Does a Functional Alcoholic Need Treatment?
Author: Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center Editor
It’s not unusual to see someone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or planning an office happy hour as a way of socializing and relaxing after work. With 86.4% of Americans reportedly consuming alcohol at least once in their lives, alcohol is one of the most common forms of stress relief in the country. But drinking on a regular basis is not without its consequences.
When someone hears the word alcoholic, they tend to think of a person who drinks to the point of being constantly drunk, slurring words, always making mistakes at work or wreaking havoc in their relationships. However, this is not always the situation that alcoholics find themselves in. Many people go about their day, seemingly sober to others, even though they have been consuming alcohol.
What is a Functional Alcoholic?
A functional alcoholic, also called a high-functioning alcoholic, is defined as someone who has a dependence on and constantly craves alcohol yet still maintains or even excels at their job, school and relationships. Due to this perceived perfect balance between their drinking and other aspects of their daily lives, it can be hard for someone to believe that they have a problem that needs to be fixed.
Alcohol can either act as a stimulant or a depressant depending on what the substance is and how much is consumed. It temporarily creates a sense of euphoria and excitement or causes feelings of relaxation and sluggishness. It is the desire and craving for more of these sensations that leads to addiction.
Many functioning alcoholics are living a double life. But there are several signs to look for that can indicate whether you or a loved one has a drinking problem.
- They say they are restricting their drinking to specific times, situations and beverages, while in reality drinking in secret.
- They rely on friends and family to cover for them while nursing a hangover or are short on cash after spending too much at the bar.
- They compartmentalize their time between work and drinking, preferring to spend time alone at the bar and lying to friends and family about their whereabouts.
- They may be suffering from mental illness, as approximately 25% of functioning alcoholics struggle with depression.
According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 20% of alcoholics are considered high-functioning, maintaining control over their lives despite their drinking problem. However, being functional now does not mean you will be functional in the future, because there is often a tipping point. This usually occurs when the person is confronted with poor health, either due to their drinking or otherwise, or a major life issue, such as the loss of their job or relationship troubles. Even before reaching the tipping point, it is important for functional alcoholics to seek out treatment.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two for men. However, drinking at this rate still puts someone in the top 30% of alcohol consumers in the country. Although this much alcohol per week seems harmless, it can still spiral into a bigger problem that negatively affects the brain, body, relationships and overall quality of life.
Get Help Today at Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center
If you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for alcoholism or is a functional alcoholic, it’s important to seek help before the addiction continues to progress. Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center offers faith-based comprehensive addiction recovery programs for those struggling with alcoholism in a safe and nurturing environment. Call 770-288-5669 to speak with one of our compassionate addiction experts today.