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Is My Loved One Actually a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

The glamorization of alcohol is everywhere in our world. But as those who have been affected by alcoholism know all too well, addiction is anything but alluring. It is, however, extremely common. Research shows that 16.6 million people are struggling with alcoholism, and the New York Times estimates that as many as half of those may actually be considered “high-functioning” or “functional” alcoholics.

What exactly is meant by this term? A functional alcoholic may seem to have it all: a steady job, a great family, a home to call their own, and a wide circle of friends. But often, their relationship with alcohol may threaten to make it all come crashing down. Despite the fact that others may see these individuals as successful, charming, smart, and funny, those closest to them know that there is another side to their personalities that comes out when they consume alcohol.

High-functioning alcoholics may not always be physically dependent on alcohol, nor do they always suffer withdrawal symptoms when not actively drinking. But nevertheless, they can benefit greatly from the help alcohol treatment centers can provide.

Still, it can be tough for family members and friends to recognize when their loved one needs assistance from alcohol rehab centers. Because they have not hit their rock bottom and have been able to keep their jobs and function as society requires, it might seem like they don’t actually need treatment at all. But it’s important to remember that a functioning alcoholic will not stay functional forever. At a certain point, they will lose their ability to keep it all together. And long before that happens, their loved ones will be impacted by their drinking. That’s why it’s important to seek out treatment from Arizona alcohol rehab centers sooner rather than later. Below, you’ll find some clues that your loved one might be in need of expert help.
  • Denial: In many cases, an alcoholic will only admit they have a problem and need help when their life becomes unmanageable. High-functioning alcoholics may be under the impression that because they don’t fit the profile of a “typical” alcoholic and that they can abstain from drinking when they need to, they don’t have a substance abuse problem. Friends, coworkers, and loved ones may also deny this issue because the alcoholic’s life isn’t in total disarray.
  • Lack of control: A high-functioning alcoholic may be able to stay sober during working hours or when it’s deemed necessary. But once they start to drink, they have no control over how much they consume. They’ll often consume more drinks than others at social events and cannot commit to limits even they themselves have set.
  • Personality shifts: Alcohol is often blamed for lowering exhibitions or allowing shy people with the means to loosen up. But a high-functioning alcoholic may seem like a completely different person when they’re drinking, compared to when they’re sober. They may become outgoing and boisterous when they’re normally quiet and reserved. They may even become angry, overly flirtatious, or incredibly depressed. Significant personality changes like these don’t indicate a healthy relationship with alcohol.
  • Excuses and secrecy: A functional alcoholic will often have an answer (read: excuse) for everything. They’ll always be able to justify why they drank so much. They may also hide their drinking, choosing to drink alone or drink in secrecy with help from a concealed flask or alcohol in a nondescript container. Unfortunately, this behavior can often lead to lies and manipulation — two other telltale signs of alcoholism.
The trained and compassionate staff at alcohol rehab centers across the nation will be quick to point out that these are not the only signs exhibited by functional alcoholics. But if you recognize any of these signs, you should seek out further information from alcohol rehab centers, counselors, and other professionals. To find out more about how our facility can help your loved one, please get in touch with us today.

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