Guest Submission From: Debbie
I saw two others like me who question whether alcohol was the only problem–others like me seem to have a more functioning alcoholic they were dealing with and I am still I guess trying for my “what happened” as I did not see the extremes that others have posted. Is there a way to address those with “functioning alcoholics and their behavior” because there seems to be a world of difference from my point of view anyway.
Appreciate any suggestions.
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JC: Thanks for sharing with us Debbie. AA says that alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. I’ve known several functioning alcoholics, one of which was a close relative.
Functioning Alcoholic #1
He was a successful self-employed businessman. His normal routine was to awaken in the morning, read the newspaper, watch the stock reports while drinking coffee and then off to work he would go around 10:30. At noon he would go to the Elks club and have a few drinks during lunch. He would then return to his business that was less than five minutes away from his favorite drinking hole. He would work for about three to four more hours and then go back to the Elks Lodge for more mixed drinks.
He would then return home, eat dinner alone and watch TV in his recliner as he drifted in and out of sleep (usually with a mixed drink on the coffee table) until it was bedtime. Even though he seemed to be functional, there were times when he was extremely unreasonable and hard to associate with due to drunken behavior. He was not a violent man and had a very tender heart. He was just difficult to associate with when he had a lot of alcohol in his system. In the forty years that I knew him, he never got a DUI. I was sometimes amazed that he was able to actually drive. I suppose he knew all the back roads where the police rarely hung out.
His wife was a regular participant in the AA program and often said that he was a good man in spite of his drinking problem. She often shared how grateful she was because he was such a wonderful provider. She had never had to work a day in her life. She also said that her family had always been cared for by the functioning alcoholic. Even though she spent many nights married to a functioning alcoholic she still felt as though she was alone (without an intimate connection) in the marriage because of his drunken state.
He also had children who he was NEVER very close to. He would spend time with them, but it was never quality time. Their interactions usually surrounded the TV and centered on watching football while he was getting drunk on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Functioning Alcoholic #2
Now, I also was close friends with a functioning alcoholic who was the extreme opposite. He eventually committed suicide. My friend held down a forty hour a week job. He was the kind of person who would help his friends out without reservation when asked. On the dysfunctional side of his behavior, he suffered from low self-esteem and overindulgence in substance abuse.
When the weekend rolled around, he always partied to the extreme by getting drunk and then needing cocaine to lift him out of his drunken state. Once Sunday was over, he went back to being a hard-working man all week.
Oftentimes, while being intoxicated, he would get into extreme verbal arguments with people that sometimes would end in physical fights. Usually the people he fought with were either putting him down, treating him as being worthless or cheating on him (as was the case for many years with his user girlfriend). I saw so many of his party friends take advantage of his good nature and use him for his money, and the drugs that he would buy.
The thing is that people he associated with at work had no idea that he was such a party animal because of his wonderful work ethics.
Functioning Alcoholic #3
I also knew someone who I considered an abusive alcoholic. Only the people closest to her knew how critical, unreasonable and unpredictably mean she could be. She too was a functioning alcoholic with a very dysfunctional personality that was deceitfully hidden underneath the surface. She had no problem with work ethics at all. In fact, she appeared to be a workaholic at times. The sad part of her story is that her drinking and drugging created such turmoil in her family relations and friendships outside work.
In all of these stories about functioning alcoholics and their behavior, the one thing they all have in common are dysfunctional relationships. It doesn’t matter if an alcoholic is functional or dysfunctional, their addictive behaviors always have negative affects on the people they are closest to. One may not have issues with anger, but they may be so addicted to the alcohol that they leave their alcoholic spouse longing for intimacy.
What is your relationship like with the person addicted to alcohol?
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