My Husband is a High Functioning Alcoholic

Reader’s Question:

My husband is an alcoholic. I’m not sure if this type of issue is in your wheelhouse. Sometimes he makes me believe that he knows there is an issue. Other times, he makes me think I am crazy and overreacting. He goes to work every day and comes home every night, but he is always drinking, even at work. I have tried to talk to him about it and have even consulted with a doctor and other family members. We are concerned. This is starting to affect our marriage and it is a terrible example for our children. I am ready to walk away. Do you have any advice on how to help him with his addiction?

I am not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice – which is needed -, but I can give you some advice about your relationship. I will also give you some motivation to help your husband, now!

You are not crazy. You are not overreacting. Your husband is a high functioning alcoholic. Your husband needs help!

The fact that he can keep a job and doesn’t black-out behind the bar doesn’t make his problem less vital to deal with…because his addiction could easily lead him down that road. I’m surprised his employer hasn’t caught on yet or doesn’t care.

When someone has a problem, such as an addiction to alcohol, they tend to be defensive and blame others. By saying you are crazy and overreacting, he is trying to take the attention off himself. 

The sad truth is that most people don’t change, they just become more of who they already are. Unless he truly wants to change, he won’t, and you can’t make him. No one can.

You have some tough choices to make. If your husband refuses to work on his drinking habits, then take steps to reduce potential harms to yourself and your family. This could very well mean leaving him and taking the kids with you. 

You must protect yourself and your family physically, emotionally/psychologically, and financially. You will need support to handle this situation, just as he does. It is good that you have already begun to reach out to those around you.

Your first step should be knowledge gathering. Learn, learn, learn. Use the internet and read about living with a high functioning alcoholic husband. Makes sure you are not reading some high-end rehab’s business website. Look for academic, medical, non-profit, and government resources. There is a ton of information out there for you. Read about the various resources and treatments you can utilize to help. 

Once you feel comfortable with your options moving forward, talk to your doctor, again. The combination of your research and your physician’s opinion should give you the ability to make a plan. 

I want to be clear. This is a medical issue and should be treated as such. You must involve medical professionals. You have tried honest communication with your husband and he has not taken your concerns seriously. 

Learn what has worked best for others and do everything you can to help your husband. He needs you now, very much. Unless he is harming you or your kids then leave the piece of shit. Otherwise, do your best to love him by helping him. 

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