Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

Legacy Healing Center Blog

If you are dating a functioning alcoholic, know the signs that she or he needs help.

Are you wondering what the term functioning alcoholic means? Often times in media and society, when we hear the term alcoholic used we are met with a vision of someone stumbling or slurring their speech, unable to work, go to school, or even get out of bed and start their day.

The reality is, most people who deal with an alcohol addiction issue do not experience these problems. Many are in fact, functioning alcoholics, and are able to manage many different areas of their life despite their drinking habits.

Even with high functioning alcoholic symptoms, many people can hold a steady job, have a solid relationship, and tend to other daily responsibilities, and many who fall into this category will actually excel in these areas of life.

Because they seem to be “keeping it all together” when it comes to life responsibilities, it is usually difficult for a functioning alcoholic to admit or recognize they have a problem with alcohol.

Only when a major event occurs, such as a severe health issue or an issue with their employer or relationship, will they possibly take their constant cravings for alcohol or need to drink seriously.

How to Recognize High Functioning Alcoholic Symptoms

Here are some other signs to watch out for:

  1. They make a lot of excuses or have a lot of explanations about why they drink a lot.
  2. You notice they drink much more than they actually consume food.
  3. They have blackouts on a regular basis.
  4. Their thoughts are consumed with their next drink, and if a planned outing will have access to alcohol.
  5. They have a hard time setting boundaries and sticking to them when it comes to how much alcohol they will drink in one sitting.
  6. Their behavior radically changes when they are sober as compared to when they are drinking.
  7. They lie about how much alcohol they are consuming.
  8. You find hidden bottles of alcohol in various places.

More Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

While high functioning alcoholic symptoms don’t always overlap with the symptoms and signs of an alcohol use disorder, there are some overlap signs that functioning alcoholics may begin to display. Here are the most common:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Changes in mood or attitude
  3. A decline in cognitive abilities
  4. Tremors or shaking due to withdrawing from alcohol for a short period
  5. Anxiousness
  6. A decline in performance in school or work
  7. Drinking at work or school, or at events when drinking is not appropriate
  8. Calling in sick or skipping out on responsibilities more and more

Whether you are dating a functioning alcoholic, or the individual is a friend or family member, you might be wondering how to offer help. The key is to be vigilant; many functioning alcoholics will be in denial because it seems like everything in their life is operating smoothly.

Education – in a nonjudgmental way  – that their drinking is hurting their physical health and their livelihood may influence them to change their behavior. You may even want to stage an informal intervention with the person’s loved ones or friends, and a trained addiction counselor.

It is important to note that you do not want to place ultimatums that the individual stop drinking cold turkey, as this could cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms to someone who has been drinking on a regular basis.

Reach out to the addiction specialists at Legacy Healing Center to learn more about functioning alcoholics and how detox and rehabilitation can help. Call us today at 888-597-3547.