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Can the Functioning Alcoholic Last?: Part Three

Part Three of the Functioning Alcoholic

There is a third critical factor to bear in mind when questioning the functioning of a so-called “functioning alcoholic.” The first factor to consider was whether the alcoholic is functioning generally in life, or just in one aspect of life, like his job. The second factor was whether the alcoholic is achieving his potential and pursuing his dreams, not just getting by.

The third factor has to with how long the “functioning,” at whatever level, can last in the presence of alcohol abuse.

Excessive alcohol consumption was affecting my health. If I hadn’t changed to a healthier lifestyle when I did, I would have been dead years ago. And what I have brought to others over the past thirty years would simply never have existed.

I had a good friend who was a brilliant youth psychiatrist. He would go back to an apparently productive afternoon after a lunch of  five double-martinis. But he left his wife and two children and potentially thousands more young clients by dying far too young. Liver cancer ended his functioning.

I lost two alcoholic colleagues to suicide. They left young families. Recently several friends, significantly younger than me,  died of health repercussions of alcoholism.  And two of my adult children died of the heath repercussions of their alcohol abuse.  With all of these untimely deaths most people were too polite or too embarrassed to even mention the alcohol factor in their deaths.


The notion of the functioning alcoholic is mostly myth. The phrase “functioning alcoholic” is an oxymoron.

To function is to function in life, not just in a part of life. Functioning means fulfilling your potential and pursuing your dreams as best you can within the actual limits of circumstances. And functioning is a long-term matter, not just a temporary condition.

Since none of these descriptions of functioning is consistent with being an alcoholic, I must conclude I have never met a truly functioning alcoholic. Have you?

Tell us what you think below.

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45 comments to Can the Functioning Alcoholic Last?: Part Three

  • Leigh

    As I stated in a post in part 2, I think it depends on your definition of functioning. My husband is absolutely a functioning alcoholic. He is able to function successfully in many areas of his life. I really do not think anyone is successfully functioning in all areas of life, with or withour alcohol. I understand what you are saying. I just do not agree with your definition of functioning and therefore do not think functioning alcoholic is an oxymoron. However, I do believe a functioning alcoholic will not always be functioning. That is why it is so hard for him to admit he has a problem and quit drinking-he was fine in the beginning and cannot see the slow progression downward.

  • curtis

    I am a functioning alcoholic. And I do see the downward progression of my life. I am seeking help which is how I came to this blog. And I also agree with Leigh completely.


  • Dr. Neill Neill


    I’m glad you’re seeking help, and I agree that Leigh makes a good point. My point is that “functioning” is more than just being able to work. I was able to do that. But I’d have been dead if I had continued on the path I was on. My very best wishes to you.


  • James

    Exactly how many people do you know who are meeting potential and pursuing their dreams. 1 in 5? 1 in 10? 50?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello James,

    I don’t know what the stats are or would be, but I have known many who were attempting to be the best the could and pursue their dreams. Some of these like myself have overcome an addiction. But a few more things need to be said.
    1. None of us who have been alcoholics or other addicts can know what our potential might have been had we not damaged our brains through our addictions.
    2. I’ve never met an actively-using addict who was even trying to pursue his dreams or reach his potential.
    3. If you have abandoned your dreams and are content to under use your potential, you will have lots of company. But for me that would be an unhappy way to live. Fulfillment beats drifting every time.

    Best wishes,


  • I am definatly not a fuctioning alcholic! All i do is drink, then work and put up with the hangover! my brain does not want any hassle, i just want to get through the day and drink again! I hate it, i have twice nearly killed myself!

  • Kim

    I believe there can be “functioning alcoholics” I have hard time believing my husband is an alcoholic, to me an alcoholic is someone who drinks from the time they get up to the time the go back to bed.

    My H drinks anywhere from 6-15 a night, he walked out on me and our kids at the begining of the year for another woman because as put it “he can talk to her” I would have to call home every day to make sure he was up to get the kids to school, several times they were late. The blinds in the house were always closed, he always came to bed drunk, sometimes would pass out on the living room floor or in a chair with a can of beer spilling onto the carpet.

    He works in a bar, and it is NOT uncommon for him to be so drunk within 1/2 hour of his shift ending that he can not stand up without help.

    I am not the first wife he has left for someone else either.

    He turned down a Monday to Friday job at double his current pay becuase it meant he would have to get up early.

  • Fran

    I believe my husband is a “functioning alcoholic”. He has drank (between 6-12) beers every single day consistently for the past 10+ years. However, he maintains a steady, professional career with a great income, never over-spends our money, is a wonderful father to our two small children, is involved in our church on the building committee, and takes care of the outside of our home along with many renovations. This man cannot NOT drink every single day though. As soon as he gets home he opens a beer and drinks steadily until he falls asleep. He almost never gets sick (which I can’t understand for the life of me!). I recently started attending Al-Anon and my biggest concern is because it does not seem to affect any apsect of his life (other than the consistent distance it builds in our marriage) how long can he continue like this … and what example is it setting for our children …

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Fran,

    Alcohol does take it’s toll, nonetheless. You said it yourself: he drinks until he falls asleep. What you need to pay attention to is how YOU are feeling as he sinks into unconsciousness. Lonely? Neglected? Unconnected? Angry? These are really big long-term issues for any marriage. So is the modeling your children see.

    And it’s only a matter of time on the health. The problem is, we never know how long. I’m planning to write a article on alcohol and health. If you are on my list, you’ll get an email when it’s up on my website.

    Your husband sounds like a really good man, so getting him to confront his addiction is really worth doing. Approach it on the grounds of what it’s doing to you and to the children. He sounds like he cares and wouldn’t deliberately hurt any of you.

    There may be something else haunting him, some old trauma he doesn’t want to face, something he medicates with beer. Appropriate professional help for the underlying problem(s) might be needed.

    Thank you for writing. I wish I could offer more.


  • part time

    Many interesting comments. Like Curtis I have come looking on the web to see what is out there…I have been involved with drinking and drugs since about 12, am now 40ish. Do not drink everyday or even every week, but when I do I am out till dawn, the wife has had enough. I feel it is a simple choice that is now not so simple for me..thoughts? I am seeing that thought this is “not so bad”, to what degree do you justify and maintain selfishness in a common relationship? I have used this as MINE and I guess it has been like cheating on her, at least that is the way she reacts. would like some comments from other married women who may have men like me..thanks

  • Sherry

    Dr. Neill,
    I am in need of your help and advise. My boyfriend is a ‘funtioning alcoholic’. I’ve read all the comments above. He’s gone to AA before, but not enough. EVERY night, he drinks vodka and wine. Or something even stronger. He never gets sick, gets to work, and people love him. He’s been doing this for about 30 years, non stop. And, he’s complained of his side hurting, but nothing concrete comes out on tests he’s had done. Please write back, as I am honestly really concerned about him. Is vodka harmful to you, every night. Thank you SO much !

