What’s a Functional Alcoholic?

“The chains of alcohol are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” While people might sometimes use alcohol to help you get through the day, it is usually the cause of why you’re not functioning the way you used to. Once this happens, signing up for alcohol detox near Lima, Ohio, may be a good decision.

What alcoholism appears like and who it can impact are two of the most widespread and erroneous misconceptions about the disease. Despite popular perceptions of alcoholics as extremely disorganized or always wasted, scientists estimate that almost 20% of alcoholics in the United States belong to the functional alcoholic group. 

AFTER SOMEONE IS DIAGNOSED, then you count how many drinks they have.

Functional Alcoholic diagnosis - infographic
Functional Alcoholic diagnosis – infographic

Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Coping With Stress

Drinking to cope with whatever stress you experience can rapidly turn into a habit of binge drinking. While alcohol may provide temporary relaxation, continuous drinking to relieve stress can lead to alcohol dependence and increased tolerance.

Alcohol withdrawal, attention problems, and cravings can all emerge as a result of this. It can also aggravate stress-related issues such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. 

Take your first step towards recovery.

Daytime Drinking

If someone develops alcoholism, the only way to avoid withdrawal symptoms is to consume more alcohol throughout the day. This can develop behaviors such as waking up in the morning and drinking it in a “normal” way, hiding alcohol at work, or sneaking a drink during a break. 

However, the single occasion of drinking alcohol during the day does not confirm that one is a high-functioning alcoholic. The act must be paired with some behavioral signs such as:

    • Symptoms of withdrawal (e.g., unclear thinking, nausea, sweating, fatigue, anxiety, or headache) 
    • Constantly making jokes about their drinking habits 
  • Hiding their drink at work

Habitually Drinking Alone

People who are addicted to alcohol often drink alone, either to alleviate feelings of shame or humiliation or simply to escape from others. This is in stark contrast to persons who drink during parties, celebrations, or at other events where drinking is regarded as a socially acceptable activity.

There can be problems if they go home and continue to drink until they get knocked out.

Heavy Drinking

How functioning alcoholics behave may vary from person to person, but they will almost certainly increase in frequency and consumption over time. Experts say that moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks for men – a limit that alcoholics are likely to exceed as their tolerance grows.

Likewise, if a person consumes excessive amounts of alcohol on a daily basis or can’t get through the day without drinking, they may be suffering from alcohol dependency.  

Avoidance or Denial

While a functioning alcoholic may suffer fewer problems as a result of their drinking than others, they may also find themselves in denial about how their drinking affects their lives. Holding on to a degree of empowerment is what fosters this kind of thinking in most high-functioning alcoholics.

If they believe they have control over how far their drinking affects their life, they can continue to convince themselves – and several others – that they don’t have an addiction.

Man reaching out the alcohol drink on the floor - Illustration
Man reaching out the alcohol drink on the floor


Time to Get an Alcohol Detox near Lima, Ohio?

Time will show that being a high-functioning alcoholic won’t do anyone good. Without seeking help, you’ll experience adverse effects on your physical and mental health. Contact the Ridgeview Alcohol Rehab to know more!


What is a functional alcoholic?

A functional alcoholic, also known as a high-functioning alcoholic, is someone who appears to maintain a normal life despite their alcohol dependency. They often hold steady jobs, maintain relationships, and fulfill daily responsibilities while still being addicted to alcohol.

What are the signs and symptoms of a functional alcoholic?

Signs and symptoms of a functional alcoholic may include drinking alone or in secret, needing alcohol to relax or feel confident, neglecting responsibilities due to drinking, experiencing blackouts, and making excuses for drinking habits.

How can a functional alcoholic affect their personal and professional life?

A functional alcoholic can experience strained relationships, decreased productivity, legal issues, financial problems, and physical health issues. Despite maintaining an outwardly stable life, their addiction can gradually erode personal and professional well-being.

What are the health risks associated with being a functional alcoholic?

Health risks include liver damage, cardiovascular problems, mental health disorders, increased risk of accidents, and potential for developing more severe alcohol dependency. Long-term excessive drinking can lead to significant health complications.

How can someone get help if they are a functional alcoholic?

Help can be sought through behavioral therapy, counseling, support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and treatment programs at specialized facilities. Recognizing the problem and seeking professional help is a crucial step towards recovery.

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