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my boyfriend is a very functional alcoholic

Old 06-27-2010, 12:13 AM
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my boyfriend is a very functional alcoholic

Im not an alcoholic.

He's 44, Im 39.

I dont even know where to begin.. or what I want to ask..or why Im here.


We've been together for 7 months.
Im a single mom of 3 ... 9 yrs (girl), 6yrs(girl) and 2 yrs (boy). Im also a full time student. Of social work.

He's very very functional. He's had the same job for 15 years. Had his job before this for 8 years. Relationship before me was 8 years, before that he had a marriage for 12 years.

He has a nice house. Nice vehicles. He's clean, responsible, classy, nice looking, respectful, affectionate, complimentary, very very loving.

Except alcohol rules a part of his life.


He gets up at 3 am. (for work)
Home by 2:30 pm.
Doesnt drink during the day.
Cracks a beer immediately when he gets home.
Doesnt drive after he drinks.
(which means he stays home alot after work)

Seemingly, alcohol doesnt affect his life in a bad way.
He doesnt do any of the normal "drunk" things. He doesnt get mean or obnoxious, maybe a tad little bit more affectionate..but not annoyingly so.. doesnt stumble, slur or anything.

He drinks from starting maybe 2:30pm ( or later depending on whats going on.. as late as 7 pm on weekends) until bedtime. which is always 7 pm on weekdays since he gets up so early. so... not a big long time of drinking during the week. But he still has at least 6 beers averagely.. Maybe 8. as little as 4 if there isnt much time.
10 or 12 on weekends nights. This is every day.


he's drank this much for 25 years or so ( and during some seasons of life, much more).

Its gotta effect him bodily wise, right?

He's had a couple seizures (years ago). His dr. said they were probably alcohol induced.
He has high blood pressure and is on meds. (one is a seizure med)

I dont know what Im asking for here.



Honestly, I have a serious quandary. Im like... Im a single mom, living off child support and student loans. Im broker than broke. Here's this guy.. he's wonderful. Financial stability, nice house, good job.. totally accepts my situation. (I only have 3 classes left until Im finished with a bachelors degree and will be working).
But beyond that, he's so so good to us. He really IS a good guy.


What do I do with this alcohol situation. I feel like.. hey, if the guy was gonna hit skid row he'd have done it by now.. he's been drinking at this pace for 25 years. He aint gonna become a bum. KWIM?

What am i missing? Ive never dealt with an alcoholic before. are there reasons I wanna run right now??

Im somewhat scared for his health.
Im somewhat worried about just how much of a problem this is.

His last girlfriend of 8 years was a serious alcoholic. She died. ... mostly from alcohol related stuff. natural cause of death was some respiratory thing.. underlying issues were cirrhosis and some neuropathy thing. He found her dead. He told me she had no control over alcohol ... and that all just makes me wonder... what the heck???

Ive asked him like, why were you with her and what did you stay for. He just says because he loved her and what was he suppose to do, no one else would have taken care of her. But that just makes me wonder how dysfunctional he is or how serious he is about being an alcoholic.


I guess Im wondering, as a non-alcoholic, are theres things I dont know?

It only effects our life in ways like: occassionally Im embarrassed to invite friends over because he's drinking. That feeling doesnt happen often. and its not because he's so obnoxious, Its just because you can smell it or whatever...
also, we stay home a lot. I could drive places (he wont drive after drinking) but it seems like we just stay home..

It doesnt effect our sex life or anything. He's very nice. He generally makes very responsible decisions even after drinking. Its weird.. he drinks a lot but it doesnt really affect life too much.

Does anyone have anything to tell me.. I admit Im naive about this.
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Old 06-27-2010, 12:28 AM
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Another thing. I read a court report about his last girlfriend being committed against her will to treatment. Whatever happened.... (she ended up in the emergency room because she fell or something) ... her BAL was .56


Thats uhh... crazy, right? I mean, I cant hold her stuff against him but Im like.. wow. Holy crap. I dont know anything about alcoholics and... sure Im generally intelligent, have common sense and Im also educated 4 years in social work.. Im still at a loss here. He's so good and decent. but yet... dependant on alcohol. He stayed in a relationship for 8 years with a woman who was so so bad that she eventually died from drinking. It all sounds bad, right?

But still, im like.. he's really really great. It doesnt seemingly present any problems in his life.
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Old 06-27-2010, 12:31 AM
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Incognito, welcome to SR. There is so much useful information here and there is actually a board dedicated to friends/family of alcoholics which will definitely be helpful to you.

What I will say is that.....you are posting here and that tells me you are concerned about him. You have worked very hard to get where you are and have 3 children to focus on.

Many alcoholics are functional if you will. They are not always the bums on the bowery. They are educated, work, have families, and can handle life......but the catch is they feel they need that bottle. The alcoholic mind is a unique beast.

Since you know his past then why not talk to him? Meaning, no matter what....your relationship is only 7 months and I can tell you that there is much more going on there. Why not discuss your concerns with him? He seems pretty open and truthfully....you have a lot at stake here.

I was quite the functioning alcoholic until things crumbled. I was laid off from my job due to industry cuts and the evening drink became a full fledged daily binge. I turned to the bottle and I lost quite a bit.

If his life is manageable then you must ask yourself.....why does he drink? I would be concerned considering the situation. He is relying on the bottle for some reason. Discuss your concerns with him and see how he feels about stopping or reducing his drinking.

All the best my friend!!
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Old 06-27-2010, 12:52 AM
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Hey, thanks for the response.

He actually talked to me once about reducing it. I didnt know what to say. I have no experience in what alcoholism feels like or anything so I kinda acted like, " duh........ ok" lol


What I know is this: he lived a pretty hardcore life up until the last relationship. Meaning, he partied a lot, was in several car accidents with friends driving drunk (he says he never drove drunk).. and did some other drugs. He said at the time coke and meth were his favorites. He does no other drugs now.

So.. eventually, he began his last relationship. which lasted for the last 8 years. She was a serious alcoholic but not into the partying life style ( and I suppose, he was getting older) so he spend the last 8 years staying home drinking.

I also know that before he bought his house ( a year ago) he lived with an older guy.. he was a drunk too. He died. ( he was old) and also his (my bf) girlfriend died. 2 really major happenings in his life. His gf, who died, had her own place, but those 3 all pretty much lived together and stayed at the old guys house.

But it also means... here he sits now, in a house all alone ( well... Im here a lot) his whole life style changed. He doesnt live with 2 alcoholics anymore. Instead of living with someone who was an alcoholic and having an alcoholic gf, he has his own home. and me, who doesnt drink much.

This is all changed within the last 1 1/2 years.

he says he drinks much less.


I wonder like... what do I do? he DID talk to me about not drinking. Do I start a conversation about, "Hey, would you consider actually QUITTING?"

I just dont know. On the one hand Im like... he's had so many changes over the last couple years...do I ask about quitting? do I ride it out and see what happens? do I confront him on this problem?

its weird for me because he seems to have life under so much control. he isnt a drunk who screws up anything.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:00 AM
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Hi Incognito

Many of us here are alcoholics but sadly that doesn't mean we have a crystal ball with regards your partner.

I was, to all outside appearances, 'very functional' too, but when I lost control I lost it very quickly...and irreversibly.

That doesn't mean the same will definitely happen to your partner, but it does mean you have to consider that as one of the many possibilities.

Only you can know whether your partners drinking is a deal breaker or not.
Have you ever thought of voicing these concerns and asking him to stop drinking?

I encourage you to check out our Family and Friends Forum too - you will find a lot of people in there who've been what you're going through too.

Friends and Family of Alcoholics - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information

I hope we can help you find some answers
D
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:06 AM
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I think asking him to quit is perfectly reasonable given his history.

I do not know the guy at all obviously, but As are great liars and hiders of their use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. It is pretty uncommon for someone to be on alcohol, coke and meth and just cut out the drugs and drastically reduce the booze. I would be very wary of this.

In terms of him having everything "under control", I know a lot of people like this, that had a reasonably manageable life, until they lost control. That loss can come quickly and hit you hard.

