter growing up thinking drinking is okay and it is okay to see her father like that. To have to answer to her now, where is daddy, or her trying to wake her father up and he won’t (since he is in a drunken sleep) is just plain heartbreaking. He isn’t mean to her at all.

    I really do love him and I don’t want to divorce I just feel stuck. He lies all the time to his family about where he is going to avoid family function or to leave saying we have things to do when he is really just going to the bar. I am stressed out most of the time. I just hate to have our daughter around this. She is the sweetest child and I don’t want that to change because her father is an alcoholic.

  259. Dr. Neill appreciates your comments and how you all help one another! He is very grateful to provide this forum and all the feedback he receives! However, Dr. Neill is not able to give advice in this public forum. If you need his help, please refer to his consultations page: He uses Skype or telephone to make consulting more convenient. Also, you may find his book, “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide” as a great resource. You can find it here:

  260. I am pretty sure that my husband is an alcoholic. He does not drink everyday, but on the weekends, he goes out drinking and sometimes does not come home until the morning. He has wet himself many times and I am always cleaning up after him. Whenever I mention something to him about the drinking, he straight up tells me that he has a problem, but that he will not stop drinking. We have a small child together and I am currently pregnant with another. Is there anything that I can do to make this better? Some days, I feel like I just can’t take it anymore. I admit, I am guilty of making threats that I do not follow through on, so I am for sure becoming co-dependent. He has had multiple arrests for DUI and is very mean to me when he is drunk. He will swear at me and complain that I am not a nice person. Is there any hope?

  261. Thanks for the insights here.

    One thing I have noticed in looking for help on the internet is that there is an imbalance of things written about alcoholism focusing on alcoholic husbands and wives who struggle to deal with their husbands’ drinking. My wife is a functioning alcoholic and my family and I deal with many of these same issues. While men may be more likely to be alcoholics (not sure about the stats here), the bulk of the literature can be a bit alienating to those husbands out here struggling in dysfunctional alcoholic relationships.

    Just a little food for thought– again, thanks for the article.

  262. I Don’t think my husband is an alcoholic, I KNOW he is. I have been with my husband for 17 years and he HAS drank everyday. EVERYDAY in those 17 years. He was Married a few times before me and they both left him for his drinking; his everyday drinking. My husband drinks 1/2 Gallon of Vodka with freska a day. He has always gone to work, still does but over the last year things are changing. He falls, while peeing and pees himself a lot.

    He does NOT remember his days. He is very defensive and won’t stop. I do not think he can. He shakes very badly when he wakes up. I am NOT sure if he is sneaking a sip or two to stop the shaking, but at 5pm he starts pouring that drink. He won’t get help. He says he does not mind seeing his parents and I will be fine. He is getting meaner then the next morning trying to buy me things and is sorry until that second drink hits him, again he is slurring, mean, forgetting, falling. How long can a liver take this abuse? Is him peeing himself and not being able to control it a sign of a failing liver or just him drunk? I am scared.

  263. Hi Denice,
    Dr. Neill appreciates your comments and how you all help one another! He is very grateful to provide this forum and all the feedback he receives! However, Dr. Neill is not able to give advice in this public forum. If you need his help, please refer to his consultations page: He uses Skype or telephone to make consulting more convenient. Also, you may find his book, “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide” as a great resource. You can find it here:

  264. Okay. My husband’s grandfather was a highly functioning alcoholic. Because of this, his mother and father always banned alcohol, they do not drink. It was a big deal in his family. So he hides his drinking from his parents, they know he drinks “a beer or two” every night “to wind down,” but that is the extent they know. I always grew up with my dad having literally a beer to three beers every other night. And my father would go out golfing with his buddies, and come home a little wasted ever so often. I do not think my dad was an alcoholic.

    However, my husband is drinking anything from 5-11 beers every night, and sometimes has a mixed drink (or two) of two shots of vodka with about 6 oz of sierra mist. He gets up in the morning on time, takes our oldest son to school, functions fine at work, comes home, spends time with our family. BUT as soon as he walks in the door he IS opening up a beer or pouring himself a drink.(When we first started dating a little over 4 years ago he drank any where from 10-18 beers a night but no liquor, he was down to 3-4 beers a night when we got married.)

    He usually falls asleep on the couch around 11:30 at night and I have to wake him up and get him into bed. He is always out of it, when I do this. Tonight, he gets up, walks over to our media chest, and starts peeing all over our antique furniture and cable box and floors. I walked over because I heard a water noise and sure enough he is peeing. After I stop him, he goes to the bathroom and continues to urinate for at least another solid 2 minutes. Comes out and tries to fight with me being verbally mean (while I’m on my hands and knees cleaning up a pool of HIS urine) and he never does this.

    I don’t know if he was embarrassed and lashing out or if this is a sign he is drinking too much and I need to do something? Some other background information: He is prescribed medication for anxiety which is klonopin, i know he is not suppose to drink on this medication, and I’m sure his psychiatrist has no idea. So my question is, Is my husband an alcoholic? And if so what do I need to do to fix this problem?

  265. Hi Neil,

    My husband of nearly 4 years and relationship of nearly 15 years is in trouble. He has a history of too much alcohol and drugs which has caused his life distress and the break up of his previous marriage. His kids from that marriage do not speak with him. He has been in detox prior to us meeting.

    Throughout our relationship he started taking drugs and social drinking. The drugs were his preference and over the years got out of control. After many years of turbulence, betrayal and pain he agreed he needed to stop. Since then he started drinking heavier and heavier therefore we started experiencing the same turbulence, betrayal and pain. He has always denied he has a problem.

    We have tried many paths of controlling the drinking or aiming to abstain as best as possible. But, the frequency always rises with many excuses and lies.

    Recently he has not been drinking much and our lives have been more harmonious. He was diagnosed with depression and takes daily medication.

    In the last few months he has started drinking again and lying about drinking. The drinking is not excessive at all but it concerns me that we are going to head down the same path.

    I am sure I am codependent as I keep telling myself I should leave as he is not willing to commit to never drinking again; which is what I believe is the answer. I always end up telling myself that I love him very much. We have a wonderful life for the most and he drinks maybe 8 drinks a week, that I know of.

    I am trying to decipher if I am over reacting and convicting him of offending before he does or whether my concerns of where this could head are valid.

    Any advise is helpful.

  266. I feel that my husband has the potential to have a drinking problem if it isn’t already a problem now. He doesn’t drink every day he drinks about 3-4 times a week depending on the week and he has several drinks at one time. At parties when he has clearly had to much to drink he will argue with me to death that he can drive. Then pout the entire way home saying he was fine. Last night we came home from going out with friends; the entire bedroom smelt like liquor. I asked him he slurred out he had 4 beers. I made him blow in a breathalyzer and he blew a .08 after being home for an hour. He rolled his eyes and said that doesn’t mean he’s drunk and went to sleep.

    I have tried to voice my concerns to him. He always gets defensive and says he drinks beer, he likes beer. He will not give up beer and he doesn’t drink hard liquor on a regular basis and he doesn’t drink daily so there is no problem.

    I wrote him a letter this morning voicing my concerns again. I know it is something that he has to be able to see but how can I help him open his eyes?

    Thank You,

  267. Hi,

    I am not sure whether my father is an alcoholic or not. For the past 10 years he has been drinking about 4 nights a week and comes home late at night with red eyes, slurred speech, and once in a while he loses his balance a little when walking. He is not abusive in any way. He is loving, social, and fully functional and productive during the day. According to his friends, he has about 4 drinks in a night. He says he cannot sleep unless he drinks. Surprisingly though, he stops drinking completely for one month every year for religious reasons. Clearly, he has the ability to control himself. Why doesn’t he control his drinking when he can? He thinks he is healthy and says a little bit of drinking is okay. Is he an alcoholic?


  268. Hi,

    I met my partner 3 yrs ago at a music festival. I have two children from a previous relationship and enjoyed going to parties with him and socialising, feeling like I was getting my life back. He would drink litres of vodka in a night and not go to bed until it was finished… yet I was blind to this, just thinking it was party mode. It got to the point he became very depressed, and stopped going to his work after a weekend, and finally resulting in losing his job. With the prospect of no job, and no income to pay his mortgage, he took an o/d.

    I asked him to move in with me, thinking that being on a farm in the middle of nowhere, would actually help him. He could take time away to recover and not being near any shops he alcohol wouldn’t be at hand. This helped for a little while, with me supporting him completely. Then he got more work, but as he didn’t drive I used to get the kids up and run him to work at 5:30am. Once the money started coming in again, the drinking started gradually… until it became a problem again and he’d lose his job. He’d then sit in the house, not doing much about work – he always said he was happier with no money. I think it took the pressure off needing a drink. He said he was fighting voices in his head, and battled with it every day.

    Then he went to work away, because I had got on at him to get work, which I hated as I missed him so much. By now, I was completely obsessed with him and what he was doing, and if he was ok. While working away I found out I was pregnant so he came back and got work locally. He said he didn’t want to work in cheffing as it was so stressful, yet we needed the money. For my pregnancy, he would come home 1am most mornings, put the light on in the bed room, and insisted on having the tv on as he couldn’t sleep otherwise. He went on a work night out and photos were added to facebook with him draped over every woman in the place, which being hormonal I wasn’t happy with (although I don’t think I would have been happy anyway). His days off he would go out with his mates, who, when I first met I thought were great, but now I was so obsessed with him not getting a drink, I hated them all as I then blamed them for giving him the excuse to drink. His next day off would be lying on the couch doing nothing. I’d be left to get the coal, logs, empty the pit of the coal fire and as he was too rough he wouldn’t bat an eyelid. He was there for my labour and I had a beautiful baby boy. Two days after he was born, he was going for walks to the local pubs to show him off. In his two weeks paternity he was out 4 times, one of which he came home the next day blotto, having started all over again. I was tired, stressed and extremely lonely, so I decided if I was doing things on my own, I might as well be on my own and asked him to leave as it wasn’t working, and I also registered our child with my surname, as I felt I was the one doing all the work, with him being more interested in sitting in the pub after work, or going out with mates on his days off, than having family time. I love him so much, but I now have three children to think of, and I felt he was driving me as mental as he was, which was not a healthy environment for raising children.

    The end was when he didn’t leave the house, but carried on doing what he wanted to do, and stay out all night. He hadn’t spent more than 20 mins with our son in a week, and when I checked his phone he was arranging to meet another woman for a drink and to cheer her up.

    Is it possible that an alcoholic could instigate an arguement, in order for a fall out, which would then give him the chance to storm off and have an all night drinking session? And is it possible that if an alcoholic feels like he has a problem, and the partner is addressing it, he would self destruct a relationship so he wouldn’t be the bad one. I.e. make someone’s life a misery so he would be put out, rather than him leave?! I never thought he was that clever, but I now think its possible.

    For no matter how much I love him, I have made the right decision. I no longer have nightmares, or sleepless nights wondering who he’s chatting up on the internet, who’s he’s out drinking with, whether he’s fallen asleep and left a candle burning. I no longer think about where he is, or whether I’m going to get a phone call early hours of the morning saying he’s fallen asleep on the train and having to get the kids up to go and collect him… I am feeling almost me again… I was alone living with him anyway!


  269. We are in a weird place right now. A dear old friend came to stay with us for a few days and we discovered he is an alcoholic. We do have alcohol in the house. The first evening around 4 or 5 he began drinking wine. He drinks almost two bottles a night. That happened every evening until the 3 or 4 bottles we had were gone. Then he went shopping and brought home two bottles for his last night’s stay. That night he tried to get into a ridiculous argument with my husband about using the internet and it got wound up in some other perceived attack on his ‘manliness’ or something. My husband diffused it by simply stating that he would not continue this conversation with someone who was drunk and he would just go to bed. While my husband is saying this our friend, still peeved, jumps up and walked over to the pantry and opened his second bottle of wine and sort of calmed down.

    After my husband took him to the airport the next day we decided that we couldn’t invite him back because even if we got rid of our alcohol he would just buy more and the verbal attack was cruel and mean. We have known his family for over 35 years and as we reviewed our history with visiting them we see he has had this problem for at least 15 years or so. I think it came to a head because this is the first time he’s visited us without his wife. First, is there anything we can do to help his wife understand she is a co-dependent and she should do something for herself? They also want us to stay with them for a couple of days over this next Christmas and we think we can’t be part of his drinking at night. Do we come out and say we can’t stay with them because he drinks too much and is abusive when he does? Or do we visit and then when the drinking starts just retire to our room or just leave and stay elsewhere.

    In the past we’ve always felt comfortable hanging out with them. As a side note the alcoholic was told over a year ago that he has hepatitis C. At that time he was all sad and everything and said he was going to quit drinking and smoking. Now he does both and told us that he is going to die anyway so why not indulge? That’s as close as he got to admitting that drinking is harmful. As friends we’d like to do something or is this none of our business?

  270. Hello,

    My husband and I have been married for 28 years. He drinks beer and smokes pot every single day. He goes to work and makes a living. I am unemployed right now but have worked most of my life. He does not come home after work, he goes straight to a bar. I always came home.

    My problem? I don’t like to have sex when he’s drunk and smells. He also eats tons of onions and I don’t like the smell of pot either. He is often curt with me when he’s not drunk and criticizes everything I say or try to do. He is not interested in anything I like to do. If we go out together, it must involve drinking. Yesterday, he blindsided me with wanting a divorce. Despite everything I love this man. I don’t want a divorce yet he is insisting because he’s unhappy and we don’t have much sex. I am devastated and so emotional. I know he is a functioning alcoholic. What can I do to keep my marriage?

  271. Greetings Dr. Neill Neill,
    Your online help comes at a time when it was absolutely necessary…having read through all your solutions I think I may have an answer to my own but I would be much indebted if I could hear you say it. My boyfriend of 3 years went sober for a year. He was a hard core alcoholic until the time we met and the first year after we began seeing each other. But I was determined to help him, took him for several alternative therapies like Reiki and Pranic healing owing to which he quit. That was for a year. During this year he did develop withdrawal symptoms, heavy and then he mellowed down with the healings.

    At the same time he enrolled in karate classes upon my request. I believed martial arts would be a divine intervention and bring some discipline. In the meantime he slowly resumed meeting up with his old friends who were heavy alcoholics. He didn’t drink, but the fact that he started increasing the amount of time he spent with them set me thinking, worrying at times because he used to say how much they would tease and nag him for leaving their company and alcohol. A man has to drink occasionally–no harm they used to say it seems. I know he had done several things under peer pressure in his childhood so I really started worrying. My emotions would soar often when I spoke to him over the phone and come to know he was with the same group.

    He has like 200 and over male friends, some who are occasional drinkers and those who are alcoholics. One day he hated the healing and he told me I was blocking all his evening by taking him for healing. He realized healing was doing something to him which he was not able to explain. From that day he spent more and more time with different groups of friends, and last Christmas he resumed drinking wine. It was a glass at first then two. I don’t know how many but he would stay overnight with friends drinking and would return home the next day. We don’t live together. I requested so much showing him all my weird researches on the net about how alcohol affects health relationships he seemed to listen. Well, listen that’s it.

    I begged him to stop! He has occasionally, each time he would swear on the bible:-)) that he would not go back but he did and returns home the next day. From wine he has switched to beer. He says he has sacrificed the hard core drinks for me. Last night he didn’t return home. He comes in this morning at 8 and didn’t go to work until late. he is a fitness trainer. he does not allow me to go to the gym; although I was a fitness freak in the true sense. I used to workout and have a different lifestyle until I met him. He doesn’t like me to dress in western wear. He does not want me to work. I thought initially he was conservative, he wanted to protect me etc.. but now I feel so tied. That’s ok I, thought as long as he stopped drinking.

    He abuses me verbally when he drinks; that is if i scold him to stop or return home soon. Other than that he is nice and very loving. He says I nag him and if I stop it he will change. Yes, I think I do when I request him to get a different friends circle…start an activity etc. but I do it for his good because he turns all cranky when he gets drunk. His pupils are dilated he talks strange. He forgets he talks crap. Actually, no sense what he says. I tried sitting with him talking it out many a times…but he doesn’t like to talk. He doesn’t like to resolve anything. I attended many self development groups and tried all the techniques.

    Many a times I think of leaving, but he says he will hang himself. He has had a prior experience of consuming rat poison when his ex left him. So, I know what he has been through and in all my tensions I have forgotten who I am what my needs are. Again I apologize. I am bringing me in between, just sharing. his family threatens me saying if I leave him they will complain to the cops if something happens to him. or their dad who has been in and out of the hospital owing to many serious heart ailments and i was there with him throughout in the hospital day and nights. Yet they accuse me of not marrying him. I hesitate because although I love him madly I am not able to bring myself to marry him. I know if we fight and don’t talk for a day or two it drives me nuts….severe codependency huh? I am afraid if I leave he will try to make me jealous or drink more using this as an excuse or try to kill himself. I am afraid in his altered state his friends may try to harm him. Finally, I am afraid if I can live alone without him…please help me.

    Kindest regards, Sarah

  272. Dr Neill,

    In continuation to my post above about my alcoholic boyfriend, his eyes look glassy at times when he is drunk. I suspected drugs…just an intuition and I asked him if he was on it. He laughed and denied. I told him I was concerned that in his intoxicated state maybe his friends mixed something in his drinks without his knowledge. He said no one touches the bottle he drinks from, and he has maintained the same statement thrice on different occasions when I asked him. Each time I never accused him but simply expressed my concern. I am so scared. I cry myself to sleep most of the nights thinking how such a good person should get into all these habits..he also is a smoker.

    Every time we have a fight, and the fights are majorly because I express my thoughts or agony or whatever, it is to him telling him he is emotionally unavailable. I don’t know why I do this. He proposed. He has committed he is loyal. Then why am I acting so needy as though i am already married? I asked him just to let my concerns fade we can go to a drug testing center and if it comes positive he would then know what his friends are. He in turn questions me what I would do if they came out negative. I said that I would be relieved what else? He acts so defensive. He says I am on him all the time and if I don’t question his moves his whereabouts(I’m so concerned, how can I watch him go on his self destructive path) he would change..should I? Should I say to each his own and stop acting so responsible for someone else? Then what is a relationship all about? This is not about giving space right, doctor?

    Thank you for listening.

    Kindest regards,


  273. Thoughts in my brain that I have to let out:
    Extremely angry and frustrated that someone I love so much refuses to love me back. He would rather caress and put his lips on and around a beer can than me. He emotionally shuts me out and hurts my feelings. He would rather play with his playstation than do activities with me. Always puts his drinking before me. Spends money we don’t have on alcohol and cigarettes. Doesen’t understand what my problem is with all of the above……….

  274. My husband of 6 years is definitely an alcoholic but a high functioning one. He’s been drinking since he was 14. He goes through a gallon of vodka in a week, plus some wine and other stuff, and doesn’t miss a beat. He’s 65 and does not appear to have any health issues that one would expect after decades of drinking. I insisted he quit drinking when we married. He did…for about 6 months. I recently told him point blank I’m not happy with his drinking, nor his 50 pound weight gain in the last 6 years of marriage. I’m making plans to separate when the time is right for me: I expect within the next year.

    So, my question is, how long can a functional alcoholic live like this before he destroys his liver, gets cancer, coronary artery disease, etc.? He seems medically untouchable and is a happy-go-lucky alcoholic without the side effects. He’s retired and has lots of time to drink, but he has lots of friends and is involved in the community in good ways.


  275. I have been married for 22 years to a man who has always drank a lot. He started off with just beer, a lot of it, and then it progressed to wine. He always drank wine every night, and never missed a night. I always wondered if he was an alcoholic, but when I questioned him, he blew up. He is physically and verbally abusive, very quick tempered and mean. I’m afraid to leave. We have a 13 year old girl and 11 year old boy, and they mean the world to him. If I file for a divorce, who knows what he’ll do. For the past few years, I started finding hidden cups of vodka all over the house. I can even smell it on him sometimes. He slurs his words a lot, and when I ask why he’s slurring, he calls me a crazy bitch.

    Recently, I’ve noticed he gets extremely irritable on the weekends. The kids are afraid of him and I am too. He was so drunk one night after dinner, he ran a red light and just sat in the middle of the intersection dazed. The kids I were in the car too. When I confronted him about being drunk, he exploded! And then I found the hidden cup of vodka in a cabinet with plastic bags around it. He claimed it had been there for a while.

