Dealing with High-Functioning Alcoholics - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Dealing with High-Functioning Alcoholics

When you think of an alcoholic, you think of someone who has lost everything to alcoholism – their job, family, money – everything. We imagine a shabby person, probably has a DUI attorney on speed dial, has lost their home and their job, and is pretty much living on the streets.

Interestingly enough, that is not the case. The majority of alcoholics live a normal life – they work, they have families, they socialize. In fact, many excel in their fields of work. Such people are called high-functioning alcoholics.

Identifying a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Identifying a high-functioning alcoholic is not easy. After all, they are successful and seem to have their life together. However, that’s just on the surface of things. These are some of the signs that you need to watch out for to identify a high-functioning alcoholic:

They Break Their Own Drinking Rules

You will frequently hear a high-performing alcoholic state that they only drink on weekends, or they only drink a particular type of alcohol, or that they never drink during the week. However, the reality is that they drink every day. And this drinking habit only gets worse over time.

They Ask Friends and Family for Help

This isn’t the help that is good. High-functioning alcoholics use their family and friends to help cover up their problems. They ask them for support in paying bills when they have ended up spending too much money on alcohol – after all, since they are successful, they are always able to pay their friends or family back.

The sad truth is that this type of alcoholic can function only because of the tacit support from their loved ones.

Isolating Behavior

One the surface, high-functioning alcoholics, may seem very sociable. They attend all office parties and socials. But when they are not in the limelight, they prefer to spend time alone and drink, to the extent that they may discourage their families from inviting people over at all, to hide their drinking problem.

Do Not Keep Personal Commitments

Accolades may shower these types of alcoholics at work, but at home, they struggle to keep their commitments. They forget anniversaries, don’t their promises to their kids, or avoid family functions either because they are drunk or hungover.

Secret Struggle with Mental Illness

Many high-functional alcoholics have underlying mental problems, which they try to hide by drinking. Many suffer from depression, eating disorders, and even social phobias.

Dealing with a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Dealing with a high-functioning alcoholic can be emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically traumatic. People associated with such alcoholics usually end up falling into the trap of codependency. This includes husbands, wives, children, other family members, and even friends.

Since most high-functioning alcoholics earn well and support their families financially, they seldom see or even admit that they may have a drinking problem. And because of the financial security provided by the alcoholic, the families tolerate emotional neglect and even physical abuse.

Codependents end up giving up on their own needs to cater to the alcoholic’s, and frequently actively participate in maintaining a façade of normalcy for the rest of the world.

Seeking Help

If you are involved with a high-functioning alcoholic, then you need to realize that you need to get help and support too.

Remember, alcoholism doesn’t just affect the drinker; it affects the entire family. Chances of physical as well as emotional violence go up, and it also increases the risk of substance abuse in other members of the family.

About the author


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

You must be logged in to post a comment.