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Sherry,
    Of course he is in trouble. Over time if a man drinks more than a certain amount per week, it does damage to his body in lot of different ways. See the article “How much alcohol is too much…” When I reached my limit years ago, I started to get pains–in my side, in my groin, in my lower abdomen, in my left arm and around my heart. The location of my pain seemed to change all the time.

    After a lot of medical tests showed nothing, I ended up at the Mayo Clinic. I found out there that alcohol can cause symptoms to be “projected,” that is, a problem in the liver could be experienced as a pain in the chest or groin, or anywhere else. They suspected my body was having an allergic reaction to alcohol.

    So I quit. In a month I felt better than I had in years and I have never looked back. That was over 30 years ago.

    I don’t know about your boyfriend, but the only way he’ll be able to find out if his body is rejecting alcohol is to quit completely for a few months and see if the pains go away. If the damage is already done and he does have a physical/medical problem, his doctors will probably tell him to quit completely anyway.

    Watching a partner (or son or daughter or parent) slowly self destruct has to one of the most painful experiences in life.

  • Dorie@2:16

    Dr. Neill,
    I’ve been married to a good husband, father and provider for 32 years. For over 20 years he has abused alcohol, usually starting at 6:00 P.M. I have to always watch him like a hawk. When he denies that he hasn’t been drinking, I find bottles hidden and then I get upset and he normally says he’s sorry and it won’t happen again. His parents were alcoholics so there is genetic link which scares me. He rarely admits that he has a problem. He has gone to a counselor at my request because I was so angry and hurt. It didn’t help because he wasn’t truthful and then he continues to believe that he doesn’t have a problem. I have told him to go to AA this month. I don’t know where to turn and I’m fighting my own depression over it.

  • Amy

    You have totally neglected your wife, and have failed to nurture your marital relationship. you have had an ongoing love affair with the bottle. Imagine if you had run home to your wife every day instead of running to the bottle. Imagine holding your wife the way you hold your drink. Imagine putting your lips to your wife’s lips as much as you put them to a drink. Now, just imagine the time you took from your relationship to get your fix. Now, imagine spending that time on her. Time is our greatest commodity. We can never get it back! I only hope that there has not been any abuse mentally or physically. I don’t believe we can ever get over that. Your marriage has been all about you and what you want, and when you want it, and if you don’t get that, then you throw a hissy fit. Hope this helps you to understand. Please, if you can’t seem to get help for yourself, do it for her. I believe you love her, or you wouldn’t be here.

  • sharon

    I tried to explain to my husband that every time he drinks it was like he was saying goodbye to me, he drinks and goes to a different place where I cant relate to him. It just killed me to watch him choose to drink instead of talk, drink till he feel asleep in the chair, not eat his dinner, come to bed drunk with his chair surrounded with bottles and cans. I missed him every night for years till the point where it hurt so much there isnt any choice but to decide to leave.

    They deny it is a problem because they are going to work, and call us the whiners for asking them to have a break, cut down, drink lite beer, dont drink at home, drink only a couple of days a week,, it goes on and on and they say what they think you want to hear and nothing changes. I feel sorry for my husband sitting down stairs crying because he knows I am packing up to leave after 14 years of trying to battle the bottle with him. It does no good to talk, because if they dont wish to change their addiction it will not change. Nobody loses weight unless you really want to lose weight.

    Drinking gets people hooked so they dont have to think about what is bothering them, thinking that their problems will disappear by the next morning. The drinking actually just makes things worse and compounds all the neglect of the marriage, the children, the home, animals, work and other family. If you are co-dependent you have picked up the manager’s job of all the above duties and will leave eventually when you are burnt out.

  • Patty

    I too was living with a alcoholic off and on for 7 years. I knew he drank at first, but the more I nagged the more he got mad at me. I left came back, left again, came back, and nothing changed. He was never physical with me, but near the end he was very verbal to me as I was to him. I loved him and still love him very much, but could not take him drinking everyday. He is laid off in the winter and I would go to work everyday and come home and drunk, but not a drop down drunk. I don’t know how he does it. He starts drinking everyday at 10:00 sharp, when he is not working. On the weekends, he starts at 10:00 a.m. and goes all day long.

    I need love and tenderness and he could not give it to me. I felt lost, hurt, and it got very ugly in the end and his family ganged up on me, when I called him a "drunk", they basically with him, threw me out. 3 weeks after I left, he was in bed with another girl and he married her 6 months later and moved into her home. He sold his home.

    When we got together I was 3 hours away and had a beautiful home, good paying job in a hospital, and he conned me into selling everything and moving in with him, cause he had his home all furnished. (His wife died 10 years ago of cancer). My heart is still broken, I have gone for some counselling and still to this day, can’t understand how he was already involved with another woman and married her so quickly. It is like a slap in my face and I am embarrassed. I keep thinking that she is getting everything that I have been praying for and hoping for a future with him. He told me he will never quit drinking. (Yes, he drinks everyday, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He has been drinking since he has been 14, he is now 54 this year. Will he change for her and why do I still sometimes feel hurt as he is driving around with her and enjoying the toys that we shared. (Oh his new wife smokes and drinks too). I never smoked, I get sick from cigarette smoke and I never drank until I met him then starting drinking red wine, but very rarely. I have not had a drink in 2 years, and I probably will never drink again. I hated it anyways, but did it so we could at least have some type of conversation and life together. That did not last.

    Hurting and don’t know what to do?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Patty,

    Leave the past in the past, and focus on the present as you build your future, a future that hasn’t been possible until now.

    I went through an ending one time that was so painful I was suicidal. However, I am very glad it happenned. Many wonderful and exciting things were able to come into my life, including a great marriage. We will celebrate our 29th anniversay this summer.

  • Diana

    My husband is an alcoholic. He has a pattern to his drinking. He can not take any emotional stress. He blames me for all the problems and states it is our marriage. He is hurtful to our children and now has rejected our daughter LeeAnn and states that she is a user. He works on the road and has promised to quit and refuses now. He is on Zoloft and Xanax for what he says is stress/panic. He drinks beer alot, but when he is really emotionally upset he drinks wiskey or other hard liquor. He has left me for another woman. I have found out that he has been lieing to me for years. He is spinning out of control. He yells at people and is now taking his anger out all of the time. Sometimes he will admit he has a problem with drinking and that he needs help. Then other times he will blame me and others for his problem. We have been married for 16+ years and I do not understand why this vicious circle is getting worse and he does not want to get help. He can be a great man. He states he does not deserve to be happy. He believes and accuses me of terrible things that have never happened. He says I have hurt him and I am not good for him. I have been begging him to get help for his alcoholism and his mental status. I am starting AL Anon and have asked my children to go also. He only works and always cancels trips we have planned. His life only revolves around running away to the next job and drinking. Now he is trying to convince me he does not have a girl friend, that they are only friends, that he is not sleeping with her, that our marriage always goes back to this, that he loves me, that part of him wants to come home, that he does not want to hurt me anymore, but then he takes this woman out to dinner with our friends. I do not get this at all. Why does he hurt himself and our family?

