What are some ways to help a functioning alcoholic? The answer to this is simple: Get them to seek help. There is actually no such thing as a fully functioning alcoholic. Even a successful individual—with a great job, a beautiful home, new cars, a loving family, and an interesting social life—can struggle with alcohol abuse and its terrible dangers when no one is looking. Call 208.486.0130 to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery about how to help a functioning alcoholic and our alcohol addiction treatment program in Idaho.
What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?
One of the chief characteristics of addiction is denial. Functional alcoholics point to their success and stability as “proof” that they don’t have a problem. In reality, they have become so adept at feeding their ongoing addiction in secret and covering up any consequences that most people would think everything is all right.
An alcoholic—even a “high-functioning” one—cannot drink with impunity. There is no such thing as “controlled” drinking for an alcoholic. One thing is sure: Addiction always catches up with the person struggling. An individual can only drive drunk, miss work, forget about personal obligations, neglect their health, and tempt fate in all the ways that only alcoholics can so many times before they implode.
5 Ways to Help a Functioning Alcoholic
1. Learn About Alcohol Addiction
The first and most important thing you must understand is that alcoholism is a disease. If you are going to help, there are some things that you need to know:
- Alcoholism is not a choice or weakness. The person cannot get better by willpower alone.
- Alcoholism is progressive. Unless the disease is arrested, it will get worse.
- Alcoholism is incurable. To manage the disease, the person needs to make fundamental lifestyle changes.
You cannot fully understand what someone struggling with alcohol addiction is going through unless you are also struggling. The next best thing to do is to educate yourself about addiction.
2. Watch for Signs of Alcoholism
The signs of alcohol addiction include the following:
- Needing alcohol to function socially
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Inability to stop drinking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Covering up consequences
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Money problems
- Shakiness when alcohol is unavailable
If other family members and loved ones are already concerned about someone, that may point to a problem with addiction that you might have overlooked.
3. Don’t Be Codependent and Stop Enabling Unwanted Behavior
Almost invariably, the people around alcoholics become codependent—they change their lives to fit around the alcoholic. They neglect their responsibilities and well-being to care for, cover for, and clean up after the alcoholic. In a way, they become just as sick as the alcoholic. When an alcoholic has someone helping to protect them from the consequences of their actions, there is nothing to motivate them to seek help.
If this sounds familiar, stop doing so. You are doing both you and the other person a disservice.
4. Consider Early Intervention
An intervention is when those closest to the alcoholic come together and have a pointed conversation—a caring confrontation—intended to compel the alcoholic to seek help from an alcohol treatment center. Each person in attendance plainly states how the alcoholic’s drinking has negatively affected their life. Boundaries are established, and the alcoholic is informed about what consequences will occur if they reject the offer of help.
5. Respect Their Efforts at Sobriety
When a person is in successful recovery, they will make several lifestyle changes to support sobriety. They will not be able to go to the same places or act in the same ways. You can help make the transition easier in numerous ways:
- Offer them your continued companionship and support
- Refrain from drinking around them
- Invite them out for sober activities like movies, dinner, or coffee
Recovering from any addiction is not easy, but with professional help and a strong personal support system, it is possible.