What is the Treatment for a High Functioning Alcoholic?

Are You or Someone You Know a High Functioning Alcoholic in Need of Help?

Alcoholism is a serious disease that affects millions of people across the United States every year. However, many people have a difficult time recognizing the common behaviors of an alcoholic or telling if a person is just a casual drinker or what is known as a high functioning alcoholic. You may be wondering to yourself, “what is a functioning alcoholic?” and that reaction is totally understandable. Many people do not know that high functioning alcoholic people even exist let alone how to help one. Get to know some of the facts about high functioning alcoholics as well as what the treatment for a high functioning alcoholic is. Then, you can be sure you are doing what is best for yourself or your loved one struggling with an alcohol addiction.

What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic or high functioning alcoholic is a person that has an addiction to alcohol but is able to still maintain some semblance of a “normal life.” Most people that fall under the category of functioning alcoholics are heavy drinkers and usually consume alcohol on a daily or at least weekly basis. However, they are able to remain employed, pay their bills, and otherwise put up a front or an appearance that nothing is wrong or problematic with their behavior.

Now, this is not to say that a functioning alcoholic will not suffer consequences of their alcoholic behavior. Many have failed relationships and marriages, family problems, DUIs, and may job hop because of poor work performance. However, because they can often function and do what needs to be done to survive, they will blame their negative experiences in life on other issues, other people, or just on “bad luck.”

Functioning alcoholics may spend years or decades as alcoholics without ever being confronted about their alcoholism and their drinking behaviors. It is important to recognize, though, that they will eventually face the consequences of their alcoholism in one form or another.

Common Behaviors of an Alcoholic

While every person with an alcohol addiction is different, there are certain behaviors that are common among alcoholics. Many alcoholics, for example, are secretive about their drinking behaviors. They may try to disguise their alcohol consumption by pouring liquor into water bottles or coffee mugs, for example. Others might try to drink alone when nobody else is around, such as very late at night when other household members are asleep.

Alcoholics also tend to try to hide alcohol bottles, giving themselves a secret stash of sorts. These hiding places can include locations like under sinks, in closets, or in night stands or desk drawers among others. A person that is an alcoholic may also often complain of certain physical ailments when they have a hangover. They may say they suffer from stress headaches or migraines, ate something that doesn’t agree with them, or that they have the flu. Most alcoholics have a few different excuses that they recycle to cover up hangovers. Other common behaviors of an alcoholic include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anger and aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory problems
  • Cognitive deficits

Treatments for a High Functioning Alcoholic

When a person is a high functioning alcoholic, it can be difficult to convince them that they need treatment for their alcoholism. This is because they have lied to themselves long enough that they actually believe they do not have an alcohol problem. Oftentimes, an intervention will be a necessary first step in the treatment process. Following this intervention, medical detox is the next treatment step. In medical detox, the alcoholic will stop consuming alcohol and work through the withdrawals as their body adjusts to being without alcohol entirely. Then, once they no longer have any traces of alcohol in their system, they can go through therapies like individual and group therapy and other treatment options to help deal with the reasons a person developed an alcohol addiction in the first place.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.