Do you have the characteristics of a high functioning alcoholic?

Do you have the characteristics of a high functioning alcoholic?

The term “high functioning alcoholic” is generally given to describe someone who can function reasonably well in regards to carrying out day to day task such as: 

  • Holding down a job 
  • Looking after their children 
  • Keeping up with their personal hygiene 
  • Participating in social events and activities 

These individuals although may be struggling with active addiction do not display the medical impairments that are often found in people who exhibit alcohol use disorders. 

It is important to note that although an individual may not be experiencing the full spectrum of an alcohol use disorder they can still be in need of assistance regarding their alcohol usage. 

What I am hoping to do within this article is explain some of the characteristics exhibited by a high functioning alcoholic.  

The term high functioning alcoholic is not a formal medical term or diagnosis. 

But it is a phrase that commonly refers to someone who may seem to the outside world that all is well but does have a dependency on alcohol. 

High functioning alcoholics do not have sick days due to their alcohol usage and also manage to keep on top of other obligations. 

They would seem physically and mentally well but these individuals are often fighting an internal battle that the outside world is unaware of. 

They struggle with alcohol cravings, triggers, many failed attempts at quitting drinking and can obsess over where their next drink is coming form. 

I must say here that the term alcoholic is viewed as outdated and those who work in healthcare professions prefer the term alcohol use disorder as a means to destigmatize the illness. 

High functioning alcoholic

Some of the factors that can create a risk of developing alcohol use disorder 

  • Binge drinking 
  • High levels of stress 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Having a parent or guardian who has an AUD 
  • Having an anxiety, depression or other mental health condition 

Signs that could signal you or a loved one needs help 

  • Pouring a drink as soon as you get in from work 
  • Counting down the time until you can have a drink 
  • Feelings of agitation and frustration if something prevents you from having a drink at your normal time 
  • Times we you tend to over drink 
  • Do you drink instead of eating your meals at healthy times? 
  • Has a loved one confronted you about your drinking? 
  • Have you ever experienced an alcohol related blackout? 
  • Do you hide your alcohol consumption? 
  • If you do not drink do you experience withdrawal symptoms? 
  • Do you struggle to go 2 – 3 days without a drink? 

alcoholism denial

High functioning alcoholics tend to have a strong denial about their problem. 

They haven't encountered many negative consequences to their drinking and so do not see there is a problem. 

When people with an AUD decide to finally seek help is when the negative consequences to their consumption becomes too much for them. 

For the high functioning alcoholic this may not become an issue for a long time and so reinforces their denial. 

There is no shame in acknowledging that you may be developing a problem and asking for help 

One of the barriers that stops people from reaching for help and admitting that they have a problem is that they fear being judged, shamed or even what their life will be like without alcohol. 

I have stood in that position and completely understand how you feel if you believe any of the above traits seem like they are describing you, Contact the recovery initiative.