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How to Recognize a Functional Alcoholic

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Some people become addicted to alcohol quickly, and others develop the disease over time. People who participate in underage drinking are more likely to become addicted because the developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of the substance. You or someone you care about can get help before hitting rock bottom, but you have to start by diagnosing the problem.

Can you drink and not be addicted?

Not all alcohol addictions look the same, though. You may need to drink every single day, increasing the amount you consume over time to achieve the same “high.” Another person may have periods of sobriety and then binge drink for days or weeks. Just because you drink every day doesn't mean you're addicted to alcohol.

They are typically able to successfully juggle important aspects of life, including their jobs, relationships, and home life. The truth is, like any condition that involves complex human emotions and behaviors, AUD exists on a spectrum of severity. People who are high-functioning alcoholics can be overconfident about their ability to do tasks while under the influence of alcohol. You may operate machinery or drive after drinking, putting your life and the lives of others in danger.

Signs of a High Functioning Alcoholic

For this reason, it is hard to determine exactly how many people might have high-functioning AUD. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction.

As VP of Business Development, McCarthy leads a team of over 20 business development professionals nationwide. She manages client acquisition, coordinates in-service trainings with various referents and hospitals, and presents at conferences on addiction and mental health disorder treatment. Everyone who comes through our doors is in a moment of profound struggle in their lives. We support them through a life-changing process of healing and recovery, and they leave our facilities changed. As mentioned above, it also allows us to have a national brand, which will make us a recognizable name in the addiction and mental health field.

High-Functioning Alcoholic Recovery

But most high-functioning alcoholics 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. If you are a high-functioning alcoholic and you know it’s time to overcome your addiction, tell your family and friends that you’ve decided to quit alcohol and separate from people who will not support your recovery. Until you check into rehab, avoid bars, liquor stores, and other places where alcohol and drinking abound. Finally, be willing to admit that you have a problem and firmly resolve to make a change in your life. In some cases, high-functioning alcoholics will experience alcohol withdrawals once they quit drinking.

  • Most started drinking in their late teens, but don’t become addicted to alcohol until they are in their late thirties.
  • Most importantly, while you should avoid being judgmental or accusatory, you should also be honest about how alcoholism is affecting you and the alcoholic.
  • People can have a varied reaction and tolerance to alcohol and that doesn’t necessarily mean they are alcoholics.
  • Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism developed five types of alcoholics.

We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery. Express an openness to talk about their drinking, provide support and establish boundaries. Make it clear to high functioning alcoholic him that you will not support their drinking or unhealthy behaviors, and you will not share in the consequences. It is important to know that an AUD is a chronic but treatable disease.

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Alcohol use is often comfortable, and may give you a temporary feeling of relief from the stressors of life. But if the above describes you, you may be dealing with functional alcoholism. Although alcohol may not seem like it has created any problems for you or your loved one yet, it is important to beat addiction at the source.

difference between a high functioning alcoholic and an alcoholic

Functional alcoholics also joke about drinking often as a way to validate their habit. What’s worse, they are more likely to participate in troubling behaviors but are proficient in not getting caught. An example of the high-risk behavior they may take part in is driving while intoxicated. Functional alcoholics differ from those who struggle with alcoholism, primarily in how alcohol affects their lives. If you’re the loved one of someone in either group, it’s important to know how to deal with an alcoholic effectively if you want to help them get well.

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