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How Do Functional Alcoholics Maintain Their Drinking?

Alcohol addiction is usually referred to as “alcoholism,” and people who struggle with this condition are commonly called “alcoholics.” Those who suffer from alcohol use disorder do not simply drink too much or drink routinely; they have a compulsion to consume alcohol, and they are unable to control how much they drink. Their brain chemistry changes and alcohol is needed to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and reduce negative psychological experiences associated with stress. According to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH):

There are about 17 million adults; ages 18 and older, in the United States with alcohol use disorder, and one in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has alcohol use disorder.

Drinking is Considered a Social Norm

Drinking is considered pretty normal in the U.S. From college parties to weddings; it is popular and a part of a lot of social activities. But just like everything else, you should only enjoy it in moderation. Drinking too much can lead to health problems, dependency, and alcohol addiction. Even those casual drinkers can turn into alcoholics.

Chronic Alcoholic or Functioning Alcoholic?

When you think of an alcoholic, you usually think of the stereotype: Homeless, stolen money to buy alcohol, or have gotten a DUI. You may have a family and a job so there is no way you could be an alcoholic but this is far from true. Alcoholism takes many forms, and the stereotype doesn’t always hold true. So what is the difference between an alcoholic and a functional alcoholic and how does an alcoholic keep drinking without consequences?

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

Regular alcoholics and those who drink too much usually show signs of inappropriate behavior when intoxicated and have consequences from drinking too much such as loss of job, money, and friends but functioning alcoholic drinks to the extreme but maintains all of that and more. You can be a functioning alcoholic even though you have a great life on the outside, with a job that pays well, home, family, friendships, and social bonds. A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who habitually drinks an unhealthy amount of alcohol while maintaining some level of professional and personal success. According to a government survey, about 20% of alcoholics in America are functioning alcoholics. Many of them are successful at work and at home, and sometimes their friends and family don’t even know that they have a problem. A functioning alcoholic might hold down a job and have a family despite an underlying struggle with alcohol addiction. But unfortunately, functioning alcoholics often hide the severity of their abuse from friends and loved ones

Consequences Are Real for Functional Alcoholics

It is important to understand that these people’s achievements are earned despite, and not because of, alcohol use. Regardless of personal success, years of alcohol abuse carry serious health risks and pose many negative consequences. Unfortunately, a combination of denial and a lack of support from their family and friends often prevent functioning alcoholics from ever getting treatment. Nevertheless, functioning alcoholics face medical and legal risks from drinking excessively.

Alcoholism Help at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset

Whether you’re the loved one of someone struggling with alcohol addiction or you are struggling, it’s important to be aware of these signs and to know that you’re not alone. Thousands of people from all walks of life battle alcoholism every day, and thousands decide to seek help. At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we can get you on the right track towards sobriety. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides men, women, and families with comprehensive, integrated care to set a solid and lasting foundation for lifelong recovery from substance use disorders. Our facilities are staffed by experienced and compassionate professionals, including licensed therapists and psychiatrists, addiction specialists, and highly qualified support staff. Our team members are extremely understanding and treat each client with an unmatched level of respect. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, which shows our dedication to offering the highest quality of addiction care for each person that steps through our doors.