Addiction Studies

Understanding Addiction

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August 2021

All About High Functioning Alcoholic (Addiction Therapy Discussion)

When talking about alcohol addiction, we automatically assume that alcohol-addicted people’s lives fall apart instantly. We think that these individuals cannot find the balance in such aspects as family, career, relationship, and community. Unfortunately, not everybody fits inside this stereotype because approximately a huge percentage of individuals can function better despite their addiction. These people are identified as high-functioning alcoholics.

High-functioning alcoholics often maintain seemingly normal lives. Usually, it isn’t easy to spot them because they almost have their family, relationship, and career in line. However, there are some signs that meet their criteria for having an alcohol use disorder.


  1. Drinking During The day 

We might think that a glass of alcohol a day is tolerable. We would not think badly of it at some point, as it only contains small amounts, and there will be no (or less) issue with intoxication. Unfortunately, these individuals who can’t live without alcohol a day are already alcohol dependent. Their daily limitation has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol they drink but rather more with the habit that they can’t let go of. In some instances, this habit leads to unwanted behaviors such as sneaking intoxicating drinks on short breaks, hiding alcohol at work, or drinking upon waking up in the morning.

  1. Drinking Alone Frequently

Drinking is considered an accepted social pastime, especially during times of celebration, at parties, and other events. However, those people who developed an addiction to alcohol, they may often choose to drink alone. They somehow find the habit comforting because there’s less cause of judgment. It can be a way for them to hide their condition and avoid detection from other people and lessen the feelings of guilt or shame.

  1. Drinking To Cope With Stress

High-functioning alcoholic people hold on to the excuse that drinking can relieve stress. But in reality, that indicates a problem as it can result in cravings, difficulties in concentration, and alcohol withdrawal. The wrong association of alcohol as a stress-reliever can lead to higher tolerance and dependence. Over time, it can show negative effects of worsening stress-related problems, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping.


Of course, these habits are not a total indication of alcohol addiction. But it may be a cause of concern when gets accompanied with some of the subsequent behavioral habits including (but not limited to):

  • Drinking a specific dosage of alcohol on a frequent basis regardless of day or night intake and not appearing intoxicated.
  • Drinking heavily and excessively
  • Sneaking out or hiding some bottle of alcohol only to sustain an everyday amount of drink.
  • Avoiding significant feedback about harmful drinking patterns.
  • Making jokes about how often a drink is made and trying to validate the action.
  • Trying to resolve the problems drinking has on their health or other areas of their lives.
  • Denial of drinking problem despite obvious manifestation.
  • Continuing to drink despite the worsening physical and mental health problems
  • Showing signs of alcohol withdrawal on most occasions such as fatigue, headache, sweating, nausea, foggy thinking, liver damage, and anxiety.
  • Having significant problems in performing a single task.
  • Having problems with social interaction without the help of alcohol.


Realizing The Amount Of Alcohol Consumption

One important thing that we should all need to understand is the association of dosage to alcohol addiction. High functioning alcoholics and those alcohol addicts share the same habit of daily consuming an intoxicating drink. But the condition still varies from one person to another. Alcohol addicts are exposed to a larger amount of drinks, while high functioning alcoholics limit their drinks to only a few amounts on certain occasions. However, the possibility of an increase in amount and frequency is possible over time.

Moreover, drinking alone frequently may be associated with other mental health problems aside from alcohol addiction in some instances. It can mean something more complicated such as emotional issues, depression, and anxiety. People needing more amount of alcohol or just taking it throughout the day may implicate signs of psychological imbalance.

High functioning alcoholics might still look and act normal, but their severe alcohol dependence will eventually create a toll on their overall life experiences. Even if they think they are holding onto a sense of control, many of these individuals may soon suffer from problems socially and financially. They also have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones as their drinking habit increases.


We have to realize that no matter how mild or severe individuals’ may suspect series of patterns of alcoholism in their system, it’s worthwhile to seek professional help. That way, they can receive a reliable and recommended course of treatment that suits their needs. It is much better to accept that alcohol addiction is not a problem to be faced alone. It is important to know that peer support or self-help groups help stop or reduce problematic drinking behavior.