Good luck and keep posting.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:10 AM
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First off......if he is an alcoholic (only HE can admit that he is) then you must understand that he is not your problem to fix. I say this because so many loved ones and friends take on the burden of the alcoholic and feel they are somehow responsible when the truth is that only the alcoholic can and will get sober. That is something I wanted to make clear to you because so often others feel they can fix the alcoholic or they can change them. Being supportive is the best but focusing on yourself is key.

I would just sit him down and ask him. Not confrontational but when its just the two of you, then ask him about the drinking. Tell him your concerns. If reducing is drinking daily from the moment he is home for the night that doesn't sound healthy to me.

I drank, reduced (hard alcohol to wine) after my divorce and got sober when I accepted that I am alcoholic and told my partner. There is no reducing or moderating for the alcoholic. Even though I had cut some back....well I either drank or I didn't. I might go a few days a week with a drink but once I sat down and started....it didn't stop till i went to bed.

Keep in mind that the alcoholic is great at lying and hiding. You have only been involved 7 months, you don't live with him (im guessing at that one) and you really don't know all of his history.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:14 AM
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yes, i do not live with him, but Im at his house 4-5 nights outta 7.
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Old 06-27-2010, 06:28 AM
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I agree with having a nice calm talk with him about the possibility of giving up drinking completely. But only you can decide if you want to be involved with someone who drinks this much, this often. Is this what you want your life and relationship to be?

And yes, he may have 'control' now, but it will not always be so. We think we're doing just great until all of a sudden we're not.

Welcome to SR! And do check out the F and F of alcoholics forum. Lots of support and good info there.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:29 AM
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He'd never be much help to you or your kids if he is too drunk to drive every night.

It's ok to not want alcohol a part of your kids or your life.
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:20 AM
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You may also want to check out the "adult children of alcoholic/addicted parents" board and read about the lifelong impact that growing up in an alcoholic home has on children, who really have no say in this.
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:37 PM
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Losing his previous partner to alcoholism didn't seem to faze him. I hope if you commit to him he'll commit to wanting to be around to live a long & healthy life with you. The prospect of him developing liver damage in the near future due to his habitual drinking may become a real possibility.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:23 PM
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I know some on this board might react negatively to this suggestion, but based on the OP's description of her bf... what if he is simply a heavy drinker but not an alcoholic?

With something like confirmation bias at work, everything gets labeled as evidence of alcoholic behavior. For example, not driving after drinking. Rather than being commended asa sign of responsible behavior, some indicate instead that his inability to drive is another sign of alcoholism. In his case, damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:51 PM
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Incognito - personally?

if his drinking causes you concern, that's the issue - I don't think it matters whether your bf is a heavy drinker, an alcoholic, a binge drinker, a problem drinker or a three eyed space invader....

I'm glad to see you're getting a lot of advice here

D
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:01 PM
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Hey Incognito

When I hear the term Functional drunk/alcoholic it means only 1 thing.

High tolerance...

Many of us were functioning on the outside just fine. It was what we were doing to our mental health and personal health that could not been seen as clear.

You have 3 kids. They need to be your primary concern. I have 4 and put it all down dead in its tracks because I do NOT want them to grow up thinking that this lifestyle is the norm. And I thank god I did it in time as my oldest is only 6.

Why do you think so many kids these days are turning up dead on some hard core drug addictions.

Think about it...
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:39 PM
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Hi incognito, it seems like he knows that his drinking might be a problem for you because he brought it up so asking him about quitting might not come as a big surprise. Please trust your intuition as it seems to be telling you that something's not right with this picture. I did not listen to mine in my first marriage. I had big concerns that I sort of rationalized away because the rest of the package was all there. They came up over and over in the marriage and eventually led to the breakup but that was after lots of suffering.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:21 AM
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To answer some of your questions:

It's a safe bet that your concerns are well founded. I am sure that 4-12 beers a day is affecting his health.

The doctor even seems to think the seizures and high blood pressure are related to his drinking.

There are a lot of us here who are considered "functional alcoholics." I've had my current job for 13 years, and I am able to pay all my bills even though I work part time. I'm a full time grad student, and I've been in a long term relationship with a wonderful partner.

