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Unread 10-09-2017, 02:14 PM   #1
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Default Are my parents high-functioning alcoholics?

My parents have always, always drank. Close family friends know that my parents like to drink a lot, as do my friends. I was shocked when I found out that not all parents drink, I had become so accustomed to it. My parents are kind intelligent people during the day and are both very good at their jobs. However my mother is constantly stressed due to her job and my father doesn't actually enjoy his job but sticks with it for the money.

My father is an incredibly quiet man, while he can talk to his family of course he is practically silent around those he doesn't know, and is still on the quiet side even with us. The only time he is chatty is when he's drunk. He's 100 times more confident and seems happier. He's also obnoxious, irritating, crass and sometimes offensive while drunk. It's got the points in evenings when I'm not sure when he's drunk of when he's sober: at some point when it goes dark he becomes chattier and more confident, half the time I block out how much he drinks. However recently I've been trying to keep track of how much he drinks ( which is hard to) and it's about 4-5 bottle of beer per night, more when he gets properly hammered. Coming downstairs to him sitting alone on the sofa listening to music and looking half asleep is frequent. I used to talk to him in this state because it would be the only times I could debate with him or hear about his family ( he used to gloss over details) but now I just find it sad and ignore it.

My mother drinks about a bottle of wine a night, though she often shares it with Dad, which I guess adds more to how much he drinks. A close family friend got angry when I called them functional alcoholics because her father is an alcoholic and she thought I was patronising her, admitting they did drink a lot and should probably try to cut back but denying they were full-blown alcoholics, but then relented when I told her what it was like behind closed doors and just how often it is ( she also left for university 6 years ago and with her job sees less of our family, and sees far less of them in the evenings which is WHEN they drink) Flipping through my memories I have also seen warning signs: asking my father politely to not get drunk whilst my friends were around, my mother crawling into my bed because Dad was drunk and talking in his sleep, my Mother passed out on the sofa ( although this IS rare).

At some point earlier this year it got really bad, when Dad would be getting really really drunk every night and Mum joining him ( she has an incredibly high tolerance and just gets calmer and sleepier, so her drunk isn't that bad) and me hiding bottles of wine in cupboards. I talked to my brother about it and he mentioned how our father used to drink whiskey and become aggressive when drunk ( he would never hit anyone but would shout and argue furiously) and how our Mother stopping him from drinking whiskey was a huge thing, so perhaps this drinking now is their settlement. That's why we used to have a big cupboard full of spirits and now never do, when I once won a bottle of whiskey at a raffle my mother instantly gave it away because " We don't drink spirits."

After my Grandmother died my brother said how he'd be clearing away whiskey and beer bottles before anyone saw them, and how he too hid alcohol from them. My sister in law then told me how sometimes he wakes up at night worrying about it and she comforts him. He even casually states how our father will die young due to this habit, then pointed out how our grandfather died relatively young due to smoking and heavy drinking and how half of our uncles are alcoholics and grew up extremely poor in a family of 9, were bullied for being Irish, and were thrown out of their home at 16 as their parents could no longer afford to support them, and the effects of this ( half of our uncles have had failed marriages or no lasting relationships at all) I try to talk to people about this but they brush it off or don't believe me, or they shrug and say they're probably alcoholics, but find it amusing. Despite this my parents are amazing, incredibly clever and supportive people, hence why I have essentially blocked this issue out for most of my life ( I've just turned 18 now, my brother is 23.) I don't like my Dad when he's drunk, and my mother would probably be far healthier if she drank less, my Dad would.

A couple of times they've tried to hold back: My father at one point tried to " cut back" on his beer intake for his health but drank more wine instead, which gets him drunker, and my parents once tried to do a month without drinking ( drytober or something?) for health benefits and drank non-alcoholic wine and beer but lasted 3 weeks before they reverted back to proper alcohol. I've brought up my Dad's drinking habits with my mother and get instantly shut down, she says it's his business and she isn't getting involved. I don't think they'll ever get help, because they don't want to stop, they've never hit me or my brother or done incredibly terrible things while drunk, they've never lost a job because of it, so why do they need to stop?

I just want to know if they're high functioning alcoholics or just classic British parents who drink a bit too much too often so I can try to deal and get past it. People are so unwilling to talk about it or try to deny it I'm really not sure if I'm being dramatic. But everything I have said here has happened. The worst thing is that my brother mentioned how he was on the brink of becoming an alcoholic before meeting his future wife after breaking up with a long term partner, and how even now when he's stressed or unhappy all he wants to do is drink. He and his wife do admittedly drink rather a lot also, and I can him mirroring my parents behaviours. It's made me not want to drink either, but I love getting hammered. I think I'll just have to avoid it. If you have any thoughts or your own experiences, please share. I want to finally talk about this.
Sorry for it being so long!

Last edited by CANDC; 10-09-2017 at 07:15 PM. Reason: add paragraph breaks
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Unread 10-18-2017, 09:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Are my parents high-functioning alcoholics?

Zeta12 - I can share my experience. I drink wine off and on during the week, never an entire bottle in one night. I think just the fact that you know your parents are "drunk" and feel the need to ask or address it, is a sign to you. You are answering your own question in my opinion.
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Unread 10-19-2017, 05:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Are my parents high-functioning alcoholics?

They sound like habitual drinkers for sure, but they may not necessarily be full blown alcoholics. In fact, they don't really sound like full blown alcoholics to me. I drink a similar amount to what you said they do, and for me at least...... I'm able to take days off from it every now and then and am not physically dependent or even close. However, I definitely would consider myself to be a habitual heavy drinker. Which isn't necessarily the same thing as full blown alcoholism, though one can certainly lead to the other. Something that my doctor said that I should "be careful of". However, it's habitual enough that frankly I cannot even imagine what life would be like if I weren't drinking and the idea is foreign and rather scary to me. Not because I'm scared that I couldn't quit, just that I tend to become extremely bored without it. It's not even escapism or anything, just boredom.
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