  • Diana

    Amy you are so right. Our relationship in my marriage has only been about my husband. What he wants, when he wants it, how he wants it. I have been afraid to say things so I do not get yelled at. He gets delusional and makes up these things in his mind of what I have said or done even if I did not do anything. He believes it and says I have hurt him. It is like they look for excuses. He has left and come back two other times and now he only wants to leave and run. Why do they not see this is going on. Why do they not want to stay in a loving relationship?

  • Sarah

    Dr. Neill,

    I recently ended a three year relationship due to alcohol. My ex is an MD and even though begging him to go to AA, he would prominse, but it would never happen.

    Our entire relationship has been lie upon lie. He would start arguements just so he could create a break up to go out and get drunk. Then contact me saying he loved me, but never taking the blame or wanting to talk about anything. I have had ro carry him into the house, he has passed out in his car at bar parking lots. He has actually made it home only to pass out in the driveway.

    Making it to work late or with a hang over is nothing new to him. And the associates in the practice cover for him, due to him taking them to happy hours and paying the tab. I don’t know how he has not gotten a DUI as of yet, but he claims he will pay his way out.

    Also, rep dinners with alcohol served. He goes to these dinners, only to stay out with the reps and contune drinking after. This happens two nights a week at a minimum. I know he is going to eventually harm a patient, cause an accident, or hurt himself.

    I would say yes, he is a functioning alcoholic. He has aged so much, just this past year, since his drinking has increased more.

    How can I help him?? How can you help someone that refuses help?? Please advise.

    Thank for your help.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Sarah,

    You can’t help anyone directly who refuses help. The best thing you can do is look after yourself, which it sounds like you are doing. Sometimes that jolts an alcoholic partner into taking a look at himself or herself.

    The other thing is to educate yourself on alcoholism so you can spot the lies, not buy into the blame, and know what not to do that would make things worse. My book is a good source.

    Your husband’s instincts about AA are probably good. A high-profile person such as a doctor runs a big risk in joining groups or going to a treatment center. Groups can’t guarantee privacy, no matter what their policies are.

    If he begins to acknowledge he has a problem, send him to I have a program designed specifically for high-profile people with an alcohol problem, but who require rehab in absolute privacy and can’t take six weeks off work. (medical doctors, judges, CEOs, and others)

    Sarah, I hope this has been of some help. Call me if you need more.

  • Richard I. Diamond

    I want to cite this article or book portion in a legal brief for a federal court in Minnesota. How do I properly cite it? Can you provide me with a CV or Resume for Dr. Neill Neill?

  • James Colmino

    I am a functioning alcoholic to put it simply, but the reasons are tearing me apart. I have never considered suicide, but one thing I have learned over the past few years is everyone is self destructive in there own way. It’s just human nature, Im not trying to justify my addiction, just trying to come to terms with myself. I am a little worried because therapy and group counseling has only made matters worse. Have any advice ?

  • Hi James,

    Your answer lies in the words, “come to terms with myself.” What you may need more than therapy is a professional coach with expertise in both psychology and addiction, someone who can walk you through the process of reinventing yourself as the person you want to be. I have found with alcoholic clients that the alcohol orientation fades away during the re-creation process, and the self-destructive attitude turns to a robust urge to live. The process begins with a decision to live. It’s up to you.


  • Jan

    Wow!! I am so glad I ran across this site, everything here sounds so familiar.

    I have decided to try al-anon, for my own self, & how to deal w/ some of the “situations” or “words” he barks at me. My problem is not being able to find an al-anon support group where I live, ( a small northern Ca. town) I have had Mental Health Nurses, and counselors try as well, we only get a phone # and a recording ?? Is there any site I can go to to find my local al-anon group? Thank you for giving me “another” breath of fresh air, knowing it really is not me.. but him who needs to get real. Also, what is the exact purpose or reason spouses go to al-anon? to learn how to live “better” w/ their alcoholic?, or another underlying reason ?

    Thanks soooo much.

  • Hi Jan,

    Your starting point in finding a local Al-Anon group might be

    The overall purpose of support groups is to help you come to terms with and cope with a difficult situation in your life. A good support group will give you clarity and uplift you. Al-Anon has done that for many. My advice with support groups is to get what you need and move on before the negative stuff takes over. Unfortunately, some support groups, including some Al-Anon groups may try to keep you there through guilt and fear. Always remind yourself that the support group is a temporary measure. You might like to read
    The Support Group Groupie and

    Thrivers, Survivors and People in Recovery

  • Lesley

    My story is just like Sarah’s above. I also have just ended a relationship with a specialist doctor. It nearly destroyed me. He blames me for all of it even though he had this problem decades before I arrived. I felt like I was going insane as he was so irrational and belligerent when drinking. He drank EVERY day until he passed out. I walked out so many times. So many times he made promises to me to change/get help etc. He chose his wine over me countless times – I will never understand how a person can choose alcohol over a human relationship. I tried so hard to help him and gave him all my love and time. The last straw was an international trip we had planned and he left me behind hours before the flight – he was drunk and told me he wasn’t going, but he did go and I heard he had gone when I found out on facebook. He “rewrites” history to suit himself even though I had proof of the sequence of events in text messages. He told me to believe what I want! 2 weeks after we ended, he has already found another woman. I am heartbroken over this, but trying to be happy now knowing I have chosen a life without the chaos and insanity of living with an alcoholic. He was extremely nasty and hurtful when drunk, saying the most unforgivable things – so opposite to when he is sober. He seems to make it to work every day – his colleagues also cover up for him – I have seen nurses do his injections for him as he shakes so badly. It is an open secret in the hospital where he works. He buys people with his over the top gifts. I feel so sad that alcohol split us. What a waste.

  • Matt

    I have been drinking heavily from the age of 15 to 45. I dont quite know why but I love the feeling of oblivion – which I guess is not healthy/normal. I am just about hanging onto my job,but only thru lots of sick leave/excuses etc. To rationalise it I say that at least I do not drink spirits/whiskey, but I am a total slave to beer. Sometimes I get totally scared that there is only a tissue-thin paper wall between my continued life and complete oblviion/ruin. Having started this I suppose I must now get to the point, my father was an alcoholic and he made our lives a misey, I left home at 16 and have never been back. Life as a child involved protecting my mother. Finally, I am utterly exhausted at age 45.Apologies for this ramble, I stumbled across this page at random, it may be years old, but I had to tell someone.

