Many people conjure up an image of a person living under a bridge with a brown paper bag in his or her hands when they think of an alcoholic. Unfortunately, this is typically far from the truth when it comes to what people who are struggling with alcoholism tend to look like. In fact, many active alcoholics are considered “functioning” or “high functioning,” and the people around them often are unaware of their problem entirely.
Determining if a loved one is a functioning alcoholic can not only be difficult but also painful. Many people don’t want to believe that their loved one has a problem or admit that they themselves may have enabled alcoholic behavior. However, if you believe a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, the best thing you can do is help him or her seek help.
The Treehouse, located in Dallas, Texas, has a number of treatment options available for individuals looking to reclaim their lives from alcoholism. Our inpatient facility can provide your loved one with a customized program of recovery that is best suited to his or her unique needs and condition.
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What Does It Mean To Be A High-Functioning Alcoholic?
A high-functioning alcoholic is a person who participates in problem drinking and regularly experiences cravings for alcohol but is able to maintain a job and relationships. High-functioning alcoholics still experience the dependence on and urge to drink alcohol that can sometimes be debilitating and lead them to consume too much alcohol and experience negative consequences. However, these individuals often keep their alcoholism hidden from others and tend to excel in work and life, making it difficult to determine whether the person is truly an alcoholic.
Many high-functioning alcoholics are unable to face the fact that they are struggling with alcohol addiction. This often due to their success in other areas of life; this success can fuel denial of an alcohol problem. Unfortunately, this can cause many high-functioning alcoholics to continue to abuse alcohol until they begin to suffer serious health consequences or life problems.
This denial can also make it difficult to confront a high-functioning alcoholic. However, if you believe a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s important to talk with him or her about his or her alcohol problem. Continuing to ignore it will only allow the cycle of alcoholism to go on.
Warning Signs Of A Functional Alcoholic
There are several signs you can look for to determine if a loved one may be a functioning alcoholic. The severity of his or her alcoholism will often make these signs more or less noticeable. However, once you know what to look for, you should be able to conclude whether your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction.
Warning signs that a person may be a functioning alcoholic include:
- trouble controlling how much alcohol is consumed
- lying about drinking or how much has been drunk
- hiding alcohol or how much alcohol is being consumed
- obsessing over drinking
- regular blackouts
- significant personality changes when intoxicated
- making excuses about how much alcohol is consumed or about behavior while intoxicated
- drinking alone
- consuming alcohol to cope with problems
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms after drinking
High-functioning alcoholics often look and act normally until they begin drinking. This can make it difficult to tell if a person is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction. Some high-functioning alcoholics may not even admit to themselves that they have a problem until they reach a “tipping point” or struggle to continue to function as an active alcoholic.
How You Can Help A Functioning Alcoholic
Addressing a high-functioning alcoholic about his or her alcohol problem can be tricky. This is especially true for individuals who are still in denial about their alcoholism. However, it’s important to not ignore the situation and to address your loved one as soon as possible.
Speaking with a loved one about his or her alcohol addiction can feel overwhelming and even daunting. An intervention may be the best option, as it allows you to confront your loved one with the help of others. You can even have an addiction professional or counselor present to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
Additionally, it’s important to address your own behaviors and attitudes towards your loved one and his or her drinking habits. Many people encourage and enable a loved one’s alcoholism without even realizing it. Evaluating your behavior is an important step in helping your loved one overcome his or her alcohol addiction.
Having a plan for how you will confront your loved one is the best way to help the process go as productively as possible. Showing your loved one that they have your full support is also important and can help them take the steps necessary to overcome alcohol addiction.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
If you believe a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, there are a number of treatment options to consider that can help him, or her overcome an alcohol use disorder. The Treehouse is a state-of-the-art rehab center that offers a variety of treatment programs designed to help individuals heal from alcohol addiction and live a productive life in sobriety.
To learn more about how to tell if your loved one is a functioning alcoholic, contact one of our dedicated treatment specialists today.
- National Institutes of Health — Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes
- Psych Central — 5 Tips For Recognizing The High-Functioning Alcoholic Or Addict
- Psychology Today — Ways to Approach the High-Functioning Alcoholic in Your Life