Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction is a common substance use disorder. In the past, alcoholic and alcoholism were used to refer to what treatment professionals now call alcohol use disorder. Like an addiction, alcohol use disorder is complex, and there are degrees of dependency. While struggling with addiction, some people can mask their condition so well they can complete most of their daily responsibilities without incident. This kind of alcohol use disorder has been referred to as high-functioning alcohol addiction. What is a high-functioning alcoholic?
It can be someone successful at their job, but who drinks every night of the week. It might be someone raising children, keeping their house perfectly clean, and attending every soccer game/ballet recital. But who spends every night on the couch drinking way too much in a short period of time. Someone who is a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t appear to others to be a heavy drinker or even affected by their drinking. To the rest of the world, maybe even their family and friends, they do not appear to have a drinking problem. Yet, they do.
At Northern Illinois Recovery Center, our alcohol addiction rehab center can help people identify high-functioning alcohol abuse in themselves or others and get the necessary support to heal from the disease of addiction.
Signs of a High Functioning Alcoholic
What is a high-functioning alcoholic? The person who is suffering from this diagnosis is in denial about their condition. The nature of a high-functioning alcoholic makes it hard to believe there is an issue. However, it is a myth that high-functioning alcoholics do not need treatment or are not actually alcoholics. The fact of the matter is that, eventually, if you drink too much, even if it is only at night or the weekends, your life will begin to suffer. Work, school, and relationships will begin to deteriorate, and your health will be affected. Here are some signs of a high functioning alcoholic:
- To present an illusion of control, drinking is confined to certain times.
- Often the functioning alcoholic becomes like a different person when they drink.
- There are usually some other underlying mental issues such as depression or anxiety.
- Even after saying they are going to stop, they cannot control the amount they drink; alcohol is viewed as a reward or used to relax.
- They make excuses for why they are drinking; sometimes choose to drink without eating anything.
- They plan for the next drinking event, sometimes obsessing over the details.
- Hiding alcohol is routine, as are blackouts.
If one or more of these signs is present in yourself or someone you care about, they are likely addicted to alcohol. Addiction is a disease.
How Do I Approach My Loved One?
It can be hard to convince someone they have an alcohol use disorder when their life appears to be fine. As a loved one, you may be enabling the situation by covering for them when they are hungover or making excuses. As a person who loves a high-functioning alcoholic, you may find yourself unable to separate from the problem. This means you are co-dependent. Even though you hate the situation, it is what you feel comfortable in. If this is you, there are support groups as well as family therapy that can help.
Consulting with a substance abuse professional may be a good idea before confronting someone about a drinking problem. A visit with a medical doctor may also be beneficial, as bloodwork can show the decline of health. Setting boundaries may help. Let your friend or family member know that you will no longer be a part of the problem. Refuse to drink with them or serve them alcohol.
Realize that inpatient hospitalization will most likely be necessary. The most effective, long-term sobriety comes out of a rehabilitation program. Here at Northern Illinois Recovery Center, we offer several addiction treatment programs, such as:
- Partial hospitalization program
- Intensive outpatient program
- Outpatient treatment
- Structured Sober Living
No matter the degree of alcohol use disorder you or your loved one struggles with, we can provide a program designed to meet your specific needs and goals.
Reach Out to Northern Illinois Recovery Center Today
Alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the individual struggling with the disease but radiates outward, touching the lives of those closest to them, friends, family, co-workers, peers, and even strangers. Finding support is available, however. Northern Illinois Recovery Center handles all types of addictions. Aside from alcohol addiction, we also treat:
- Barbiturate addiction
- Benzo addiction
- Cocaine addiction
- Heroin addiction
- Meth addiction
- Opiate addiction
- Opioid addiction
- Prescription drug addiction
- Xanax addiction