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Signs You’re Dealing With a High-Functioning Alcoholic

a person sits in on a bench waiting for a subway wondering about signs you're dealing with an alcoholic

By its very nature, alcoholism is a chronic, life-disrupting brain disease. People impacted by this disease may show obvious signs of what’s happening to them. They may also have a clear need for excessive alcohol treatment and detox. However, at first glance, others with diagnosable alcoholism may seem far less affected by their excessive drinking. The term high-functioning alcoholic is often used to describe people in this second group. Is high-functioning alcoholism detectable? It can be if you look for certain signs that a serious drinking problem may exist.

If you need alcohol addiction treatment or recovery services, contact Northpoint Colorado at 888.231.1281 today.

What Is High-Functioning Alcoholism?

On a certain level, high-functioning alcoholism is a myth. All people with alcoholism have symptoms that impair their ability to function in daily life. The complete list of potential symptoms includes:

  • An inability to set limits on how much or how often you drink
  • Intense urges to drink more alcohol when you’re doing other things
  • A tolerance to alcohol’s effects that increases over time
  • Withdrawal symptoms that occur when you cut back on alcohol or quit drinking
  • Having a lifestyle that revolves around things related to drinking
  • Wanting to stop drinking but failing to do so even after multiple tries
  • Abandoning other leisure activities so you have more time to drink

Some of these symptoms may have an obvious impairing effect. However, others may not. As a rule, high-functioning alcoholics are affected by less apparent symptoms. For this reason, they may seem like they don’t have a drinking problem. Nevertheless, they still meet the criteria for an alcoholism diagnosis.

Potential Signs You’re Dealing with a High-Functioning Alcoholic – Sustained, Excessive Drinking

Most American adults drink alcohol in a given month. In many cases, the amount of alcohol consumed is light or moderate. However, in other cases, it’s excessive. Not everyone who drinks excessively has alcoholism. However, a sustained pattern of heavy drinking may be an alcoholism indicator.

What counts as excessive alcohol use? That depends on the gender of the person involved. For men, public health experts define excessive use in a given week as:

  • Five or more drinks in one day and, or including
  • 15 or more total drinks

For women, it’s defined as four or more drinks in one day and, or including eight or more total drinks. If you know people who regularly consume this much alcohol, they may be high-functioning alcoholics.

High-Functioning Alcoholic Signs – An Alcohol-Centered Routine

A routine centered around alcohol is another potential sign of a high-functioning alcoholic. For example, you may know someone who frequently drinks throughout the day. That person may also place a heavy priority on having alcohol available to them as often as possible. In addition, they may spend a lot of time recovering from the effects of drinking.

Other Potential Signs

You may also notice other high-functioning alcoholic signs. For example, someone you know may seem jittery or look ill when they’re not drinking. They may also ignore health issues that seem connected to their alcohol use. In addition, they may repeatedly talk about halting their heavy drinking without ever actually doing so.

Benefits of Treatment for Alcoholic Use Disorder

If someone you know is a high-functioning alcoholic, treatment could be life-saving. Some potential benefits of treatment for this condition include:

  • Improved functioning in daily life activities
  • Better physical health and vitality
  • Improved mental or emotional well-being
  • Lower risks for alcohol-related harm to self or others
  • Lower risks for early death from alcohol-related causes

If you know someone who shows signs of high-functioning alcoholism, don’t hesitate to reach out and offer your support. Treatment and recovery are possible for those struggling with this disease, and your concern and understanding can make a big difference in their journey toward a healthier life.

Learn More About the Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic at Northpoint Colorado

Are you concerned that a friend or family member may be a high-functioning alcoholic? Contact the alcoholism specialists at Northpoint Colorado. We can help you determine if your suspicions are accurate. We can also give you crucial advice on how to encourage your loved one to get their drinking behaviors evaluated.

Does your loved one have diagnosable alcoholism or alcohol abuse? Northpoint Recovery specializes in the treatment of these disorders. The support we provide helps make lasting alcohol recovery a practical, achievable goal. Call us today at 888.231.1281 for more information, or complete our online contact form.