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All About Functioning Alcoholism: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Alcoholism affects millions of people around the world. It is a disease that can have devastating consequences not only for the person struggling with it but also for their loved ones. While many people believe that alcoholism only affects individuals who have lost everything and hit rock bottom, there is a group of people known as functioning alcoholics who can maintain their daily responsibilities and still struggle with alcohol abuse.

This article will explore what it means to be a functioning alcoholic, the signs and symptoms, and the available treatment options. 

What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is an individual who is dependent on alcohol but can still maintain their daily activities, such as work, school, and family responsibilities. They may appear to have their life together, but they are actually struggling with alcohol abuse.

Functioning alcoholics often have a high tolerance for alcohol, which means they can consume large amounts without showing any signs of impairment. They may also be in denial about their drinking problem or try to hide it from others.

Signs and Symptoms of Functioning Alcoholism

Functioning alcoholics often exhibit some of the same indications as those who struggle with severe alcoholism. However, because they can still maintain their daily responsibilities, these signs and symptoms may be less noticeable:

  1. Drinking in secret or alone
  2. Hiding alcohol or making excuses to drink
  3. Drinking to cope with stress or anxiety
  4. Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school
  5. Experiencing blackouts or memory loss
  6. Becoming defensive or angry when confronted about their drinking
  7. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drinking
  8. Continuing to drink despite negative consequences

Treatment Options for Functioning Alcoholics

The first step in treating functioning alcoholism is to recognize that there is a problem. Many functioning alcoholics are in denial about their drinking or believe they can quit independently. However, alcoholism is a disease that requires professional treatment. 

There are several treatment options available for functioning alcoholics, including:

  • Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment includes staying at a treatment center for a certain period, usually 30-90 days. During this time, patients receive intensive therapy, counseling, and medical care to help them overcome their addiction.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment allows individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily responsibilities. This type of treatment typically involves therapy and support groups.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a support group that provides a 12-step program for individuals struggling with alcoholism. AA meetings are free and available in most communities.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals change negative thoughts and behaviors. It can be an effective treatment option for functioning alcoholics.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: Medication-assisted treatment involves medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This type of treatment is often used in combination with therapy.

Key Takeaway

Functioning alcoholism is a severe condition with devastating consequences if left untreated. One way to prevent it is by recognizing the signs and symptoms from the onset. With the proper treatment and support, a functioning alcoholic can overcome their addiction and lead a healthy, fulfilling life. If you or your loved ones are struggling with alcoholism, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

The American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine offers intensive outpatient treatment programs for alcohol addiction, including medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and support groups. We are dedicated to helping individuals overcome their addiction and achieve long-term recovery. For more information, please call us at 800-779-4715.

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