Alcohol addiction might not always look like the media’s portrayal of alcoholics. Only a small percentage of those addicted to alcohol will look like that. In actuality, a large majority of those who have a problem with alcohol can get through the day just fine. They hold down jobs, attend family functions, and often avoid having all but their closest friends and family suspecting there is anything wrong. These are all signs of a functioning alcoholic in society.
If you’re concerned about a loved one’s use of alcohol, learn more about the signs that point to a problem. If your friend or family member is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, an addiction treatment program can help them take their lives back.
The Hidden Addiction
What is a functioning alcoholic? While this is not necessarily a term used by addiction treatment professionals, for many, this is an apt way to describe an individual who looks fine on the surface but who is struggling deep down. A functioning alcoholic doesn’t normally give the impression that they have a problem with alcohol. This person might stay sober all day long, but come home and drink until they pass out every night. Or, they drink throughout the day, but their tolerance is high enough that they don’t display outward signs of intoxication.
These are the people that may simply be seen as someone who doesn’t know when to stop. For example, they may only drink on weekends but may not limit the amount they drink, ending up drunk every time alcohol is involved. Others may never see them drink. Think of the stay-at-home mom who drinks throughout the day, never quite getting drunk. She drinks only when alone and paces herself, so she can still do what needs to be done. Many times the person with the drinking problem is often in denial about how much they drink.
Someone who can be described as a functioning alcoholic will likely be able to carry out the responsibilities they need to at home or at work. However, they depend on alcohol to get through the day.
Common Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic
You can ask yourself if you or your loved one shows the following signs of a functional alcoholic:
- Making jokes about drinking and being an alcoholic – This can be a defense mechanism used to avoid suspicion
- Damaged relationships – Close friends and family might notice the extent of the drinking
- Legal troubles – Driving under the influence can lead to hefty fines and even jail time
- Using alcohol to mask mental health issues – Turning to alcohol to cope with anxiety or depression can make symptoms worse
- Drinking alone – Hiding alcohol use from others can be a sign that there is a problem
- Hiding alcohol – Stashing alcohol away at work or at home is an unhealthy behavior
These are just several of the telling signs you can look for.
How an Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program Can Help
A person can exhibit the signs of a functioning alcoholic for many years and never feel the repercussions. They may keep a high-paying job, hold their marriage together, and otherwise appear to be completely successful to the outside world. Over time, however, the alcohol will do the same damage physically that it does to anyone with an alcohol use problem. You will find yourself experiencing more sick days from work and more medical bills. Feeling confident in your ability to either hide your abuse or still in denial that there is a problem, you may find yourself facing DUI charges. If someone does confront you, your reaction may find you in a situation where you over-react and get charged with domestic violence. Signs of a functioning alcoholic now will more than likely evolve into noticeable alcohol abuse symptoms somewhere along the line.
Dealing with the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic with Westwind Recovery®
You don’t need to allow alcohol to rule your life any longer. Rehab isn’t a sterile place that reminds you of a hospital. Reach out to Westwind Recovery® today if you or a loved one show signs of a functioning alcoholic and see what we have to offer.
Our addiction treatment programs include:
- Inpatient rehab in a serene, peaceful environment
- Outpatient programs to help you transition back to everyday life
- Evidence-based therapies
- Nutrition and wellness programs
Our rehab programs also include weekly trips to such places as beaches, waterfalls, skiing, and much more. These mini-adventures can remind you of the great adventure you are choosing to embark on: healing from addiction and rebuilding your life. Reach out to our team at 855.340.8832 or connect with us online to learn more.
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.