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Do Functional Alcoholics Exist?

Society has many different stereotypes about what they think an alcoholic should look like. They see them as sloppy, stumbling through their words, dropping out of school or losing their job, poor personal relationships, and maybe have multiple DUI’s. You may be surprised to learn that many people who struggle with problem drinking do not fit this description. About 20% of alcoholics in America are high functioning alcoholics.

Spotting A Functional Alcoholic

The term functioning alcoholic is defined as a person who struggles with heavy and problem drinking as well as constant cravings, but can still maintain their daily life such as their job, bills, and relationships. They may even excel in their daily life. Despite their outward appearance of having it all together, they have a severe drinking problem. Often, because they are excelling in life, they are in deep denial about their drinking problem. In many cases, it is not until their health begins to suffer or they reach an emotional wall that they realize how life or death their situation is. High functioning alcoholics will often hide their problems from the loved ones in their lives and can often do so because of their high tolerance to the effects of alcohol. They may not even appeal intoxicated, even after consuming large amounts of liquor. This is because of the tolerance effect or build-up of alcohol in their bloodstream and management of the intoxication in chronic alcoholics. Sometimes functional alcoholics are able to hide and blend in very well within society, their workplace, and even their own household. There are some signs to look out for in you are concerned a loved one or a friend may be a functioning alcoholic including:

  • Hiding alcohol and denying heavy drinking
  • Becoming angry when confronted
  • Drinking when they don’t intend to
  • Having lapses in memory when they are drinking
  • Drinking alone or morning drinking
  • Joking about having a drinking problem

Confronting A High-Functioning Alcoholic

It may be difficult to be open and acknowledge that your loved one is struggling with alcoholism. Once you recognize that they need help, approaching them in the right way is important in getting them help. Intervention is the best way to do that. During an intervention, a few things are important for success. Make sure that you confront them when they are sober. You should be assertive and clear when you explain to them how their alcoholism has negatively impacted your life. Also, make sure that you avoid judgment and accusations so that they do not feel cornered. When a functioning alcoholic attempts to make excuses, express denial, or attack you with words, it is best to respond with honesty and calmness. The hope is that your loved one will eventually realize the problem they have and try getting help. Not all functioning alcoholics remain functional forever. Eventually, they will show signs that their life is falling apart. If you or a loved one is ready to get sober, he best and safest option to getting off of and stay off alcohol is by the use of one of the treatment programs we offer at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset. With the help of our team of therapists, we offer one on one, group therapy, as well as many other specialized options to fit each person’s needs. Alcoholism treatment requires a multi-layered approach for maximum success. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to avoid relapse in the real world. Alcoholism isn’t an easy thing to face. Luckily you do not have to face it on your own. It may be challenging to recover, but it is not impossible. Our admissions counselors and professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction. Now is the time to change your life. Let us help you do it.