    The very next week, I went downstairs to the storage area to get something, and when I opened the door, he acted startled. Then I could smell the alcohol. I asked if he’d been drinking, and he said no. I kept searching, and then I found the cup of vodka behind a trash can. I bowed his head and went upstairs. He was very nice after that for a few days, and I thought maybe there was hope.

    We took a family vacation, and he was edgy and irritable. Everyone noticed it. He did drink beer and wine, and I tried not to complain because it was vacation and was supposed to be fun. We just got home and he’s very mean, he called me all kinds of names tonight because I didn’t want him to have anything to drink tonight. We get with our neighbors every Friday night and have a few drinks. He went and bought wine and beer, against my wishes, but didn’t go to Friday night. I feel like he bought vodka as well, because he has no receipt and paid cash, which he never pays cash. I keep looking for it, and he tells me I’m crazy, that I’m a b**** that won’t leave him alone. I do feel crazy at this point. But tonight when I saw tears coming out of my little boy’s eyes while he was lying in bed listening to his father berate his mother and act like everything is my fault, I think I have my answers.

  276. My husband claims he doesn’t have an issue with Alcohol. Over the course of us being together for 6.5 years, I have seen weird patterns with his behavior and what I feel like are cycles with his drinking. No alcohol for 6 months, then smelling like beer when he gets home from checking on our livestock after work. Me finding random cans throughout our garage and yard. Him opening a bottle of wine to casually have a glass at dinner and then drinking 3/4 of the bottle etc. Every time I confront him about it he gets defensive, telling me that I need to get off his back. Then we usually have a blowout fight, his drinking either subsides or he just hides it better.

    When I smell it on his breath, he denies it. When he finally confesses after being prodded about it, he says he lies because he doesn’t want to deal with my reaction and because I’m always nagging him (which isn’t true). What he doesn’t realize is that I wouldn’t nag him if he didn’t drink or lie. Saturday he told me he wouldn’t drink for 6 months to prove he doesn’t need it and then after he treated me poorly last night, I rummaged through the recycling this morning and found a receipt for 2, 24oz beers and the date was yesterday. I feel like I’m going crazy. I have had it and I am concerned for him being around our toddler son as I have smelled alcohol on his breath after he had been driving with him in the car. I would get a divorce, but can’t imagine having my son only half the time and we would lose our house. Help.

  277. I have recently separated from my husband of 13 years. We have been separated for 3 months. He has been drinking not every day just every weekend. He takes off for 2 or 3 days. He comes home and acts like nothings wrong; of course he blames me for everything. He says I don’t give him enough attention.

    It came down to physical abuse and I kicked him out. He still comes around off and on. When he drinks he calls and yells at me into the wee morning hours. If i don’t answer I’m afraid he will come over drunk and do who knows what. I don’t know if I love him. I have waited for 3 months. He drinks more now than he did. I feel hopeless.

  278. Hi. My son is 27 and here for a visit. I noticed the amount of beer he has been drinking. 6-18 a day. I came home from work and wanted a glass of wine and and went to my liquor cabinet to find every bottle of liquor was empty. He was standing next to me and I asked him if he drank it and he said “Yes, sorry.”

    I sat him down and asked him how long he has been drinking like this and he said for years. He said he had it under control and doesn’t care. Should I tell him no drinking in my home or ask him to leave? God help him. God help me. I don’t know what to do.

  279. Hi I have been married to an alcohlic for 22 years. I knew from the begining that he had a problem, but he treated me like I was the center of the earth. I have never doubted his love for me. I could not have children which now I am greatful, both of his parents are alcoholis very high functioning he grew up in a loving household where drinking every night was never conside a problem. He has three other brothers that don’t have drinking problems at all After 15 years of marriage there were a few times where he was verbally abusive. The next day sorry were said and I would forgive him each time. As time passes I am having trouble forgiving even though I tell him I do but I think he is beleiving me that much anymore. I do not want to leave him as I believe our love is too deep to let go. He is my soul mate I do suffer a lot I try not to make him angry but there is always something I do that makes him verbally abuse me ove the last 7 years he has thrented me friends and family. I don’t know how to make him relise what hurt he is causing us. Thanks fo listening I need to talk to someone that want tell him how I am feeling.

  280. I have been married for 23 years. I believe my husband has a drinking problem but he insists he doesn’t. He’s a 52 retired NYPD capton. Been retired for 8 years now. We’ve had bouts since retirement of binge drinking but for the most part he goes out 2-3 times a week. He either comes home very buzzed or obviously drunk. He’s a daytime drinker so comes home to sit at the dinner table drunk. He’s unpredictable in behavior. He could be overly loving, which I don’t like or very aggressive (not physical violence). The stress of living this way for so long has impacted my health.

    He’s fine the other days of the week. But I do notice that if too many days go by without drinking, he becomes cranky. I say his body is craving alcohol but he denies those claims.

    I no longer have a desire to go out and socialize because I can not relax and have a couple of drinks because I have to be the one ready to drive home. So, our social life has dropped to zero, which he throws digs at me constantly. I don’t like him drunk.

    I saw a therapist about my concerns, stress and sadness living this way. My therapist said two days a week drinking is not a big deal. If he needs to release some stress. I fired her. It impacts my life tremendously. Even having a holiday, BBQ, family function, etc., will result in him drinking too much and eventually passing out.

    Is this considered a functioning alcoholic even though it’s contained to 2-3 times a week?
    I have to say I really hate this life I’m living now.

  281. Hi Michele,

    A drinking problem is defined by the effects it has on his work, his health or his family. In this case it sounds like you and your marriage are being harmed by his drinking. Therefore, he has a drinking problem. He may or may not be addicted to alcohol, although it sounds like he is. And he is certainly not functional in the family setting after he’s been drinking.

    I hope this brief comment is of some help.


  282. Dr. Neill, I have known my husband is a functioning alcoholic for many years. We have been married for 30 years. I too had a problem with alcohol about 13 years ago. I sought help and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I love my husband, but I am not in LOVE with him anymore. He parties nightly at a lodge we have and misses our son’s functions. He says he isn’t going to sit and watch him on the sidelines. I go to let him know I support him and his teammates. We do little together, and if it is a family function, he can hardly wait to leave. He says he has better things to do.

    My family and my friends know I am not currently happy in my life. I just want OUT.
    I don’t want to hurt his feelings or my son’s. I just can’t continue this way. I have confronted him about spending time with us, only to have him sit on the patio in the backyard and basically be mad about the whole deal. His mom and other people have tried talking to him, but it never changes. He went through the treatments, but only because of a DUI years ago. The courts made him. The meetings didn’t help him though, he has to want it and he doesn’t. Any advice?

  283. My boyfriend is a functioning alcoholic. We spent two years together until the arguments became unbearable. His drinking caused him to be really verbally aggressive. To the outside world, he always carries this together face and people don’t seem to see the angry side that I do. I often find that I am the one who is irritable now as there is no rationalizing with him when he is drunk. He always drinks after work, so there is little time to talk. We have recently got back together and I am due to move back in with him to a different country. I am nervous about the drinking and wanted to know of any strategies that might help to deal with the situation when he is angry and there is no talking about it. At the moment, it is all sweetness and roses, but we have been apart for four months.


  284. Hi Dr. Neill,

    I still struggle with even thinking that my husband could be an alcoholic or has a problem with alcohol. I see him just having no self control. He definitely doesn’t drink every day and he doesn’t always get drunk or behave strangely. But in the six years we have been together, I have noticed that his behavior is getting more and more problematic when he drinks to excess. His latest episode was after his brothers farewell BBQ, where both he and his brother got very very drunk. At the BBQ, amongst the party he was fine, a barrel of laughs. But as soon as we were alone in the car on the way home (the last to leave) with our three month old son at one in the morning, he became what I have dubbed him “Mr. Hyde”, a highly emotional and/or aggressively-natured man. Most often he tries very very hard to start a fight, however, I have learned that if I just stay quiet, his episode will be a lot less hostile and I can avoid too much trouble. On this particular occasion, his outbursts were more loving and sentimental (still very animated and emotional), he was crying while saying how much he loved me, etc. and getting disappointed that I wasn’t looking him in the eye and saying it back while I was driving. But I managed to calmly explain that to him and we made it home without too much going wrong.

    When arriving home at half past one, I went to bed with our son in the bassinet beside me. He decided that he wanted to stay up. At half past three, my son woke up hungry and I took him into his room to change and feed him and found my husband asleep in our son’s cot with no pants on. To worsen the situation, he had urinated all over our son’s feeding chair. I have tried to avoid confrontation with him when he is in this state, but this was the last straw. I did yell at him to wake up and get out and showed him what he had done to the chair. He just swore at me and told me to leave him alone and didn’t see what the big deal was. I yelled at him to get out of the house and was beside my self with anger, fear, and disgust and didn’t really know what to do. He finally got out of the cot, but wouldn’t leave the house, so I sent him to the spare room to sleep. I couldn’t sleep myself as I didn’t feel safe anymore, especially with our son there. I couldn’t help thinking, “What if our son was in the cot? What would have happened then?”

    I know that he would never do anything to intentionally hurt me or our son. He is never violent towards me, but he has, on occasion, hit other things and says very negative things about himself: “I’m the worst person in the world, the worst husband/father, I know you’re thinking that, you don’t even trust me getting our son out of the car!” But his language is much nastier. This behavior only happens when he drinks to excess. He almost always suffers a partial or total memory loss of the occasion and very rarely suffers from hangovers. He just says he is tired the next day. He always knows that something bad has happened when he wakes in the morning and asks me to tell him what happened. He listens in disgust and is so remorseful about the whole thing and even sometimes says he has a problem with controlling himself, but never does anything about it.

    This was the last time I can let myself and our son be put in this situation. I love him deeply for who he is when he is not “Mr. Hyde”. I have arranged an appointment with a psychologist to help him work through this problem. But now I feel that I have done the wrong thing by doing so, that it would be better for him to organize help himself. I just can’t endure another episode and his solution to the problem is always, “I just can’t do it again”. I feel like a fool because it keeps happening and I keep standing by, letting it happen. And I don’t want to leave him over something that is not truly who he is. Have I done the right thing? What else can I do?

