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Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic

A high-functioning alcoholic hides their addiction to alcohol and maintains a successful career, family life, and relationships with friends. The signs of a high-functioning alcoholic are not always obvious and can be hard to detect. If your loved one drinks regularly, he or she might be a high-functioning alcoholic.

Functional alcoholics seem to have control, but put themselves and others at risk. A person who is a high-functioning alcoholic might drive while intoxicated or experience blackouts. A blackout is a temporary condition that affects your memory when blood alcohol levels are high. Blackouts are a form of amnesia.

A high-functioning alcoholic disguises their drinking problem because they are usually in denial because he or she must maintain a successful appearance. An alcoholic is not a failure. Many successful people are alcoholics and come from different backgrounds, races, and levels of intelligence. A high-functioning alcoholic leads two lives. He or she must maintain their public identity whether they are a doctor, lawyer, or business executive to his or her private life of excessive drinking.

Here are signs that your loved one is a high-functioning alcoholic:

More drinks.

He or she has more drinks than everyone else does. In a social setting with friends or acquaintances, the high-functioning alcoholic might have several drinks while others have just one.

Stomach problems.

He or she could experience bloating, nausea, and other stomach issues with excessive drinking.


If your loved one drinks heavily, he or she can experience disruptive sleep patterns or insomnia.


The functional alcoholic may go for extended periods without alcohol but then binge drink or drink heavily.

Changes mood and behavior.

Alcohol affects a person’s mood and behavior. Sometimes alcohol causes depression and anxiety, and can also lead to impulsive behavior.


A blackout is a temporary condition that causes memory loss. This can happen to your loved one when he or she has high blood alcohol levels.

Daily drinking patterns.

If your loved one talks frequently about drinking or plans daily activities around times they want to drink, they might be a high-functioning alcoholic.

There is hope for high-functioning alcoholics. Treatment is available and recovery is possible. A person with an alcohol abuse disorder can get help for their drinking problem and live a healthy, substance-free life.

Treatment is the beginning of a beautiful journey of healing, transformation, discovery, and more. Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers partial care programs for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, bringing together a harmonious balance of clinical, holistic, and 12-step philosophy. Contact us today for information.

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