  • Ms. D

    My husband is a functioning alcoholic and a correctional officer who from time to time must be armed with a live weapon to look for escaped inmates. We had a fight last night and he said that he would kill me if I threw out his liquor. He can drink a half gallon in 2 days. He is a walking time bomb. He has had several visits to the doctor for numbness in his hands and arms and chest pains. The EKG found nothing. I am coming out of may co-dependency now but he is putting me through hell. He wants me to take over more bills to pay so he can afford more to drink. He even cheats on his taxes. One of his flasks is now missing. He drinks brandy but he also buys vodka but I never see him drink it. I think he’s drinking during lunch at the prison where he works. I tried to tell his parents but they assaulted me and blamed me for his drinking. When is his “rock bottom” going to come?

  • Dear Ms. D,
    Rock bottom is when there is no one left blame. Clearly, he hates his life. Clearly, he knows that amount of alcohol will kill him eventually. However, as long as he has you there to blame, he has no incentive to change. He probably wants out, but the alcoholic is almost never the one to initiate a divorce; that would be taking responsibility.You say he’s a “walking time bomb,” so remember, there are only two ways out, divorce or one of you dies.

    It’s a somber thought, but you could be at risk.

    Best wishes, Ms D

  • trinn

    I have not seen my husband without a beer in his hand for 14 years. We have not had sex over six years. He is verbally abusive,lazy, has no social contact with others, other than co-workers, everything revolves around his “Day”his video games, and movies. He is one lazy sob! Help me lose this looser…

  • That’s up to you, no one else.

  • Becki


    I’ve lived with a severe alcoholic and I can honestly say that although I’ve bit^&#d for a few years now, this is the first serious attempt I’m making to get myself some support and understanding.

    I read a lot of posts where the person says that their husband/wife/significant other drinks 6 to 12 beers in a night. Mine drinks 1 to 1.5 fifths of hard liquor every day. He owns his own business where he travels. He goes out on the road and drinks beer and sometimes get really drunk there, but not normally. He comes home on Friday and drinks a bottle to a bottle and a half a night through the entire weekend. Drinks all night, sleeps all day and starts over. he only travels one maybe two weeks a month…the rest of the time, he’s drinking at this level. Never just a beer or two…never! How long can he do this? I’ve seen him drink half a gallon of jaegermeister in a night…typically he mixes two bottles of liquor. How is that possible that he’s still alive. I know it’s not long until I wake up and find him on the floor….I watch him die every day. It SUCKS!

  • Nicole

    I have been married for 28 years to a Budweiser drinker. He used to drink 6 twelve oz beers every night beginning at 4pm and ending by 6pm. Now he is up to 5-7 16 oz beers every night. We never go out. We never do anything, yet we have plenty of money for travel, etc. I am considering divorce because I don’t think I can face another 20 years of this, nor do I want to be a caregiver for someone who has destroyed their health. It’s difficult to have raised three children with him and been successful in so many way, to leave, however. So here I am at your site reading similar stories. He thinks it’s my problem, because he says he hasn’t changed, I have in that my tolerance for his lack of participation in life has affected me. Since turning 60, I just don’t want to stay at home going to bed at 8pm every night with someone who is pretty much comotose and cannot remember our conversations. Oh yes, he also is on lifetime medication for gout which he doesn’t think beer drinking caused. Sigh.

  • Hi Dr. Neill,
    Do you think someone is a functioning alcoholic if they drink every night (after 7), only drink wine, and appear tipsy every night (though not belligerent. They just kind of say illogical things and don’t seem to follow a logical thought pattern like they would during the day)? They are very successful at work, but I know they are often lonely in the evenings. They just come home, drink wine, hang out, and go to bed (even though they always talk of wanting to have more of a social life). It bothers me, but I don’t know if it’s a problem.

  • Laurie

    I live with a functioning alcoholic and his mistress, vodka, always gets more attention than I. This alcoholic is very well respected and his game is to intentionally get involved with prestigious volunteer projects to build up “points” to cover his alcohol abuses. He always reschedules trips or activities I want. He’s too important to do what I want, but what it really is, is the need to be near his alcohol. Because he has so many skills he gets away with all manor of psychological abuses and he simply finds another woman when she can’t take it anymore.

    I have noticed that my alcoholic tells people his children are spoiled because he has no relationship with them, but really they are sick of his lies. What I did not see posted here is that one of the very specific character traits of the alcoholic is to beat down (verbally) their partner and children . When they are highly skilled or famous this constant criticism is very insidious because you believe the negative comments which are smoke screens designed to protect them from truth. The alcoholic needs to destroy the truth and that which is good because it is a threat to them. This behavior is specific to the family and children. Therefore the wives and children often do appear crazy or rude or not as wonderful as the alcoholic. That is because not only are they being ignored they are being insulted.

    In the outer world, an alcoholic can get away with anything, esp. if they are famous. I see people fawning all over my functioning alcoholic, spiritual people too. I try to find activities away from him, and then he’ll infiltrate and make himself the star. And it works. There is nothing “normal” about a functioning alcoholic in the home. I tried so hard to love this person. I was naive about the B.S. I thought because I wanted an honest relationship that he did too! Alcohol is the number one love and the lies to keep the addiction going are the foundation that holds that love in place. The family is just a smoke screen to help them look good to their community. I was one of the replacement women too.

    Functioning alcoholics are 1st class liars. You cannot beat them in their own game (as if anyone would want to). They re professional manipulators. That’s how they keep functioning. And there is nothing normal about that. And yes, my partner actually does a lot of good stuff. I have no doubt he’ll always be considered greater than I. But me and all the other wives and children know how hurtful he really is. It is such a bitter medicine to have society support negative behavior as long as the person keeps pumping out creativity or buildings or, or, or. Alcoholism is the opposite of love and health and beauty.

  • Macca63

    Interesting debate.

    Can you acknowledge that people who drink more than the recommended amount may not actually be doing any harm to anyone apart from their own health. Bad as that may be.


  • Sandy

    Thank you Dr. Neill for all of your posts. It is some how comforting to know that so many people are in the same position as I am. I’ve know for years that my husband’s addiction is something that he has to deal with and that I cannot do anything….nothing at all to help him. I certainly tried everything I could to help him and so has my family and many of our friends.

    A year and a half ago we were all extremely excited because my husband decided on his own one day that he was going to get help. My husband met with his employers person who helps people get into rehabs and the man told my husband he needed to move quickly. He said he recently had another employee die who didn’t appear to be in as bad of shape as my husband. He told my husband he thought he wouldn’t make it a year in his condition. My husband is always greasy looking, shaking all the time, obese, his joints are huge from the gout caused by the alcohol.

