Concerned Your Spouse is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is someone who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with his or her alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully, but the question becomes, how well are they handling their role of spouse, parent, driver, financial manager or community volunteer while under the influence?

It’s important for someone who is a functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks for them may be just as serious as they are for someone who has a more obvious addiction to alcohol.

Take the Alcoholism Test created by Dr. Neill Neill, Ph.D., R.Psych., Author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide. Dr. Neill’s Alcoholism Test is designed for anyone who suspects their partner may be a functioning alcoholic.

Alcoholism Test

1. Your spouse sometimes admits to a drinking problem; quipped about being a functioning alcoholic.

Key Insight: Intuition is usually right.

2. Your spouse has lost days at work or school because of drinking. He/she has gotten into fights when drinking and lost friends due to drinking. There has been a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Key Insight: These and many other negative things begin to happen when the alcohol consumption has become a compulsion. What counts is not an isolated incident, but whether there is a pattern of such events.

3. Your spouse says he/she needs alcohol to reduce tension or stress, and a drink helps in building self-confidence.

Key Insight: Many high-functioning alcoholics have low self-esteem. The real issue is whether or not your partner has become dependent on the alcohol to overcome another mental health problem, low self-esteem.

4. Your partner often has a drink in the morning. Sometimes you find your spouse drinking alone or he/she gets drunk without meaning to. Your partner forgets what he/she did or said during the previous evening of drinking.

Key Insight: The first three statements suggest that drinking has become a compulsion and is suggestive of addictive drinking. The last item describes alcoholic blackout, again characteristic of longer-term alcohol abuse.

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

Key Insight: Denial is the major line of defense for most problem drinkers.

6. You often worry about your partner’s drinking and lose sleep over it. You make threats that you don’t follow through on. You sometimes make excuses or cover for your spouse when he/she has been drinking.

Key Insight: Your partner may well be a functioning alcoholic, but you have become codependent. All of these behaviors do more to support his alcoholism than to remedy it.

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. The Alcohol Test exercise may help you see more clearly what your unique situation really is. If you have questions about your spouse’s drinking, Gateway Foundation has the answers you need. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Gateway Foundation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Learn the signs of substance use and misuse to help recognize the problem, so you can encourage your loved one to seek treatment and recovery support services.

Physical Signs

  • Bloodshot eyes or pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appeitie or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance or personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on the breath, body or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech or impaired coordination

Behavioral Signs

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts and hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)

Psychological Signs

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity
  • Agitation or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Appearing lethargic
  • Appearing fearful, anxious or paranoid with no reason

If you are concerned about someone who may be abusing alcohol or drugs, Gateway Foundation can help. Contact Gateway to arrange a free and confidential consultation at 877-505- HOPE (4673) or learn more about Gateway Foundation at Renew hope today.

What is Moderate Drinking?

The USDA defines moderate drinking as:

  • Up to two drinks per day for men
  • Up to one drink per day for women.

It’s important to note that alcohol effects each person differently based on factors that can include weight, general health and family health history. Even within the USDA moderate drinking definition, abuse can occur if alcohol is consumed too quickly or if other underlying issues exist. Men and women should know the USDA guidelines and consume moderate amounts of alcohol. A standard drink is roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:standard drink

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

Quick Facts about Alcohol:

  • One drink can make you fail a breath test. In some states, people under age 21 can lose their driver’s license, be subject to a heavy fine or have their car permanently taken away.
  • Alcohol is a drug. Mixing it with any other drug can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol and acetaminophen—a common ingredient in OTC pain and fever reducers—can damage your liver. Alcohol mixed with other drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, fainting, heart problems and difficulty breathing. Mixing alcohol and drugs also can lead to coma and death.
  • Alcohol is a depressant, or downer, because it reduces brain activity. If you are depressed before you start drinking, alcohol can make you feel worse.
  • Beer and wine are not “safer” than liquor. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half-cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcohol can make you drunk and cause you problems no matter how you consume it.

Underage Drinking Above Average in Illinois

teen drinkingWith holiday break around the corner and celebration plans underway, Gateway Foundation cautions parents that underage drinking is a common concern, according to a new report issued by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In fact, the proportion of minors who consume alcohol here in Illinois is higher than the national average.

Combined 2008 to 2010 data indicate that 28.2% of Illinois residents aged 12 to 20 drank in the past month, which is more than the countrywide average of 26.6% of underage drinkers who consumed alcohol in the past month. Furthermore, 8.52% of minors in Illinois are purchasing alcoholic beverages themselves.

“Alcohol use by minors is a serious public health issue that jeopardizes the health, potential and safety of our nation’s youth, families and communities. Underage drinking also puts young people at a higher risk for developing alcohol dependence and mental health issues,” says Gateway Foundation Clinical Director Dr. Phil Welches.

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among adults aged 18 or older who first tried alcohol at age 14 or younger, 16.2% were classified with alcohol dependence or abuse, which was considerably higher than the 3.8% of adults who had first used alcohol at age 18 or older.

Children who learn the facts and dangers from their parents about illegal drug use and underage drinking are up to 50% less likely to engage in substance abuse than those who do not. Research shows that when parents talk openly about the dangers of taking drugs and drinking with their children, teens have better self-control and develop more negative perceptions of these risky behaviors.

For tips on talking to teens about substance abuse, click here.

Gateway Foundation Talks to Teens About Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Gateway Foundation, Substance Abuse Treatment, Drug Treatment

Gateway Foundation Outreach Coordinator Becky Thompson and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White

Becky Thompson, Outreach Coordinator at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, joined high school students to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse at Schaumburg High School’s “First Music and Dance Festival” on Nov. 10, 2012. Guest speaker Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White kicked off the event. The dance also was attended by students from Hoffman Estates High School and Conant High School.

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