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What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?

an artists imagining of what it's like inside the head of a functioning alcoholic

It is not uncommon for a person to enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage after work or at a party. However, if you cannot control your drinking because of physical and emotional dependence on alcohol, it is an alcohol use disorder. Since simply drinking alcohol is normal and common, it can sometimes be hard to tell if you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism. In addition, alcoholics are often able to hide their alcohol dependence. A functioning alcoholic can convince others that they do not have a problem.

Understanding the signs and behaviors of a functioning alcoholic can help you identify when it is time to get help. At Northpoint Nebraska, we provide an alcohol addiction treatment program to help patients overcome their alcohol addiction.

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

So what is a functioning alcoholic? A person that is physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol and can carry out daily tasks and responsibilities is a functioning alcoholic. People with alcohol use disorder typically have a strong need to drink alcohol, have problems controlling their drinking, and will continue drinking even when it causes problems. A functioning alcoholic may not display these symptoms. They can also have a wonderful social life and behave in ways that are not typical of someone suffering from alcohol use disorder.

People with alcohol use disorder are likely to have problems at work and with personal relationships. A functioning alcoholic might be responsible and productive. They could even be high achieving and in a position of power at work, leading others to overlook their drinking habits. While a functioning alcoholic can manage relationships and responsibilities, for the time being, their heavy drinking will eventually catch up to them. Alcohol use disorder has significant effects on a person. Even if a person can hide their substance abuse, they will face the serious impacts it has on their physical and emotional well-being. Understanding the signs of a functioning alcoholic can help you understand when someone you know needs professional treatment.

Signs and Behaviors of a Functioning Alcoholic

Recognizing the signs and behaviors of a functioning alcoholic can help you understand when someone needs treatment. A functioning alcoholic displays different signs and will behave in different ways than another person struggling with alcohol use disorder.

Signs of functioning alcoholism:

  • Needing more alcohol to get drunk
  • Needing to drink to relax or feel comfortable
  • Drinking early in the day or alone
  • Blacking out from alcohol consumption
  • Concealing how much they drink
  • Not seeing excessive drinking or its impacts as a problem

Behaviors of a functioning alcoholic:

  • Avoiding any discussion about their drinking habits
  • Continuing to drink even if it has caused physical and mental problems
  • Denying that they have a drinking problem
  • Drinking as a reward or to cope with stress
  • Lying to themselves and others about their drinking habits

A functional alcoholic will not fit the usual signs and behaviors of a person struggling with alcohol use disorder. They may still be able to maintain relationships, manage responsibilities, and perform well at work. A functioning alcoholic may not meet the predetermined image of an alcoholic. That is why it is important to understand the signs and behaviors of a functioning alcoholic.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Nebraska

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, it is crucial to seek help. It can sometimes be difficult to determine if someone is a functioning alcoholic, but there are signs and behaviors to look out for. We provide alcohol addiction treatment at Northpoint Nebraska, including alcohol detox and rehab. Contact us today at 888.351.3834 to learn more and start your recovery journey.