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High Functioning Alcoholics

High-functioning alcoholics often hide in plain sight. From the outside, they may not seem to have a problem, but in reality, the relationship between the individual and alcohol is much more sinister than it appears. Despite the appearance of everything being OK, behind the scenes, alcoholism can tear apart families and ruin lives. Time is of the essence when it comes to seeking assistance. If you are living with a high-functioning alcoholic, don’t wait to find the help you both need.

4 Minute Read | Published Aug 08 2023 | Updated Nov 06 2023


Most people who have an alcohol use disorder live with friends or family. These people will inevitably experience challenges of life with a functional alcoholic. Even when the signs of a functional alcoholic are present, it can be difficult for outsiders to detect that someone is a functional alcoholic. They may even have trouble recognizing or accepting functional alcoholic signs themselves.

The first obstacle in dealing with functional alcoholism is identifying the warning signs. Functional alcoholic individuals will seldom admit that they have a problem. It’s often up to others to recognize the characteristics of a functioning alcoholic and seek help. Functioning alcoholic signs and symptoms include:

  • Denial of a drinking problem. A functioning alcoholic avoids treatment and often believes that if they are successful, then they can’t be an alcoholic. They may frequently reward their hard work with alcohol.
  • A functional alcoholic will have to live a double life. They are able to create an outward appearance that is very different from a stereotypical alcoholic, and they are very skilled at hiding their alcohol use and compartmentalizing different areas of life.
  • They will not leave a drink half-consumed. Naturally, the most obvious functional alcoholic signs are the ones that point to cravings for alcohol and the inability to drink in moderation.
  • Work or school performance and attendance will not be affected by drinking habits. A functioning alcoholic may have excellent work and academic performance and be well-respected in their field.

These signs are just a few examples of why there can be tension when it comes to high-functioning alcoholics and relationships. Loved ones and friends can see the signs but aren’t sure what to do. The ideal way to get sober involves a program that offers addiction counseling, a highly trained staff, and a comfortable environment. Let Better Addiction Care find the right treatment center, offering immediate facility admissions and 100% confidentiality.

Denial is often the biggest hurdle for high-functioning alcoholics. Because they still go to work and carry on with a normal day, they don’t feel like they really have a problem. But their bodies may tell a different story. The effects of alcoholism take their toll on the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are 25 different types of chronic diseases and conditions that can be a result of alcoholism. If you are living with a high-functioning alcoholic, it’s time to get help now, before long-term damage is done to your loved one’s body.

How to Approach a Functional Alcoholic

If you see the signs of a functional alcoholic in someone you care about and you want to stage an intervention, there are some guidelines you can follow.

A functioning alcoholic is often defensive about alcohol use, so it is best to approach them with a nonjudgmental tone. Try to communicate both empathy and concern. Acting angry and raising your voice will make your loved one defensive and increase their likelihood of denying the problem. Avoid making excuses for the person and becoming trapped in a codependent relationship. Never approach a person while they are drunk, and if possible, start the conversation at a time when the person is considering quitting their drinking habits.

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment

A successful intervention includes a plan for recovery that’s in place before the conversation with the alcoholic. If you need advice on your intervention and help with locating a rehab center near you, contact BetterAddictionCare. Our professional addiction care specialists will work with you to create a customized plan and help you locate the best treatment center for your personal and financial needs.

BetterAddictionCare understands that the road to recovery is a personal journey. Call today or fill out our contact form to speak with us confidentially and start healing.


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