  285. I’ve been separated from my husband for 4 years now and prior to that, we weren’t really getting along. I know my husband is an alcoholic, a functioning one at that. We have had problems for years, I suspect that at least one time in our marriage he has cheated on me, he also loves porn (has for years), and is looking for one night stands on a website (I suppose that’s understandable since he’s not getting any at home anymore). He used to drink at his business with his employees, but when I drove up, everyone would scatter and the beer cans would end up in the trash. He doesn’t drink on the job now, but he is at 12 to 18 beers a night. He has never cared about anything, including me, or the stress of handling the responsibility of the family and my own illness. He sleeps all the time when he is not working and sits on the couch and watches TV all day. He drinks at night and I can sense his attitude change when he is drunk. I don’t say anything, because it will inevitably start an argument.

    He still stays here at the house while he is working in town, but we have been in separate rooms for 4 years. If he drinks hard liquor, it’s time for me to leave the house. I have 3 children and they aren’t drinkers. I hope and pray they don’t ever pick up a drink. Two of my children are adults, but are college students living at home.

    He smells like alcohol, his face is red, and the capillaries are showing. He is also extremely overweight. I don’t know, but I honestly think he is not going to be around for many more years at this rate. His blood pressure is very high as well (I’m able to check his blood pressure at home). I believe that divorce is the next step. I know he thinks that his behavior is normal and there is nothing wrong with it, but I am not in love with him. I take care of all the problems that arise around here, the house is falling apart around me and there is nothing I can do or say that will make a difference. I’ve been wasting words for years on deaf ears. He has been drinking for the last 21 years of marriage. I know I will be the one judged by others for leaving, but I’ve had enough.

  286. And by the way, he goes to work every day, 5 to 7 days a week. That is amazing to me that he can even get up in the morning and make it to work. I suppose that is why he is a functioning alcoholic.

  287. I suspect my husband of 18 years has a drinking problem. For most of our marriage, until about a year and a half ago, he was drinking every day from the time he got home until he went to bed. Eventually, he even got a DUI. A year and a half ago, I confronted him about it and told him I was not willing to live like this anymore. He moved out of the house for a few months and quit drinking. We saw a marriage counselor and he came back home. He did not drink for a year after that. He made a promise to himself that he could/would go a year without drinking. In his mind that would mean he is not an alcoholic.

    After the year, he started having a couple beers on the weekend, nothing much. It turned into a 6 pack a week, now it’s a 12 pack of beer on the weekend and he’ll even polish off half a bottle or more of whiskey as well. He tells me he only drinks on weekends and it is not hurting anyone. When he does get drunk, he is not abusive, but he acts incredibly stupid. Our teenage children laugh at him and think he is being silly, but he thinks they are laughing with him. He doesn’t understand they are making fun of him and I can’t get him to see that. I believe they are losing respect for him, and when he acts this way, I am as well.

    He is a good man, he never misses work, he is there when we need him, and I love him, so I don’t want to leave him. At the same time, I don’t want to live like this either. How can I make him realize he does have a problem? How can I make him see that just because he stopped for a year, does not mean he is not an alcoholic? In my eyes, if he stopped for a year, it didn’t bother him, and our marriage was better than ever, then why would he not want to stick with that so we are both happy? He thinks if he does not drink every day and does not get completely smashed all the time, then he does not have a problem.

  288. Dr. Neill,

    I wonder if my husband is a functioning alcoholic. I have watched him over the past 3 years drink liquor when he goes out. However, he can and will drink at least 1-2 40oz beers daily. He said that he is using it to put on weight and he needs the yeast to help him gain weight (to say the least, it’s working). He also pairs these things with a drug called “spice” (known as synthetic marijuana) at least 5 times a day. I have never seen anyone function so well. The other day for breakfast he had a beer and smoked.

    Lately, he has told me he wants a divorce, however, I believe that the alcohol and “spice” are giving him these negative side effects. The scariest part is that he is a fireman. I am concerned that if we do go through with the divorce, I will expose all these things and he will possibly lose his job, that’s of course if he is an alcoholic. Can you give me any advice on how I can get him help? I am trying to save my marriage as well as get him the proper help he needs instead of him blaming his problems on the marriage.

    Thank you,


  289. Hello,

    Several stories sound very similar to my situation and yet I still question if I am over reacting.

    My husband likes to drink beer and has for as long as we have been together (23 years). Within the past few years, the drinking has increased. He doesn’t drink every day, but at least 4 times a week. Usually he will drink at least a 12 pack. On the weekends, he will start at noon and drink all day and night. I don’t like to be around him when he has had more than 4 beers. After that, there is no way to hold a conversation with him. When I see him getting that way, I go into another room or pretend I am asleep to avoid him. He talks loudly and is very sure that everything he says is right.

    He used to never drink and drive, but now that both of our kids have left home, he has started to “meet his friends” at a local bar. He doesn’t come home until 3 am or later. A few times, following one of these nights, he has come home to only get up later and go into the hallway or closet and urinate. I worry when he is out and cannot sleep until I know he is home safely. Then when he gets home, I cannot sleep for fear he is roaming the house.

    My daughter was home from college one of these weekends and heard us in the hallway. He had just urinated there and I yelled and sent him to our bathroom. I was cleaning up the hallway at 4 am and my daughter saw me! I was so mortified that I would let her see that. How can she respect me? I slept in the other room for a week, but eventually gave in and went back to her normal routine. This past weekend he came in at 3 am and turned the TV on as loud as it would go, knowing I had to get up at 6 am for an all day class. After all of this I still question if I am over reacting. To me this isn’t normal. I crave peace.

  290. Wendy,

    A lot of the descriptions you gave sound so similar to what I go through.

    I have absolutely no desire to have sex with him. The smell of beer and cigarettes is so disgusting to me. He says I am a prude. I actually started taking hormones thinking it was just a problem with me. When my husband does pass out, the snoring and choking scares me to death! My husband is not a mean drunk, so friends think he is just the life of the party. If they only knew what I had to deal with after the party. It isn’t so fun. I am constantly on edge these days and feel so stressed and exhausted. I dread weekends because they are the worst. I can only equate it to having an elephant sitting on my chest all day. I have a very stressful job, working 40+ hours per week and I am the primary provider.

  291. I was with an alcoholic for 6 years. I don’t abuse alcohol, but my father was an alcoholic and one of my daughters died with alcoholic complications. I know how dangerous it is to be dependent on alcohol and how painful it is to lose them. My lifestyle with my friend was too unstable for me, so I eventually stopped seeing him. After 5 months of separation, I began dating my old friend again. I wasn’t meeting very many good people and it was good to hear from him as I felt a void in my life without him. Our relationship has changed a lot now, mostly because I’m not in a codependent relationship with him anymore and I don’t want that role ever again. We think very independently.

    I want a normal life again like my family members. I have a strong character and would never be tempted to become an alcoholic. I have this need to help my friend as I seem to be a positive influence on him, and at the same time I get some of my needs met as well in living a healthy, happy life with a companion. Am I being naive to think that we can actually live in harmony with his condition? We lived together for 6 months. We had a nice time together– both lost weight (we had been trying to lose for a while), drank less, exercised more and had a good productive life. He is also a widower and has had a lot of trouble moving forward in his life. Or is that the alcohol abuse showing up? He tends to go backwards at times in life.

    I’ve let him know this time that a casual relationship in not an option. He seems to genuinely miss our relationship but still is very cautious about commitment. I am spiritual and depend on my happiness through God; I do enjoy his company very much and would hate to live out my life alone. I also don’t want to make a mistake.

  292. I believe my estranged husband is an functioning alcoholic. He has been self-medicating himself with wine and now beer. He also takes Klonapin and Zoloft, along with other meds; high blood pressure and neuropathy. He left our home last week because he just couldn’t take it anymore and when confronted about the drinking he blamed me for it. We were in counseling at the time and he went behind my back with his family (his enablers) and got an apartment (he’s using their money). He is 42 years old and is unable to take care of himself. I was the one that purchased our home, I even have to make hair appointments for him.

    Anyway, now I’m scared of him driving our children around! I have seen an attorney and have filed for legal separation from him. There were many times he would drive drunk with me in the car (without me knowing he was drinking) and not even care. He would work until 11 pm at night and then spend the entire next day sacked out on the recliner like a zombie. He had no motivation to do anything or be anything. It’s very scary and disappointing. I love him and I want to much for our marriage to work, but so far no one is able to reach him…not his doctor, not our pastor, no one. It seems hopeless.

  293. I also want to add that he admitted to our counselor that he drank but that he had it “under control.” He said he knew his body and how it reacted to alcohol. I asked him if he could at least hide the beer cans from the kids, so he would put the cases of beer in a cooler in the garage, and pour the beers in cups. There were even a few times they accidentally took sips of the beer. I became so tired of living with someone that not only blamed me for their drinking, but that wouldn’t even admit that what they were doing was wrong. If you have to hide it, than it’s wrong!


    I have told my husband that I’m leaving him after many years of ups and downs – the one thing that has been constant is his drinking, although I don’t know if this is the main route of the problem.

    He used to drink about 4 nights a week (about 4 cans or so), then on the weekend spirits too. Although this led to panic attacks and on some rare occasions he got physical with me when drunk ( about 5 times over 2 years). His drinking goes up and down but his anxiety, anger, and constantly being highly strung, leads to more drinking. He will now drink anything in the house. He has a lovely gentle side too and is very successful in work, a devoted dad, and very generous. He is also great at giving a hand in the house after work and getting the kids down early.

    His anger and anxiety along with even more drinking (still not every night) led to full blown panic attacks. He is now on anti-depressants and managed to not drink for a few months (3). That was great, but now he is drinking on the medication again (about 4-5 times a week, spirits and wine) and falls asleep on the couch early every night. Is this a drink problem or something deeper ..??? I felt for a year like I walked on egg shells with him, waiting to see what I had done wrong next. But our relationship always seemed better when he had a drink.

    He has started to take this out on our oldest daughter who is 15 (his step daughter ) and being physical with her. I can’t reach my lost, distant husband any more who sits watching TV or on his phone playing games. He seems redundant to life round him, but for our three kids; 15, 4, and 2, it doesn’t seem like a happy house or stable life ahead. Seems to me he uses drink to cope, but it’s making him worse … Is this a functioning alcoholic??

  295. Help!!!

    My partner and I have a 1 year old son and I am pregnant again with our next baby due in 7 months. I have threatened to leave him many times before and he gets really nasty about wanting full custody of our son.

