Recognizing the Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic
Often, when someone notoriously drinks too much but is still able to go through the motions of daily life, they’re considered a functional alcoholic. They may still get up and go to work, maintain their daily schedules and be sociable, but they do all this while under the influence of alcohol. They don’t want to go through their daily activities without drinking. This lifestyle can make them rationalize that they don’t have a problem because drinking isn’t keeping them from living their life.
However, having to drink to get through day-to-day activities isn’t healthy. Having to drink every day and doing activities under the influence is addictive behavior. If you’re doing this or have a loved one who is, you’re probably dealing with a functional alcoholic.
What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?
When you encounter an alcoholic, you expect to see someone stumbling around and slurring their words. For many people, alcoholism is synonymous with being drunk all the time. Indeed, someone who exhibits these signs and is constantly under the influence of alcohol is probably an alcoholic, but there are other types of problem drinkers, too.
A functioning alcoholic is someone who appears to get through the day without missing appointments or falling down drunk. Functional alcoholics manage to handle their responsibilities, and their lives don’t seem to be impacted by their alcohol use. The typical functional alcoholic is:
– Middle income
These traits may mask the fact that this person has a drinking problem. Regardless of a functional alcoholic’s excessive and habitual alcohol consumption, no one is concerned.
A high-functioning alcoholic may binge drink instead of drinking every day or drink secretly. Since there are no outward signs of drunkenness, this type of alcoholic can hide their alcohol use and actually consume much more than friends and family realize.
Symptoms of a High Functioning Alcoholic
It can be more difficult to recognize an alcoholic who is high-functioning, which means their addiction typically goes on longer without any intervention. This is dangerous because addictions worsen over time. A high-functioning alcoholic likely doesn’t think there’s a problem, while the people around them probably don’t realize the problem and aren’t likely to address it.
Here are some signs to look for in spotting a functional alcoholic:
– Different behavior when drinking. A functional alcoholic will seem to change personalities after just one drink. Of course, you never know if that’s really the first drink of the day — they never appear
– No such thing as a little drinking. After one drink, a functional alcoholic always has another. The fact that there are no outward signs of intoxication may spur an alcoholic on to continue drinking.
– Blackout periods. Despite not acting drunk, a functioning alcoholic may have little or no recollection of the time they spent drinking. They consciously or unconsciously use alcohol to forget, and think it’s fine that they don’t remember what they said or did.
– Pre-party drinking. Habitually drinking before an event is a sign of alcohol addiction. Functional alcoholics use alcohol to get ready for a party or a big night out. They may hide this habit and appear to begin drinking with everyone else, even though they stopped off at a bar on the way over to the party.
Functional alcoholics may drink secretly or alone, joke about alcohol often and always have a reason for their drinking. They also experience shame and guilt when their drinking habits are revealed or they’re caught acting out because of alcohol consumption.
How to Help a Functioning Alcoholic
Call Tranquil Shores today for alcohol treatment. Our therapists can help you identify the underlying problems making you want to drink to numb your feelings. You don’t have to suffer alone. Tranquil Shores can teach you how to cope with life’s stresses and enjoy all life has to offer without alcohol or substances.
Last edited: August 29, 2017