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High-Functioning Alcoholic: Signs and Symptoms

Alcoholism or alcohol abuse can look different for everyone. While most people may be noticeably affected by their drinking habits, others – at least temporarily – can function regularly in their day-to-day lives. If you’re asked to picture an alcoholic, you may think of the stereotype of someone who’s always drinking too much and whose life is falling apart because of it, but it’s not always like that. Not all people with alcohol use disorders share the same characteristics. Our Christian rehab is diving into high-functioning alcoholic signs that may indicate your loved one is living with a drinking problem.

What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who can appear to function normally while abusing alcohol in private. Otherwise referred to as functional alcoholism, a person with high-functioning alcoholism may be able to carry out their daily tasks – such as job tasks, hygiene, caring for their children, paying bills, and socializing – without exhibiting all the usual impairments associated with alcoholism. However, while the external consequences may not seem as severe for someone with high-functioning alcoholism, that doesn’t mean they don’t need medical detox or professional treatment.

Long-term alcohol abuse will eventually take a toll on the individual’s physical health, mental health, career, finances, and relationships. The “functioning” aspect of functioning alcoholism is short-lived, and the disorder will eventually catch up to the person. Regardless of how controlled a person’s drinking seems on the outside, alcoholism is a serious disease that can have both immediate and long-term repercussions. If you suspect that someone in your life is displaying high-functioning alcoholic signs and symptoms, get them professional alcohol abuse treatment immediately.

Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

The characteristics of a high-functioning alcoholic can be hard to pinpoint if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Because people with high-functioning alcoholism are able to keep up with their daily responsibilities (at least for a while), you may not realize there’s a problem until something serious happens. However, this is avoidable. There are certain behaviors that indicate that someone has a drinking problem.

Common functioning alcoholic symptoms include:

  • Avoiding conversations about their drinking habits.
  • Blacking out from drinking alcohol.
  • Hiding how much or how often they drink.
  • Sneaking alcohol into places where it isn’t served or allowed.
  • Drinking by themselves frequently.
  • Hiding alcohol around the house.
  • Continuing to drink even if it’s worsened their physical or mental health.
  • Missing work or school due to drinking.
  • Being able to maintain a well-groomed appearance and keep up with their hygiene
  • Drinking a large amount of alcohol and not appearing intoxicated.
  • Drinking at lunchtime during work hours.
  • Drinking in risky situations, such as before driving or operating heavy machinery at work
  • Being able to drink for long periods of time, but also not indulging regularly. (Many people with functioning alcoholism are able to go long periods without drinking, so they may try to rationalize their habit for this reason.)
  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol in certain situations.
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed of drinking or about their behavior when they drink.
  • Feeling an overwhelming urge to finish alcoholic drinks even if they’re someone else’s.
  • Handling responsibilities at work, home, or school despite their drinking.
  • Lying to themselves or others about how much they drink.
  • Not seeing excessive drinking as a significant problem in carrying out daily responsibilities.
  • Being unable to control their drinking.
  • Obsessing over when they can drink next.

As we’ve mentioned before, high-functioning alcoholism can be difficult to identify if you don’t know what to watch out for. If a loved one has exhibited the signs of a functioning alcoholic, don’t wait to get them help. Our Christian residential rehab offers treatment at an inpatient level for all types of disorders, including alcoholism. Get your loved one the help they need today before it’s too late.

Are You a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

If you’ve displayed any of the symptoms we’ve mentioned above, then you might be. Do you drink alone often? Do you struggle to control your drinking? You may argue that you’re fine because you still have a job and you’re still able to care for your family, but what about a few months or years from now? While you may be able to manage your life at first, this is only temporary. Eventually, you may begin to lose friends, your relationships with your spouse and family may be damaged, you may lose your job, and your physical health may take a turn for the worse.

Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate, and rarely do people who engage in long-term alcohol abuse come out of the situation unscathed. If you or a loved one is showing signs of alcoholism or any other addiction, Faith in Recovery can help. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our Christian addiction recovery programs.

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