    He went to rehab with complete and total mindset to stop drinking forever. He loved the feeling of coming back to life after a few weeks, after the detox and shakes. Then he came home and slowly decided that he could drink again. Now his daily life is exactly the same as everyone on this site keeps describing. Drunk from the time he walks through the door from work. Passed out on the couch in front of the TV until he goes to work the next day. Has nothing to talk about, has no desire to do anything but drink, keeps us pretty much broke all the time. He’s disgusting.

    At least a couple times a month, I hear a crash and run to find him passed out on the floor. He comes to, says it’s no big deal, he’s fine and off he goes. Last night he passed out on the kitchen floor flat on his back and was making strange noises and kind of convulsing. I screamed for my daughter to call 911 but I got to the phone first and called. He came to while I was on the phone and said he just chocked on lemonade and he was fine, don’t let them come. I am taking a 3 day trip to a wedding and I am afraid he will be dead when I get back. My being gone will mean to him that he can really live it up with the alcohol.

    I just tell myself it is his choice to die the way he wants to. He obviously hates life. When he was in rehab all the people said they loved to sleep, they drank until they passed out because they love that feeling of sleep. I am working my fanny off to make enough money to get my daughter and myself out of this but it never fails that no matter how much my commissions are, it disappears and we are always broke. About a year ago he found out that his parents have a small fortune and he is the only heir. I feel like I’ve put up with this horrible life of living with an alcoholic for decades and that I should just stick it out but that’s wasting my life.

    I don’t have a special person in my life to share every day with and obviously I am getting older and may never have someone who I can love and get love in return. What a strange dilemma to have. My husband was adopted and his parents believe that his father was full native American. Doctors have told my husband that Native American people have extremely strong kidneys and livers. My husband’s are both fine. This I think makes my husband think that he can continue drinking because it won’t kill him. I told this to his doctor and his doctor told him that there’s plenty of other symptoms that will kill him from the drinking, like his High Blood Pressure, a Heart Attack, a Stroke, Car Accident or even the crippling of the Gout. My husband seems fine with all of that. Thank you again for your site, it’s nice to have a place to write out my problems for the world to see. :) Hopefully some day all of us on here will find people without addiction problems to share our lives with.

  • Heather

    My husband holds a good job and makes a good living. He never drives if he has had even one drink. He does not go out to bars all night or anything like that. He almost never drinks the day before he has to go to work. He is not nasty, mean, or violent. He has a sweet, kind, generous disposition and a good sense of humor.

    However, from Friday afternoon until late Saturday night he drinks beer after beer after beer while puttering around in the yard or around the house. On a typical Saturday this will average around 15-20 beers in 12 hours.

    He considers it a waste of time and money if he can only drink one or two drinks as an accompaniment to food. For instance, a glass of wine with dinner is pointless to him, as is a nice (single) beer with pizza. The point of drinking to him is to “get a good buzz on”, which takes him at least 3 or 4 drinks because of his tolerance. He will not eat dinner on Saturday until he is done drinking because it “ruins the buzz”. Then on Sunday, he is wiped out and spends the day sleeping and watching TV in a darkened room.

    Weekends are the main time that we have available to spend with each other but he is “unavailable”. His body is there, but his brain is not. (Sunday, too– he isn’t drinking but he’s still out of it.) Our son also suffers from lack of “dad time”.

    I do not enable him. I do not hide his drinking from others. I have “detached” according to the concepts of AlAnon. (I had to, in order to maintain sanity.) But “detachment” does not make for an intimate marriage.

    He thinks I am unreasonable to think he has a problem. After all, he says, he earns a good living, doesn’t get into legal trouble, he stays at home, he works around the house while he drinks (albeit inefficiently) and he doesn’t drink every day.

    He exercises a lot to work out the pain of various musculus-skeletal problems. (Exercise is good, but the problems are not.) He is incredibly disorganized at home. He is highly dis-tractable even when he is not drinking. He is a poor listener even when he is not drinking.

    Question 1): I wonder if any of these problems would get better if he stopped drinking?

    and Question 2): Is he an alcoholic or “just” an alcohol abuser?

  • Terry

    My spouse works all day and then the “addiction hour” hits at 6pm and the wine is opened. He rarely speaks, eats dinner and returns to his den and sleeps in his chair. Saying “Good morning and good night” ONLY is fine. NO HASSELS, NO CONFRONTATION. All I have asked is for him to just share some time with me. HE AVOIDS life. Lost a brother to alcohol, 2 others quit entirely, one hit bottom and almost lost everything. I ALMOST moved out last year, and he would have been fine since I wouldn’t expect him to talk or reduce his drinking.

    SOMETHING in the past must be a contributor, but he refuses to open up to the psychologist. He admitted he has a problem. Has tried to quit on his own without success. AVOIDANCE is his way to escape. I travel a lot, not a naggy type wife, full of energy and really won’t ENABLE him. I asked that WE get into counseling. He agreed, but made little effort. I used all the tools I learned but it wasn’t enough. We barely speak to each other now, after 32 years of marriage!

    He has progressed from one bottle to 1 1/2 about 4-7 times a week. Trying to quit on his own is only done when we go on vacation to see family, then he resumes drinking. Once, he also had scotch, when the wine ran out. He was passed out in the bathroom twice. No physical abuse, just the opposite. Shows little interest in speaking at all, stays on computer buried in geneology. Neglects the house and our marriage. Counseling for over a year produced little effort. Stone walling, need for control, emotional distance are his protective bricks to a wall he hides behind. He refuses to disclose any pertinent info to counselor.

    Does he function? He works all day. He can remain on the computer all day and night, drink a bottle of wine, sleep in chair, and yet wake up ‘as usual’ the next day. How functioning is that? I have LOTS of interests and keep quite busy. I refuse his need to burden ME.

    Recently, we celebrated Bastille Day with friends at a restaurant. He had 2 kirs and 2 glasses of red wine. We left because our friends were getting smashed! He remembers all that but forgot there was screaming at me or me telling him to ‘go to the car’, yet he remembered where the car was and how to get home. HE LEFT ME behind. I had no phone, money or ID. He walked past me and got into car and drove off. I borrowed a cell from a stranger and instead of coming to get me, he remembered to find the house. I took the cab. He remembered this the next day. FUNCTIONAL? Guess it depends on one’s definition.From being almost MUTE, refusing to talk it over, making no effort to understand his actions, taking NO RESPONSIBILITY for these actions and then THIS! He apologized and used being hungry as the excuse. To ease HIS guilt, he bought me a cell phone. What is he functioning at?

