June 16, 2019

What is a high functioning alcoholic?

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Are you a high functioning alcoholic?

Did you know that alcoholism is a major problem in the United States? After all, about 15.1 million adults aged 18 and older suffer from alcohol abuse. That translates to about 6.2% of the entire age group.

Do you belong in this tally? How certain are you about your sobriety?

If you have doubts about whether you have an alcohol use disorder, you should consider the possibility that you’re a high functioning alcoholic. It’s best to find out for sure. It also applies if you want to stop drinking alcohol on your own.

If you are ready to take action and learn how to stop drinking check out the Stop Drinking Expert online and live courses.

Are you ready to learn the functioning alcoholic symptoms?

Read on and find out more today:

Signs of Alcoholism
Signs of Alcoholism

What is a High Functioning Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is a devastating disease that affects about 30% of the entire adult population of the country. But some people manage to deal with it while holding stressful jobs with big responsibilities. These people seem to have it all since they make a big income while living in nice places.

But that doesn’t mean these people are immune to the debilitating effects of alcohol. Most of these people still risk hurting themselves as well as the people around them. For example, a surgeon with a drinking disorder might end up messing their job and hurting their patients if they stay on their problem drinking path.

How do you identify a high functioning alcoholic? Here are some of the signs:

1. You Use Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

The symptoms of alcoholism vary depending on the person. But this symptom is one of the universal signs of a drinking problem. After all, a lot of adults have healthy alcohol consumption behaviors, with more than 30% don’t drink at all.

But the problem starts when you’re drinking alcohol to reduce stress, feel happy, or reduce the anxiousness. You shouldn’t use alcohol as a coping mechanism since it’s a depressant drug. It doesn’t matter whether you drink once or twice—if you use alcohol to cope with negative experiences, that’s a warning sign.

aa is not for everyone
AA is not for everyone

2. You Drink Alcohol for Any Situation

Social drinking becomes a problem when you feel like you need a drink for almost any situation. Take note, moderate drinking means you only drink alcohol once or twice a week. You use it for relaxation after a hard week of working or studying.

It becomes a problem when you feel like alcohol will help address any situation. For example, you think that a drink will help you go to sleep, wake up, calm down, and perk up. Alcoholism isn’t limited to drinking too much in one sitting—it also includes consistent drinking daily.

3. You Mostly Drink on Your Own

This symptom is one of the clearest signs you’re an alcoholic, regardless of whether you’re high-functioning or not. Most healthy drinkers only consume alcohol in a social setting. If you drink alone and in secret, you’re most likely suffering from alcohol abuse.

It’s an unhealthy habit since no one can limit the alcohol you consume in one sitting.

binge drinking

4. You Drink Too Much, Too Often

Drinking problems often won’t result in problematic behaviors whether you’re at home or at work. As an alcoholic, you might have the means of keeping up with work and your family. You aren’t likely to show any negative behavior like anger and depression.

But it’s important to take note that “heavy drinking” has an objective measure. If you drink too much daily or weekly, you’re considered as a heavy drinker. Most experts agree that four is the daily limit for men while three is for women.

As for the weekly drinking amount, you’re limited to 14 if you’re a man and half of that if you’re a woman. If you drink more than this recommended amount, you’re considered at risk for alcohol use disorder.

5. You Drink Increasing Amounts of Alcohol

Regardless of how you act, your consistent drinking will make your body more tolerant to alcohol. As time goes by, you will start drinking more and more to become intoxicated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it for a buzz.

This symptom is especially true if you aren’t able to stop once you start. You’re an alcoholic if you’re consistent in finishing off a wine bottle after opening it. You’ll develop more alcohol tolerance, starting the cycle of dependence.

drinking too much
Are you drinking too much?

6. You’re Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms from Alcohol Deprivation

Functional alcoholics often keep control as soon as they start drinking. But they cease functioning if they go on without a drink for a long period of time. For an alcoholic, the withdrawal symptoms can vary, and they can manifest in different ways, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Increased irritability
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of tiredness

If you experience any of these symptoms after stopping to drink, it’s a sign you’re a functional alcoholic. Get some help as soon as you realize it, to ensure that it’s treated before it gets worse. You can also read this guide and see if hypnotherapy works for you.

