High-Functioning Alcoholic using a car service

How to Spot a High-Functioning Alcoholic


Sober Recovery Expert Author

High-Functioning Alcoholic using a car service

When it comes to alcoholism, some alcoholics can’t hold a job, end up burning their relationship bridges with family and friends, and simply live day-to-day blatantly caught in the grips of a deadly disease. Just about everyone knows that they are chemically dependent. Yet, there are also some alcoholics that have steady jobs, relationships, parent their children well, have plenty of material possessions, and can function rather well. These people are called “high-functioning alcoholics” because, despite their reliance on alcohol, they can navigate their lives pretty well and people may not even think they have a drinking problem.

The Warning Signs

It’s oftentimes difficult for loved ones to see the warning signs of alcoholism in high-functioning alcoholics. Of course, the alcoholic may not even believe that he or she has a problem. After all, denial is quite common. Still, it is important for family members to be able to recognize the signs of alcoholism among those that seem to function well in their day-to-day lives.

It may not be apparent, but the signs of alcoholism are there.

Here are some high functioning alcoholic warning signs:

  • They miss more days at work than they used to.
  • They begin isolating some. Whereas they used to have a decent social life, they aren’t getting out there as much.
  • They are struggling with negative emotions like depression and/or anxiety.
  • They are drinking every evening or many evenings and weekends. They think they deserve their nightly drink or cocktail after a hard day’s work.
  • They brag about their love of red wine or craft beers and will be celebrating many things with such often.
  • They tend to deal with anxiety, chronic stress and unnerving situations by pouring a drink.
  • They say they are only going to have a few drinks, but end up drinking more consistently.
  • They tend to revolve their day around drinks, including lunchtime, after work at the bar and a nightly cocktail.
  • They have trouble sleeping.

Many times a functioning alcoholic will drink years and years without anyone really knowing about their issue. Sure, they may have some relationship issues, but even sober people have such. They may get a DUI but most people may just think that was bad luck on their part. High-functioning alcoholics don’t always drink every day either. In fact, many of them are binge drinkers, drinking every weekend.

What Can You Do?

High functioning alcoholics are less likely to reach out for help because many of them don’t see themselves as alcoholics. They simply state that they like to drink sometimes and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you feel as if your loved one is an alcoholic, it is important to approach them with compassion. If they feel threatened or judged, they’re likely to shut down.

Let them know that you are quite concerned about their alcohol usage. Tell them you feel that they may be drinking too much and wonder if perhaps they have a serious drinking problem. Don’t be surprised if they get angry with you and completely deny this. It’s tough for them to see the signs. All you can do is express your concerns and ask them to really think about their drinking patterns. Let them know that there is help for those who are addicted to alcohol and that they would probably feel a lot better if they addressed the issue.

It’s not easy recovering from alcoholism, but it is possible. Be there for your loved one and stay patient. If you can keep an optimistic attitude and gently encourage them, they’ll be more likely to listen and reach out for help.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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