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Functional is not a "type" of alcoholic

Old 02-24-2011, 07:09 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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This is an enlightening thread. I have read about so many A's that are just like mine. I always thought of him as functional. And I think it is the lie they tell themselves. And we are too happy to believe if we are in denial. It is what made me feel guilty for all those years when I had such anger and anxiety about his drinking. I kept thinking that I had no right to be upset because he still did everything he was supposed to-until he stopped. Unless they are homeless, drinking out of a brown bag they think they are functional. I saw my husband progress quickly in the last 3 years. His whole personality changed. He had mood swings and became angrier and angrier. I don't think the drinking increased but he was changed. He kept many things hidden from others. He is a good actor. I thought there were many people who did not know that he even drank because he drank mostly at home. I have been surprised since we separated on how many folks have said that they suspected he was a drinker because of his personality and behaviors.
So now we are separated and he has pushed most of the people in his life away including his children. He goes to work most of the time and takes care of himself as far as cooking and laundry and paying bills. He is "happy". He has no responsibilities and is not accountable to anyone else. That is how he wants it. He still thinks he is functioning. He still looks like he is functioning. But as a husband, a father, a friend- he is broken.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:33 AM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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"Functional" is a stage - for the alcoholic, and in my case it was trying to accept that the alcohol was a bigger problem than I wanted to admit to myself.

I will say, he always looked functional on the outside, but as soon as he felt "safe" enough with me to let his walls down, I realized that XABF was a nervous wreck and "wired for sound" (as he put it) 100% of the time.

It reminded me of when I was learning to drive, the car I learned in had a "handle" above the glove compartment, and my mother was always gripping that as tight as she could, until her knuckles turned white as a ghost, as soon as I turned the key in the ignition, before I even took it out of park.

XABF went through life like that, clinging on for dear life, white knuckled, terrorized - without any logical reason, and only the alcohol to agree with his terror.

What a sad, lonely, draining way to live. This was his "functional."
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:42 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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In a professional medical sense it could be used as a stage i guess?!

My mother, who is retired now, used to teach special needs adults with the primary purpose of enabling them to lead full and functional lives. A vast proportion of them ended up with their own home, a partner to share life with, a full time job, friends etc...they are functional adults even with their "disabilities".

I can't help but find it funny when an alcoholic/adult labels themselves "functional" as if it something to be proud of...the average IQ of my mother's "pupils" was around the 70 mark, for them it is a real achievement to be able to live functional adult lives...for an adult of average IQ and ability, even with addition issues, personally i don't find it at all impressive but everyone's got their own opinion on this one and that's ok...

Using the word functional is just another string to the bow of the addicts/co-dependents denial:-)
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:41 AM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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For me, functioning while I still drank was "Having my cake and eating it too." As long as I maintained the fašade of normalcy, I could continue to drink and fool myself that everything was okay. Once the facade broke, down the slippery slope I fell. I could have still drank. Most alcoholics do. I had a choice, I picked recovery.

Blessed to be a functioning sober person.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:37 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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*loves the title of this thread*

the title alone is food for thought.

great thread!
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:41 PM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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Yeah. I always thought is as a type versus a stage.
Could it be hypothesized that it's the longest and most destructive stage because the Alcoholic goes about life without noticeable impact on them or those around them? I'm not suggesting that they're this cognitive while active.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:41 PM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Yeah, mine was "functioning" quite well and was very successful until he freaked out completely this last year and lost his clients and his whole job, basically. It's like, everything is fine, until one day, it just isn't anymore. Took my AH 20 years of serious drinking for that to happen.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:57 PM
  # 28 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by doggonecarl View Post
For me, functioning while I still drank was "Having my cake and eating it too." As long as I maintained the fašade of normalcy, I could continue to drink and fool myself that everything was okay. Once the facade broke, down the slippery slope I fell. I could have still drank. Most alcoholics do. I had a choice, I picked recovery.

Blessed to be a functioning sober person.
I guess after pondering this thread for a while - that I agree here with Doggonecarl - based on what I experienced with my RAH. He told me once he was a fraud, and I believe he meant the facade was cracking and he was panicking. As long as he was "functioning"; he could believe his drinking was not a problem. But the denial to the no-longer-functioning part was hard to watch, as is the denial now that it got as bad as it did, because he can always find someone whose life was far worse than his.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:25 PM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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Thanks. I needed this thread today.
It has been hard to get out of my own denial. Even today.

I have heard of so many guys that appear normal and drink way too much. No one calls them alcoholics but "party guys". They are 28-32. I though "party guy" was for the ones still in university?

I read an interesting article in the New york times about this topic.. let me see if I can find it...
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