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Are You In a Relationship With a Functioning Alcoholic?

What is it like to live with a functioning alcoholic?

 

If you are in a relationship or are married to a functioning alcoholic, you are no doubt living a stressful life. If you believe you are in a relationship with an alcoholic then you are no doubt feeling the following:

Constantly anxious about their behaviour when under the influence

Worried about how alcohol is affecting their mental and physical health

Worried that they may cause themselves harm or death through getting into fights or driving under the influence

Anxious about them losing their jobs or entering financial ruin due to risks taken (gambling) when drunk

Angry and resentful that you have to pick up their pieces constantly (e.g. missed appointments, constant worry from children, paying their bills or phoning in sick for them)

Tired and exhausted from begging them to realise the present and potential consequences of their alcoholism

Lack of sleep due to always waiting up for them to come home

Embarrassment and shame from their behaviour when drunk in front of your children, friends and family

Feelings of isolation as you have swapped your real partner  (before alcoholism started) and social life for dealing with what their alcoholism brings

Why would someone stay with a functioning alcoholic

 

If you can relate to most of those feelings stated above, you are obviously now realising that your partners drinking has made, and is going to continue making your life very un-enjoyable and un-manageable. It will be one of the hardest decisions of your life choosing to stay with or leave someone you love because they are entangled in a life of alcoholism, but there are ways to help with both decisions. Let us first start to consider why some people stay with someone whose life is consumed by alcoholism:

Guilt and fear of their partner self-harming or committing suicide because you have left them

Guilt and fear that you have given up on them or you could of helped them realise their problem

Guilt and fear that they will cause themselves accidental harm through their alcoholism (e.g fights, falling , driving under the influence)

You are concerned about your finances as they may make the household income

Fear of being alone and not needed

Feeling guilty for separating your children with their parent

Pressures from others to keep at your relationship

Believing that “if I just do this one last thing” things will change

Religious constraints

Feelings of low self-esteem such as thinking you are incapable of living by yourself and making money

Anxious about people gossiping due to your break-up

What you can do to help a functioning alcoholic

You are responsible for no-one but yourself and you cannot control another’s behaviour. If you have become exhausted and tried most of these specific efforts stated below, it is time for you to move on and start enjoying your own life:

Encouraged your partner to go to their local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (no excuses as there are more than 2 million members in 150 countries around the world)

Engaged in lengthy persuasive conversations about their alcoholism (most importantly, when they are sober)

Encouraged them to enter a private residential or free rehabilitation centre

Organized a professional intervention with your family, this includes gathering evidence and persausive letters to the alcoholic. Organizing an intervention yourself is also possible

Refused on all occasions to help your partner obtain alcohol by either giving them car lifts to bars, shops, giving them money to buy alcohol, letting them drink alcohol in your house or picking them up and taking them home after they have been drinking

Refused on all occasions to help your partner out when they get into trouble due to their alcohol issues as doing so will never help them realise the consequences of their drinking habits (e.g. phoning their work place to say they are ill, cleaning up their mess, driving them somewhere as they are over the limit.

If you can relate to any of the above, you may be enabling someone to continue drinking alcoholically. When you enable someone, you are essentially saying “I think it’s OK that you drink”. It is vital for your own well-being and that of the person suffering from alcoholism that you do not make their drinking easier for them.

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