Many of our residents come in, and when we mention being a functioning alcoholic, they become confused. What is a functioning alcoholic? In short, it is a person who has an alcohol use disorder but hasn’t allowed fallen into the general picture of a person who can’t hold a job or relationship. Columbia researches published a study in 2007 that estimated that four percent of adults had an alcohol use problem. Of that number, three percent (or nine million people) were functioning alcoholics. As an alcohol addiction rehab center in Southern CA, we see many individuals who fall into this category without fully realizing they have a problem with alcohol use.
Signs Answering, “What is a Functioning Alcoholic?”
A person who is considered a functioning alcoholic doesn’t always exhibit signs that are easily recognized. They are often high-achieving individuals with good incomes and a family. This ability to achieve and “hold it together” only feeds into the illusion that there isn’t an issue. Some of the signs that you can look for include:
- May restrict drinking to only certain days or times, such as weekends or evenings
- Often drink alone
- Can’t limit the number of drinks to only one or two
- Often makes jokes about alcoholism
- Hides how much they drink
- May replace eating with drinking
- Get defensive when someone mentions their alcohol
What is a functioning alcoholic? Someone who may always keep a hidden bottle of liquor in their desk drawer or somewhere else where it is easily accessible. It can be the person who has several drinks every night “to unwind” or the individual who won’t attend a social event unless alcohol is served. This person may never appear to be utterly drunk because they handle alcohol well. In most cases, there will be at least one person in this person’s life who covers for them on the days when things get a bit out of hand. Unfortunately, this co-dependent person is doing more harm than good as they help the person keep up the appearance that nothing is wrong.
Not Drinking and the Functioning Alcoholic
A functioning alcoholic may try to prove they can quit drinking, but even this will give telltale signs to show there is a problem. When unable to drink, the functioning alcoholic will:
- Experience depression or anxiety
- Become irritable
- Have head and stomach aches
- Experience extreme mood swings
- May notice hand tremors and heavy sweating
Sometimes it is these telltale signs that can help family and friends know there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Why Treatment is Necessary
After answering, “What is a functioning alcoholic?” many wonder why treatment is necessary. After all, if a person can maintain a healthy life, is there a problem? Intervention is needed. A person’s body can only handle so much alcohol abuse. Over time, you will find yourself drinking more often and possibly participating in behaviors that you know are dangerous, such as driving under the influence or coming to work with alcohol on your breath. Your body will eventually start to protest, and you can end up with liver, stomach, or heart problems. Finally, denial will no longer be possible.
It is often friends and family that are first to step up and intervene. That is because the denial can be so strong that the individual in question may honestly not believe they have a problem. It is only when they are faced with the loss of a job or relationship that they may notice. Others need to be facing legal charges from DUI or financial issues. Phoenix Rising Recovery offers an alcohol detox program in Palm Springs, CA designed to treat your unique alcohol addiction. Whatever the reason for reaching out for help, it is better to do it earlier than later when the situation has reached a point of destruction.
Renewal is Possible
Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we believe that recovery is equal to renewal. Our addiction treatment center provides comprehensive programs and therapies to get you back on the road to recovery Once you have allowed us to help you rise above where you are now, you can answer the question, “What is a functioning alcoholic?” with the answer “It is a place where I once resided, but have left behind me for a brighter future.” Contact us today if you are struggling with alcohol use. We can help you achieve a renewal of hope. 855.232.8211