Know what to look for and you’ll spot high-functioning alcoholics in your midst

How to spot a functioning alcoholic

Functioning alcoholics won’t be found drinking on the streets with bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. Instead, these addicts spend evenings running marathon after-work drinking sessions that almost always last longer than even they anticipate.

Despite their heavy drinking, though, the functioning alcoholics still meet their responsibilities at home, school or work. This ability to maintain appearances often leads to excuses that justify their drinking — they’re not drunks in their minds because they still get things done.

Here’s a look at some of the characteristics of a functioning alcoholic.

Great storytellers

One common characteristic of alcoholics is their propensity for citing extremely successful people who managed to accomplish great tasks professionally, while being an alcoholic. This type of storytelling helps deflect attention from themselves.

Many high-functioning addicts will try to normalize their behaviour, often attributing their heavy booze consumption to the type of career they have — law, journalism or advertising. All of this storytelling is vindicated, however, because a large portion of these types of addicts succeed — and can even excel — at their jobs, all the while keeping up with their social circles.

They may deny the early signs of addiction by telling themselves they deserve the break because they work so hard and have been so successful.

Support System

Functioning addicts typically have a network of support, ranging from friends, colleagues, family and romantic relationships. Sadly, for everyone, the people are not knowingly supporting the addiction because the addict does such a good job of hiding it through impressive storytelling.

By denying their own problems and lying to the people who make up the support network, the addict can often maintain his high-functioning behaviour for quite a long time.

How to spot a functioning alcoholic

Drinking buddy

Alcoholics will find other people who share their passion for consuming booze. These friends tend to drink just as much, or even more, and they are often inseparable, spending plenty of time together. This kind of relationship can lead to everyone lying for one another to cover up addictive behaviour. These lies can hide the actual amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency of alcohol consumed, or they can even deny if drinking occurred at all.

Binge drinking

One of the most common signs of a functioning addict will be a well-known track record for drinking to excess. Most of those nights start out with “just one,” but quickly turn into a full night of drinking. With this type of behaviour people typically drink to the point of not remembering most events the next day. Frequent blackouts are a very common sign of an alcoholic.

How to spot a functioning alcoholic

Inevitable crash

Although, addicts have a web of skills and resources to downplay their problems, denying those issues can only last so long. The longer they feed their addiction the more they regularly consume and the more their support network diminishes. Addiction will always find a way to reveal itself to others.

If you need help, please contact Holy Cross Services. With more than 65 years of experience, they have the resources and the expertise to help you and your family.