What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic? Do You Know One? Are You One?

What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic? Do You Know One? Are You One?

Alcoholics are people who always drink too much and whose lives are in ruins because of it. However, that’s not always the case. High-functioning alcoholics exist.

Despite abusing alcohol, some people seem just fine. Alcoholics with a high level of functionality are known as functional alcoholics or high-functioning alcoholics.

There’s no denying that many people still talk about “alcoholism” or “alcohol abuse.” Various levels of alcohol abuse can be found. Even if you think it’s “mild,” it’s still considered problem drinking.

Could They Be In Denial?

You might not expect the behavior of a high-functioning alcoholic. It is possible for them to be productive and responsible. Possibly they are an accomplished person or holds power. They might be overlooked for his drinking because of his success.

Denial is another possibility. He may believe that because he has a great job, pays his bills, and has lots of friends, he isn’t an alcoholic. He might inform us that he only drinks expensive wine or that he hasn’t lost everything or gone through setbacks because of alcohol use.

The ability to maintain major responsibilities while drinking heavily cannot be sustained for long periods of time. A heavy drinker will pay the price for it.

Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

How does heavy drinking differ from light drinking? Women who drink more than three alcoholic beverages a day or seven a week are considered heavy drinkers. Men who drink more than four a day or 14 a week. Overindulgences put you at risk of becoming a high-functioning alcoholic.

Not everyone knows when they need help. Additionally, there are some red flags.


  • Joke about alcoholism or say you have a problem
  • Not doing well at work, school, or at home>
  • If you lose relationships and friendships as a result of drinking, but you do not give up alcohol
  • A DUI arrest or other legal problems relating to drinking
  • To feel relaxed or confident, you need alcohol
  • When you’re alone or early in the morning, drink
  • When you aren’t planning it, you get drunk
  • Do not remember what you did when you were drinking
  • When confronted about drinking, deny it, hide it, or get angry
  • Making excuses or worrying about your drinking in front of loved ones

What Are The Risk Factors

While functional alcoholics may appear in control, they can endanger themselves and others if they drive drunk, engage in risky sexual behavior, or forget to take their medication.

There are many risks associated with heavy drinking. Hepatitis, pancreatitis, some cancers, brain damage, serious memory loss, and high blood pressure are all possible deaths. Furthermore, it makes a person more likely to be involved in a car accident, commit murder, or commit suicide. Domestic violence, child maltreatment, fetal alcohol spectrum, and child abuse and neglect are all associated with alcohol abuse.

Get Help Today

Similar to other addict types, a high-functioning alcoholic can be treated as well. Your primary care provider may be able to suggest that you seek out addiction treatment, whether it’s from a therapist, psychiatrist, or another professional.

A professional may work one-on-one with you in case management. The benefit of outpatient treatment is that you can receive treatment in the daytime and still live at home.

Treatment facilities with the most extensive care allow you to live on-site full time. As with 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, these setups can also be adapted to work with them. It may be beneficial for someone to speak to other people with substance abuse issues in order to overcome denial, and being a high functioning alcoholic.

Contact us, here at Wellness Retreat Recovery, today.