Examining High Functioning Alcoholism & Signs to Look For

Typically an alcoholic refers to someone who drinks uncontrollably. This is someone who has lost control of their life as a result of too much drinking. These kinds of people often have relationship issues, are unhygienic, and even get into financial constraints.

Even so, some people consume a lot of alcohol, and they seem to lead normal lives. Despite being an alcoholic, they don’t behave as expected. In fact, some are high achievers. For example, they might be paying their bills, taking care of their families, and working normally.

Such a person suffers from high-functioning alcoholism. These people have an alcohol disorder but do not portray anticipated signs. Let’s look at what high functioning alcoholism is all about and if the condition is sustainable.

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What is High Functioning Alcoholism?

High-functioning alcoholism (HFA) is a colloquial term for an alcoholic (alcohol dependence) who is highly successful in certain aspects of their life. The success is typically in a professional capacity and may, at times, give the appearance that everything in their life is under control.

High-functioning alcoholics may seem like they have it all together -except for their drinking. This makes it hard for friends and family to understand why they don’t just stop drinking.

Here are some signs that can help you identify if someone you know is a functioning alcoholic, such as:

– Drink alone, hide or lie about how much they drink

– Have blackouts or memory loss

– Feel guilty about drinking but unable to stop

– Get into trouble with work or family due to drinking

– Becoming addicted to prescription drugs (to treat the side effects of alcohol)

Is Being a High Functioning Alcoholic Sustainable?

The problem is when we look past the alcohol, we see that there’s more going on beneath the surface with high functioning alcoholics. 

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HFAs will often deny they have a problem with drinking because they haven’t experienced serious consequences yet. But many people who fit this definition are just one bad day away from losing their job or having an accident while driving drunk. Their families may also be suffering as a result of their loved ones’ drinking but don’t know how to get them help.

How to Help a High Functioning Alcoholic

1. Determine if They Need Help

The first step is deciding whether the person has a problem — and whether that problem is serious enough to require professional help. Just because someone drinks does not mean they have a problem. If your loved one is a sober alcoholic, encourage them to seek help.

2. Offer Adequate Support

If someone close to you is a high-functioning alcoholic, it’s important to express your concerns in a kind and nonjudgmental way. Let them know how much they mean to you and how worried you are. It’s also helpful to let them know that there are treatment programs available that could help them get their alcohol intake under control.

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3. Recommend Treatment

High-functioning alcoholics are a unique breed, so you need to approach them with care. While some alcoholics are easy to spot, high functioning alcoholics have mastered the art of concealing their addiction from family and friends. If you know any high-functioning alcoholic, encourage them to seek treatment without crossing their line.

Wondering if You Have High Functioning Alcoholism?

Seeking help for alcohol abuse can be a difficult decision to make. In some cases, people may not be sure if they even have a problem with alcohol. Or they may feel that their drinking isn’t severe enough to require treatment. 

However, it is possible to be an alcoholic without having the disease progress to the point where it causes noticeable impairment in your life. Therefore, it’s always important to seek help from experts even without the symptoms!

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