Author: James Anderson

What Is High Functioning Alcoholism? Stigma, Signs, Support

high functioning alcoholic

Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session. While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. Functional alcoholics differ from those who struggle with alcoholism, primarily in how alcohol affects their lives.

high functioning alcoholic

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. Alcoholism affects everyone in a household — not just the individual who drinks. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of physical and emotional violence, as well as substance abuse in other family members. An addiction therapist can help you find positive ways to deal with the stress of living with a functional alcoholic. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing an alcohol problem.

More on Substance Abuse and Addiction

An alcoholic in denial may become extremely manipulative, tearful, angry or hostile when faced with the need for alcohol treatment. An experienced intervention specialist can help the participants prepare for these reactions so they can respond effectively. Genetic or environmental factors can cause high-functioning alcoholism. For example, a family history of alcoholism or a stressful environment.

If needed, your doctor may also order blood tests to check your liver function. Although you might not hit all the criteria for the condition, and the impact on your life may appear minimal, AUD is a chronic and progressive condition. This means the negative impact on your life will likely grow, and the condition will not get better on its own without treatment.

  1. Even though they may want to stop, many functioning alcoholics often won’t know where or how to begin the process.
  2. “Functioning” is subjective and limiting when describing a person living with alcohol use disorder.
  3. Your doctor may order this test if your blood tests indicate abnormal liver functioning.
  4. There are hundreds of resources all over the country designed to address the issue of alcohol abuse and addiction.

This includes times when many people give up alcohol, such as “dry January” or the period of fasting and penitence in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter known as Lent. It may also cause an individual to refuse to travel to areas where alcohol access may be limited. You may begin to notice that a couple of beers after work has turned into a six-pack or even a case.

Typical Stages of High-Functioning Alcoholism

The most well-known support group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are many other 12-step programs. Being able to carry out regular responsibilities with AUD is not the same as being free of the disease. Alcohol use disorder can still have a significant impact on a person’s life, even if they appear to be coping from the outside. The refusal to abstain can become more apparent in certain situations.

high functioning alcoholic

“Functioning alcoholic” is an outdated term that in the past was used to describe people with alcohol use disorder who appear to meet their everyday responsibilities. However, alcohol use disorder is diagnosed based on a set of criteria that aren’t always seen by others. To cope with your stress, you may want to attend a support group for family and friends of people with alcohol use disorder (such as Al-Anon) or consider therapy. Issues with work, school, and relationships are common among people living with AUD. These issues can be insidious and increase as a person becomes more dependent on alcohol. Over time, these minor signs can snowball into more significant issues.

Treatment programs

They may take steps to avoid the person while they are drinking, or they may experience feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame. While some struggle with their addiction, others can live successful lives. Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., LMHC., LPC, is a licensed mental health counselor and author of Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic. In addition, there were almost 50,000 other alcohol-related deaths.

These numbers do not include people who have died in alcohol-related accidents or violence, so the overall number is likely much higher. In addition, since the impact of AUD may not be as obvious, the person may be unable to recognize the severity of their condition in these early stages. Both residential and outpatient day treatment programs are available for those in recovery. It can also ultimately lead to relationship difficulties as well as legal and financial problems. These therapies are available one-on-one or in small groups in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Some people with AUD may attend an inpatient recovery program, in which they stay at a facility for at least 28 days to receive concentrated treatment in a controlled environment.

By the time they admit the problem, their withdrawal symptoms—which can begin within a few hours after their last drink—can become more and more severe. If someone close to you is a high-functioning alcoholic, it’s just as important to seek support for yourself as it is to get help for your loved one. You likely have questions about how to deal with an alcoholic, or how to help an alcoholic. Self-help organizations, church groups, and 12-step programs like Al-Anon and Alateen offer advice, hope and encouragement to people involved with functioning alcoholics. Whether you have an alcoholic spouse, partner or other loved one, you may be wondering how to help. High-functioning alcoholics can benefit from having an at-home support system before, during and after any form of treatment for their addiction.