Are You Dating a Functional Alcoholic?
Before defining what a functional alcoholic is, it’s vital to understand the impact of alcoholism on the lives it touches. A functional alcoholic can drive a marriage to its breaking point, spiral a life into chaos, or ruin a career. Even though functional alcoholics’ lives seem to be together, the harm can happen fast or gradually.
Even though functional alcoholism might appear doable short-term, and long-term, it’s unsustainable. Furthermore, it’s also unsustainable to be in a relationship with a high-functioning alcoholic who doesn’t address their addiction and check into an alcohol and drug addiction rehab center. Often, husbands and wives are the sole parties aware of their spouse’s alcohol problems.
The functional alcoholic can function at social events but is not able to hide it from their spouse. For example, the spouse might see the partner drinking secretly or discover the emotional side effects of alcoholism. It’s possible that the spouse can become emotionally abusive or distant too.
Every individual who loves someone with addiction faces difficult decisions when figuring out how to help. It seems selfish to distance yourself from your partner, but you have to look out for yourself before helping them. As the saying goes, “Put on your oxygen mask first.”
Jump to Section
What Is a Functional Alcoholic?
A functional alcoholic is an individual who seems to be living a normal life but has an alcohol addiction. These types of individuals hold down stable jobs and have strong ties with their family, friends, and community. However, they are dependent or addicted to alcohol.
When a person’s dating a functional alcoholic, they might not be drunk, but they can’t go a day without alcohol. A huge part of a functional alcoholic dialogue is denial. So, attempting to ask them if they have an issue with alcohol might be pointless.
High-functioning alcoholics might seem to have it going well, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t facing business and personal problems. Being in a relationship with a high-functioning alcoholic can cause emotional and serious psychological damage. It’s difficult to identify a high-functional alcoholic due to their view on the subject matter.
Functional alcoholics feel if the world doesn’t see that they have a problem, then it doesn’t exist. In layman’s terms, if they’re happy, successful, and doing well financially, then they are fine. Know that you’ll be the one to make a move for them to check in addiction treatment center near Chicago IL. The functioning alcoholics find it challenging to admit they have an issue, so below are signs to determine if they are one.
Signs to Determine if Your Loved One is a Functional Addict
When a person is in a relationship with a high-functional alcoholic, numerous common things might be experienced frequently.
- Having four to five drinks in every sitting per hour daily.
- Intense mood swings in their personality between drinking and not drinking.
- Putting limits on themselves and then failing to adhere to them.
- Prioritizing drinking over various aspects of their life.
- Having comments and rumors about their drinking.
- Breaking personal commitment because of their drinking habits.
- Aggressive mood changes while drinking.
- Partying too hard in social situations.
- Frequently blacking out.
More Signs to Look For if You Are Dating a Functional Addict
- If you’re dating a functional alcoholic, they might ask you to cover for them when they have gotten drunk. They might ask you to call their job and tell them they’re sick and can’t come in.
- Another sign that you’re dating a functional alcoholic is they might ask you if they can borrow some money. This is due to them blowing all of their money on alcohol.
- They might have to engage in at least three drinks per day.
- If you’re dating a functional addict, they might forget their commitments due to the drinking.
- Even though they love being social, they do their serious drinking intake alone so they can hide the actual amount.
- Functional alcoholics are tense and temperamental due to the after-effects of liquor and having to hide the need to drink.
- When you ask or make a comment to cut back on drinking, they’ll accuse you of trying to control them. They might say you’re the one with the problem or that it’s “just a beer or two, no big deal.”
How to Identify a High-Functioning Alcoholic
For example, they might impose limits on their drinking by saying the following things. “I’m only drinking beer tonight,” or “I only drink on weeknights.” These kinds of limitations help prevent binge drinking or prevent abuse. However, it could be an attempt for someone to convince themselves that they’re in control of their drinking.
High-functioning alcoholism often emerges when an individual helps to enable another person. For example, the alcoholic might chronically borrow money from a loved one or friend to cover their habit. Or the functional alcoholic might constantly make excuses for not being somewhere.
They could continuously need rides to and from places or even have to bail out of jail. High-functioning alcoholics are typically only a step away from full-blown dysfunction. Therefore, it’s usually the assistance of another person that keeps them afloat.
