Am I a High-Functioning Alcoholic? Know the Signs

The best way for someone to help a high-functioning alcoholic is to have a forthright conversation with them about their addiction. Your conversation should happen when the person you are trying to help is sober. Most importantly, while you should avoid being judgmental or accusatory, you should also be honest about how alcoholism is affecting high functioning alcoholic you and the alcoholic. The person may offer excuses or attempt to explain away their addiction, but stay firm and offer to help the person start treatment. If possible, get other family member and friends involved and stage an intervention. They take care of their families, always pay their bills, and avoid trouble with the law.

When should someone stop drinking?

Quitting is strongly advised if you: Have tried cutting down but cannot stay within the limits you set. Have had alcohol use disorder (AUD) or now have any symptoms. Have a physical or mental health condition that is caused or being worsened by drinking.

This means that over time, you’ll have to drink more alcohol to reach a level of intoxication. CBT’s basic principle is the necessity of understanding one’s own negative thoughts and behaviors and then working to replace them with positive ones. CBT is a therapy approach that focuses less on diagnosing but more on implementing positive change.

Characteristics of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

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. It’s important to know that though you’ve developed a tolerance to alcohol, your blood alcohol concentration remains unchanged by how much you drink. Even though you may not feel as drunk, your judgement is still clouded, and you will still suffer ramifications like getting a DUI if you’re pulled over while driving drunk. If you find yourself defending your drinking a lot, it’s time to take a closer look at your substance use. Maybe friends or family say you need to cut back or your drinking may have even given your coworkers or boss cause for concern. Even though you may be able to function better than others on large amounts of alcohol, the long-term psychological and physical effects can be damaging and deadly.

Many alcoholics succeed at work and in school and have great relationships. Nevertheless, high-functioning alcoholics have an addiction disorder which requires treatment. Many alcoholics use denial or aggression as their chosen mode of avoidance, but others have a seemingly rational explanation for their behavior.

Signs Of A High-Functioning Alcoholic

According to the NIAAA, the majority of people with an AUD can benefit from some form of treatment. Dr. Beth Dunlap, a board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine physician, and is the medical director at Northern Illinois Recovery Center. She is responsible for overseeing all the integrated medical services at both campuses. Beth completed medical school, residency, and fellowship at Northwestern University, where she continues to serve on the faculty as a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She has extensive experience in addiction medicine at all levels of care, and her clinical interests include integrated primary care and addiction medicine, harm reduction, and medication-assisted treatment. Don’t make up stories about why they aren’t able to attend the event you both were supposed to attend. When dating a functional alcoholic and there’s an attempt to cover for them, you’ve now become a partner in crime.

  • Now that you have a better understanding of what a functioning alcoholic actually is, let’s go over some of the common high functioning alcoholic signs and symptoms that can lead to these health problems.
  • They may also withdraw from social situations and find excuses to miss events or optional commitments where drinking is not available or possible.
  • This is understandable with any addiction – the substance takes center stage and other responsibilities become progressively harder to meet.
  • Some high-functioning alcoholics will even keep their alcoholism a secret or fail to recognize it themselves.
  • Now, researchers say it may be helpful for alcohol use disorder.

Denial of a drinking problem because they’ve experienced no severe consequences due to drinking. Those behaviors often overlap with the traits shown by someone who is suffering from a high-functioning form of the condition. The Association for Addiction Professionals represents the professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction-focused health care professionals in the United States, Canada and abroad. You’ve continued drinking though it’s impacted your relationships. You’ve tried to curb or quit drinking alcohol without success more than once. Your provider can also perform tests to see if you have developed any medical concerns from alcohol misuse and recommend counseling, rehabilitation, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery. Verywell Mind’s content is for informational and educational purposes only.

Lying About How Much You Drink

We hope you found this article on signs of a functioning alcoholic insightful. Most alcoholics will use denial to avoid a conversation about their problem. They might say they drink because they are super stressed at work. If you drink often, once you stop for a couple of days, you’ll see a difference.

How can you identify an alcoholic?

The initial test in identifying alcohol is to take the free of water, neutral liquid, and add a solid phosphorus (V) chloride. A burst of acidic steamy hydrogen chloride fumes specifies an alcohol presence. Some subsequent tests are required to distinguish between alcohol classifications.

The addiction counselors at Mission Harbor Behavioral Health are standing by to answer your questions about alcohol use disorder and your treatment options. Some may ask, “If their lives are not impacted by their alcohol use, then why is their alcohol use a problem? They are excelling in their careers, taking care of their children, connecting with their spouse, etc.” The answer is that their lives are always impacted in some way. While the consequences of their alcohol use may not be so apparent at the time, there is bound to be some area of their life that is indeed being impacted now or that will be impacted in the future. For example, interior physical damage caused by alcohol to the liver, pancreas, heart, and brain are often left unnoticed until it may be too late. Or in some way the individual’s relationships with their loved ones may slowly deteriorate over time as they spend more time drinking and less time being present and connecting with others.