    After reading this, I will not use the term FUNCTIONING at all. He is ALCOHOL DEPENDENT…period.

    I can’t do any more. He’s really a great guy except for this. Looks like it’s not going to get any better, considering his so-called ‘blackout.’ He just doesn’t care enough ABOUT HIMSELF to overcome HIS dependency on alcohol. Would being HYPNOTIZED work? Leaving him is an option, however, with the economy it is difficult at this time. I’m a strong character and I can just live for ME, in the same house. Not ideal. So, I AM going to LIVE my life to the fullest and if I have to emotionally leave him behind, I will.

  • Vance

    I am a gay, alcoholic male, finding this website fascinating. I’m wondering where all the comments are from men married to alcoholic women. My mom was an alcoholic and in my recovery experience, I don’t find women at all under-represented as addicts. My dad enjoys alcohol, but never made it the career my mother did (she finally succeeded with alcohol only to die of smoking).

    To those of you suffering, please know that the afflicted (the alcoholic) does not want to make the affected (others who care about them) unhappy or otherwise feel pain. We are unbelievably sick if we don’t address our disease – I mean we CAN’T UNDERSTAND. The consequences have to be unbearable, whether that bottom means making someone cry a few times or losing a home, career, health and valued relationships, like I have. The longer you enable the alcoholic or addict, the longer two or more of you will suffer. Support them, until you don’t think you can, but save both of you by drawing a line and don’t move it. Forgive. Support. But you can’t save anyone else until you save yourself first.

    And by the way, people begin the journey to recovery (and that includes codependency) with the First Step. Only then do things get better. The first step may be packing. It may save a marriage and/or a life. A good measure of progress is seeing 10 feet of action for every 1 foot of promises.

    Where are the gay guys with screwed up boyfriends?

  • Nick

    I have drank heavily for 16 years (8-15 beers a night for most of that time), and also considered a functioning alcoholic. I very rarely miss work and am good at what I do. I am blessed with many friends, I help my 3 children with their school work, and find time to play with them. I am a volunteer leader for the local boy scouts and I am doing well on my second year of continued online education. The problem is that I have realized that I am not properly functioning even though life seems good.

    About a year ago, my health began to decline and my wife was unhappy with our relationship. I could not understand how this could be after drinking for so long. I have attempted to quit drinking 4 times over the past year through counseling, outpatient treatment, AA, this time with my wife’s great support for me. Been sober for 62 days, the longest since I began drinking.

    I am very interested in how such a good life and being able to drink as well had come to a collision in my case with my health. I cannot tolerate beer any longer; terrible hangovers, more frequent illnesses, can’t think as clear as before, finding myself slipping on my achievements, etc. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that there is NO SUCH THING AS A FOREVER LASTING FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLIC.

    Best of Luck to everyone. (:

  • Dr. Neill,

    I was in a 29 year (still no final divorce decree in a very complicated divorce) with a man who was really a good man. But, as I look back into his drinking habits in college and even a legal record of DUI’s, I did marry an alcoholic.

    I also have addictive tendencies. These manifest them self in both positive and negative activities. I had an eating disorder; bulimia, from age 14 to 24 which I began as “weight control” after the usual high school college girls binge eating, but I knew was a problem and sought treatment during my engagement to my husband at 23. Therefore, we did have some marriage counseling and took tests identifying both reasons why we might be attracted to each other and personality/possibly chemically genetic personality tendencies which could later become problems if we did not pay attention to our relationship.

    There are also tendencies toward positive addictions for me. That is, I returned to get an architecture and preservation degree after art history undergrad so that’s a workaholic-ism of sorts, ran marathons, have always had periods of great productivity and creativity whenever on task with a project.

    We were married young when I had been hired by a large card company in the urban area where I was from, and my husband had been asked to re-locate to the family ranch in a far very rural southwest Kansas, 400 miles from this city. The ranch where he grew up was not isolated, a mile from the small town, a few from interstate highway, 15 miles from a greater urban area.

    This was not our life, ours was on the high plains. I only realize now after living in town how challenging it was, as I embraced it, learning about the history, culture, people and working within the community. I feel good about what I offered to our marriage as I put 40,000 miles on the car a year to get them to school activities in the small towns 30 miles from where we lived. I did return to architecture school and while not working in an office, so I could also fulfill ranch activities of house maintenance and renovation. I cooked for branding, weaning, entertained business visitors to ranch and friends. My husband had attended a private high school in the city, so I also figured out a way to get my older daughter to high school in Wichita while I worked at an architectural firm. My son, as I had known, went to the private high school in Kansas City as 4th generation rancher to do so and this was paid for by my father-in-law.

    It’s not an environment that particularly respects the contributions of women, nor rewards them in the same manner that an affluent suburban might offer a wife who entered into a marriage where traditional roles were expected with high wage earning head-of-family and wife as support system. While I worked, it was far from building a career and was a choice, for my responsibilities and the distance from town made it far too stressful and volatile personally in our family when I worked away from home. It was clear to me, due to anger and violence, what was the role I had to choose to maintain any stability.

    There was early domestic violence that began when his father was divorcing his second wife of 9 years and prior to our having children. This continued in various forms, though I only recorded the physical violence in book when it was so disturbing that for whatever reason I wrote in a journal. At one point, my parents witnessed a huge tantrum in an urban restaurant when he and my brother-in-law and father had been drinking all day, but they were not alcoholics. He kicked in a door, was verbally abusive to all of us after he returned to the restaurant to threaten my father about what he’d do if I challenged him again. He had been grabbing me sexually in a public area and always felt my body his right, more so when drinking, and I am not a “with-holder”, rationalizing that this is also women’s game playing, though I should have respected my right to say, “no” more often. Instead, I just kept trying to make my husband happy, as I’m a people-pleaser.

    Upon witnessing this, he did crash the car into a sculpture in front of my parents, and drove 400 miles to the ranch drunk and I did not return home. But, after a few days staying with my parents, my father said, “What did you do to provoke him?” And, within my own family, while I was the “good” 2nd daughter who wasn’t rebelling, instead fulfilling the “achievement” dreams of parents (at least mother). I was the youngest and a scapegoat to my own family dysfunction when something happened, I would accept the blame whether it was some “accident” for which I was completely not responsible or precipitating a fight, whatever. I just accepted that somehow I was always responsible.

    So, you can see that this was a pattern in me for which I need to take responsibility to change and I have done this. After my husband’s father died and he assumed responsibilities as 2nd son, but executor and heir, apparent (the “chosen one”), he had great sadness he funneled into managing the estate and taxes. These were filed, but it was very stressful as the tax planning that put all the land and minerals into the hands of the three sons who worked for their father in the cattle business (there were 6 sibling offspring, others got small payouts prior to estate matters), so it involved and still involves probate court which explains, in part, the complicated divorce. This was, of course, inherited without wives as beneficiaries.

