The Different Stages of Alcoholism in a Functioning Alcoholic

Individuals Can Hold a Steady Job and Have an Addiction Issue

When we think of a typical alcoholic, a certain image pops into our minds. Perhaps we think of an individual who is homeless or someone who is passed out on at a bus stop. The truth about alcohol addiciton is that it does not have a face; nobody is immune from the disease of alcohol addiction and an alcoholic can look like an average person walking down the street.

There is a certain stereotype that comes to mind when we think of an alcoholic but the reality is that many working individuals can sustain a career while also abusing alcohol. For these individuals, their alcohol abuse controls their life but they are able to hold a steady job as well. While they may be able to maintain this streak, their alcohol abuse will progressively become more and more severe until it eventually takes over.

Knowing the Signs

There are several signs to look out for if you believe that an individual is struggling with alcohol abuse. Some of the common signs of a functioning alcoholic are:

  • Replacing meals with alcoholic beverages
  • Getting angry when it is suggested that they have a drinking problem
  • Memory lapses and inability to remember the days or nights occurrences
  • Never sticking to their limit of alcohol
  • Drinking heavily prior to an event or festivity
  • Drinking secretly and lying about the about of drinking
  • Drinking alone or drinking continuously throughout the day beginning in the morning
  • Joking loosely about being an alcoholic

If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, they may be on the dangerous path toward alcohol addiction or alcoholism. The disease of addiction is one that develops over the course of time and each person who is affected by this disease will progress at a varied rate.

The Four Stages of Alcoholism

  • Stage #1: Binge Drinking

During this stage, individuals will drink excessive amounts of alcohol, experimenting and mixing different types of alcohol in order to feel extreme inebriation. Individuals will drink solely to get drunk and not to simply enjoy one or two drinks.

  • Stage #2: Utilizing Drinking as a Coping Tool

During this stage, individuals will consume alcohol as a coping mechanism, whether it is to relieve the stresses of the day or to deal with negative thoughts or emotions. They use alcohol in order to self-medicate and suppress their feelings. This pattern is extremely dangerous as individuals begin to lose self-control and begin to rely on the effects of alcohol in order to conceal their feelings.

  • Stage #3: The Effects and Consequences of Bad Drinking Habits Are Apparent

When others begin to notice the physical and mental effects of alcoholism, the individuals drinking problem is blatantly apparent. In this stage, managing and controlling drinking patterns can be extremely difficult as the temptation is strong and overwhelming. Individuals will not be able to set any sort of limitations for themselves and they will continue to drink despite harmful consequences.

  • Stage #4: Mental Repercussions

Once individuals hit stage 4, they will experience mental and psychological consequences. They will also struggle with health issues such as high blood pressure and damage to the liver which make it difficult to function regularly.

During all of the stages of alcoholism and problem drinking, the individual may still be attending work every single day, despite their drinking. If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol addiction problem, help is essential.


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.