Many people think that alcoholism only affects people who are homeless or unemployed, but this isn’t the case. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world are functional alcoholics. Studies show that up to 20% of alcoholics are high functioning.
A functional alcoholic can hold down a job and maintain some sort of social life, despite drinking heavily. They often deny that they have a problem with alcohol and may even be in denial about their alcoholism. Dr. Wilfred Grenfell coined the term after observing that many of his patients who were heavy drinkers were still able to function normally in their everyday lives.
Despite a functional alcoholic’s ability to keep their job and maintain a social life, alcoholism is still a serious problem. This is since alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning it will only worsen over time. If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to serious health problems like liver damage, heart disease, cancer, and financial and social issues.
Signs You Could Be a High-functioning Alcoholic
If you think you or someone you know may be a functional alcoholic, here are some signs to look out for:
Drinking Heavily on a Regular Basis
Functional alcoholics tend to drink more heavily than non-alcoholics. You may drink every day or binge drink on the weekends. Either way, you’re consuming more alcohol than the average person.
If you’re drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day, or more than 14 in a week, you may be a functional alcoholic. This is even if you don’t feel like drinking that much.
You Drink More Than You Intend To
Do you often find yourself drinking more than you intended? This is one of the first signs you’re losing control of your drinking.
It’s normal to have a couple drinks and then stop. But if you find that you can’t stop once you start drinking, it’s a sign that you’re losing control.
You Keep Drinking Despite Negative Consequences
Can’t help but drink despite the negative consequences? You may have recently lost your job, your relationship with a loved one suffered, or your drinking is now affecting your health. If you keep drinking despite the negative consequences, it’s a sign that you’re struggling with alcoholism.
Hiding Your Drinking
High-functioning alcoholics often go to great lengths to hide their drinking from others. They may drink alone, or they may sneak drinks throughout the day. They may also lie about how much they’re drinking.
If you’re hiding your drinking, it’s a sign that you know it’s a problem. This is since you know that others would judge you if they knew how much you were drinking.
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
You may also experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink. This can include anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms when you don’t drink, it’s a sign that your body has become dependent on alcohol.
Detox Management Tips for Functional Alcoholics
Think you might be a functional alcoholic? Consider these tips to start changing your life for the better.
Seek Professional Help to Detox and Get Sober
The experts can help diagnose if you really are an alcoholic, and they can provide you with the resources and support you need to get sober. Thankfully, many certified clinics now offer alcohol detoxication programs. This does not necessarily mean you will automatically require inpatient treatment.
The experts will first assess your situation, determine the severity of your addiction, and make a recommendation from there. If you do require inpatient treatment, you will be closely monitored by medical professionals. The trick is to find an alcohol recovery program that can offer customized medical and psychological support to match your unique needs.
Welcome Support From Your Loved Ones
Functional alcoholics often have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and stressors. You might have a family, a job, and other obligations. And, on top of that, you must maintain your drinking habit, which is a lot to manage.
One of the most essential things that can help you is the support of your loved ones. They can provide you with emotional and practical support. They can help you with child care, household chores, or just be there for you to talk to when things get tough.
Having their support can make all the difference in trying to stay away from alcohol. So, if you have loved ones willing and able to support you, take advantage of that. It can be the key to your success.
Know Your Triggers
Triggers are anything that makes you want to drink. They can be stressful situations, certain people, places, or things. If you know what your triggers are, you can avoid them or be prepared to deal with them in a healthy way.
Let’s say your trigger is being around people who drink. You can avoid bars and parties. Or, if your trigger is stress, you can find healthy ways to cope with it, like exercise or meditation.
The more you know about your triggers, the easier it will be to avoid them. And, when you do have to deal with them, you’ll be more likely to stay sober.
Keep Yourself Preoccupied
If you’re struggling with functional alcoholism, keep yourself preoccupied. This will take your mind off of drinking and help you stay sober.
Find a hobby that you enjoy and make time for it every day. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood. If you have trouble sticking to a routine, enlist the help of a friend or family member.
Additionally, try to stay away from situations where alcohol is readily available. Avoid going to bars or clubs, and don’t keep alcohol in your house. Instead, stock your fridge with healthy snacks and drinks that will help you stay on track.
If you think you might be a functional alcoholic, seek help. There are many resources available to help you detox and recover. With some effort and commitment, you can overcome functional alcoholism and regain control of your life.