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High Functioning Alcoholic: What Is It & What Are the Signs?

Alcoholism is a disease many people are facing all over the world. High-functioning alcoholism is a controversial term for people who can maintain successful careers and lives despite having problematic drinking habits.

Learn more about it when you continue reading.

What Is a High Functioning Alcoholic?

There is no definitive answer to this question. A high-functioning alcoholic is generally considered to be someone who can maintain a relatively normal life despite their alcohol dependence.

This might mean they can hold a job, maintain a social life and generally keep up appearances. However, underneath this façade, they will be struggling with their alcohol addiction.

A high-functioning alcoholic often tries to hide their drinking problem from others. They might be able to keep it together during the day but then drink heavily in secret at night. Or they might only drink on weekends but still consume large amounts of alcohol.

What Are the Symptoms of a High Functioning Alcoholic?

It can be difficult to spot a high functioning alcoholic as they are often very good at hiding their problem. However, some tell-tale signs might give them away.

1. Habitually Drinking before Events

It’s no secret that many people like to drink before big events. Whether it’s a wedding, a job interview, or a first date, alcohol can help to ease nerves and make social situations more enjoyable. However, for some people, drinking before events becomes a habit.

The habit of drinking before events can become a problem, leading to negative consequences, such as missing work or school, getting into arguments with loved ones, or making poor decisions. 

2. Blackout Drinking When Given the Chance

There’s a common misconception that all alcoholics are “falling-down drunks.” But the reality is that many people with alcoholism are what’s known as “high-functioning alcoholics.” They may be able to maintain their jobs and responsibilities, but their drinking is still causing problems in their lives.

One of the most common signs of a high-functioning alcoholic is blackout drinking. This is when a person drinks so much that they can’t remember what happened while intoxicated. For some people, this may happen occasionally. But for others, it may happen every time they drink.

Blackout drinking can be extremely dangerous. It’s been linked to accidents, injuries, and risky behaviors. And it’s often a sign that a person is struggling to control their drinking.

3. Behavior Changes When Drinking

When someone is a high-functioning alcoholic, they may be able to hold down a job and keep up appearances. However, there are usually behavioral changes that occur when they are drinking. This can include becoming more talkative, more outgoing, or more aggressive. They may also have a loss of inhibitions and make poor decisions. 

4. Doesn’t Know How to Do a Little Drinking

One of the signs of a high-functioning alcoholic is that they don’t know how to do a little drinking. They either drink too much or do not at all. There’s no middle ground. They may be able to control their drinking for a while, but eventually, they always end up drinking too much.

Final Thoughts

A high-functioning alcoholic can maintain an appearance of normalcy despite having a severe drinking problem. If you think you or someone you know may be a high-functioning alcoholic, it is essential to seek help from a professional.

For alcohol rehab in Orange County, you can bring yourself or your loved one to the American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine. Here, we offer a treatment partnership with the patient, helping them ensure the continuity of their recovery. Chat with us today to learn how to get help.

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