The classic picture of an alcoholic is someone who always drinks too much and whose life is falling apart because of it. But that’s not always the reality.
Some people seem to be just fine even though they abuse alcohol. Experts call these people “functional” or “high-functioning” alcoholics
You can still be one even though you have a great “outside life,” with a job that pays well, home, family, friendships, and social bonds.
Although it’s now officially called “alcohol use disorder,” you’ll still hear a lot of people talking about “alcoholism” or “alcohol abuse.”
It’s a condition that ranges from mild to moderate to severe. And it’s all still problem drinking, even if you think it’s “mild.”
A functional alcoholic might not act the way you would expect him to act. He might be responsible and productive. He could even be a high achiever or in a position of power. In fact, his success might lead people to overlook his drinking.
He could also be in denial. He might think, “I have a great job, pay my bills, and have lots of friends; therefore I am not an alcoholic,”
Or he might make excuses like, “I only drink expensive wine” or “I haven’t lost everything or suffered setbacks because of drinking.”
But he isn’t doing fine.
Nevertheless, no one can drink heavily and maintain major responsibilities over long periods of time. If someone drinks heavily, it is going to catch up with them.”
What Are the Signs?
What is heavy drinking? For women, it’s having more than three drinks a day or seven a week.
For men, it’s four or more per day or 14 a week. If you drink more than the daily or weekly limit, you’re at risk.
That’s not the only way to tell if you or someone you care about needs help. There are some other red flags. You might:
Say you have a problem or joke about alcoholism
Not keep up with major responsibilities at home, work, or school
Lose friendships or have relationship problems due to drinking, but you don’t quit alcohol
Have legal problems related to drinking, such as a DUI arrest
Need alcohol to relax or feel confident
Drink in the morning or when you’re alone
Get drunk when you don’t intend to
Forget what you did while drinking
Deny drinking, hide alcohol, or get angry when confronted about drinking
Cause loved ones to worry about or make excuses for your drinking