Functional Alcoholic

Functional Alcoholic

When you’re asked to describe what an alcoholic looks like, you’d most likely describe a typical homeless person with dirty clothes, hasn’t showered in a few days, disheveled hair, maybe a scraggly beard, can’t hold a job and has legal issues. But 20% of alcoholics don’t fit this description, these individuals are referred to as functional alcoholics. From the outside, they look like normal, productive individuals. They’re generally middle class, they go to work every day, maintain their marriage and appear to be good parents. A functional alcoholic’s high level of productivity often leads to denial. Functional alcoholics and their loved ones believe that since they don’t fit the typical prototype of an alcoholic that they must not be. But if you look a little closer, you’ll the cracks in the foundation.

How to tell if someone is a functional alcoholic:

  • Drinks every day, alone or with others, often times more than originally planned.
  • Gets angry when confronted about their drinking.
  • Frequently has a hangover or feels “sick”.
  • Short stints of sobriety accompanied by mood swings, anger and irritability.
  • Uses alcohol as a reward.
  • Excessive focus on the next time they will get to drink.
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or risky sexual behaviors.
  • Needs alcohol to be social or to relax.

Spotting a functional alcoholic is difficult if you’re only looking on the surface. But just because someone can maintain the illusion of productivity, doesn’t mean they aren’t still suffering. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that will inevitably catch up with even the most functional of alcoholics. If you or someone you love is maintaining on the surface but suffering underneath, Pacific Solstice can help. Our dual diagnosis enhanced outpatient program allows an individual to engage in treatment while keeping their career and maintain family obligations. Call us today for a free phone consultation at (949) 200-7929.

Emerson Levine, CADC II Intake and Discharge Manager

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