How to Recognize a Functional Alcoholic

High-Functioning Alcoholic

High-functioning alcoholics will rarely admit that they have a problem. But if someone in your life has three or more alcoholic beverages per day (two or more for women), they are consuming more than the recommended amount. Dietary Guidelines define moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is defined as having four or more beverages in one drinking episode for women and five or more beverages for men (a typical drinking episode is around two hours). The most in-depth care allows you to live full time at a treatment facility.

For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

High-Functioning Alcoholic

Some people with AUD may attend an inpatient recovery program, in which they stay at a facility for at least 28 days to receive concentrated treatment in a controlled environment. Being able to carry out regular responsibilities with AUD is not the same as being free of the disease. Alcohol use disorder can still have a significant impact on a person’s life, even if they appear to be coping from the outside. The refusal to abstain can become more apparent in certain situations. This includes times when many people give up alcohol, such as “dry January” or the period of fasting and penitence in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter known as Lent. It may also cause an individual to refuse to travel to areas where alcohol access may be limited.

Liver damage is the most talked about physical consequence and that is a concern almost immediately. Alcoholics can go on to develop heart, respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. There can also be declines in their mental and overall health, especially if they’re not eating healthy diets or engaging in physical activity. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine.

For instance, the alcoholic may be denied visitation rights or may be faced with a marital separation if he decides not to seek help. An alcoholic in denial may become extremely manipulative, tearful, angry or hostile when faced with the need for alcohol demi moore has done a great job of recovery treatment. An experienced intervention specialist can help the participants prepare for these reactions so they can respond effectively. Functional alcoholics differ from those who struggle with alcoholism, primarily in how alcohol affects their lives.

Trouble Quitting Drinking

They may take steps to avoid the person while they are drinking, or they may experience feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame. They may try to quit independently, but the withdrawals are too unpleasant or severe. Therefore, they continue to drink to keep the withdrawals at bay, and the cycle continues. These numbers do not include people who have died in alcohol-related accidents or violence, so the overall number is likely much higher. It can also ultimately lead to relationship difficulties as well as legal and financial problems. If needed, your doctor may also order blood tests to check your liver function.

High-Functioning Alcoholic

Consider speaking to your primary care provider about your concerns or attending a support group as a first step. The first step for most people is detox, which means quitting alcohol. A detox may take place at a hospital or inpatient facility, such as rehab. It is important to note that these signs may not be obvious to a loved one or friend. This is because people can be skillful at hiding the signs of an issue with alcohol. Due to some people’s ability to mask their AUD, it is difficult to find research on those that are high functioning.

According to the NIAAA, the majority of people with an AUD can benefit from some form of treatment. While their appearance may not be any different and they can still fulfill their responsibilities, you’ll start to see a pattern develop of turning to alcohol to cope with family, work or personal issues. The classic picture of someone with alcohol use disorder is someone who always drinks too much and whose life is falling apart because of it. Usually, it is only when their continued drinking becomes more painful than the prospect of going through the pain of alcohol withdrawal, will they finally reach out for help. Chronic heavy drinkers can display a functional tolerance to the point they show few obvious signs of intoxication even at high blood alcohol concentrations, which in others would be incapacitating.

How to Recognize a Functional Alcoholic

Intervening in the addictive behavior may be seen as a threat to the family’s financial security — even if the family must put up with emotional neglect or physical abuse. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that nearly 60% of violent incidents against a domestic partner or family member were committed under the influence of alcohol. Functional alcoholics are often intelligent, hardworking and well-educated. Their professional status or personal success can make it hard to approach them about having a “problem” with alcohol.

  1. Since people with high-functioning AUD can be on the milder spectrum of the condition, the earlier treatment happens, the more it may be possible to avoid a progression.
  2. These setups can also work along with 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
  3. By Buddy TBuddy T is a writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.
  4. Relating to other people with substance abuse issues may help someone break through denial and begin to recover.
  5. The condition causes changes in the brain that decrease the ability to quit on your own.

By the time they admit the problem, their withdrawal symptoms—which can begin within a few hours after their last drink—can become more and more severe. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing an alcohol problem. Binge drinking, social pressures, family history, mental health issues, and excess alcohol use can all increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. “Functioning” is subjective and limiting when describing a person living with alcohol use disorder. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can impact short- and long-term physical and mental health.

What Is a “Functioning Alcoholic”?

It also makes someone more likely to die in a car wreck or from murder or suicide. And any alcohol abuse raises the odds of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and fetal alcohol syndrome. You may hear them called “functional” or “high-functioning” alcoholics. But those aren’t official medical terms. A doctor can check a person’s drinking levels and recommend further treatment options.

Drinking Alone, Secretly, or at Unconventional Times

Getting help early on can reduce the risk of developing alcohol addiction. Even though they may want to stop, many functioning alcoholics often won’t know where or how to begin the process. This is where family, friends and medical professionals can work together to create a plan to help end this cycle before they do more harm to themselves.

These setups can also work along with 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Relating to other people with substance abuse issues may help someone break through denial and begin to recover. Sometimes, people with alcohol use disorder don’t recognize their drinking is an issue, especially if they meet their work and home life responsibilities despite their alcohol dependence. As such, they may justify their drinking as a normal part of life—even though it isn’t.

After all, they have managed to maintain the appearance of success despite their addiction. But most study of controversial hallucinogen salvia shows intenses have friends or loved ones who help them cover up the consequences of their drinking. These individuals may unconsciously encourage or enable the alcoholic’s behavior by allowing the alcoholic to avoid the negative consequences of destructive drinking.

Alcoholism affects everyone in a household — not just the individual who drinks. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of physical and emotional violence, as well as alcohol abuse articles substance abuse in other family members. An addiction therapist can help you find positive ways to deal with the stress of living with a functional alcoholic.

As their reliance on alcohol increases, you may begin to notice that your loved one downplays the role alcohol has in their lives and makes excuses for their actions, especially their drinking. In addition to the health effects of having an alcohol use disorder, it can also take a toll on relationships. Drinking doesn’t just affect the individual; it affects the entire family unit.

Call Now Button