Functioning Alcoholic: Signs And Symptoms, Treatments

Functioning alcoholic is the alcoholic in the chronic or severe phase of the disorder. However, this disorder may be progressing slowly, while the involved person continues to go about daily life; hence, the term applied;’Functioning alcoholic. It is important to understand this term, know the signs and symptoms and treatments of functioning alcoholic. So, why wait more? Read the following array of the article and know about it.

Functioning Alcoholic

Functioning Alcoholic: An Overview

A functioning alcoholic is a person who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully; however the question becomes, how well are they actually handling their role of spouse, parent, professional workers, or community volunteer, while under the influence of alcohol.

It mostly happens that functioning alcoholics do not see any problem with their drinking. However, it is very much essential for someone who is functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks of long term alcohol use, that may be very much serious.

Signs and Symptoms of Functioning Alcoholic:

Although some of the warning signs and symptoms of functioning alcoholics are pretty similar to those of other alcoholics, they generally appear at different stages of the progression of alcohol. Some signs may not be found in all functioning alcoholics, or may occur in clusters. Below are some of the signs and symptoms that functioning alcoholics may generally have in them.

Drinking Is A Big Part In Their Life:

The person always talks or discuss about drinking a lot and is often the driving force behind parties and drinking gatherings after work. The person usually tries to avoid events or places where no alcohol is available. Those who are functioning alcoholics, generally buys the economy sizes and always make sure that there is enough alcohol available in stock.

Jokes About Their Drinking:

The person usually jokes about their alcohol consumption and drinking episodes. The humor is generally an attempt to validate that their drinking is a choice.

Friends Ignore The Symptoms:

Generally the friends of a functioning alcoholic ignore the symptoms, or laugh off the person’s drunken escapades. However, secretly, they know that the person has a problem and they talk behind their back. They rarely talk about the person’s drinking problem in front; maybe because of the person’s fun loving attitude or maybe the position they hold.

They Begin To See The Effects:

Although the affected person continues to be functional at work or in personal life, it begins to get more difficult to do. Functional alcoholics may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms like shakes or nervousness, when they are not drinking. They have more frequent memory blanks. Their drinking antics are getting more extreme, dangerous or embarrassing.

The Functioning Alcoholics Experience Shame Over Their Behavior:

High functioning alcoholics generally feel shame or remorse after incidents where their behavior is sloppy after heavy drinking. They feel ashamed and try harder to avoid such mistakes in the future.

They Try To Quit Drinking But Always Fail:

At some point of their life, functioning alcoholics try to quit drinking; however, they always fail in doing so. This pattern is often repeated, and one might notice that they go through periods where they drink really very hard and then make an attempt to quit drinking. Even though they continuously go through this cycle, they refuse to seek any help or treatment. This is part of the personality of a functioning alcoholic that they feel like they can handle their drinking on their own without taking any help from others.

They Separate Sections Of Their Life:

One more common sign of a high-functioning alcoholic is that they are able to separate their drinking from various other parts of their life. They are basically different from who they actually are when they are at home, work or casual meetings and who they are while they are in the routine of drinking.

Other Symptoms Of Functioning Alcoholic:

Some other signs and symptoms of functioning alcoholic include the following.

  • They surround themselves with people who like to drink
  • They have an obsession over alcohol. Even the thought of alcohol is never out of their mind.
  • One drink is never enough for them. They drink a lot.
  • Some functioning alcoholics drink only expensive alcohols and they believe drinking expensive wine or alcohol does not make them an alcoholic.
  • They have an excuse and reward for everything. They feel they work really hard and that’s why they deserve a drink as a reward.
  • Whether mild or severe, emotional and physical consequences of drinking do not make any difference to them.

Though it is easy to overlook these kind of behaviors when someone is managing to take care of their responsibilities; however, these signs of a functioning alcoholic signify a problem that actually requires to be addressed. The health of the alcoholic may decline severely, if proper action is not taken.

Treatments for Functioning Alcoholic:

Helping self or someone with substance abuse disorder is really challenging. However; helping a functioning alcoholic holds a special set of difficulties. It is important to have an initial assessment. The affected person may not recognize the problems associated with drinking in excess; however, they may be helped by their family members and friends.

It is essential for a known person to educate the functioning alcoholic about the realities of excessive or extended alcohol abuse, the physical and psychological effects of using alcohol excessively.

Treatments for functioning alcoholics usually involve detoxing or stopping drinking. This allows your body cease its reliance on alcohol. Detoxing might cause harmful symptoms in longtime heavy drinkers. Some of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms include seizures, severe nausea, rapid heart rate, shaking, and difficulty sleeping. So it is always recommended that you seek medical attention at a hospital. Your doctor can give you medication so as to help manage the withdrawal symptoms.

It must be noted that a psychological counseling is required for you if you are recovering from alcoholism. You must learn new coping skills so that you can turn to other behaviors instead of drinking and lead a healthy and blessed life.


Functioning alcoholics are no less sick than alcoholics who have problem maintaining a relationship and a job, or end up in any legal trouble. Anyone who is an alcoholic can get benefits from support and treatments. If you or any known one is a functioning alcoholic, then do take medical support and get the best possible treatment as soon as possible.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 22, 2019

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