Guest Post: 6 Warning Signs You Are Dealing With A High Functioning Alcoholic

Another guest blog post from Andy who previously contributed here.  This time he’s written about the warning signs of high functioning alcoholism.  Thank you again Andy!

When you hear the word alcoholic, what type of person do you imagine? Someone who is constantly propping up a bar or nursing a bottle of liquor by themselves at home? We all have a picture in mind when we think of an alcoholic and it is probably someone who is constantly drunk and can’t function in regular society.

The shocking truth is there are many alcoholics that hold down steady jobs and go about their lives like anyone else. They’re known as high functioning alcoholics and sometimes they are difficult to identify and help. The problem with a high functioning alcoholic is that they may endanger the lives of others or disrupt the workplace. Imagine a mom picking up her kids from soccer practice after a long lunch with friends that turned into several drinks, she’s putting not only her children at risk but others on the road. Or a surgeon suddenly finds his hands shaking uncontrollably in the middle of a complex operation on your sick relative.

The same risks apply to high functioning alcoholics as they do to anyone abusing alcohol; from affecting judgment, concentration and decision making to long-term effects on organs like the liver. Still, many alcoholics may not see their drinking as a problem.

If you suspect someone you know might be a high functioning alcoholic there are signs you can recognize to identify their behavior so you can help them get the help they need.

1. One Drink Turns into a Party

One of the most common things a high functioning alcoholic will say is that they are only going to have one or two drinks, then end up drinking beyond their limits. This doesn’t always have to be at a party or some sort of celebration but includes lighter social activities like meals in restaurants or catching up with friends at home.

If you notice that you or someone you know is a couple drinks ahead of everyone else almost every time it could be a warning sign they are (or you are) a high functioning alcoholic.

2. They Often Deny Things They Have Said or Done

As with anyone who abuses alcohol, blackouts can be a common occurrence and I don’t mean being unconscious. Occasionally blackouts affect the memory and the person can appear to be functioning as if on auto-pilot and not completely intoxicated, yet the next day that person will have no recollection of events or things they said or did.

In high functioning alcoholics, blackouts frequently occur and you might not notice a change in their behavior until you mention something they said or did which they will completely deny ever doing so.

3. They Always Joke About Drinking

One of the tell-tale signs someone you know is a high functioning alcoholic is how they will go out of their way to joke about drinking to make light of how much they are consuming. They may even tease others about not being able to drink as much as they can.

By projecting this onto others around them or the social situation they are in, helps to shift the focus away from their own problem. Most high functioning alcoholics are in denial that they have a problem because they are capable of working and socializing like everyone else.

4. They Always Excuse Why They Drink Yet Hide Their Drinking

A high functioning alcoholic will always give you a reason why they drink. Stress at work, dealing with overwhelming children or simply that they’ve had a bad day. What’s more is that a high functioning alcoholic will conceal their drinking so you don’t see how much they are consuming. They can slip out early to get to the bar before you and arrange meeting you there.

They may even have bottles hidden in places like the car or desk drawer at the office. Next time you meet them at a bar notice if they seem like they have already had a few drinks. Hiding their drinking is a sure sign that they are addicted to alcohol and are having a problem functioning without it.

5. They Replace Meals with Drinks

Many functioning alcoholics will see a mealtime as an excuse to have a few drinks so it is not uncommon to see that they are more interested in ordering more alcohol instead of eating the food in front of them. Medical research has shown chronic alcohol abuse may result in a loss of appetite or failure to identify hunger.

6. Acting Out of Character

If someone close to you who you’ve to know for a long time suddenly seems different, more outgoing or perhaps more aggressive than usual, it may be because they are a high functioning alcoholic.

On the outside, they appear to be the same person you’ve always known but pay close attention to how they are, particularly around other people or in larger groups. Alcohol tends to bring out certain behavior in people which can range from being more social to easily angered and violent.

By identifying someone you know as a high functioning alcoholic you might be able to reach out to that person and discover the reason behind their drinking and help them get the professional help they need. Depending on the severity of their alcoholism you might just be saving their lives.

Do you have anything to add to these 6 signs how to identify a high functioning alcoholic? Perhaps you have your own story about being a high functioning alcoholic and would like to share your experience with our readers? Leave us a comment below we would love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: 6 Warning Signs You Are Dealing With A High Functioning Alcoholic

  1. Thanks Andy & Lou 🙂 Unfortunately these behaviors describe my (still drinking) husband…xx

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