How to Tell if Someone is a Functioning Alcoholic

High functioning alcoholics are people who are able to maintain their everyday life and responsibilities despite their alcohol use. It can be difficult to spot a high functioning alcoholic because they may not display the typical signs of someone with an alcohol problem.

To tell if someone is a high functioning alcoholic, look for signs such as drinking more than intended, drinking in social situations more often than not, and drinking early in the morning.

Other signs to look out for are increased tolerance to alcohol, avoiding conversations about drinking, and hiding alcohol. If you suspect someone is a high functioning alcoholic it is important to talk to them in a non-judgmental way and encourage them to seek help.

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is someone who is able to lead a relatively normal life while also having an alcohol use disorder. This person is often able to maintain a job, relationships, and other responsibilities while also continuing to drink heavily.

Despite being able to carry out daily tasks, the health and well-being of the individual is still being jeopardized due to their alcohol use.

Signs and Symptoms of a High Functioning Alcoholic

Signs of a functioning alcoholic can be difficult to detect, as they can often appear to lead normal lives. Some common indicators to look out for include:

  1. Having a high tolerance for alcohol: Functioning alcoholics may be able to consume large amounts of alcohol without appearing to be impaired.
  2. Disregard for the consequences of drinking: Despite any negative outcomes that may arise from drinking, functioning alcoholics may continue to do so.
  3. Drinking in secret: Functioning alcoholics may hide their drinking from other people, or may drink in private.
  4. Drinking to relieve stress:A functioning alcoholic may use alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress or other negative emotions.
  5. Problems with relationships:The functioning alcoholic’s drinking may lead to problems in their relationships with friends and family.
  6. Neglecting responsibilities: While functioning alcoholics may be able to maintain their job and other responsibilities, they may often neglect other areas of their lives.

If you suspect someone may be a functioning alcoholic, it is important to talk to them about their drinking and offer any help and support that may be needed.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of high functioning alcoholism can include:

  • fatigue
  • poor sleep
  • poor coordination
  • trembling hands
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • frequent headaches
  • stomach problems
  • dehydration
  • increased risk of injury
  • weakened immune system

Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral signs of high functioning alcoholism may include:

  • Tolerance to alcohol, drinking more to achieve the same effects
  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Inability to control or limit alcohol consumption
  • Prioritizing drinking over work and other obligations
  • Making excuses for drinking
  • Difficulty or refusal to admit to a drinking problem
  • Mood swings, irritability, and aggressiveness when drinking
  • Neglecting responsibilities such as work, family, or school
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

Emotional Symptoms

High functioning alcoholism can be difficult to identify because the individual may appear to be managing their daily life and responsibilities without any problems.

However, the individual may still be struggling with emotional symptoms, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Impulsive behaviors

Impacts of High-Functioning Alcoholism

Alcoholism can have a devastating impact on someone’s life. It can lead to physical health problems, such as liver damage, heart problems, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. It can also lead to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Alcoholism can also lead to financial and legal problems, such as losing a job, being arrested, and increased debt. Additionally, it can lead to strained relationships with friends, family members, and loved ones. Ultimately, alcoholism can lead to a life of chaos and despair.

Impact on Relationships

Alcoholism can have a devastating effect on relationships.

  • It can lead to arguments, mistrust, financial problems, and emotional and physical abuse.
  • It can cause a person to withdraw from the relationship, or become overly dependent on the other person.
  • Alcoholism can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, or resentment, and it can damage trust and communication.
  • It can lead to physical and emotional distance, and it can cause a partner to feel neglected or taken for granted. Ultimately, alcoholism can destroy a relationship if it is not addressed.

Impact on Work Performance

Alcoholism can have a devastating impact on an individual’s job performance.

  • Individuals struggling with alcoholism may experience an increase in absences, tardiness, and other disruptive behaviors, leading to a decrease in productivity and job performance.
  • It can lead to a greater risk of workplace accidents, impaired judgement and poor decision-making.
  • Alcoholism can also lead to a decrease in motivation, creativity, and the ability to stay focused on tasks, leading to decreased job satisfaction.
  • This can also lead to a decrease in an individual’s ability to handle pressure and stress, as well as their ability to work as part of a team.
  • In addition, alcoholism can lead to a decrease in an individual’s overall performance and job security, with the potential for termination of employment.

Financial Impact 

Alcoholism can have a devastating effect on a person’s finances.

  • Heavy drinking can lead to reduced income and job security, as well as increased spending on alcohol, creating a dangerous cycle of debt.
  • It can also lead to medical bills and legal fees associated with DUI and other alcohol-related offenses.
  • In addition, alcohol abuse can lead to relationship problems and a lack of motivation, both of which can have a negative financial impact.
  • The combination of these factors can leave an alcoholic struggling to make ends meet, or worse, facing bankruptcy.

Treatment Options for a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Treatment options for alcoholism typically involve a combination of different approaches, such as psychotherapy, support groups, medications, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies.

  1. Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular form of psychotherapy for treating alcohol problems. CBT helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that are associated with problem drinking.
  2. Support Groups: Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for individuals to share their experiences and work through the challenges associated with alcoholism.
  3. Medications:Medications can be prescribed to reduce cravings and help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms during detox. Lifestyle Changes: Making lifestyle changes can help individuals recovering from alcoholism. This can include getting adequate sleep and exercise, eating a healthy diet, managing stress, and avoiding triggers or situations that may lead to relapse.
  4. Alternative Therapies: Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga can be beneficial for individuals recovering from alcoholism. These therapies can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation.

Inpatient Treatment

  • Inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction is an intensive form of treatment that typically requires an individual to stay at a rehabilitation facility for a certain length of time.
  • During that time, the individual is provided with 24-hour access to medical careand addiction treatment services.
  • Inpatient treatment programs typically include a combination of individual and group therapy, medical detox, medication managementand sober living skills.
  • The goal of inpatient treatment is to provide a safe and supportive environment in which individuals can focus on their sobriety and commit to long-term recovery.
  • Additionally, inpatient treatment is often recommended for individuals who are struggling with severe alcohol addiction and need a high level of care and support.

Outpatient Treatment

  • Outpatient treatment for alcohol addiction can provide a comprehensive program of support and guidance to help an individual struggling with alcohol abuse.
  • This type of treatment typically includes a variety of services such as individual therapy, group counseling, educational classes, and support groups.
  • During individual therapy sessions, an addiction specialist can work with an individual to identify the underlying causes of their addiction and develop a plan for recovery.
  • Group counseling and support groups can provide a safe and supportive environment for those in recovery to share their experiences and receive positive reinforcement from their peers.
  • Educational classes can help individuals understand the dangers of alcohol abuse and learn new strategies for avoiding relapse.
  • In addition, outpatient treatment for alcohol addiction can provide resources for individuals seeking additional help and support, such as 12-step programs and sober living homes.
  • With the right treatment and support, individuals can make progress towards sobriety and live healthier, more fulfilling lives.


  • Aftercare for alcohol addiction is the process of recovery and rehabilitation following treatment for alcohol addiction.
  • Aftercare typically involves participation in a support group, therapeutic activities, and continued monitoring of the individual’s health and recovery process.
  • It is important to recognize that recovering from alcohol addiction is a lifelong process,and that aftercare is an essential part of maintaining long-term sobriety.
  • Aftercare can help individuals maintain healthy coping strategies, establish healthy relationships, and develop an overall lifestyle of recovery.

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction

Please contact Luxe Recovery if you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction.

Our warm and friendly admissions staff are here to listen and can talk to you about our high-quality treatment options – and finding a solution that best meets your needs. 

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