10 Signs Someone Is A Functioning Alcoholic

It’s easy to associate alcoholism with slurring words, reckless behavior, and other classical symptoms of being intoxicated. You may expect someone who is a full-blown alcoholic to have a life that is spiraling out of control, but this isn’t always the case. Some people conceal their alcoholism better than others.

Someone struggling with alcoholism may also fly under the radar without easy detection. This type of person who doesn’t display the obvious signs of alcoholism is known as a high-functioning alcoholic. You may very well know a functional alcoholic in your very own family or circle of friends… and not even realize it.

High-functioning alcoholics will often hold down a job, maintain home ownership, and exhibit other behaviors that make their addiction difficult to detect. However, to someone who is aware of the signs, the drinking problem will become apparent.

Once you know the signs, you will be able to recognize if someone is a high-functioning alcoholic and get them the help they need. Here are 10 warning signs that someone is a high-functioning alcoholic. (Continues on Page 2)

Depending On Alcohol To Reduce Anxiety or Enhance Confidence

Quick Fact: In 2015, 86% of people over 18 have consumed alcohol in the past year.

Drinking for social purposes is a common practice in the United States. The practice is ubiquitous – in every setting from a college campus to an after-work Happy Hour, it’s not uncommon for adults to partake in alcohol in a social context. Anecdotally, it’s not exactly uncommon for a person to have a drink to make socialization a little easier. However, the danger emerges when alcohol becomes an absolutely necessity for socialization. When you need alcohol in order to quell anxiety or enhance your confidence, you may be displaying signs of functioning alcoholism.

 

 

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Frequently “Joking” About Being An Alcoholic

Quick Fact: In 2015, 26.9% of people over 18 reported binge drinking at some point in the past month.

If you find yourself frequently making light of how often you drink by joking about it, it may be an indicator that alcohol consumption is becoming a central part of how you interact with people. Functioning alcoholics will often find themselves to be the only person drinking in a group. Even at times when the other people in the group have opted to have a glass of water (since it’s only 2pm on a Monday, for example), the functioning alcoholic will request a cocktail, glance over at the others in the group, and joke about their alcohol consumption. “I’m such an alcoholic!”

 

 

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Neglecting Responsibilities Related To Work, School, or Family

Quick Fact: 15.1 Million people living in the United States have some form of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

A functioning alcohol may seem completely normal while fundamental aspects of their life are deteriorating. If you have a family member that has suddenly lost their job without any apparent explanation, and their relationships with their family members have also deteriorated, there may be a deeper force at work causing the spiral.

 

 

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Alcohol Induced Decisions That Damage Relationships, Yet Continue To Drink

Quick Fact: In 2015, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 623,000 Americans aged 12-17 exhibited signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

A functioning alcoholic may become combative at dinner, or behave completely out of character after a few drinks. The functioning alcoholic will display apprehension to attribute their behavior to alcohol intoxication. Rather than learning from their mistake and limiting or eliminating their alcohol consumption, the functioning alcoholic may fall into similar dysfunctional decisions in the future.

 

 

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Drinking Early In the Day Or When Alone

Quick Fact: Only 5.2% of people who have AUD received treatment.

The typical occasional consumer of alcohol will reserve their alcohol consumption for appropriate times. They may have a glass of wine with dinner, or a few beers with friends. However, the functioning alcoholic will find themselves driven to drink at increasing frequency at times other don’t. They may wake up and have a beer before work, or find themselves drinking often when alone. As their alcohol consumption increases, they’ll seek ways to conceal their drinking while at work or in other inappropriate settings and times.

 

 

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Getting Drunk Unintentionally

Quick Fact: An estimated 88,000 people die in the United States each year from alcohol-related causes.

You intended to just have a couple of beers – but 10 drinks later, you’re completely trashed. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either – lately, it has become a frequent occurrence. You may be a functioning alcoholic if you find yourself having difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol you consume.

 

 

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Memory Loss Related To Drinking Episodes

Quick Fact: Alcohol is the third largest cause of preventable deaths in the United States. The first is tobacco use and the second is weight-related issues due to physical inactivity and diet.

If gaps in your memory and total blackouts become a normalized part of drinking alcohol, you may be a functioning alcoholic. As your tolerance for alcohol increases, you may find yourself drinking so much that you begin to experience memory lapses. Your recollection of the previous night may come in waves and flashes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is funny or normal – it’s never normal, and may be a sign that you are a functioning alcoholic.

 

 

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Denial And Irritation When Confronted About Your Alcoholism

Quick Fact: The economic toll of alcohol misuse in the United States was almost $250 Billion in 2010. 75% of this figure is attributed to binge drinking.

As your drinking becomes more frequent and intense, your friends and family will eventually take notice. Even the most discrete functioning alcoholics can only hide their addiction for so long. When they’re finally confronted or even just casually asked about their drinking habits, they will become extremely defensive. This will often result in conflict, and the functioning alcoholic will often shut down or withdraw from the relationship completely since it threatens their ability to continue their drinking habits.

 

 

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Risk Taking Behavior

Quick Fact: In 2012, almost 6% (3.3 Million) of all deaths globally were attributed to alcohol misuse.

Functional alcoholics may engage in behavior that isn’t exactly risk averse. It’s not unusual for a person at a party to make poor decisions, especially when alcohol is involved. However, the differentiating factor is that a functioning alcoholic is intoxicated in more critical settings, such as work or home.

For example, imagine being on a call with a client or having to exhibit professional behavior with coworkers when constantly under the influence of alcohol. While the functioning alcoholic may be skilled at concealing their problem, it’s only a matter of time before they make a less-than-optimal decision under the influence.

 

 

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