What is a High Functioning Alcoholic? Definition & Signs

We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Individual therapy, combined with marriage or family counseling, can strengthen your self-esteem and help you build a healthy, sober relationship. While some struggle with their addiction, others can live successful lives.

high functioning alcoholic

The same factors also affect how severely a person will get addicted. In 2007, Columbia University researchers found that 4 percent of Americans had an alcohol use disorder. The American https://ecosoberhouse.com/ Psychiatric Association classifies substances use disorders as mild, moderate or severe. But mild and moderate cases may be more common, affecting millions across the country.

Signs & Symptoms of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

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. High-functioning alcoholics will rarely admit that they have a problem.

high functioning alcoholic

Many are not viewed by society as being alcoholic, because they have functioned, succeeded and/or over-achieved throughout their lifetimes. These achievements often lead to an increase in personal denial as well as denial from colleagues and loved ones. A doctor can check a person’s drinking levels and recommend further treatment options. 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. A functional alcoholic often consumes as much alcohol as someone with an alcohol use disorder.

Dangers of High-Functioning Alcoholism

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. Thousands of people have conquered alcoholism and you can do it too. There is a difference between someone who suffers high functioning alcoholic from high-functioning alcoholism and someone who simply enjoys drinking alcohol. High-functioning alcoholics crave alcohol, develop tolerance to it over time, and experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. High-functioning alcoholics drink because they “need to drink,” not always because they want to drink.

For example, this person may drink to excess, blackout or drink daily, but they can maintain their relationships and job and not have any adverse health issues due to their drinking. It can be hard to identify someone with functioning alcoholism because there are no clear indicators that alcohol use negatively impacts them. This article explores the meaning of the term high functioning alcoholic, looks at the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD), how people can help friends and family, and more. 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. Regardless of whether the person can function in some aspects of life, alcoholism is a serious disease.

The Progressive Nature of Alcoholism

This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure FHE Health is trusted as a leader in mental health and addiction care. There should be zero doubt that living a sober lifestyle can be extremely difficult. Many people start the road to recovery but stumble back to the substance of their choice—sometimes multiple times. Unlike a traditional alcoholic, the functioning alcoholic is better at hiding mistakes. Yet the action of hiding those mistakes is a sure sign that they’re an alcoholic. American Addiction Centers can people who are struggling with alcohol misuse and AUD.

In addition, since the impact of AUD may not be as obvious, the person may be unable to recognize the severity of their condition in these early stages. For some people, AUD may also mean more than physical dependence, but a stress reliever or source of psychological escape.


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