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5 Ways to Tell if You Are a Functional Alcoholic

5 Ways to Tell if You Are a Functional Alcoholic

Below you will find a description of a functioning alcoholic. 

  • Drinking more than the daily or weekly limit puts you at risk of alcoholism. If you are more than a “heavy drinker” you are at risk of experiencing all the negative effects of alcoholism, regardless of how functional your life might seem at the moment.
  • When does drinking become “too much”? Most people would agree that drinking to the point of intoxication is too much.  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as 4 and 5
  • Alcohol abuse can be hard to spot in some people. About twenty percent of all alcoholics have a life that seems to be going just fine.  A functional alcoholic is a person who drinks “alcoholically,” while responsibly managing other areas of life.
  • The stereotype of an alcoholic brings to mind images of a person whose life is spinning out of control. But, not all alcoholics fit this mold.  For the functional alcoholic, job, family and social life all seem to be in order.
  • For men, it’s having more than four drinks in a single day or more than fourteen in a week. For women, it’s having more than three drinks in a single day or more than seven in a week.

1. Functional Alcoholics Won’t Accept Responsibility for Problems in Their Relationships

You have come home from another party, and your wife is madder than a hornet.  You did it again; you drank too much after you PROMISED to have only a couple of drinks.  She took the keys away from you because it is obvious that you were over the limit to drive.  It is NO big deal, so why is she trying to cause a problem now?   No one at the party objected, in fact; they thanked you for coming.   You let her know that she is too controlling and trying to ruin your fun.  You tell her that it is not her business to keep track of your drinking.   After all, you have no problem with how your life is going.

2. Functional Alcoholics Will Have Plenty of Excuses for Their Behavior

Your spouse may not be the only annoying ‘do-gooder’ trying to cram their personal opinions down your throat.  You might remember drinking buddies at college getting a little too up close and personal about your drinking.  But, hey, you stayed out all night and still aced the exam.  You didn’t need to let up on the booze and miss the fun.  Some of your friends might have ended it with you.  You just dismissed it as their problem.  You may have convinced yourself that it’s not your fault that they could not drink like a fish and balance a perfect life.  You know for sure that you have it all under control.  Besides, you know why you drink…sometimes it is necessary to get you through the rough spots.

3. Functional Alcoholics Believe That Success is Proof That Everything is Okay

Look how far you have come.  You figured it all out.  You might have even been able to pull this success off at a very young age if you did under-age drinking.  Now, you live in a home, and you pay your bills.  You have a job, and your boss is happy with you.  You have kept your job because you show up on time and work hard.  Your boss might even give you bonuses for an excellent performance.  Everyday responsibilities are no problem for you.  From all outward appearances, you are doing a fine job of “keeping up with the neighbors.”  Ahh, the good life is yours.  You also know quite well the Ahh of slipping right into the land of drunken pleasures.  You have it down to a science…no problem with you.

4. Functional Alcoholics Have Pride in Their Ability to Pull Off What Others Can’t

You would never consider showing up too drunk or obviously hungover to perform your job.  You know exactly when to stop.  You’re never too hungover to get up and go to work.  In fact, you know how many hours before you will get your next drink, and work is a good way to spend your non-drinking time and earn money too!   You might even brag that you drink only fine wine or the best liquors.  You rationalize that beer is mostly water.  You don’t see any problem with downing a six-pack after a long day at work.  You keep on drinking, and others overlook what you are doing because of your great successes.  Who would dare tell you that you have a drinking problem?  You might even believe that you have a special talent to be able to drink so much and still have it all!

5. Functional Alcoholics Will Deny That They Have a Drinking Problem

You believe you are living proof that there are no limits to what a person can do if they just take responsibility.  You are quick to point out that the homeless addict has a problem, most likely caused by laziness or mental illness.  You do not believe you could ever end up a drunk on the street.  You probably don’t believe that there is a disease called alcoholism.  Others have problems getting their life together, but you don’t.  Sure, you drink a lot, but, compared to the drunk on the street, you don’t think you have a problem. Does being functional while being an alcoholic make you a different sort of addict?  Any addiction will result in negative consequences.  Alcoholism is the same for the functional alcoholic as it is for the non-functional alcoholic. The person who does not admit that their drinking is over the top is taking a big risk of losing everything.  Any person who abuses alcohol is heading towards a disaster…eventually.  The functional alcoholic is going to continue in their addiction as long as they believe everything is working fine. Treatment for a functional alcoholic is the same as for any other type of addict.  All alcoholic recovery programs begins with the first step of accepting that you need to change and that you need help.