    In part, I have to be realistic that after his father’s death, he became his father and my fears about money and “not having a pot to piss in but a roof over my head” in rural America with my children now gone created great angst on my part. He consulted with estate attorneys about disclaiming minerals to the kids (for tax reasons), but also gave up our life insurance. I knew and agreed that it did not make sense for me to own land upon his death, but I did feel I would always be able to someday have a house in town. When we married, he had implied that we would move back to the ranch where he was raised which was very “urban” in proximity to cities and transportation routes. But, as this didn’t later seem feasible or desirable, I was always looking for that 2nd house in town that we both could enjoy on weekends in nearly plains states where it felt stimulating and exotic, something he always loved when he could get away.

    But, after a bad vacation when he was at a Cattleman’s convention, I moved some things from the house and stated that I had to work on myself, and that I could not do this on his family’s land and territory and without support systems. Though I drank minimally as I had to be responsible party when we would socialize in town, I had completely quit drinking. And, though my coping in life had never been drugs or alcohol, I was unable to quit the very stressful job at the architecture firm when my daughter was in high school due to finances. My husband was not wanting to take money from the company and asked his father for money to cover a shortfall that would happen if I just worked in retail, part-time or a less stressful job than that of architectural intern, long hours, especially since I was doing all this 14 years after I had completed the work and had been working residentially (office was commercial).

    The stress was more due to relationship and lack of support than the work. But, I made stupid decision to see a psychiatrist, again thinking that my ever growing anger about issues I could not address that would never change was the problem. And, it was internally and in how it was manifesting itself in tantrums and coping behaviors I would have around my children. My husband was very careful in most ways to hide the very abusive verbal and (at this time minor as children could witness anything physical) mental abuse and regardless, I took all this in so it was my pattern, my responsibility to change, at least the “taking it” and reacting. But, the pharmaceutical drugs given without any real testing or responsible administering for four months gave me a Xanax addiction, which I promptly addressed with checking myself into a rehab that summer after quitting the job and returning home.

    So, I was introduced to 12 step programs and have never since taken any pharmacological mood altering drug after the several years of being somewhat mentally bruised, psychologically crippled in confidence of feeling failure when the “solution” to all the dysfunction was once again “me”. Mother’s crazy, right! :). I wasn’t, I’m being hard on myself, but I am also successful and high achieving, so it did keep me “down on the farm” to get kids through high school and my daughter through college.

    So, after this vacation, essentially “your mother left” which is how my husband will always see it. As these vacations were often unpleasant, (as he drinks and pursues pleasure in a different way that was equally if not less predictable for me in ways of planning leisure/vacation activities, dinner out, his sexual expectations more demanding and at times I felt, demeaning, when trapped in a small hotel room as I didn’t and always avoided any “public” fighting and unpleasantness), I knew after this one when we returned, fighting on the entire drive and me begging upon return home that he not drink, that this evening would be bad and it was.

    I was angry on the drive back due to various “fights” on trip that also involved a friend of ours from high school with whom we did a few things and had dinner. So, when he began drinking, he then started in on me. It culminated in, “You just thought you were going to live down there and he was going to be your boy.” I had never heard this one. I had killed myself returning to grad school in arch., writing a thesis, driving across the state making good money doing preservation consulting when I could find the work, getting the kids through high school, and all of this to maintain a standard that his family set for education and social status in the city from which I was from. Never, ever in my marriage or life was faithfulness an issue. That was a deal breaker. There was a time I was in grad school when I did have a sexually transmitted disease and did question my husband about this as he spent a great deal of this time when I was away with a friend who later had a sex addiction and was killed (“bad boy” friend of “tough cowboy turned cattleman”. But, I let it go, being busy (perhaps too) with my own goals and what I felt I needed to do both for myself for stimulation on the ranch, to bring in income so we might have $ for trips and furniture instead of pressure on him to ask his father for more, and to ultimately get my daughter to an urban high school, thinking and knowing by words of father-in-law that this “might just not get done” for the older female child.

    So, I guess to make a long long long story short, at that point it was over. My husband called lawyer’s to do a post-nup and held the gun to everyone’s head (as was always the pattern and his father did the say when his mother had father evicted from ranch house near town on other ranch, his father promptly files for divorce) to sign it, but this generation of lawyer’s he engaged with did not “work for him” as it had worked with his parents. I couldn’t get free of all of it if I tried, said (to lawyer)he had told me re: his inheritance and land that “you ain’t gettin’ nuthin’” and I said he will get pissed off and any opportunity to reconcile or get counseling will pass. But, they do have to get information to do their job on client’s behalf, so all of this did happen and is still ongoing. We haven’t lived together for two years.

    I do go to Al-anon, but my question is this. I am doing pretty well with individual relationships and somewhat withdrew from my own (primary: father, mother sister) family dysfunction when patterns arose that I did not react and used words differently to to address. As one can imagine, this change in my pattern to just “walking away” or the few chosen words that challenge had its own effect on others who resist change. So, it was worse (in terms of support) before better, but I found God, support systems, and stayed the course, not always handling everything perfectly but forgiving myself when i did not. But, this is now heading in healthier direction and much of that should just improve with love being key. I have my own support systems that are not dependant upon family, but God and others and self and so it is easier to give all that space when needed. This was always hard for me as emotional “fixer” and somewhat of a container for emotional expression in my family who tends to be somewhat “surface” oriented. But, it’s exhausting, controlling on my part, and all I need to be responsible for is myself.

    Here’s the question…my daughter, I feel, is very angry with me and has pretty much cut me off from contact. I also “mother blamed”. I have, I am sure, been abusive emotionally to her by “dumping” or letting her take on more than her share of hearing me analyze, rationalize, etc. And, her father did re-marry (it’s questioned if this is was legal, that’s in court) recently, only telling her in a phone call and requiring that both children not tell me. I have been virtually carved from that landscape and children echo words i heard their father say of his mother “you left” initially (they eventually just got quiet as he does pay some of their expenses) and for a period, stood up to him. But, he does assert very soon who is in control. So, the re-marriage, (while he needed it personally for food, sex, companionship to prop up what I knew was out-of-control drinking both prior to and after I left) was a real “I’ll do what I want to do” act towards his family.

    I had maintained throughout divorce process “what a good man dad was, good father” (and he is, a good husband with workaholic-ism and loving during day but I also suffer same, just don’t drink and nights and living on hi plains are isolated). I said throughout divorce hat this was just dad being dad about money and private (not giving attorneys information), nothing personal, that I felt thankful for my life, and [early on], that I knew what stresses he had. I said I still never gave up on hope that he might re-consider his anger towards me and consider counseling (foolish on my part and not particularly desired, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the hat as I knew I had issues I needed to address and an outside party would help give us both skills and tools in examining our relationship). That is, I tried to most of the time take the high road, though there was a time I lost it at Thanksgiving after a disappointing disrespectful weekend (kids blow me off, I buy them stuff, I don’t make expectations clear, much of this just their age and having their own life, “weaning” them….) when they said to me, “you have to forget about that life, it is over.”

