What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

Many think that an alcoholic is someone who as lost everything. Although that does tragically happen, that is not always the case. In fact, many alcoholics continue on with their self-abusive lifestyle because they still have a marriage, a career, a house, or something that can convince them that they are still fine.

Just because someone is able to function at work despite their dependence on alcohol does not mean that they are immune to its effects I had the best job in my life when I entered into AA. My motivation was no to stop but to learn how to control my drinking. I knew that if I could go back to just partying on the weekends instead of getting wasted every night, I would be happy again. I just wanted to stop being miserable. Problem was, if I was not drinking I was wretchedly unhappy.  I thought I was damned if I continued and damned if I stopped. Little did I know that the gates of hell are locked from the inside. All I had to do was admit to myself that despite my outward success, I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. I was a high functioning alcoholic.

Here are a few signs that could indicate someone is a high-functioning alcoholic:

They need alcohol to feel confident: Often high-functioning alcoholics feel “locked in” to their drinking because they worry that when the alcohol stops, so will their success. Of course other drugs can be involved too.

They joke that they have an alcohol problem: They don’t take their alcohol dependence seriously or believe that they still have complete control over it. I used to say that getting high was my hobby.

They don’t seem to get hangovers anymore: Developing a tolerance for alcohol can, in turn, convince them that their drinking is not a problem because they are not feeling its effects.

They drink alone: Drinking is not a social activity for them; it is a solitary pastime. I used to prefer to drink at home alone so no one ever see me get mean and ugly when I drank too much.

They replace meals with alcohol: Mealtimes are often an excuse for the high-functioning alcoholic to start drinking. They may even forego the meal altogether because food will absorb the booze and diminish the high.

They become a different person when they drink: Social drinkers do not dramatically change their personality when they drink. Alcoholics, however, behave quite differently.

They become hostile or argumentative when they can’t drink: Alcoholics often suffer withdrawal symptoms if they are forced to stay sober or are cut off from their alcohol supply.

They can’t stop at one drink: They have trouble letting alcohol “go to waste” and may finish friends’ drinks for them. They have trouble setting a limit on their drinking. If a person cannot stop drinking without becoming uncomfortable, they are very likely an alcoholic.

They hide their alcohol: They keep their alcohol stashed in a secret location where their friends and family won’t find it, like in their desk or car. Hiding it or not, they do always make sure that they have enough on hand to make sure that they do not run out.

They deny that they have been drinking when asked: They do what they can to to hide the fact that they have been drinking or try to minimize how many they have had.

Do you recognize any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one? If so, please reach out for help. It’s not too late.