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How to Spot a Functional Alcoholic

How to Spot a Functional Alcoholic

A functional alcoholic may seem calm and introverted during work hours, but become a wild extrovert in social scenes

Functional alcoholics are difficult to identify. These individuals are people who can still function in their occupational, home and social lives to the point that others may not be able to see any sign of substance abuse or addiction. It can even be difficult for functional alcohols to see signs of addiction problems themselves because they do not have all the stereotypical signs of problem drinking or addiction. Most people associate alcoholism with complete disarray and chaos; where the typical alcoholic is homeless or his life is hanging by a thread. So when a person can continue working, maintain relationships and fulfill responsibilities, the thought of addiction generally does not cross one’s mind. But while functional alcoholics are fairly successful at masking their problems early on, signs of alcoholism are more difficult to contain with time. It becomes much harder for alcoholics or addicts to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities successfully, while under the influence of a substance and impaired by addiction.

Common Signs of a Functional Alcoholic

While a functional alcoholic may be able to put on a good show for others, living a seemingly healthy and normal life, there will slip ups and signs of problem drinking or full-blown alcoholism. A few common signs of a functional alcoholic include:

  • A noticeable change in behavior when one is drinking versus sober. People may see a calm and introverted individual during work hours, but a wild extrovert in social scenes where drinking is occurring.
  • Excuses or justifications for negative repercussions of drinking. Individuals will blame their negative behavior on drinking, and downsize the significance of it; they will try to make it seem like their behavior is abnormal, and be reluctant to accept ownership and responsibility for how out of control their drinking and drunk behavior is.
  • Having to drink before going to events or gathering, even if alcohol will be at events later on.
  • Losing interest in other activities, hobbies and pastimes. Showing a peak of interest in doing things that involve alcohol, even if it means sitting at home.
  • Lacking the ability to deal with stressors and other issues without drinking. Always wanting to have a drink when something bad happens, and other similarly distressing events.
  • Hiding drinking or downplaying how much was drunk.
  • Drinking more than intended upon.
  • Being ill, irritable or less approachable in the mornings.
  • Asking others to do favors, lie or pick up the slack when their drinking prevents them from fulfilling roles and responsibilities.

When friends, family and coworkers notice signs of a functional alcoholic they should research how to confront the individual. Reading literature or speaking with a recovery professional can prepare friends and family with how they should go about helping their loved one find treatment.

How Can I Help a Loved One Struggling with Alcoholism?

If someone you care about is struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, you can make a difference. To learn how you can help, call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline. Our recovery professionals can assist you with your questions and concerns, and provide you with all the information you will ever need on alcoholism, treatment and recovery options. We have connections to a diverse array of treatment services across the nation and can help you find the programs and services that will work for you and your loved one; from intervention help to rehab programs and everything in-between. Find out what you can to do help a loved one struggling with alcoholism. Call and talk to a recovery professional today.

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