High-Functioning Alcoholism: Signs and Symptoms

woman looking for alcohol rehab in Tampa

It can be easy for some people to fool themselves into thinking because they appear to others to have their life together, they can’t be addicted to alcohol. The person falls victim to the stereotype that true alcoholics cannot hold down jobs, stay in marriages, or engage in extracurricular activities. In reality, someone can do those things while also being a high-functioning alcoholic. Whenever alcohol abuse has a hold on someone, they need to get professional treatment from experts trained to treat substance use disorders. 

What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

A high-functioning alcoholic often does not match the image of a “true” alcoholic people hold in their minds. They picture an alcoholic as someone who is often falling down drunk, hungover most mornings, and can’t stay employed. This stereotype can keep a person from recognizing that their need for treatment for alcohol addiction is as genuine and urgent as anyone else struggling with drinking too much.

High-functioning alcoholics often maintain long-term employment or attend college regularly, maintain a family life, fulfill many of their daily obligations, and enjoy hobbies. They likely are not succeeding in all areas, but operate under the assumption that because they feel they do well in two or three of these areas, their drinking has not gotten out of control. 

How Much Does a High-Functioning Alcoholic Drink?

Still, the individual consumes a large and unhealthy amount of alcohol on a regular basis. They often drink as part of a group, passing off their excessive alcohol consumption as something everyone is doing. Additionally, they may often drink alone, which can keep family and friends from realizing just how much their loved one drinks. 

Many high-functioning alcoholics drink moderately during the day and others find it hard to detect their secrets. They often make sure to drink enough to feel inebriated and keep withdrawal symptoms from happening, then drink larger amounts later on. The person often tells themselves that if their drinking really gets out of control, it will become apparent to themselves and others. 

High-Functioning Alcoholic Signs and Symptoms

It can be hard for an individual or a loved one to determine if a person falls under the heading of a high-functioning alcoholic. Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Drinking alone 
  • Trying to mask the number of drinks consumed when around others
  • Drinking moderately in order to keep a buzz going and stop withdrawal symptoms from happening
  • Drinking excessively when not at work or otherwise needed for certain responsibilities
  • Uneasy attending events that do not include alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Tried to stop drinking on their own but can’t do it
  • Sneaking alcohol into events or people’s homes
  • Hiding evidence like alcohol purchased and empty cans and bottles
  • Spending a lot of money on alcohol
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Typically consumes four or more drinks per occasion 
  • Negative repercussions on the job, at home, or in other places, even if the person feels they covered up the drinking behavior that caused them
  • Risky behavior such as drunk driving and unsafe sex

Many people who have become high-functioning alcoholics started binge drinking as teenagers or in college. Then, the amount they drink and the number of times they drink per week increased. They may also have loved ones who have expressed concern about how much they drink. Sometimes the individual suspects they have a problem but manages to talk themselves out of it. 

What Treatment is Available for High-Functioning Alcoholics?

Treatment for high-functioning alcoholics is basically the same as that for anyone else who has an alcohol use disorder. It begins with detox, which entails someone entering a treatment program for an average of five to seven days. The detoxification process allows the person to become sober while receiving vital medical and psychological support to help treat withdrawal symptoms and ensure they stay safe. 

From there, some people move to a residential program for 30 days or more. Either after that or as an alternative, outpatient programs can be the next step. Outpatient care can work well for many high-functioning alcoholics. This type of addiction treatment takes place during the day at a facility while allowing the person to still live at home. This allows many people to still work, go to school, and otherwise attend to daily obligations while still getting effective, evidence-based care. 

Outpatient treatment offers access to a wide variety of types of therapy that help people understand why they became alcoholics and how to avoid relapsing. They graduate from the program not only capable of living a sober life but excited about the changes that have taken place. 

Treatment For the High-Functioning Alcoholic in Tampa

Have you been drinking excessively but don’t feel you qualify as an alcoholic because you are able to take care of certain responsibilities in your life? If you are starting to realize you may be a high-functioning alcoholic, it’s time to find the professional treatment that can help you leave alcohol in your past. Tampa Bay Recovery offers alcohol rehab in Tampa as a highly effective outpatient care designed to help you face your alcoholism head-on and become sober. We offer multiple types of therapy provided by experts in the field of addiction.

If you would like more information about our alcohol addiction treatment program, visit our admissions page now. Our staff can provide the answers you need and help you get started right away.