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Addiction, Alcohol, Functioning Alcoholic

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

functioning alcoholic out with friends

Alcoholism is a substance abuse problem that can affect anyone regardless of their age. Whether you drink daily or binge drink on the weekends, you run the risk of becoming reliant on alcohol. Over time, you can start craving alcohol more frequently to the point you start drinking more. Eventually, you can drink to stay inebriated daily. Some people who reach this point are able to adapt their addiction to the point where they become a functioning alcoholic. 

What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?

Functioning alcoholics are a rarity and go against what you would typically expect when someone is addicted to alcohol. Instead of being consumed by alcohol, functioning alcoholics can go about their daily routines and lives like everything is normal.

They are able to maintain stable employment, enjoy social gatherings with family and friends, manage their finances, and appear like they do not have any sort of drinking problem or addiction. The only difference from other people is functioning alcoholics continue to drink throughout the day. They might have a drink with their morning coffee or enjoy a few martinis at launch. Then, as soon as the workday is over, they will enjoy happy hour with their co-workers before heading home to their families. 

How Is a Functioning Alcoholic Different from a Regular Alcoholic?

The key difference between a functioning alcoholic and a regular alcoholic is a functioning alcoholic maintains control over their daily routines and can function while under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, functioning alcoholics rarely binge drink and avoid becoming completely drunk. Instead, they drink just enough to keep alcohol in their system to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Functioning alcoholics need to drink even when they want to quit simply because they do not want to go through withdrawal. 

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

Recognizing that someone you care about is a functioning alcoholic can be difficult. Functioning alcoholics are skilled at hiding their drinking by blending in with others that also drink alcohol socially. In some cases, they may not even realize they have an addiction. 

Knowing what signs to look for can determine whether you or someone you care about is a functioning alcoholic.

  • Have a stock of alcoholic beverages on hand at home, in your car, and at work.
  • Joking about how much you can drink.
  • Maintaining a constant “buzz” regularly without getting completely drunk.
  • Monitoring and regulating your drinking to avoid alcohol withdrawal.
  • Drinking at all hours of the day and night.
  • Enjoy a drink or two at lunch daily.
  • Drinking to help relax, lower inhibitions, increase self-esteem, and feel better about yourself.
  • Drinking while at work, operating machinery, driving a vehicle, or even when working out at the gym. 
  • Drinking socially whenever you are given the opportunity.
  • Encouraging others to drink with you. 
  • Reward your personal accomplishments by drinking.
  • Hiding your drinking from others when you do it at inappropriate times, locations, or situations. 
  • Noticing you are drinking more often alone than with others.
  • Attempting to cover up the smell of alcohol using breath mints or mouthwash. 
  • Joking about how much you spend on alcohol. 
  • Drinking alcohol with every meal and snack. 
  • Feel a sense of panic if you find yourself without alcohol or in a situation where you cannot drink. 

Steps for Getting a Functioning Alcoholic Into Treatment

Getting a functioning alcoholic into treatment is challenging. Many functioning alcoholics are extremely resistant to admitting they need help or have a substance abuse disorder. They often deny they have an addiction because they function normally, just like everyone else. So, they will not admit they have a problem that requires addiction treatment. 

The first step is to help a functioning alcoholic realize they have a drinking problem. This can be accomplished by casually pointing out how much they drink in a nonjudgmental manner. You could also call in an interventionist for assistance in staging an intervention to help educate the functioning alcoholic more about their condition and common signs. 

While they might make excuses or continue to deny they have a problem, you have at least made them more aware of their drinking. So, please do not give up on them and give them the time they need. Eventually, they may be ready to get help with their drinking. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Beverly Hills, CA

If you are a functioning alcoholic and want help detoxing safely and privately in your home, alcohol addiction treatment is available from MD Home Detox in Beverly Hills, CA, and the surrounding areas.

We offer a comprehensive, concierge-level treatment program to help you wean off alcohol safely while avoiding severe withdrawal side effects. Once you are sober, we can continue to assist you by providing health and wellness needs to help you maintain your sobriety, including referrals for more intensive treatment programs from within our extensive professional network. 

We can also provide family education services for concerned family and friends who are attempting to help a loved one admit they are a functioning alcoholic. For further information about our at-home alcohol treatment programs, please feel free to contact us today! 


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