    He has woken up a few mornings before at 6am and instead of having breakfast, he starts his day with a beer. This has happened a few times before, but a definite common occurrence would be when the weekend comes. He starts at 9-10am (again without having breakfast). He will have a drink and he will keep going until he passes out, then he will wake up and start drinking again. I’m worried because he is a very full-on person when he gets aggravated and when he has had a few drinks, it doesn’t take much to aggravate him. He has said to me before that he will seek professional help for his drinking, but as time passes he forgets he made that promise. If I remind him, he just gets angry at me.

    I took the alcoholic test and every question related to us to a ‘T’. He has had a DUI before and he still thinks he is fine to drink and drive. He smokes as well. Between the cigarettes and alcohol he spends $300 a week. I really want him to quit these disgusting habits so we can get our relationship better and save to buy a house that our kids can grow up in. I’m scared that nothing will get better and I will be involved in an ugly law case of both of us fighting for the kids. I know I will have no problems with that because of his drinking.

    Do I need to give him an ultimatum? How do I stay strong and carry through when I have two kids with him that need a dad in there life?

  296. Hello,

    Please help! My fiance drinks around 6 or more standard drinks every evening at home. I have never seen him have a day without drinking in the last 9 months and I think he has drunk at this level for some years now. He is 31 years old, and of a Russian background, so for him this is really normal. Do people from that racial background have greater tolerance for drinking (the way Asians have very low tolerance)? He appears to be in good health, but has terrible mood swings; he’s okay for a day or 2 then goes very negative and distant/ hurtful for days (mainly directed at me) and will refuse to see me if he is on a big episode (we officially live separately, but sleep most nights together).

    I don’t know if he drinks to help medicate his mood or if that makes it worse. He will never in a million years go to a doctor. I told him he can drink as long as it doesn’t start before 6 pm and he is okay with that. He doesn’t get blackouts or vomiting. He occasionally drinks and drives, but hasn’t been busted. His work is such that he can push back the start in the morning if he has a hangover, without affecting the income.

    Is it possible that some people don’t get the health problems with drinking, as he has been drinking around this level for probably 5 years or more?

    Is he an alcoholic?

    Is his drinking at a manageable level?

    I am worried about going into a marriage with someone who might be alcoholic. Please help!


  297. Hi! I need some advice.

    My husband is 31 years old and manages his own business. He has had a history of abusing prescription drugs. He quit that 5 months ago and with that has increased his alcohol consumption. He drinks every night, like 6 drinks. He puts it on our nightstand and drinks throughout the night (not always).

    We have 2 small children and I have asked him on numerous occasions to decrease his drinks. He will go in spurts, some days more drinks and others less drinks. I heard him opening a beer can at 7am and he denies it. He has been increasingly verbally abusive and puts me down all the time. We do go to a counselor. She explained he is in the “thrills of alcoholism”. I finally left him and asked him to quit drinking for 2 weeks. He says he can not and will not do that for us. I am holding my ground until he gets help or quits for 2 weeks. Is this a ridiculous ultimatum? How should a proceed with all the things he says he will do instead. I don’t want to believe that he is an alcoholic, but I think he is headed in a downward spin.


  298. Hi. I have a unique situation, who doesn’t? I have a husband (married for 22 years) who I love very much and has always been a good daddy to our 16 year old with autism. He used to take her for rides every day, which she loves so much. I am chronically and progressively ill. My disease WILL cause me to have an early death. His family has chosen lying brothers and are mad at me, therefore, have abandoned my entire family. My husband has lost his entire family (long story).

    I know he feels absolutely alone in this world as he has no friends because he has so much to take care of at home. He is overwhelmed. He has always enjoyed beer, but has increased and increased his drinking until he is now drinking about 9-12 beers nearly every night. He no longer takes my child for her rides. He is not physically abusive, but is not a pleasant drunk. He either yells at me or just ignores me, mostly ignores. I have retreated to our room, which I am pretty much bed-bound anyway. I am literally alone and scared. I have tried to tell him that if I or our child needed him in the evening, we could not count on him to be there for us as he starts drinking pretty much the minute he walks in the door. He was even going to carry a beer yesterday when he took her trick-or-treating. I had to take it out of his hand (of course after he drained it) before he left and he was angry about that. It was noticed by everyone at our house, as we had several guests there to go trick-or-treating together. I just ignored him when they returned as usual as he came home and immediately started drinking again.

    You can NOT talk to him when he is drinking. He is very much in denial. He is a completely different person when he drinks, very belligerent and hateful when he is naturally one of the sweetest people you can know. He has also been late to work several times because he would not come to bed because he couldn’t stop drinking until late at night. He says he likes it and will never stop. I have begged, cried, and tried to shame him with our child and my lack of being able to count on him if I need to go to the hospital when he is drunk. He said he doesn’t care, that he will NOT stop. I can’t physically or financially take care of myself and our child and don’t know what to do. I am awaiting disability and probably could BARELY afford to take care of myself financially. I can’t handle my health and an autistic child, yet I will NOT leave her with him. I feel completely trapped, almost like a prisoner because of my illness and the needs of my child.

  299. Dr Neill,

    I’m really struggling at the moment trying to figure out if my fiance is an active alcoholic or if I am blowing things out of proportion. It is especially hard for me to find out because we are in a long distance relationship – he lives in the USA and I live in Australia. This obviously makes it harder to know what he’s getting up to every day in terms of alcohol, even though we talk every night on Skype and I see that he is at home, I just know that he is especially good at acting sober when he’s had some drinks. I have no way to know! I’ve asked him if he’s been drinking several times and he promised me he hasn’t, but the more I read on this website and similar forums, the more I realize that he could really just be lying to me (as much as I can’t bare to imagine that).

    There have been several signs which have sparked my worries; he would drink beer everyday and sometimes liquor once he would get home and often drank so much that he wouldn’t remember parts of our conversation the next day, he would drink by himself all the time and he’s admitted that when he was 19/20 he suffered depression and would spend all day in his room drinking. He says that now he would drink by himself everyday because he was stressed or had a bad day. I just don’t agree with that at all, that’s not an excuse. One time when I was staying with him in the US, we went to the beach and I could smell alcohol on his breath. When I asked him about it he became embarrassed and said, “I didn’t think you could smell vodka”…turns out he’d brought a Gatorade and secretly put vodka in it! A few mornings later, I came out of the bathroom to catch him putting Kahlua in his coffee at 8am! Again he was embarrassed about it and tried to joke it off. Surely this is not normal behavior.

    I’ve actually brought all of this up with him and told him how much it worries me, and he has admitted that he thinks he has a problem and that he has stopped drinking for me. I just don’t know how I’m meant to know if he’s really given it up or if this is all part of the secret life of an alcoholic? I can’t marry him if he really has a problem that he is lying about, I just can’t. But, he is the kindest, most loving man I’ve ever met and he has never once been aggressive or abusive while drinking. We’ve never even had a fight. He is completely functional, extremely intelligent, and has just landed a really prestigious job position that he’s been working towards for years. It’s hard to imagine that such an upstanding guy could have a problem and worse, be lying to me about it.

    Do you have any advice or any key things that I should look out for to really know what’s going on? The worst thing is I’ve asked him, but I just feel like have no way to know if he is lying…

  300. This site brought tears to my eyes! I’ve been living with my husband now for three years overseas as he is in the military. We’ve been together now for over 5 years and his drinking has gotten progressively worse. Looking back I should have seen the signs, but being head overs heels for him I brushed it aside. Now, things are at an all time low and I don’t know how much longer I can take it.

    My husband was charged with a DUI/hit and run 2 years ago Nov 13 — which has cost him his job in the military and now is threatening to end his marriage, and yet he STILL is drinking. He continues to look me straight in the eyes and lies, even when caught red handed. After reading through the Alcoholism Test, and seeing the part about how the spouse tends to start losing self respect, I almost broke down. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, which I’ve never had before, and I am 100% SURE that it’s because of the constant stress I feel. I am afraid to leave the house sometimes because I know what poor decisions he makes when drinking, such as leaving the oven on MAX blast for hours upon hours but not realizing it because he was passed out drunk on our couch. The couch in which he PISSED on that very night. Yes, he drinks to the point where he pisses himself. Our bed, our guest bed and our couch have all been ruined because he’s wet himself. WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?! I feel like I am in a constant battle between hating him and loving him. He is two different people. One person when sober and a complete different person when drunk. Things have gotten so bad that I have to lock up our house/car keys, any money laying around, and any valuables so that he doesn’t drive off with them. What hurts the most is that there is NOTHING i can do… he doesn’t want to change, or maybe he can’t. I don’t know anymore. Everything that I thought to be true has been a lie. I wish that I could walk away…. but I’m afraid. Which only makes me hate myself more.

  301. I googled “my husband is an alcoholic” and this came up. It is the best read so far, couldn’t be more on it. Sometimes I feel trapped because I am a stay-at-home mom. He works and provides for us. I have even told him this is how I feel.

    There are days I am so happy, but others not so much. I do dread the weekends because he doesn’t have to work and I know his breakfast will be a shot of vodka, he will be cranky and rude by 5-6 pm, and if I say anything about it, I’m just a miserable c*** who is never happy or a b****. I tell him I will not stand for him talking to me like this, but by the next morning he is all sweet and full of apologies, and I let it go.

    I only go out with him once a year because of his driving and we always end up at a strip bar. I ask him why we can’t have a good time at a regular bar, he says it’s boring. We went to a celebrate recovery program for awhile it was wonderful, but didn’t last.

    I’m just not sure what to do. I want to be with him forever, but sometimes I want to run away. We also have a 3 year old daughter together and yes, I pretty much raise her myself. We have to argue to get him out to do something. He likes it later, but I shouldn’t have to get onto him to get him out of the house that isn’t bar- related. He also wants another child, but I do not think it is a good idea. I’m already stressed enough and he is hurt by that. He plays too much with her sometimes and she ends up hurt, not a serious type of hurt, like he may tickle her to hard or annoy her, then I have to get on to him. Then once again, I’m a b**** and all women are alike. Any words would be great, and appreciated. Thanks.

  302. When I first met my husband, he never had any urge to drink. He was interested in his business and career and starting a family. we have been together for ten years and his drinking has been getting increasingly worse with every year that goes by for the past four years now.

    He tells people he hates how people in America label everything you do and he says that if that were the case in Europe, everyone would be an alcoholic. The worst part of his drinking is he calls me terrible names or pulls my hair he doesn’t talk to me at all. I never felt so lonely in all my life. I hate my life with him. The sad thing is we have three children together, so it’s like living in hell sentenced to a life of torture.

