Having a partner struggle with substance abuse doesn’t just impact their life, but yours as well. Maybe your husband’s managing to hold down a job, but seems to be constantly drinking or always smells of alcohol. When is it time to get your loved one help? Here’s a few signs to look out for that could mean your partner is a functioning alcoholic and they need addiction treatment.
What is a Functioning Alcoholic?
A “functioning” alcoholic refers to a person that can actively still function in everyday life while still excessively drinking. This includes managing to go to work, supporting a family, having relationships all while heavily drinking almost everyday.
A functioning alcoholic might think they’re fine, but the truth is they’re using alcohol to cope with trauma or mental health issues. Sooner or later, functioning turns into non-functioning, so it’s important to seek residential alcohol addiction treatment before they’ve hit rock bottom.
Secrecy & Drinking Alone
One of the first signs that someone’s struggling with substance abuse and alcoholism is drinking alone. Does your husband or partner drink by themselves after work everyday or maybe they even drink during the day? Drinking alone is a sign that they are using alcohol to “numb” themselves from an underlying issue.
Keep in mind that you may not know if they are drinking alone or to what extent. They could be drinking at night after you’ve gone to bed. Alcoholism is a disease that often comes with secrecy as a side effect. Your partner could be struggling with depression or anxiety and drinking alone is a definite sign they may have a problem. This is called co-occurring disorders and can be treated in a dual diagnosis program. If someone feels they need to hide the fact that they are drinking or the extent of their consumption, especially from their loved ones, it’s an issue — even if they seem to be functioning in life.
Finding Excuses to Drink
Does your spouse find any excuse to drink? “I’m stressed, so I need a drink,” or, “I’ve had such a hard day I need a drink,” are phrases you may hear often from a partner struggling with alcoholism. Saying these excuses to preface their drinking as if to receive validation in their excuse, means that on some level, subconsciously or not, they know they have a problem. Your partner may have even convinced you that these excuses are valid, when in fact they’re a sign someone needs help.
Dependency on Alcohol
Another sign your husband or loved one is a functioning alcoholic is if they can’t “function” without drinking. As ironic as it sounds, a functioning alcoholic builds such a strong dependence on alcohol, that when they start sobering up, their body begins the withdrawal process. Your loved one might start showing symptoms such as tremors, shakes, or mood swings. Withdrawals make it extremely difficult to function, so your loved one may start drinking just so they can start their day.
What to Do When Your Husband Is a Functioning Alcoholic
Living with a high-functioning alcoholic can be difficult. After all, it’s not easy to tell someone, “I think my husband is a functioning alcoholic.” A spouse who is married to a high-functioning alcoholic often feels alone and isolated. However, you do have choices, and help is available.
When it comes to what to do when you’re married to a high-functioning alcoholic, the first step is to take care of yourself. Once you have the thought, “My husband is a functioning alcoholic,” it’s important to realize you cannot change someone else no matter how much you love them. Consider seeing a therapist or joining a support group like Al-Anon to learn more about how to recover from addiction.
The second step is to avoid enabling him. When you are living with a high-functioning alcoholic, it is tempting to make excuses for them, call in sick for them when they have a hangover, bail them out of jail, or bring home liquor at their request.
You may be trying to keep the peace, but these actions are actually making it easier for your husband to continue drinking.
Confrontation is the next logical step. It is difficult to know what to do when your husband is a functioning alcoholic, but empty threats and compromises won’t improve the situation.
Understand your own boundaries and stick to them. If you say, “I’m leaving if you don’t get treatment,” then be prepared to follow through. If he is open to treatment, the two of you can discuss different addiction treatment types and their benefits.
What Are the 3 Types of Alcoholics?
Many people would not understand what you meant if you told them, “My husband is a functioning alcoholic.” There is a stereotype that assumes all people struggling with addiction are so constantly inebriated they can’t function.
Three main types of alcoholism are typically recognized. In addition to functional alcoholism, there is also familial alcoholism and chronic/severe alcoholism.
Familial alcoholism refers to people who began drinking at a younger age and likely have family members who also abuse alcohol or other substances.
Chronic/severe alcoholism refers to people who have been drinking heavily for many years and are at risk of acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome if they stop drinking cold turkey.
What Is the CAGE Test for Alcoholism?
If you told a therapist, “My husband is an alcohol abuser,” they might suggest using the CAGE questionnaire as a screening test for alcoholism.
It is a simple verbal test that asks questions related to: cutting down (C), annoyance (A), guilt (G), and eye-openers (E). Reading the CAGE test can give you answers regarding the question, “Is my husband a functioning alcoholic?”
How Do You Evaluate an Alcoholic?
If you’re wondering, “Is my husband an alcoholic?” you must have reasons to suspect that he is. There are many signs and symptoms of an alcoholic as well as self-evaluation tests that can help you understand the disease. An official diagnosis requires the input of a trained mental health addiction specialist.
Seeking Residential Addiction Treatment for Alcoholism
The bottom line is, if your spouse or partner’s drinking is causing issues in both your lives, it’s time to help them seek residential addiction treatment. Acqua Recovery will help your loved one renew themselves and rediscover their life without alcohol. Don’t let these signs of being a functioning alcoholic go unnoticed. We’ll help your spouse find their path to recovery and a better life for both of you. If your spouse is showing signs of substance abuse, reach out to our caring admissions — Matt, Brian, or Ashlee — team today.