When you hear the word alcoholic, what images come to mind? Many of us have stereotypical images of someone who is constantly drunk, who doesn’t remember, and who doesn’t hold down a job. What if we told you that many alcoholics don’t even come close to that image? Some can still be productive members of society while being addicted to alcohol. This is what is referred to as a high-functioning alcoholic.
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Statistics show that nearly 20 percent of all alcoholics can be classified as high functioning.1 Because they don’t make their drinking as well-known as others, it can be difficult to know there is a problem. We’re going to explore the signs and habits of a high-functioning alcoholic and how an alcohol rehab in Scottsdale can help.
When is Someone Considered an Alcoholic?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, excessive alcohol use is classified as: 2
For women, this means consuming more than three alcoholic drinks in one day or seven or more weekly. For men, this means having more than four drinks in one day or 14 or more in one week.
Women having four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting and men having five or more is considered binge drinking.
Anyone pregnant or younger than 21 drinking alcohol
When someone exhibits this behavior, and it is openly known, they are considered an alcoholic. High-functioning alcoholics may drink this much but mask their behavior by carrying on with everyday life without interruption or appearing intoxicated. They have built a tolerance to alcohol that requires them to have more to feel the effects.
Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic
While it may not be easy to determine if someone is a high-functioning alcoholic, there are some signs to look for that may signal a problem. These include:
- Adding alcohol to water bottles or other bottled drinks
- Drinking before a social event, so drinking at the event appears normal
- Binge drinking
- Having bloodshot or watery eyes
- Drinking while at work
- Having unexplained mood changes
- Drinking and driving
They may also exhibit these behaviors:
- Being secretive about how much alcohol they drink
- Drinking to cope with difficult situations
- Experiencing memory loss and/or blacking out
- Excelling at work and home despite a high level of drinking
- Lying to themselves or others about how much they’re drinking
If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, they may a high-functioning alcoholic.
What Leads Someone to Become a High-Functioning Alcoholic?
Someone does not become a high-functioning alcoholic overnight. There are many reasons why someone may develop an alcohol use disorder that can result in becoming a high-functioning alcoholic. These include:
- Being extremely stressed at work or home
- Having low self-esteem
- An underlying mental health condition
- Experiencing peer pressure to drink
People may become high-functioning alcoholics for other reasons as well. No matter the reason, it’s important to recognize the signs so you can help a loved one get the treatment they need.
Risks of High-Functioning Alcoholics
High-functioning alcoholics put themselves and others at risk. If someone is unaware of the problem, they may get in a car with someone who was drinking and not realize it until it’s too late. High-functioning alcoholics can also be dangerous at work if they black out on the job.
There are also prone to health issues, including high blood pressure, liver and pancreas problems, and memory loss.
How Alcohol Rehab in Scottsdale Can Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic
If you suspect a loved one is a high-functioning alcoholic, you can get them the help they need at Desert Cove Recovery. We have an outpatient alcohol treatment program that provides patients with the support they need to overcome their addiction and live sober lives.
Our treatment plans are customized for each patient since each addiction is different. Our experienced team takes the time to get to know our patients to get the treatment they need. Call us today or contact us online for more information on our treatment plans.
Sources: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/researchers-identify-alcoholism-subtypes  https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking