Your doctor may order this test if your blood tests indicate abnormal liver functioning. There is research showing that about 19.5 percent of people with AUD are middle-aged, well-educated, and have stable jobs, homes, and families. This could include people with high-functioning AUD, but these criteria are not definitive characteristics. In many instances, a spouse or partner may use the phrase “high-functioning” to downplay the seriousness of their alcohol addiction. Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is a popular treatment method for alcohol addiction.

difference between a high functioning alcoholic and an alcoholic

Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality. Functional alcoholics are more likely to participate in high-risk behavior, but they may be better at not getting caught than others. Everyone needs a support network, and having a designated group committed to recovery can increase the likelihood of sustained sobriety. Support groups often host in-person and virtual events to help people learn how to have sober fun. Clients in an outpatient program can participate in person at a residential treatment center or virtually with online meetings. As new obstacles arise, they can lean into support from a therapist and their peers and deepen their self-confidence in navigating sobriety outside of a more structured treatment environment.

Risk factors

If you are concerned about your loved one’s drinking, it can be helpful to join a support group such as Al-Anon. Such groups can offer valuable support, encouragement, advice, and information. Family members may feel on edge and worried about their loved ones drinking. They may take steps to avoid the person while they are drinking, or they may experience feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame. Connect with a licensed therapist for porn addiction and mental health counseling.

difference between a high functioning alcoholic and an alcoholic

Everybody wants to see the party, but nobody wants to see the hangover. Reach out to a treatment provider for free today for immediate assistance. If you feel like you may have a problem with alcohol abuse, take a look at these questions that can help you to better understand your situation. The first step for most people is detox, which means quitting alcohol. A detox may take place at a hospital or inpatient facility, such as rehab.

How Can You Tell That Someone Is A High-Functioning Alcoholic?

As a result, being able to fulfill job duties adequately does little to discourage them from continued patterns of alcohol abuse. Family members of functional alcoholics need high functioning alcoholic to be careful not to become codependent on their loved one. Codependence refers to helping another person to an extent that you experience health or social problems.

difference between a high functioning alcoholic and an alcoholic

Even if your drinking seems under control, you could be a functional alcoholic and potentially put your loved ones and yourself at risk for serious physical, mental, and behavioral consequences. Terms such as “currently functioning” may be more accurate because as drinking progresses, it’s unlikely a person will remain functional forever. Consciously or unconsciously, the codependent may help the alcoholic to continue drinking to maintain the status quo. Many high-functioning alcoholics earn a good living and can support their families while continuing to drink.

Get help for alcoholism today.

The National Institute of Health suggests that loved ones should start by talking about their concerns. Instead, voice your concerns, share how their drinking is affecting others, and suggest ways that you can help them talk to a doctor or join a support group. In the short term, alcohol use increases the risk for alcohol poisoning, fetal alcohol syndrome, accidents, injuries, violence, and risky sexual behavior. Join the thousands of people that have called a treatment provider for rehab information. Seek specialized help and let professionals guide you in your recovery. provides an anonymous online evaluation tool to check if drinking has become problematic and provides further resources for help and support. It is important to note that these signs may not be obvious to a loved one or friend. This is because people can be skillful at hiding the signs of an issue with alcohol. Addicts who self-detox might experience vomiting, headaches, or shaking. It can even lead to seizures, and in some extreme cases, it can cause permanent damage to the brain or even death. Managing AUD is a lifelong process, so the earlier you or your loved one seeks help, the more likely you are to succeed in overcoming the disorder and limiting recurrence.

Hiding Alcoholism: The High-Functioning Alcoholic

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant – it slows down life-preserving functions, such as breathing and heart rate. Over time, the central nervous system compensates for this effect, becoming more active in its natural state. Drinking rarely causes them to miss work and other obligations (although it does happen occasionally). They are usually able to manage areas of life including jobs, homes, and families.

What is the difference between AA heavy drinker and alcoholic?

Problem drinking is using alcohol in a way that can negatively impact your health and your life, but the body is not physically dependent on the substance. Alcoholism, on the other hand, most likely includes the physical addiction to alcohol in addition to the problems it may cause your health and your life.

They consume alcohol regularly and rarely go to an event or get-together without alcoholic drinks. You know they depend on alcohol, but they might jokingly refer to themselves as “functioning alcoholics”. In addition, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol misuse like binge drinking and heavy drinking can increase your risk for developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). People with high-functioning alcoholism may be managing their jobs, finances and relationships in their daily life, but alcohol use is still causing physical and emotional harm.

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

However, it’s important to face the reality sooner rather than later, because an addiction is best treated when identified early. If you suspect that your loved one is an alcoholic, don’t wait for their condition to get worse, and don’t mistake ‘high functioning’ for healthy. Some people have a higher tolerance for alcohol than others, and people are free to choose to drink if they feel like it. But if their drinking is outside of their control, they may begin to not only engage in self-destructive behavior, but they may very well make choices that go on to endanger the lives of those they love and care for.

A functioning alcoholic may feel anxious if something interrupts their usual drinking routine. The key phrase is, of course, “functioning.” A functioning alcoholic does not experience many interruptions in work, life, or relationships due to their drinking patterns. These issues can include showing up late to work more often, being less productive, taking more sick days, and potentially even drinking on the job in hopes of quelling nerves and anxiety. Sometimes this is because of genetic reasons or because of the stress of running a business. Those who show signs of alcoholism are likely teens who started drinking when their brain was still developing. Also known as functional alcoholics, these people do not drink much during the day.

She completed her graduate capstone at Mosaic Community Services, now an affiliate of Sheppard Pratt. Dr. Cusner also strengthened the business growth of the Ohio facilities by 12%. He was recognized by the Governor for demonstrating a “care-conscious approach” during COVID, when Dr. Cusner carefully consolidated facility residents to accommodate staff and improve clinical care.

According to figures published by the CDC in 2018, 17.2% of Ohio adults went binge drinking at least once in the past 30 days, consuming a median 5.7 drinks at the time. In addition to reducing the physical risks of quitting alcohol on your own, this focus on treating the whole person is why a medical detox program is so important. Heavy drinking can even interfere with the part of the brain responsible for breathing, leading to dangerously slow and shallow breaths. This risk is increased when other substances, such as prescription painkillers, are consumed with alcohol. This is known as polysubstance use and can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly. If you or a loved one is struggling, give us a call to learn more about our programs and how we can help.

Signs and Symptoms of Dysfunctional Alcoholism

Dr. Cusner demonstrates a results-driven culture by delivering a high-quality level of care and employee engagement. The National Institutes of Health has reported the average life expectancy of people hospitalized with alcohol use disorder is years for men and years for women. On average, people with AUD die years earlier than people in the general population. While there is no conclusive answer, studies have shown that lawyers, hospitality workers, miners, construction workers, and even medical professionals have a higher-than-average rate of alcohol use. We’re the oldest nonprofit treatment program in the state of Oregon, and we have treatment centers all around the state so you won’t have to go far to get the help you need. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that anyone who meets 2 of the 11 following criteria within a 12-month period may be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder.