From the outside, a functioning alcoholic may seem like anyone else. They’re able to maintain a relatively normal life while consuming an unhealthy amount of alcohol on a regular basis.

If you live with a functioning alcoholic husband, you know that alcoholism comes with a dark side. Mood swings, inability to control alcohol consumption and failure to make good choices while drinking could eventually take a toll on your marriage—even if it’s functional.

Your husband’s illness could also be destroying his health. In time, alcoholism could destroy your marriage. Seeking treatment for your husband can help you both. Here’s what you need to know.

Signs Your Husband Is a Functioning Alcoholic

It can be hard to identify a problem if your husband is a functioning alcoholic. Since functioning alcoholics seem like they can uphold their responsibilities and function normally, it can be easy to excuse their drinking. This in turn can make you not see it for the problem it really is.

Knowing the symptoms of a high-functioning alcoholic can help you decide when it’s time to seek help. Some of these signs can include:

  • Drinking in excessive quantities, though maybe not every day
  • High tolerance for alcohol
  • Drinking patterns, i.e., drinking at specific times
  • Becoming irritable when not drinking at specific times
  • Drinking before work or social events
  • Becoming less productive when not drinking
  • Lying about drinking
  • Consuming more than 15 drinks per week
  • Binge drinking or consuming more than 5 drinks a day
  • Taking crazy risks in work life

Alcoholics, including functioning alcoholics, often have a hard time managing stress. Due to this, they turn to alcohol to help them deal with their stressors. They often have an alcoholic in the family or a history of mental health problems.

Take Care of Yourself

When you live with an alcoholic, it’s important not to lose sight of your needs and health. It’s important to take time for yourself and your wellbeing. Talk to a therapist or even an addiction counselor. Manage and prioritize your mental health.

Not all functioning alcoholic husbands are abusive, but some can be. If there is any violence or domestic abuse in the home, you should leave immediately and seek shelter at a safe place. Abuse is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by any means.

Get help from a support group. There are many support groups for people who are married to functioning alcoholics. Surrounding yourself with people who understand your situation can help you feel less alone.

What You Can Do

Your husband may need help, but many alcoholics become irritable with the notion that they have a problem. Although it’s important to discuss your husband’s problem, the conversation must be approached in the right way. If you approach the conversation in a way that makes your husband angry and reactive, he may shut down the conversation and future attempts could become more difficult. The best thing you can do is reach out to a healthcare professional who can guide you through the process.

Often, an intervention is the best way to approach an alcoholic. An intervention happens when someone’s family members and friends come together to convince the addict to get help. Interventions are supervised by mental health professionals, who can help keep the conversation productive. These discussions are planned, rehearsed, and personalized to the individual who is the focus of the intervention. Interventions are typically successful, and when the intervention is done, the individual goes into treatment.

You’ll have to do your homework before the intervention. Have a rehabilitation facility selected, and a method of payment worked out. Insurance companies may pay for some or all rehabilitation costs. Call your insurance company to learn more about your coverage.

Finally, make a decision about how to handle your spouse’s treatment, and stick with it. Your husband may be very resistant to seeking help, but it’s for his own good. You owe it to yourself and your husband to be firm and strong.

Why Get Treatment?

You may wonder if it’s necessary to have your husband seek treatment if he’s a functioning alcoholic. If he is holding down a job, able to maintain close relationships, pay the bills and meet familial obligations, is treatment a must?

The answer is, yes. High-functioning alcoholics are still alcoholics. Alcohol abuse comes with serious health consequences. Regular and frequent use of alcohol can lead to poor choices, such as drunk driving.

Also, alcoholism usually gets worse over time. Alcoholics build up tolerance every time they drink and will need more alcohol overtime to achieve the same desired effects. Your husband could soon be drinking what would otherwise be a lethal amount for someone else. This could eventually lead to organ damage.

Get Treatment Today

You don’t have to live with alcoholism. Quality addiction treatment centers can help you and your loved one overcome your struggles and break free of alcoholism for good. Your husband can overcome his addiction, all he has to do is take the first step and get enrolled.

Call a treatment center today to begin the journey towards recovery. If you aren’t sure where to call, browse our directory for treatment centers near you.


  1. Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients
  2. Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best Families

We would love your feedback.

Was this article helpful?

Treatment Questions? Call 24/7.

(855) 265-2123