How to Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic How to Identify the Warning Signs

According to 2020 data by the CDC, nearly 30,000 people died that year from alcoholic liver disease (cirrhosis). While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. It can lead to liver disease, pancreatitis, some forms of cancer, brain damage, serious memory loss, and high blood pressure. It also makes someone more likely to die in a car wreck or from murder or suicide.

Here are 17 signs you could be a functioning alcoholic – Irish Mirror

Here are 17 signs you could be a functioning alcoholic.

Posted: Thu, 28 Dec 2023 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Often, this will involve issues that everyone deals with in their own way, so it’s not a big leap of logic to believe that someone might have a few drinks to take the edge off. Some common explanations for drinking might include too much stress at work, dealing with unruly kids, or even something like alcohol helping them fall asleep after a long day. The main risk of high-functioning alcoholism is the potential for a worsening condition. Over time, you may struggle to maintain social and familial obligations and relationships. It is not uncommon for individuals with AUD to experience conflict with family and friends, and have drinking negatively impact their job, schooling, and overall safety.

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However, as functioning alcoholics drink more regularly, they develop a higher tolerance. They still want to feel the buzz or numb out from their problems for a while, so they will begin drinking more as their tolerance to alcohol increases. The most in-depth care allows you to live full time at a treatment facility. These setups can also work along with 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Your doctor may also conduct imaging tests if other laboratory studies come back abnormal. For example, a computed tomography (CT) scan tests for liver enlargement, which can occur after years of chronic drinking. Your doctor may order this test if your blood tests indicate abnormal liver functioning. For example, you might imagine an “alcoholic” as someone who is constantly near-blackout drunk, and someone who’s unable to maintain a job or family life. Instead, the DSM-5 has established AUD as the term to replace previous stigmatizing terms such as alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism. However, this and other related misnomers such as “functional alcoholic” are no longer used because of the potential stigma that can prevent someone from seeking help.

What is a “High-Functioning” Alcoholic?

If you think that you or someone you know may be drinking too much, ask your doctor about getting help – whether it’s from a therapist, psychiatrist, or other addiction specialist. Organizations such as the American Society of Addiction Medicine can guide you to help, too. The classic picture of someone with alcohol use disorder is someone who always drinks too much and whose life is falling apart because of it. Chronic heavy drinkers can display a functional tolerance to the point they show few obvious signs of intoxication even at high blood alcohol concentrations, which in others would be incapacitating. One of the main reasons that people who misuse alcohol seek help is the eventual negative consequences of their alcohol consumption.

The term high functioning alcoholic is no longer in use in the medical community. However, some people may use the phrase to refer to individuals who are experiencing an AUD but are still able to successfully function in their work and personal lives. Treatment programs at The Recovery Village include a full spectrum of alcohol recovery services, from alcohol detox to rehab, aftercare and sober housing. When you’re ready to seek help, or if you have questions about how to live with an alcoholic, we’re here for you.

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It passes slowly when times are tough and moves too quickly when life is smooth. Although I have not drunk alcohol in two decades, images and sensations of the experience are one thought away. When the dopamine rush left, the night turned to morning, the music died down, and the crowd left—the reality of my powerlessness over alcohol was waiting for me. It waited patiently for my recognition for 12 years until that morning when my consciousness and the truth collided undeniably. However, I was ready to hear their concerns and fears genuinely, and after four years of trying to control my drinking, had finally accepted that I was an alcoholic.

  • They take steps toward sobriety or even remain sober for a notable amount of time.
  • However, they are likely struggling with uncontrollable cravings, unsuccessful attempts at quitting, and obsessive thoughts about their next drink—all hallmarks of an alcohol use disorder.
  • “When you take steps to heal, it gives everyone permission around you to do the same,” says Spotorno.
  • Express an openness to talk about their drinking, provide support and establish boundaries.
  • Alcoholism can take a devastating toll on a person’s physical health, emotional well-being, personal relationships and professional life.
  • High-functioning alcoholics who drink for decades risks developing cirrhosis, cancer, and heart disease.

“For starters, the media, our workplaces, and many social circles normalize drinking to excess,” says Ruby Mehta, a clinical social worker and director of clinical operations at Tempest. What might look like denial may actually be a lot more complicated and multilayered for people with high-functioning AUD. You suspect your spouse, close friend, or relative has a drinking problem.

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These restrictions help the person struggling with the alcoholism to believe they’re able to control their drinking. By comparison, a non-functioning alcoholic just seeks out alcohol without as much regard to such limitations. Certain high functioning alcoholic factors may increase your risk of developing an alcohol problem. Binge drinking, social pressures, family history, mental health issues, and excess alcohol use can all increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

  • They are usually able to manage areas of life including jobs, homes, and families.
  • High-functioning alcoholics drink because they “need to drink,” not always because they want to drink.
  • Some also take great steps to create a portrait of a healthy person.
  • Although they may appear to be healthy and functional, without treatment, their condition could get worse.
  • Drinking alcohol at unconventional times—such as early in the day or at gatherings where nobody else is drinking—is another hallmark of this disease.
  • Broadly, the term alcohol use disorder can describe a spectrum of medical conditions characterized primarily by not being able to stop or control drinking.

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