  303. Dr. Neill,

    My common-law husband drinks every day; wine, about 2 liters. By 7:30 p.m., he is drunk and ready to sleep. He is stressed because of something…right now his aunt is dying. Last year, something else. The year before, something else.

    His tolerance over the years has decreased and he is a know-it-all and it would not matter what the conversation is, he will express something and should I say something it will be wrong, so I choose not to discuss anything. Life is tough enough, now I have to deal with coming home to a drunk person who falls asleep usually right after a meal. He functions well, has a job, goes to work … but as far as relationship goes … its crap. I have sought counseling, and tried to discuss to no avail. I am getting less tolerant of late and express more and more concern…what to do?

  304. I’m feeling fairly lost… Reading everyone’s comments has been really helpful. Thank you. I am a mother of 2 children and my partner and I both work full time. My husband drinks every day and more on the weekend. Until recently, there was never a day he didn’t drink, ever. Alcohol was a HUGE part of his life prior to our relationship and him moving to where I live. That was 9 years ago.

    I work away now, 7 on and 7 off, and every time I am away he drinks excessively on the weekends. Almost every Sunday night after I talk to the kids from work, we end up having a huge argument about how much he has been drinking. I hear his slurred words and it makes me sick to my stomach. My husband works very hard and it’s extremely hard for him to manage when I am away. Recently my son (7) told me that he woke during the night to find his dad on the kitchen floor asleep. He said that he couldn’t wake him… hearing this just tore my heart out. Of course my husband made up this BS story about being very tired and having a sore back (all of which I know was lies). Hearing all this and being 500 kilometers away, I took the rest of my week off work and came home. My husband was shocked at my actions, but honestly hearing my little boy talk about finding his dad on the floor was the last straw.

    When I came home, of course he made all the promises under the sun and I laid down the law about me having enough and that I was not going to tolerate it any more. Only 2 weeks later, when I was back at work, same thing, Sunday night – broke several promises, got so drunk (with the kids in tote) that he had to call our older son (18) to come to the place that he was and to help him home with the kids. He had gone to a guy’s house that was a big drinker and who took some pretty hard medication for his mental health issues, a house that he had promised me that he would never take our children. Any way… of course he minimized the whole thing, saying that he was unaware that his friend’s homemade alcohol was so ‘potent’. . This is total rubbish though, as we had had previous conversations about it and his friend is very vocal about just wanting to make high alcohol level beer. I was just devastated by it all… the broken promises, the lack of insight he displayed, the potential risks he took with our children…

    That was all 3 weeks ago, at that point I said no more alcohol in our house. Although he never admitted he had a problem, he didn’t drink. But now he is on holiday and he is angry. He is nasty to me and we are constantly arguing. He refuses to get help because he doesn’t have a problem apparently. He says if I had sex with him more often we wouldn’t have a problem (I don’t understand this . . . lol). He says that he is not an alcoholic because he now has not had a drink for 3 weeks and he is angry that I am laying down the law and playing boss. He won’t ever discuss a particular issue, but rather likes to just throw in things that are bothering him or issues that are non-related. I try not to dismiss them, although it infuriates me that he won’t ever discuss the issues at hand. He says that I also have a drinking problem. I do enjoy a drink, but I certainly didn’t have to have one every day or base my weekend activities around getting home to drink. But to be honest, and I know this is going to sound like a huge cop out, drinking made all our other relationship problems a little easier to deal with.

    So, he does go to work, he is a fantastic father, but he breaks so many promises to me about his alcohol consumption. It’s like once he starts on the weekends, he does not know when enough is enough. We have no social life because I never want people to see how much he drinks. He is never happy just to have 1 or 2 or even 3 or 4. Except of course during the week while he was working he’d have maybe 5 beers every day.

    I know I’m raving, but I’m lost and I’m struggling with the fact that now my husband is going to move out because of this. He says he is tired of me bossing him around and all other sorts of things rather than actually saying if you won’t let me drink here, then I am moving out. I don’t want to lose him, but I have had enough and the kids have seen enough. He has now gone south for a few days… to his family’s. He tells his family so much stuff about me, it’s heartbreaking. They judge me, but they have no idea what I go through and the weekly weekend drinking sessions he would have. When the kids were little, I’d just let them sleep in our bed with me and he’d sleep in the kids bed, but they are getting older and see too much.

    I worry so much when I am away working, he drinks and snores, the kids wake up and can’t wake him, the house is often left unlock until he wakes up.

  305. My husband has a problem with alcohol. As I have read through these posts, I am so saddened at what alcohol has done in so many lives, but so many people defend their right to drink!!!!

    I used to drink. I knew there was a problem in our marriage, but I didn’t know what it was until God showed me; sin in me and my husband, but also alcohol. I stopped drinking that day (2004) and haven’t had a drink since, but my husband continues. I almost left once, but was counseled by two pastors that I had no biblical reason to leave. I totally agree with, now don’t get me wrong, if there is abuse, there is reason to leave.

    God has given me a special love for my husband, but there are days I do not know what to do. We live separate lives although that is not what I want. It seems to me alcohol is more important to him than I am. I think that’s what hurts the most and the fact I am watching him slowly kill himself. I see the power alcohol has over a persons life and it makes me angry, especially when commercials on TV make drinking look so wonderful! At least the cigarette commercials are being more truthful now. They show the devastation smoking brings. Why don’t they show things like that about alcohol? Thank you all for your openness in sharing and my heart and prayers go out to all of you!! Thank you Dr. Neill for your concern and for sharing your experience with alcohol.

  306. My husband drinks approximately 2 beers each day, and sometimes will drink heavily during a social event (3-5 drinks). He’s more confrontational when he drinks heavily with me, but he said it’s because I’m nagging him about the drinking and he’s just reacting to me. I’m concerned he has an alcohol problem. His drinking has progressed over the past 10 years. He said I’m paranoid, because 2 drinks a day is not harmful. Who is right? Am I just fearful?

  307. My boyfriend of 6 1/2 years is a functioning alcoholic. He started out drinking a few times a week, which I didn’t seem to mind, then he got in trouble legally and went to prison for 8 months. That’s when he started going out and not coming home until the next afternoon drunk. We never used to argue and even at this point, that was the only time we would, then he would wait till I would go to bed and sneak out while I was asleep.

    He admits he has a problem and will cut down for 2-4 weeks and do it again. The last year, I’ve noticed that when he was drinking, he would talk about hurting some one who has wronged him. The past 6 months, he has been getting even more angry and seems to hype himself up and talks about seriously hurting someone. He also admits that he thinks he is depressed. Now the last 3 months, he has been losing control. He stabbed two holes in our walls and punched a hole too. I kicked him out and he made an appointment to go see someone for depression and cut out the drinking. He was doing good until his uncle and cousin came around for work (he never gets to see any of his family do to location). He had also started thinking I was going places I didn’t or doing things I wasn’t. I started a second job 3 months before when he went crazy so I could afford all the bills. He says he never sees me and feels like I am pushing him away, so he has been drinking very heavy with his friends and his cousin, who is still working 30 min away.

    The Friday before Christmas, he was with his cousin and uncle and was having a few beers. I told him to just stay with them at the hotel and we could meet up since I was going there. The next day I got a call from his cousin saying he had been pulled over and he was going to jail for a DUI and I had to get the car. I started feeling like I didn’t want to be around him and was very disappointed he drank. The next day, he got irate because I helped the friend who came with to get his car at 2am. During the week, he ended up breaking our TV, his phone kid toy, and every thing on the counter. I told him to leave, he pushed me and held me down and then when he let me go, he started talking about hurting himself. He has never hit me, but I made him leave. He has been gone for almost two weeks and still is, but is willing to do all I asked so far and financially can not afford being out of the home. I need to know if the depression is being addressed can someone stop by themselves or will we just go down the same path if I let him come home? He said all he thinks about is how he has been treating me and that he didn’t realize how bad he was before and knew I was unhappy and was going to leave him or so he thought at the time, so he didn’t care what happened to himself.

  308. To add to my post above, we have had a great relationship up to the violent talking. 3 months ago, he was still great when he didn’t drink more than 4 drinks, when was sober. I am on my last straw and have agreed to talk with him about trying to save our relationship, if possible. I have never loved any man as much as him and I know he loves me. When he would have more than 7 drinks, he just didn’t care or even think. When he pushed me, he said he had blacked out and when he realized what he had done, he just wanted to hurt himself. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

  309. I don’t really know how to even express this and constantly second guess myself. I am an adult child of alcoholic parents, both my mother and father drank every single day of my life and I just about survived my childhood. I am now married with 3 children of my own and work full time. I don’t drink myself, but my husband does and it is really getting me down now as I can see my children becoming withdrawn the way I was growing up.

    Since I got married, my husband used to constantly “disappear” using excuses like “going out for milk” or “the paper” and then not returning for hours at a time. He would and still comes in drunk and makes excuses, becomes defensive or at times angry towards me and the children and blaming me for problems in our marriage, throws things and slams doors. My children become frightened and confused, for me I just feel numb. I just don’t know what to do or think. Is he right? Is it my fault?

    Deep down I know that what he is doing is not normal, but I just don’t know how to cope with it or what I should do. I don’t want my children to feel the way I did growing up, but I don’t know how to fix, change or leave the situation. He doesn’t drink every day, but on his days off from work and when he gets paid, the first thing he does is drink. I have come home on a few occasions from work to find my 12 year old daughter trying to take care of my 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter and my husband is no where to be found, he just goes off and leaves them. He usually turns his phone off. Well it happened again on Friday and I lost the plot and my temper…I feel like I have just had enough, like I want to leave and take my children with me, but don’t want to hurt him or my children. I am not trying to take him away from his children or my children away from him, but this cannot continue. I feel as though I also lack the courage and confidence to walk away. I have no family in the country I live in and no support system, I just don’t know what to do. I feel desperate, sad, lost and angry.

  310. I am married to an alcoholic. He has been to rehab three times in the past 10 years. He has totaled three vehicles. Our son, our only child, was murdered in 2008 in a random robbery and within a week my husband was heavily drinking again. He had an accident and went to jail. This was his third and his last time in rehab. It’s been a little more than 4 years ago. I was so proud of him for staying sober for 4 years and I know now that I was stupid to think he would never drink again.

