Functional Alcoholic

Old 01-05-2005, 03:09 AM
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Functional Alcoholic

How would you describe a "Functional" Alcoholic?
Old 01-05-2005, 06:02 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Colorado Springs
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I looked it up on Google and went to a web site

The phrase “functional alcoholic” is sometimes used to describe a person believed to be alcoholic, but without the obvious personal problems one might expect. “Functional alcoholic” is one of the most enabling phrases in the language, and unwittingly helps alcoholics get sicker. Loosely translated, the term means, “the person’s drinking doesn’t bother me, yet.” Believing someone is a “functional alcoholic” helps someone in a casual relationship feel better about avoiding the pointing out of signs and symptoms of alcoholism, a key step in helping alcoholics self-diagnose. Typically, there are other persons in the alcoholic’s life who do not consider the alcoholic as “functional.” These are usually family members.
Sounds familiar to me. I always thought my AH was a functional alcoholic so it took me a long time to see that he was an A... period.
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Old 01-05-2005, 08:40 AM
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The phrase “functional alcoholic” is sometimes used to describe a person believed to be alcoholic, but without the obvious personal problems one might expect.
I agree with this, but to me coming upon the phrase wasn't enabling but rather freeing. I never knew 'functional' and 'alcoholic' could be used together so well. The phrase 'functional alcoholic' explains a lot. That although he is not willing to recognize it and that his friends and coworkers refuse to see a problem, it is a problem that isn't going away and will progressively become worse. To them, since he is functional, he isn't an alcoholic.

I don't think the phrase is enabling, but rather the ability of the functional alcoholic to act normal is. It often lets those around him/her lull themselves into thinking nothing is wrong - sometimes for many many years. Once you realize there is such a thing as a functional alcoholic and that the disease will only progress, then you can at least take steps to live within yourself instead of trying to live for them.

The more I learn, the stronger I become, and therefore the less I will play into being his support system in regards to the drinking. I'm no longer ignoring the problem. Instead of hinting that maybe he's drinking too much, I'll state it right out loud as a statement of caring about his health -- and I no longer care if his friends or family or my friends or family are there. I will not be petty or underhanded. I'm not going to use zingers to try and hurt him. But I will no longer keep quiet.

Granted, this process of learning to be strong and how/when to speak up is slow, but we've had years of hiding from it so I won't be upset that it's taking me a while to get to where I need to be. I'm not obsessing on it. That wouldn't help. But I am taking steps and making progress with myself.

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Old 01-05-2005, 02:18 PM
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Good points

Those are very good posts! Thanks to both of you!

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