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High-Functioning Alcoholism

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What to Know about High-Functioning Alcoholism

A high-functioning alcoholic regularly drinks
an unhealthy amount of alcohol
while maintaining professional and personal success.

High-Functioning Alcoholism, Misconceptions about High-Functioning Alcoholism, Symptoms of High-Functioning Alcoholism, Confronting a High-Functioning Alcoholic, Rehab is Your Best Chance

While a significant number of alcoholics are in denial about their condition, many others are simply unaware that they have a drinking problem. For example, someone who is productive may believe that they have their drinking under control, simply because they can still produce results at work and keep up with their many responsibilities.

But what these people don’t realize is that they are high-functioning alcoholics. Those who are considered as high-functioning alcoholics might be able to hold down jobs and family lives while still struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who regularly drinks an unhealthy amount of alcohol while maintaining some level of professional and personal success. Many of them don’t even realize that they have a problem because they are successful at work and have no problems at home. Sometimes even friends and family members may fail to recognize the problem.

A government survey revealed that nearly 20 percent of alcoholics in the US are high-functioning alcoholics.


High-Functioning Alcoholism

Because of the results they produce, high-functioning alcoholics may either deny their struggle with alcohol addiction or even believe that drinking helps them achieve success. They may associate their success with alcohol’s effects, since drinking can make them more social or charming.

Even with their professional success, however, alcohol will have an adverse effect on their daily lives. They may become unaware of the way alcohol impacts the lives of those around them. It is important to make the distinction between being successful because of alcohol use and being successful despite it.

Regardless of personal success, prolonged alcohol abuse carries serious health risks. And because high-functioning alcoholics are less likely to seek treatment, they are at risk of severe health problems. Their denial may prevent them from ever getting treatment.

Misconceptions about High-Functioning Alcoholism

High-functioning alcoholism is often depicted and glamorized in popular culture. The character’s struggle with alcoholism is shown as merely another flaw and rarely addressed as something that requires serious medical attention. Popular TV programs have a tendency to downplay alcoholism, choosing to focus on the person’s success instead. Characters are shown as productive individuals balancing success and heavy alcohol use without consequences.

The stereotype is even more troublesome when contrasted to another trope: the rock bottom alcoholic. It paints a picture that there are “charming” types of alcohol abuse that are more acceptable than “bad” ones. In reality, there is no “good” form of alcoholism.

Symptoms of High-Functioning Alcoholism

Regardless of personal success, everyone is vulnerable to the many adverse effects of alcohol abuse. In some of the worst cases, alcoholism can lead to organ damage, overdose, and even death. To avoid this, it is important to recognize when a person is abusing alcohol.

High-functioning alcoholics either don’t recognize their problem or try to hide their struggles from loved ones. Because of long term abuse, their body may have already developed dependence or tolerance towards alcohol. Even when drinking large amounts, they may not appear intoxicated.


However, a high-functioning alcoholic will have questionable drinking habits such as drinking during the day, or drinking alone. They may have the tendency to drink to feel confident or relaxed. Some like to joke about alcoholism or about having a drinking problem.

Sometimes high-functioning alcoholics struggle with maintaining their relationships and lose friends over time. They can make family members worry about their drinking or make excuses on their behalf.


Confronting a High-Functioning Alcoholic

It can be difficult to acknowledge that a friend or loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction. But once this behavior is recognized, it needs to be addressed right away. It is important to approach them about their behavior and help them seek proper treatment.

This can be difficult to accomplish because the person might get defensive over their drinking habits, so it is a good idea to hire and work with an intervention specialist. This will help the struggling individual to see the truth about their addiction. Staging an intervention can begin their journey towards sobriety. Overcoming an alcohol addiction can be challenging, but not impossible.

If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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