    It angered me that 30 years for them to have their own money, a wonderful upbringing in something different than suburbia which gave them a work ethic, good values, a good enough family to which I’d committed my life and loved that they would erase as it if did not and had not existed. This is just their words, I will not trigger on this again. They just were likely alluding to their knowledge that their Dad had re-married and it was over. I knew it was over, even as I said positive things, and I have a life here (dating, arch, design, yoga, blog and website) but they are unaware of that somewhat, again a kids thing about their concept of parents and their achievements.

    Should I just give my daughter space for quite a while? I do about once a month or so make an offer to her of something fun, be it a movie or in this case, a road trip for birthdays for her to see high school friends, shop, facial. I don’t want a relationship based on giving them money, and I have little to give as whatever I receive will need to last for the rest of my life which could well be 45 years based on my family’s longevity of women. As well, I’m virtually “starting” at 52 in a design field where I am not yet licensed and worked residentially in a down economy. What I will do will have to be on my own and with sweat and marketing, but if I can sell design in hi plains I can do it anywhere, it’s a service. But, I am faced with many challenges and often great fears for myself. That is, I do need to take care of myself first and not overly worry about them.

    I just do not know how or what to do to not completely withdraw and was the relationship with my husband and his mother who (I feel) he never forgave. As they see it, they work, they are breadwinners and all they do is for their families. People in the family also need to work towards making them happy as land and the family legacy is what he has to give. But ultimately, it isn’t a family legacy for wives or even daughters in families. It’s somewhat of a male birthright to manage land, the strongest son, and an internal fight to maintain what little is left over four generations to keep up this identity that is so associated with freedom and the West. idealized….And, it is all his, to control as well as the people on it and under him, both psychologically and through money to keep these people around him.

    It’s a historic paradigm of chattel feudal system, but with 4 generations of alcoholic heads-of-family. My father has two brothers who do not drink, finally quitting with terrible situations of either personal misbehavior or abuse /anger towards another making them “wake up”. I was relieved that he was re-married in the sense that he was cared for, but I could see with the wedding pictures that he had the same ego and “wild boy” look that had attracted me to him in college. I hope he is not manipulating system in divorce process to work this in his favor and make court proceedings more difficult for final “payout” and do hope he had pre-nups as his father had in his two successive marriages after the 24 yr. marriage to his mother.

    They just are high functioning enough to know that even blinded with bourbon and a new woman to relieve stress that land is what is their role to preserve. I told kids his father could get any woman, would never get re-married as he’s cool, as money, and men in this day and age don’t jeopardize their wealth just to (won’t be crude here) have sex, especially post-divorce. But, I forget that he is on the Hi Plains and must do something to get any decent woman out there. Even rural women who dreamed of marrying cowboys eventually suffer with the isolation, so I have to hope that either she will be a love that might somehow change his pattern, that they work well together with their habits/happiness and it’s not my job to worry about anyone’s dysfunction but my own, but I do worry about my children who are adult children of alcoholics.

    You have to understand, the word alcoholic and alcoholism are taboo to discuss both in my family and re: any problems in our marriage. I respect this, many people drink and if it is a problem it’s the problem of the person for whom it is a problem.

    But, I do feel very discarded and at times, that I was the problem as it all seems to be in many ways (from what I am allowed to see) fine totally without me as any part of it. I think it’s actually that we’re all going our separate ways in life, very busy as we are all carrying on the pattern of individualism and focus on work. I just feel very good about most things, can face challenges and fears, but fear that I’m cut out of family is a big one. I dealt with this in my own and it was worse before better, isolation chosen instead of conflict, but this is such a pivotal time in their lives as they choose their life partners or at least date to “practice”. I just am not sure what to do at times. My son is much easier than my daughter. I think she drinks often, may even take some anti-depressants, possibly has (had) her own mood things she has handled much as I did (poorly, acting out, emotionally, not having boundaries…I’m outward while she is more passive-aggressive…my husband repressed but aggressive when drinking but only allowing select others to see very socially unacceptable behavior). I know she needs to handle on her own and will continue to step away. It’s just that when she is so cold and distant, I do get the message. I don’t want her to spend a lifetime somewhat “blaming” me for any decision she might make now that she has to live with for the rest of her life as i did.

    I don’t regret it, we stayed a family, it was mostly good and kept me in the game until it was a time when my children were grown and I could challenge the system so I hopefully can be economically self-sufficient from them. But, their life was really much better when I propped up my husband and “took it on the chin” with just mom to blame for being angry and crazy. They didn’t say this, really, but I felt I was and felt it was unacceptable. And, I really did not model boundaries and did eventually have poor coping systems and equally manipulative ways of serving my needs, was equally abusive verbally. I am changing, but I guess can’t expect them to know that, except for me to act in loving ways, listen. SHUTUP, as you can see her is a problem after venting all this anxiety after 30 years of isolation on the Hi Plains about my life and things I kept to myself.

    What did Cher say, “your children would rather you be suicidal in the back room at home than exuberant and away at work or leading your own life?”

    Any thoughts…? I guess I needed to talk to someone as divorce gets to end, gets dicey, and possibly could still go to trial. This is (and care of myself) actually what should be my focus which is not wanting to “take out” lawyers (pick battle which is across card table from Rancher-Cowboy husband) but get through this final stretch of marathon. I’m sure you’re speechless after all this speech….

  • Serita

    I guess my question is, when is too much, too much? My husband drinks daily. Could be a 5th of cheap vodka (done in 3-5 hours), depending on if he is off that day, could be a 5th plus whatever more he thinks he needs! It really started getting bad in 2008 and has been very steady since.. He refuses to get help! What does a person do? You may say leave! I have 3 children and lost my job last August. I have no money, no car, and really no-one to stay with! He isn’t very friendly anymore and the only time he tries to be friendly is when I am ready to walk! I have become disgusted and what love I use to have is barley lingering! Any suggestions!

  • I am a functional alcoholic. I have a couple of cocktails in the morning, go to work, have more on my lunch break, drink on the way home from work, and then drink right before bed. It is killing me and my body hurts. My boyfriend and I fight all the time. I have tried AA and I hated it…I don’t have insurance for rehab, but even if I did, I have to work and can’t really take time off. I am scared, I want to quit, but don’t know how. I get sick and shaky if I don’t drink :( please any advise would be appreciated

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