    Several months ago he started again. He goes to bars to drink, he never has drank at home. So he gets drunk and drives. Well, now he thinks he can handle it. He’s smart enough to know how many he can have…so he says. He has come home very drunk in the past couple of months. He was humble, apologetic, asking for forgiveness when I first noticed him drunk this time around. Now, after several months, he is defensive, in denial, angry, wanting to give up on our marriage because I’m “on his ass…” all the time, etc. We’ve been married for 35 years this March. We are high school sweethearts. I love him and don’t want to leave him. I know that this is something that he has to do for himself, but the thought of him getting another DUI and going to jail for years worries me. Even worse, the very thought of him killing someone while he’s driving drunk is unbearable. We have two little grandchildren…the only ones we’ll ever have…and he doesn’t care about spending time with them anymore. I keep them every day after school and he’s always gone or he’s passed out in the bed now. It’s so difficult for me. I love my son’s children so much and feel so sorry for them. They’ve already lost their Daddy. Now they are losing their grandfather too.

    I know that I can do nothing to help him but I’ve found Al-Anon to be no help. I’m going to read your book and other books and pray. My husband now says that he will never be able to remain sober and the alcoholism is just something I will have to deal with. He says that AA has a horrible success rate. I don’t know if he’s just saying this because he needs an excuse for his drinking or if it’s really true. It seems like I’ve heard this before…that only 20% or less that go to AA are successful with sobriety. What else is there? Is there help for him? He won’t take pills from the doctor. Now he won’t even go to the doctor for help. Are there any natural vitamins/minerals that help the craving for alcohol? Why was he able to stay sober for 4 years after such a devastating loss in his life? He was clear minded when he decided to drink again…so how did the “disease” cause him to drink again. That’s the most difficult thing for me to understand. :/

    He’s a good man when he’s sober. I don’t want to give up on him, but I can’t live on this roller coaster for the rest of my life. I don’t think I can anyway. I’m so hurt and confused.

  311. My boyfriend has an issue with alcohol, I believe he is and alcoholic. He only drinks over the weekend, but drinks too fast and can’t control himself becoming aggressive when he drinks too much (not towards me). He had some problems with work because of drinking and I am afraid he will get himself hurt badly picking up a fight after drinking.

    He now stopped drinking since the beginning of the year, but when we go out he gets upset because he can’t drink and is big part of going out.

    We have not yet spoken about it, but I am positive he will get upset to the point of starting to drink again.

    Do you have any advice? I really don’t want him to go back to drinking and he doesn’t want to stop going out.

    Thank you very much.

  312. My husband is ruining my life. We have a two year old and I’m pregnant with our second. He drinks alone, fast, and every chance he gets. He drinks at work and comes home wobbly every night. He thinks he’s fine. He can’t tell how drunk he is. He lies and says he has not had any alcohol at all every day. He lies a lot. He goes to buy milk and comes back tipsy a few min later. I do not accept his drinking. I ask him to leave and he sleeps in his car or balcony. He sleeps it off while I am hurt and worried everyday and night. I don’t want to live with him. I ask him to find a place to live where he can drink and smoke all the time, but he dose not leave. I can not afford the mortgage and he says he won’t pay it unless we all live here together. He dose whatever he wants. He comes home drunk high and smelly. How can I get him to leave?

  313. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about three and half years. That’s not been constant because I’ve gotten fed up and left, but always have managed to get lured back in to the relationship. My boyfriend has insight about so many other things (when he’s sober), but NONE, ZERO whatsoever, about his drinking, or pot usage (he smokes weed regularly, too).

    He lies to me, how do I know? Because he continually lies to himself. I told him not to drink in the house when he moved in, and he claimed that he would not move in if not allowed to drink. So now, he drinks in “his” room (although he often tries to bring it to other parts of the house.) It’s a ridiculous game of me trying to set this flimsy boundary I already caved in on, and him trying to further break it down. He is great at playing “technicalities” – I told him no pot smoking, whatsoever, on the property (as I have kids) – so what does he do? Goes to smoke it in his car, which is parked on the side of the street, and argue semantics that it was not in the yard. He does similar things with his drinking.

    I stopped a long time ago trying to qualify whether he is “drunk” vs “buzzed” (he will argue all day that he is buzzed…not drunk). I have stopped trying to quantify or qualify his usage, because I learned a long time ago that when confronted, he will say he is not drinking. Only in increments over the course of the conversation will it come out that he “only” had a few shots of whiskey. And then later, “only” a couple of beers, too. That’s his definition of “not drinking”!! (Similarly, I only know he’s pot smoking when I “bust” him….doing it, smelling like it, etc.)

    I tried, when the relationship was newer to “make” him go to AA. I told him to go for at least 3-6 months, and I did not want to see him or talk to him until that 3-6 months was up. Well, he managed to wear me down until the agreement was 1 month only. After a month, he came back and claimed he was clean, showed me his chip and all, and then turned the chip in and went right back to it. Later (again at my insistence) he went to a drug and alcohol counselor, but it was through his job and he minimized (LIED) to him about his drinking, and neglected to bring up the pot at all, because the counselor was through his work and he didn’t want word getting back to them. He continually claims he is “cutting back” and that he does not have to quit altogether to solve his problem. Reason? It’s no problem for HIM – just the rest of us who have to live with him!!

    He forgets complete conversations we had the day before, even after swearing he will remember. I sometimes even catch him playing along like he remembers, but I’ll throw in a fake detail and he will agree with it, showing me he is just trying to play off that he remembers. Who is he trying to fool?

    He is extremely defensive about his drinking. He will make every and any excuse in the book about his behavior, and claim it was NOT caused by drinking (or being high). He will point out the days here and there when he goes with no alcohol, as a way to “throw it in my face” that he can go without it, and whine that no one notices when he does. On a typical day, he stays up till 1 or 2 in the morning, drinking, or sometimes falls asleep on the couch, coming to bed at 2, 3, sometimes 4 in the morning, not caring that he woke me up when he knows I have chronic insomnia and the slightest bit of noise will pull me out of a sleep, when I’m actually managing to get some. He’s often late for work, but he gets away with it, so far. He also constantly throws it out that no one else’s “problems” in the household are noticed or dealt with, all that’s focused on is his drinking.

    He protects his drinking (not to mention pot smoking) like he would a mistress. I will sometimes go into his room and am alarmed at how many bottles he has in there until he scoops them up to be recycled, probably in the hopes of making it seem less than there are.

    I too, would like to get him to leave. I know in my heart that leaving him for good would stop the cycle of complete insanity I’m in, but I’ve not been able to leave…and now, to get him to leave…which tells me I must have as bad of a problem as he does. I’d never dealt with an “addict” before, never realized the depth of the illness or how downright maddening it is to live with one…none in my family, etc. In the beginning I would ask him “Why don’t you just quit?!?” Again, any and every excuse.

    I think it’s only a downward decline for him, as he’s so deep in denial, not to mention selfish and egocentric, and with such poor insight, I doubt he’ll ever seek help again. Believe it or not, he is a wonderful guy, aside from the issue of his addictions…a real Jekyll and Hyde!!

  314. My husband drinks 750ml of cheap vodka daily. He openly admits he is an alcoholic and has had 2 DUI arrests in the past 6 years. He goes to counseling and AA meetings because they are court ordered, but he continues to buy vodka on the way home from the meetings. He hides the bottles in the garage and drinks out there.

  315. The second part of my question is this: what is all this vodka doing to his liver? He also smokes.

  316. Hello Dr. Neill,

    I have been reading what you wrote about people using alcohol to disassociate from emotional pain, which causes them to isolate themselves from loved ones through alcohol. My husband drinks A LOT. He drinks 15-20 drinks a night and gets drunk most nights (which I think really puts a distance between him and me).

    The odd thing is that he does not get mean, he is a “happy drunk”. He has never missed work, he is very open about the amount he drinks and does not try to hide it and his parents don’t drink. He has some very SLOW Saturdays or Sundays when he sleeps a lot. Which is also no fun for me, but he really does not fit any of those other categories.

    I do not enable him or make excuses for him. I really don’t have to. We don’t fight very often and we get along just fine (aside from the distance). It is a weird situation in which I think the only thing suffering is our closeness and possibly his health (although no health problems found yet).

    He has kept up this pattern for 20+ years, not changing much. Sometimes I feel kind of alone because when he drinks he is here, but not here. He is okay to be around when he drinks although he can gets really talkative and sometimes repeats himself a lot. But it is not awful. What do you call this kind of drinking? I am reading your book, but got kind of confused about his symptoms not really fitting into most of the common categories….thank you!

  317. I have been married for almost three years, and I have noticed my husband’s drinking has become worse and worse. He is a great man. He has an honorable job, he goes to school, he is a great husband and father (when he is not drinking).

    When he turned 21, he would insist on going out for drinks and was constantly buying shots and bottles of liquor until a few times he blacked out and made of fool of himself. Now he comes home with a twelve pack every night, and he always saves one to have with his lunch the next day.

    He admits that he wants to quit, but it has become habit. I tried to talk to him to let him know I was very scared for him (his father was a raging alcoholic). My husband became furious with me and told me not to worry about him. He said he was a grown man. I’ve even caught him putting shots in his coffee during the day.
    He says he was having a bad day and it wont happen again.

    I catch myself thinking I want to get my kids and leave. I’m not attracted to him because of his foul alcohol breath. He promised that he would take a night off tonight and I am so scared. I have been cleaning and preparing everything so nothing will go wrong. I need help. How do I help him? He is ruining our marriage.

  318. Hello, my name is Nicole. I have been married for 2 1/2 years to my husband Shayne. We separated February 2012 until May 2012 over his drinking. He is back now. I even went as far as having him sign a sober contract! Silly, I know.

    He came home drunk last night from work. I have no idea how often he drinks or how much. He is facing his second DUI. I told him to leave and he pulled the ladder to the attic door and pulled out a huge bottle of vodka and laughed. I feel so angry as I am being blamed for it all. I really question myself – am I asking too much for him not to drink since he’s not doing it at home around our kids?… He has lots of excuses as to why he turns to beer (stress, lack of sex, kids). I don’t have a sitter to go to Alon. I know I need to talk to someone. I was so sure kicking him out, so sure of my choice, but of course I miss him.

