24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

Tips For Living With a Functioning Alcoholic

Living with a functioning alcoholic can take a major toll on your health and well-being. Addiction is a family disease that affects every member of the household in big and small ways. 

4 Minute Read | Published Aug 11 2023 | Updated Feb 29 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Norman Chazin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Norman Chazin
Reviewed by

The chaos and uncertainty that addiction brings to the household impacts everyone in the home. Coping with an alcoholic spouse can be frustrating and frightening, and you may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with a high-functioning alcoholic husband or wife. You may feel like your world is falling apart at the seams and increasingly isolated, hopeless, and fearful for the future.

Children who have a parent with an addiction are around four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder later on than children who don’t have an addicted parent. Children may cope by withdrawing or acting out, which can impact their social and academic success and their happiness later on.

Living with a functioning alcoholic is tough, no matter how you look at it. Here are some tips for living with and coping with your high-functioning alcoholic husband or wife.

1. Understand addiction

Understanding addiction and how it develops and is treated is essential for helping your spouse get help down the road. It’s also crucial to help you understand how addiction changes thought and behavior patterns and keeps the individual addicted. Your spouse may be high functioning now, but it’s essential to understand that addiction is a progressive disease, and it will only get worse without professional help.

2. Join a support group

Coping with an alcoholic spouse can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, fearful, and isolated. Talking with other people who understand firsthand what you’re going through can go a long way toward reducing some of the intense negative emotions that go along with living with a functioning alcoholic. A support group like Al-Anon, the largest of its kind, allows you to get encouragement, tips and advice, resources, and other important information from people who’ve been there. It offers you a safe place to vent and ask questions, reducing feelings of isolation and fear.

3. Get counseling

When coping with an alcoholic spouse, many people develop unhealthy coping behaviors, such as over-eating, compulsively shopping, or spending a great deal of time on the Internet. You may also have developed enabling or co-dependent behaviors that not only allow your spouse to abuse alcohol with little consequence but also put your mental health and well-being at great risk.

Counseling can help you sort through these issues and identify any unhelpful thought and behavior patterns you’ve developed as a result of coping with your spouse’s addiction. Ending enabling behaviors, such as making excuses for your spouse or removing the consequences of the addiction, can go a long way toward helping your spouse decide to seek treatment.

4. Try to get your spouse into treatment

Once you understand addiction and have sorted through your issues related to it, you can be far more effective at convincing your spouse to seek treatment for the addiction.

When your spouse is sober, talk about how the addiction is affecting you and the children. Explain to your spouse that you believe he or she is addicted and needs treatment. Your spouse may deny that there’s a problem but keep talking about it when the time is right. If the addiction is affecting you or your children deeply and reducing your quality of life, consider holding an intervention, which can be very successful in getting your spouse into treatment.

5. Don’t give up hope

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that hope is the foundation of recovery. It’s crucial to hold onto hope that your spouse will recover and your future will be brighter. In the meantime, seek help, learn about your spouse’s addiction, and get the support you need to cope with the addiction in healthy ways. BAC can help you find a treatment program that offers intervention services as well as help you find the right kind of rehab program for your alcoholic spouse once he or she decides to end the addiction for good.


Related Articles

Is Alcohol Addiction Counseling a Good Option for Me? Updated: May 15 2024 Counseling is a fundamental tool to treat alcohol abuse or addiction. When we speak of alcohol abuse or addiction, we are referring directly...
Comprehensive Alcoholism Assessment Guide Updated: Apr 26 2024 Thousands of people who suffer from alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, may not even be aware of their condition. ...
Alcohol Abuse Prevention Updated: Feb 26 2024 Prevention, they say, is the best medicine, and this is as true for the abuse of alcohol as it is for dealing with...

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel