How to Recognize a Functional Alcoholic

Dec 1, 2016

When it comes to substance abuse, alcoholism is one of the most prevalent forms of it in existence. Today, nearly 1 out of every 10 adults in the United States suffers from alcohol dependence, according to the CDC. These numbers are alarmingly high, and almost unbelievable. However, the reason that alcoholism is able to persist at such a high rate is that it often goes unnoticed, or at least less noticed than it should. While most people envision an alcoholic as a person who can barely walk and talk due to their alcohol consumption, the truth is that many alcoholics are what would be classified as functional alcoholics, who abuse alcohol, yet still function in their daily lives. Indeed, someone you know is probably a high-functioning alcoholic. Here are some of the signs to recognize this behavior…

Drinking early in the day

Although they still might be able to go through their daily lives and do their jobs (even well, in some cases), many functional alcoholics will start drinking early in the day. This is because high-functioning alcoholics will feel like they need alcohol in their system to completely function. If someone you know frequently starts to drink in the morning, then this is a major sign that they are a functional alcoholic.

Someone drinking alone

Although a functional alcoholic can surely go out and drink with friends, which is something they will rarely miss out upon, a functional alcoholic will also often drink alone. This is severely unhealthy, physically and mentally, as it perpetually alienates a functional alcohol. It also removes them from situations where they will have social accountability for drinking. If a loved one is frequently drinking alone, then someone should have a serious talk with them about the possibility of alcohol dependence.

Makes jokes about alcoholism

Functional alcoholics are able to sustain their alcoholism and go unnoticed because they have set up defense mechanisms that allow them to avoid their drinking problem. One common example of this is when someone makes jokes about being an alcoholic or drinking too much. This type of self-deprecating humor works as a veil for very real problems. The allure of joking about your own alcohol abuse is that it will make people see it in a positive light. On top of that, there is the belief that if you are able to joke about it, then you must recognize alcoholism and be in control. However, this isn’t always the case.