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).

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers
Every year Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment helps thousands of adults and teens get their life back on track and gives renewed hope to those who care about them. With 50 years of treatment experience, our specialists take the time to understand of the specific needs of each individual. We then develop a customized treatment plan with recommendations for the most appropriate care based on an individual's substance abuse and mental health history. As the largest provider of alcohol and drug abuse treatment in Illinois, Gateway has 11 treatment centers throughout the state. Gateway outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs are not one-size fits all, but unique treatment plans that give an individual the highest chance for a successful outcome. With insurance acceptance and a track record of success, Gateway Treatment Centers help thousands of individual’s successfully complete treatment each year, and find the hope they need to live again.

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