Legacy Healing Center Blog
Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Functional Alcoholism
Even after enormous amounts of research into the disease of addiction, lingering myths and misconceptions remain about alcoholics and alcoholism.
Many people still believe, for instance, that alcoholism is merely due to a lack of willpower and that those who drink to excess could stop if they only had the moral fortitude. Of course, this is far from the truth. We know that addiction is a disease and professional help is an essential part of getting and staying sober, yet the myth persists.
Another myth is that the lives of all alcoholics are visibly falling apart. They are unable to hold down a job, care for their families, or maintain the basic responsibilities of everyday life. However, there are plenty of high-functioning alcoholics in the world, people who are in as much pain as any other addict despite their ability to seemingly hold their lives together.
Myths about alcoholism and alcoholics can be very harmful. People on the high functioning end of all spectrum disorders tend to be misunderstood. Often the alcohol use disorder of a high functioning alcoholic goes unrecognized, and untreated, longer because they appear to be doing ok. The truth is, high functioning alcoholics are suffering inside as much as any other addict. If you’re worried about your drinking, or that of a friend or family member, we encourage you to educate yourself and understand the signs and symptoms of functional alcoholism.
What Is a Functional Alcoholic?
There is no such thing as a typical alcoholic, and everyone who struggles with alcohol use disorder has a different story to tell and a unique path that lead to their illness. While some alcoholics do indeed fit the stereotypes of nightly blackouts and complete dysfunction, others are more functional.
Functional alcoholics may appear normal on the exterior, able to hold a job, go to school, and care for their families, but when you scratch below the surface, the impact of their drinking may become much more apparent. High-functioning alcoholics are still alcoholics, their bodies are as dependent on alcohol as any other, and their addiction will still result in negative consequences to their health and their lives.
The bottom line is that if you are worried about your drinking or that of a loved one, you should pay attention to that little voice in your head. Even if you can still function every day, you may need to seek quality treatment for alcoholism.
Signs of Functional Alcoholism
Alcoholism can appear in many different guises, from the stereotypical blackouts to more high-functioning forms. If you are concerned about someone in your family or circle of friends who has been drinking to excess, you need to know the signs of functional alcoholism.
Here are some of the areas you should look out for if you suspect someone in your life may be a functional alcoholic.
- Joking about alcoholism
- Claiming to have a problem then denying it
- Falling behind with primary responsibilities
- Doing poorly at work or school
- Legal problems, including arrests for DUI and public intoxication
- Losing friends to drinking while failing to get help
- Problems with relationships
- Relying on alcohol to relax or feel confident
- Drinking in the morning
- Getting drunk without intending to
- Blacking out or not remembering what they did while they were drinking
- Showing denial about their drinking
- Hiding alcohol around the house
- Becoming angry when confronted about their drinking
- Making excuses for their drinking
If you recognize any of these warning signs, it is essential to talk to your loved ones and encourage them to get help right away. They may be functional in some ways, but high functioning alcoholics are still alcoholics, and they require the same level of treatment and care as any other addict.
Do Functional Alcoholics Need Treatment?
There is a common misperception that functional alcoholics are acceptable and do not require treatment until they hit rock bottom. This is a common belief, but it is definitely not the case.
The truth is that functional alcoholics, no matter how outwardly they may seem, are sick, and without treatment, they will continue to get sicker. High functioning alcoholics are still alcoholics, and they require the same intense level of treatment as any other addict.
The functional alcoholic may hold down a job, but the high level of alcohol in their blood could trigger a drunk driving crash, along with arrest and even more severe consequences. They may care for their family for the moment, but their alcohol use disorder’s progression may make that impossible in the future. If someone in your life has been drinking to excess, it is vital to reach out and get them the help they need.
At Legacy Healing Center, we understand the unique nature of alcoholism, from the stereotypical blackout drunk to the high functioning alcoholic who appears normal to the casual observer. No matter where your loved one is in the journey, including needing detox, we encourage you to call Legacy Healing Center at 888.534.2295 to get them into treatment as soon as possible.