  319. Hi Dr. Neill,

    My husband and I have been having marital problems for some time and his drinking has increased accordingly, though he has always been a heavy beer drinker (which is all he drinks). When we fight, he’ll leave the house to go to a bar and come back obviously intoxicated…sometimes he’ll go out with friends and I’m worried all the time.

    I’ve found him passed out several times, where it was very difficult to wake him (he says he was just sleeping). He has punched walls in anger and thrown things (drunk and sober), and he has been verbally abusive (he has said I am good for nothing, I’ve given him nothing, I am sh**, he hates me, get out of his f*ng face, etc etc etc). He is very angry (obviously) and hurt about disagreements on major issues we’ve had in our marriage and says I’m to blame for his behavior.

    A few months ago, he drank so much then took some Rx pills over it (first time he’s done this)…he had to be in the hospital for 3 days to detox, and to be evaluated. He has a therapist now but goes inconsistently. We are now selling our house, and have to move in a few weeks. He drank almost all weekend long and verbally abused me terribly Sunday eve.

    I want to get my own place so we can both work on ourselves and our hurt and try to heal; I feel I can’t live like this anymore, but I feel so guilty leaving him. I feel like I am abandoning him at his lowest (he lost his job last April–unrelated to alcohol, and has been working part-time…now he is losing his home since I wanted to sell the house). I feel so awful!

    -Thanks, Stella

  320. Hello,

    I have been with my husband for 13 years, since we were both 17. He is without a doubt an alcoholic. He has been arrest 4 times in the last 13 years for driving under the influence. I have left him many times over the years due to his drinking, but always seem to try to make it work for our 5 children. He has a great job and somehow has always made it to work and has been promoted many times. Sadly, I feel it is because he is always willing to stay late and take his out of town bosses to the local bars.

    I have always seemed to help him through the hard times. However, I feel that I cannot continue to do so any more. I am tired. He leaves for extended periods of times and comes home extremely intoxicated, we can’t have meaningful conversations anymore, he wakes up almost every morning to drink a beer, he has violent outburst with people he does not know when drinking, will challenge anyone to fight when looked at wrong (at least in his mind) and has become aggressive when I question him about his drinking problem. Our children do not rely on him to attend any of their functions, but are so very excited when he makes the occasional appearance at school or game. When we do have an outing with our children he is often so intoxicated before the day is up. He refuses to speak about alcoholism and when he does he laughs claiming to find it funny anyone would ever consider him an alcoholic.

    My husband has a constant need to be reassured he is handsome, hardworking and a good provider. He has recently started questioning my loyalty to him. Which has never been a problem in the past. This something is find odd, but not sure if it directly related to his drinking.

    We separated 6 months ago for 2 months. When I allowed him back home he became worse than I have ever seen him before. I am trying to save my children’s father. I don’t even know if I can. I would like to know how can I get him in to a rehab willingly? What advice can you give a mother of 5 who has not lost all hope in her marriage and husband?

  321. Hello. I can’t believe I am here… my husband and I are SO HAPPY, but the fact that I am here probably speaks volumes.. His father was an alcoholic and he never drank until a few years ago, but the last six months he has been drinking more. I come home nightly to am empty six pack and tonight a full bottle of scotch – empty. That sounds like alcoholism, but it is so new – can I nip this in the butt now? I am worried. Any suggestions for how to approach him? He definitely gets defensive and ashamed when we talk about alcohol… is it important for him to stop drinking completely? So many questions…

  322. My boyfriend of almost a year is a functioning alcoholic, I’m sure of it. Except it’s not beer he’s drinking, it’s vodka or very strong spirits. The worst I’ve seen is a pint glass with 70 vodka 30 mixer, and I’ve seen him sit on several of these throughout a night. I have stopped letting him mix my drinks. It makes me feel drunk immediately after it.

    In the beginning, we met in a social, hospitality-like remote town and drinking was part of the culture , but it continued. I’ve asked him for over 6 months to make an effort and cut back, for his health, for his mind and it’s like he agrees with me at every conversation and keeps on doing the same. A normal week is over 3 bottles of vodka. I’ve found bottles hidden too. The worst part is that we disconnect after the 1st drink…I’ll stop at 1 and he will keep going well into the night. He claims he is only happy when he drinks and is extremely negative at the end of the night. He has said horrible things at times, but all in all holds down a good job, never misses a day and works away for 2 weeks at a time, in which there is a 3 beer limit a night at the only pub in town. I love him and I just feel like he is going to get worse if I leave.

  323. Hi,

    I’ve been with my boyfriend since I was 15. I’m 21 and have two children with him. My boyfriend has admitted he drinks too much, then other times denies he does. He’s selfish and drinks sometimes Friday, Saturday and Sunday without stopping at all even for sleep and he doesn’t come home.

    I got him a good job which paid great and because he was too tired and hungover on Monday, he quit! I provide all the food, clothes, things for the children, pay phone/heating/electric/internet bills. He’s extremely verbally abusive and on my birthday/Mothers’ day we went out for my birthday, as I have responsibility with the children, I came home and went to sleep. He stayed up and drank all night through. My friends had left their drink at my house after the party, which I told them I’d return to them. My boyfriend took it and drank it and he never bought me a thing for my birthday/Mothers’ day, which was very hurtful.

    He turns around all our arguments on me making them out to be my fault. He brings up the abuse he seen his parents go through as a child and repeats it. That’s why he’s so messed up. His mum is addicted to painkillers, his grandma was an alcoholic. My dad is a recovering alcoholic of 30 years and he said all the signs are there.

    He doesn’t remember nights out. He admitted last night he loves drinking and he would often fight when drunk. I don’t know what to do. He’s not attempting to support us as a family or bother with the children.

  324. P.S. I have kicked him out twice, but he manages to turn things around and becomes a sympathy card/acts victim, which I fall for.

    He’s been in the bar all weekend and as we speak. My family and friends are desperate for me to leave him, but when sober he is usually funny, nice and protective. He has tried anger management. It made him more angry. He smokes weed every evening, he comes in smelling of it.

    When he eventually wakes up, he gets breakfast, his friends call, he sits on the computer writing out bets, goes to the gym, sits and watches TV, then goes out to his friends until bedtime. He always comes in in a good mood after smoking it, but the fact he smokes it makes me cross and like I’ve said, he’s selfish and wants to do his own thing and said he will do what he wants. I really don’t know why I bother!


  325. Hi Dr. Neill,

    I shared my story on this site a while ago, and I know my husband is a functioning alcoholic. There is no question about it. However, I’ve also wondered if my husband may have Borderline Personality Disorder, as he frequently puts me on a pedestal one minute and then says negative things about me the next. His response whenever we get in an argument is to leave, get a divorce, etc. I don’t know if these behaviors are related to his alcoholism or if there is another underlying disorder. Any insight you have would be helpful. I’m still struggling with his drinking, although it is better. I fear he will just trade one addiction for another. . . .

  326. My husband is an alcoholic. I have fallen into the codependent category. I have 2 small sons. I have been working to get a new career where I can reaffirm my independence. I think my only option is to leave. Help.

  327. Hi Dr Neill,

    I have your book, but am yet to read it. The reason I purchased it is because I am fairly certain my boyfriend is a functioning alcoholic. He has a phenomenally high IQ and is clearly very intelligent, but I have lately been detecting a vacancy about him. I have been in a relationship with a lower functioning alcoholic with anger issues, but my current boyfriend is nothing like him. They don’t drink the same, so I’m a little confused and in fact scared to admit that he is probably an alcoholic.

    He drinks pretty well every day, but if I tell him how much I hate it he eases off and won’t drink so much. Part of me wants to believe in him and trust him, but I just don’t. When we first met we would drink almost every time we were together, but then I noticed his drinking wasn’t quite normal, so I really backed off by having only one or two drinks or none at all. He continued to drink excessively. If there was tequila (he drinks anything and everything neat) left over from the night before, he’ll finish it off.

    Since we have moved in together, he is less inclined to do this. Is it wrong of me to feel that his modifying his behavior just to please me isn’t going to last? I told him I didn’t want to try to change him, but that I cannot stand his drinking. He said he’d stop if I asked him, but I said that I only wanted him to moderate. I told him that I thought if he couldn’t moderate his behavior he would know he has a problem. He seems to be so willing to please me, but won’t moderate himself without my input. I don’t want to be drawn into something as unhealthy and unsustainable as I think that is. He says he’s been drinking like this for 20 years (he’s only 37) and I know he has a lot of issues from his past he’d rather forget, but I don’t know how to support him without trying to force him to change. I just know that if he doesn’t curb this drinking now it is not going to end well.

    What makes me want to say he isn’t alcoholic is the fact that he doesn’t hide it, but I think this is more to do with his belief that he doesn’t have a problem. He doesn’t urinate improperly, doesn’t lie, doesn’t suffer memory lapses (nothing extraordinary anyway), doesn’t become violent or abusive (though he does get a bit silly), he looks after himself and otherwise functions probably better than many non-drinkers. I am just very very concerned because I feel in my gut that this could deteriorate very quickly.

  328. Hi Dr. Neill,
    Wow. I have been married to my husband (a dentist, 70 now) for 17 years. He comes from a family of alcoholics and 3 of his 4 children are alcoholics, one of whom passed away in June from alcohol abuse. He also has ADD, depression, anxiety (He is medicated for all of these conditions.) and had a psychotic breakdown 24 years ago for which he was hospitalized. I am his 4th wife.
    He begins drinking (beer) every day at 4 pm. I am expected (and do) to sit and talk with him during this time. (I will drink 1-1.5 light beers with him, and then I stop (gives me a headache). It begins pretty well, but ends in exasperation and sometimes full on arguments almost every night. He stops drinking at dinner and goes to bed. He always wants me to come sit with him in bed and gets upset if I don’t, so I just do (this is at 7 pm). But he just either talks about the past, or tells me how I never want to be around him and I never talk, etc… it is the same 90 percent of the time. He makes me feel so guilty. I’m 62 now, pretty fit, but getting more hopeless. I’m afraid I’m just throwing away the rest of my life. I know I sound cold but there’s too much to go into here. I feel too guilty to leave. I really think he’d fall apart plus I’m trying to be a better person than I used to be. I’m not perfect FOR SURE, but don’t know what to do. My belief is that he’s never going to change anything and that this is the rest of my life. My adult children love him in a way but think he’s extremely emotionally manipulative.

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