Living With a Fully Functioning Alcoholic

Functioning Alcoholic

What is a functioning alcoholic?

What is it like living with a fully functioning alcoholic? When people think of an alcoholic, they often have an image of a homeless person on a street corner drinking wine from a bottle in a brown paper bag, but you should never judge a book by its cover.

There are in fact many functional alcoholics who seem able to carry on, hold down a job and have a happy home life, despite drinking heavily. They may be imbibing in secret and, in effect, living a double life. Fully functioning alcoholics may have concealed their alcohol abuse from family, friends and colleagues for a long time, possibly even years, without any major mishaps. But it may only be a matter of time before it all comes out.

Functioning alcoholics may maintain the illusion everything is under control. At one time they may have enjoyed a drink but didn’t have an issue with alcohol. But addiction can cause great physical and psychological damage to someone with a drinking problem, as well as their friends and loved ones. It is said functioning alcoholics may vary from other people with dependency as they believe they can live a normal life while still drinking, where they think even those they live and work with may be unaware they have a problem.

Dealing with the issues of a functioning alcoholic

If you are living with a functioning alcoholic, you may wonder what you can do to assist them. They are often in denial and insist they don’t need any help. However, there are certain signs you can look out for if you suspect a friend, loved one or colleague may have a drinking problem.

For instance, do they consume alcohol instead of having something to eat? Does the person in your life become angry or defensive at the suggestion they have an issue, or do they make a joke about it? Do they drink in secret, early in the morning and throughout the day until they blackout? A functioning alcoholic may place restrictions on themselves, such as only drinking at the weekend, but not stick to it.

Functioning alcoholics may ask folk to cover for them, from loaning them money to calling in sick. But, at the same time, they often shut themselves off from the world. Where, when not at work, they may spend time alone in bars and not invite friends and family to their home, so they cannot watch them drink. Highly functioning alcoholics may also fail to show up at get-togethers or family gatherings, missing birthday parties, weddings or christenings because they were drunk or hungover. An example of how concealing a drinking problem can affect a person’s social life.

However, in many cases, high functioning alcoholics drink to deal with emotional or psychiatric disorders, stress or depression to anxiety, alongside other conditions.

Fully functioning alcoholics want to show the world everything’s ok, but if they stop drinking, they could display symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, along with experiencing changes in mood, irritability or even suicidal thoughts.

Some Celebrities who have suffered from alcoholism

Bradley Cooper is known for his comedic film roles. But like most of us, Cooper’s life has had its ups and downs. He is recovering from alcoholism and has been sober for over a decade.

The beloved star of the “Harry Potter” movies has struggled, like many other child actors, growing up in show business. While his character Harry was innocent and heroic, for Daniel Radcliffe, real-life challenges started affecting him, namely his addiction to alcohol.

Famous pop/rock musician Billy Joel has admitted to struggling with alcohol abuse in his adult life. Drinking has, apparently, gotten in the way of his career and personal relationships.

Do you or someone you love have a problem?

CAGE questionnaire used in routine health care

C: Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on drinking

A: Have people annoyed you by criticising your drinking?

G: Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

E: Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?

More than one positive response to CAGE questionnaire suggests an alcohol problem

Excessive Alcohol Increases Risk of…

Heart rhythm disturbances

Hypertension & hemorrhagic stroke


Brain damage

Colorectal and breast cancer

Inflammation of the stomach lining

Sleep disturbances


High blood triglycerides

Cirrhosis of Liver

Consider Carrying out an intervention

If the consequences of living with a functioning alcoholic have become overwhelming, and your loved one refuses to seek help for alcohol abuse, it could be time to plan an intervention. An intervention is a planned meeting in which the concerned parties confront the alcoholic about his or her behaviour. The goals of intervention include:

  • Getting the alcoholic to see how drinking has harmed him or her and their loved ones
  • Presenting the individual with a plan for recovery
  • Laying on the line ramifications if they refuse to consider treatment
  • Assisting the alcoholic to take the right steps to go to treatment

Do you believe someone in your life may be a functioning alcoholic? You can get help for both yourself and the person close to you by speaking to a counsellor who could arrange an intervention for you or arrange for them to enter rehab. It could be the first step to helping your friend and loved one turn their life around and break free of alcohol. Contact us now for further advice and information.


Alcohol faq

There Is No Rehab Centre Near Me, What Should I Do?

Whilst location is an important factor for all of us, please understand, that recovery from addiction is a journey, and a commitment and the initial foundations should not be compromised.
This means seeking advice to find the best rehab centre and therapeutic program that fits you (or your loved one) personally.

Clearly, it’s vital that you find a rehab clinic that offers the right treatments for you. Don’t worry, you can call the Detox Plus UK hotline today, and our advisors will talk you through the different options. This allows you to figure out what treatments will benefit you the most so you can find rehab centres that suit your needs.

When we talk about going to rehab, this assumes that you’re willing to pack your bags and move into a rehab centre. This is known as residential rehab, and it basically means that you live in an environment that’s closed off from the outside world.

It’s been proven that this benefits patients as it restricts you from coming into contact with things or people that trigger your addiction. As a result, it allows the people there to carry out detox treatment without worrying about relapses.

We strongly advise that you give us a call if you’re having trouble figuring out which option is best for you. We’ll talk to you on the phone to help come up with a treatment plan that benefits you the most. As a result, you’ll soon know the best course of action to kick your addiction.

We offer locations for rehab centres nationwide, call our team on 02072052734 or view our locations for Rehab centres

I Can’t Afford Private Residential Treatment. What Should I Do?
Contact your own GP and accurately & honestly explain to him or her your addiction problems and express your desire for help and treatment. Your GP should activate your local ADAT Addictions team who will offer you whatever NHS/Social and treatment routes are available. You should also attend AA or NA recovery groups for support and guidance.
How Long Is The Average Residential Stay in Rehab?
Residential stays vary from between 7-28 days depending on the specifics of your circumstances and historical usage. e.g. An average alcohol detox may last 7 days, with a further 2-3 weeks in the therapeutic program to resolve the psycho-social and behavioural aspects of addiction. As above, most experience the best outcomes and lasting long term sobriety following a minimum 28 day residential stay
What medication is used for alcohol addiction?
Medication can include replacement drugs such as lorazepam or phenobarbital, which are administered in tapering doses to help with alcohol withdrawals. Drugs such as Naltrexone, Disulfiram or Acamprosate can help prevent a return to alcohol use.

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