High Functioning Alcoholics Exist Everywhere

Welcome to the topic, “Identify High-Functioning Alcoholics”

If your loved ones are drinking too much, know the signs of a high-functioning alcoholic, what happens when alcoholism is left untreated and how can you support recovery from alcoholism.

Alcohol addiction, or the failure to control or stop drinking, can cause evident problems for people at work, school, and home. But sometimes the symptoms/signs are less apparent. People who drink a lot of alcohol but there is no significant impact of it on their daily routine are known as functioning alcoholics or high-functioning alcoholics.

High-functioning individual suffering from an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) normally works daily, has sustained relationships, and has faced moderate to very minor consequences related to alcohol use. Despite experiencing minor impacts, a high-functioning person dealing with AUD still tends to depend on alcohol to complete routine tasks and has a tolerance to, dependence on, and strong cravings for alcohol that affects their well-being and health.

While it can be very difficult to recognize problems related to alcohol use in functioning alcoholics, these are some signs which can help you recognize them.


Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Your family member or friends are functioning alcoholics if they are:

  • unable to stop or control drinking alcohol
  • having legal problems associated with drinking, like a DUI
  • drinking alone, hiding alcohol use from others, or need drinking before attending any social events
  • becoming defensive or angry when others interrogate their drinking habits
  • experiencing lapses in memory, or blackouts when drinking
  • using alcohol to manage negative emotions or stress
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms— nausea, irritability, trouble sleeping, restlessness, and shakiness—when trying to control drinking

In general, while functioning alcoholics can manage responsibilities, they may not be normally functioning or may be losing attention in some aspects, despite showing to have it together.

Impacts of High-Functioning Alcoholism 

There are many long and short-term consequences of having alcoholism untreated.


  • Dangers during pregnancy, including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), stillbirth, and miscarriage
  • Uncertain and terrifying behaviors, including unsafe sex
  • Legal problems (DUI arrests)
  • Injuries from drownings fall, and violent altercations
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Overdose (especially if mixing alcohol with some other drugs)


  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Permanent changes in the brain
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Premature death

Long term effects

Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic:

Because a high-functioning alcoholic with alcohol use disorder (AUD) may not be facing severe levels of loss at home, school, or work, they may not identify they have an issue with alcoholism. Or, they might justify and accept that the problem isn’t that dangerous. Early mediation is key in inhibiting serious health problems.

The best way to help a loved one who might be facing problems with alcoholism is to discuss your worries with them. Encourage them to talk with their primary healthcare professional about the amount of daily drinking and request suitable tests be run to confirm that your loved one is safe from health problems. Professional advice can help them control or stop drinking easily.



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