The way I see it, you know what the problems are in your relationship. You talk of financial security and stability...what about emotional security and stability?

Have you expressed your sincere concern for your his health? How has he responded? Is he emotionally with you when he drinks, or does he seem to check out?

I think it all depends on 1) what you are expecting from this relationship, and 2) whether or not you are willing to accept him as is.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mf150 View Post
To answer some of your questions:

It's a safe bet that your concerns are well founded. I am sure that 4-12 beers a day is affecting his health.

The doctor even seems to think the seizures and high blood pressure are related to his drinking.

There are a lot of us here who are considered "functional alcoholics." I've had my current job for 13 years, and I am able to pay all my bills even though I work part time. I'm a full time grad student, and I've been in a long term relationship with a wonderful partner.

The way I see it, you know what the problems are in your relationship. You talk of financial security and stability...what about emotional security and stability?

Have you expressed your sincere concern for your his health? How has he responded? Is he emotionally with you when he drinks, or does he seem to check out?

I think it all depends on 1) what you are expecting from this relationship, and 2) whether or not you are willing to accept him as is.


hello,

One reason Im here is.. I want to make sure *I* am not missing something or skimming over something that I should see as a huge red flag.

I know alcoholism itself is a problem, but the fact that it seems to cause no problems?? am I just excusing, or what? kwim? Thats what I wonder.

He does not check out while drinking. He does not ever forget anything and change his story the next day. Like, a couple times he has told me Im such a great woman and I'll think, 'Uh huh. thats drunk talk'. But really he says the same stuff when I know he hasnt had a drink at all yet that day.

Emotional security and stability seem to be excellent. He's so very kind and sweet to me that I almost wonder if that is caused from over compensation.

Its been 7 months of being together and nothing has changed or gotten worse or lessened, meaning, he's very sweet and considerate, he has NEVER been mean spirited, he hasnt hit a 'comfortable' zone where things have changed and I see a bad person who is 'the real him'.

I think it all depends on 1) what you are expecting from this relationship, and 2) whether or not you are willing to accept him as is.

as far as that, I dont know what more I could even WANT from a relationship. Besides to not see a beer in his hand. He treats me like a princess.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:40 AM
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wanted to add-- I know 7 months isnt a long time.

Things have seemed to have progressed for us so "normally". Its confused me like, "This guy is an alcoholic, but he's so dang NORMAL"

We had the romantic fairy tale affectionate romantic beginning. He woo'd me, but not overly so.. nothing unaverage. Just very very nicely.

Life has settled into more average and routine. He still wakes up telling me, "Good morning sweetheart" and never lets a meal pass, that Ive cooked, without telling me Im a fabulous cook and thank you. Tells me at least a few times a week that I am so dang cute. Tells me he loves me and appreciates me every day. Ive never seen him be irresponsible towards me or so that he can be with me. Or towards his job. Like, he'll tell me often (because he goes to bed so early) "I wish I could stay up with you sweetheart, because I love being with you so much, but I need to go to bed so Im not tired for work tomorrow"

The reason I have came here is, I dont want my kids to see a beer in someone hand daily. I still, at this point, feel like he is excellent to me and seems to have very good control of his drinking. Perhaps he can and will stop. If he doesnt, I absolutely am strong enough to not let myself excuse drinking and will end the relationship. The next reason is I care about him and dont want him to suffer medical consequences. But I also know I have my own life goals and dreams and letting my kids see someone drink every day isnt a part of that.

While his drinking would seemingly not have any affect on me and what I want to do in my own future, if his drinking caused bad health for him THAT would affect me and also, tho his drinking doesnt cause my kids to see anything big and bad, they DO see beer in his hand and I do not want them conditioned to grow up thinking beer is a daily thing.
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by north View Post
I know some on this board might react negatively to this suggestion, but based on the OP's description of her bf... what if he is simply a heavy drinker but not an alcoholic?
I agree. While it sounds like he might be a "functioning alcoholic", he is not likely to admit being one simply because there is little sign of life being unmanageable - YET!

He my turn into a full-blown alcoholic soon or go on just the way he is for another decade or two. The bottom line is, it is his decision to say he is an alcoholic.
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