7. You Become Aggressive When People Discuss Your Drinking Behavior

Regardless of whether you’re high-functioning, alcoholics will often become aggressive when people confront them. You’re likely to become in denial when people point out your alcohol consumption behaviors. That way, most people find it difficult to help you snap out of your problem.

Another sign that you’re suffering from alcoholism is that you come up with rational excuses for your behavior. It’s a better behavior compared to aggression, but it’s still a sign of alcohol problems nonetheless.

Binge drinker
Binge drinker?

8. You Can Hold Down Your Liquor

A lot of people agree that college is part of their life where they drank the most alcohol. If you ever drank in college, you’ll see a lot of people to be the first ones to arrive and the last to leave. If you’re still drinking as you did back in your freshman year, you might have an alcohol problem.

It’s even more apparent when you drink a lot more than anyone but rarely appear imbibed. You won’t stagger or slur your speech as much as the others. In most cases, you’re a happy drunk—rarely getting aggressive or rude when the drinking starts.

9. You Have Limits But You Never Stick to Them

When you drink, you often tell yourself and other people that you’ll only have two bottles of beer. You’ll even tell people that you’re only going to drink during the weekends. But if you have problems with alcohol, you always seem to drink more than what you pledged.

That’s why you’re more likely to chug a beer before you head out. It doesn’t matter whether you’re attending an event that already has alcohol. With that, people won’t see how much you already drank before you start your drinking session with them.

bad hangover
Hangover from hell?

10. You Show Up to Work with a Hangover

A functional alcoholic will have the means of maintaining your obligations. This includes holding your job, but more often than not, you’re barely managing. In most cases, you show up to work 10 minutes late while looking horrible.

On the other side of the spectrum, you might actually show up to work without any sign of a hangover. It’s often the case when your body already adapted to the effects of a hangover. It comes from building up a tolerance from drinking so much all too often.

How to Help a Functional Alcoholic

More often than not, people with alcohol disorders often deny their problem. But it’s important to stay vigilant if your loved one is suffering. These people often need intervention, regardless of whether it’s an informal one.

With an intervention, they might have the means of understanding why alcohol can risk their health and livelihood. Take note, people struggling with alcohol abuse might not get help because they fear judgment. The best way to cure functional alcoholics is to get a doctor involved, regardless of whether it’s before or after the intervention.

Once they realize their addiction, they need to start enrolling in a comprehensive addiction treatment program. This should include a medical detox since quitting alcohol cold turkey is dangerous once they start becoming dependent.

The withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening, depending on the severity of their dependence.

high functioning alcoholic
Are you a high functioning alcoholic?

Help a High Functioning Alcoholic Today!

The good news is that there are a lot of rehabilitation programs that help with detox. This will ensure that they’re safe and comfortable as the process goes on. They need to continue their rehabilitation program to know the underlying issues associated with their alcohol abuse.

As for interventions, it’s necessary to avoid focusing on the bad things the alcoholic did. Family members and loved ones should be there to express their concern. That means they should focus on letting them know that they have the means of overcoming their alcohol problem.

Always remember that alcohol abuse will always catch up over time. Even a high functioning alcoholic isn’t exempted, despite looking like they have it together. The only hope is to intervene early to ensure the long-term effects don’t happen.

Do you need help with a family member suffering from alcoholism? If so, contact us today.

If it’s you who is worried about their drinking, the best thing you can do right now is to click here and commit to joining today’s free quit drinking webinar.

Or you can come to a one-day Quit Drinking Bootcamp.

Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert


About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Craig Beck

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  1. I never had a problem or cravings for alcohol (if you would not count a cold one after a hard work in a hot day, or just during a hot day 😉 ) Then I met my future wife. She had a habit, she was drinking everyday a glass of wine, form time to time more, but I never saw her too drunk. I believed that drinking less, but more often is much better in every way. I didn’t realized that she had the problem with alcohol and now I had also. As I wrote, she never was too drunk, she never drank in inapropriate time, never went to work drunk, never drive a car drunk. But we were drinking every day in the evening. I started to notice the problem, when our traditional hour of drinking was postponed by something, she was at first irritated by anything, then just angry till she got her glass of wine. When I was trying to say that something is wrong, she was in denial. I read a book by Ellen Petersen, which helped me to find a way to speak with my wife. Now we both are on recovery, both supporting each other, changing our lives, and our love is bigger than ever!

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