When individuals do this, it acts as one of the universal signs of a drinking issue. If a person is continuously leaning on alcohol in an attempt to ease stress, they could have a serious problem. Since alcohol is a depressant, the individual is essentially using it to dull the senses. If it starts as a couple of drinks a night to take the edge off could start as a serious alcohol dependency.
This sign is likely the hardest to notice. While in social settings, the high-functioning alcoholics could be social and outgoing, behind closed doors, they want to be alone and drink. When alcoholics aren’t engaged in their “social responsibilities,” they might spend their time at a bar or home. A high-functioning alcoholic might precisely prohibit individuals from being in their homes. This is because they don’t want to have their drinking habits exposed to the world.
Whether it’s a small office get-together or a night out, this person will use any excuse or occasion to drink. At first, the drinking starts as an addition to any social situation, and transitions into drinking for any situation. Some individuals might view alcoholism as drinking too much in general, but it can start with moderate drinking at inappropriate times.
For many individuals, drinking means moderating feelings and emotions to avoid negative ones. When it comes to high-functioning alcoholics, might be intoxicated one time and sober the next. This is the result of a split personality, where a person is either up or down. Compared to a roller coaster, this type of emotional management can take a toll in the long run. Gradually, the lows and highs can become more noticeable.
High-functional alcoholics appear to have things together when intoxicated but once the substance begins to wear off, withdrawal symptoms arrive. The individuals find themselves undergoing withdrawal symptoms such as increased irritability, tiredness, and anxiety. Withdrawal can be disagreeable and disturbing enough that hostility and anxiety occur.
What You Shouldn’t Do If You’re Dating A Functional Alcoholic
When a person is dating a functional alcoholic that they care for, they’re going to want to get them help. It’s natural to attempt to try and smooth things over for them, but it’s important to be careful. The individual mustn’t do the following things when confronting a functional alcoholic.
The below only serves to enable the functional alcoholic more:
Don’t make up stories about why they aren’t able to attend the event you both were supposed to attend. No quote such as, “Oh, he’s not feeling well,” when he’s drunk. When dating a functional alcoholic and there’s an attempt to cover for them, you’ve now become a partner in crime.
Do not pay for the consequences of their intoxicated behavior. So, don’t bail them out of jail, pick up the bar tab they’re unable to cover or pay their traffic violations. This might seem harsh, but you must take strict measures when with a functional alcoholic.
Ask yourself, if your partner vomits often due to excessive drinking? If so, it would be a good goal to make them clean it up once they get sober.
No devious implications about their drinking addiction, especially when you’re dating a functional alcoholic. So, passive-aggressive comments won’t make them suddenly deal with their issues. It’s key that you stay fully honest in the relationship, so if they are hurting you, say so directly.
What You Should Do If You’re Dating A Functional Alcoholic
When an individual is dating a functional alcoholic, several things can be done. The first beneficial step would be discovering a support group. For example, contacting the local chapter of AA to specifically find a group for partners of functional alcoholics is key.
Before you speak to your partner, rehearse what you are going to say. During this step, let your words come from a supportive and loving place, instead of a judgemental and accusing one. It’s paramount to be careful when dating a functional alcoholic. Since they can become heavily defensive.
Be honest and keep things short and simple. The conversation that you choose to have centered around alcoholism and relationships should remain on the subject. So, the main points are: you’re hurting, the relationship is suffering, and how to help the addiction?
Reach out to a professional interventionist. There are individuals trained in organizing an intervention. An intervention is when the loved ones that are affected and concerned sit down to discuss and express their worries. During this step, a plan of action is offered to the alcoholic. It might seem like a strict measure, but don’t wait until the addiction wrecks havoc on all the lives involved.
Lastly, remember to honor yourself. For example, some partners get caught up in the disease that is addiction, therefore becoming co-dependent. In these situations, it’s natural to place yourself in the therapist or gatekeeper role, that you shouldn’t be at.
During codependency, the partner might begin to neglect their happiness because they are so concerned about their partner. When a person is dating a functional alcoholic, they must take care of their happiness and health. Also, if the partner has refused to seek help, it’s imperative to take an insightful look at the relationship’s future.
Alcoholism and Relationships Are Healed in Northern Illinois
It’s important to find a quality rehab center that specializes in alcohol dependency. Our therapists are considered master-level experts and fully licensed. Through our customized approach for our patients, each person will receive personalized care. Let’s get started.