The term “functioning alcoholic” is typically used to describe someone who has a drinking problem but is still able to do the basic things they need to, such as go to work, pay bills, etc. These people still have a problem with excessive consumption of alcohol, but they are able to hide it better than most others. Just because an alcoholic is able to function or appear to function normally in everyday life does not mean that they don’t have a dangerous addiction.
Every functioning alcoholic always ends up falling off the rails at some point, as alcoholism is simply not a problem that one can separate from the rest of their life forever. Some people are simply better at others at concealing their alcoholism, which can make it all the more difficult for friends and family to realize that their loved one has a serious problem. While most people who have a drinking problem are not able to conceal it very well, there are others who are.
A functioning alcoholic is still at risk for liver disease and all the other health problems that a non-functioning alcoholic is. These people are particularly skilled when it comes to keeping their problem secret from others. If you have not read our “Symptoms of Alcoholism“, you should.
The first stage of functional alcoholism is usually binge drinking, which means drinking to excess over and over. This behavior inevitably leads to an increased tolerance to alcohol, causing the person to drink even more so they can get drunk. Binge drinking is incredibly dangerous and can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
The second stage of functional alcoholism is using alcohol to cope with stress. Many people who become alcoholics rely on drinking as a way of dealing with their problems and things they would rather not think about. Many functional alcoholics drink to feel better. This is of course not an effective long-term solution for dealing with stress, and the person keeps doing it over and over despite its harmful effects.
Eventually even a functional alcoholic will begin to lose their grip on their personal and professional lives. Many people who start out as functional alcoholics end up withdrawing from friends and family, which of course causes its own set of problems. Some functional alcoholics even experience legal problems if they get caught drinking and driving. The point is that one cannot be an alcoholic and function normally forever.
A functional alcoholic will also eventually develop certain health problems, such as liver disease and weight gain. Most people who abuse alcohol long enough experience a number of health problems, many of which can be fatal if the proper course of action is not taken. Functional alcoholism is just as dangerous as non-functional alcoholism when it comes to how the excessive drinking affects one’s body and personal life.
The people closest to an alcoholic can also be affected, and they often are. Many people justify their alcoholism by claiming that they are able to hold down a job and don’t have any relationship or health problems, but it’s only a matter of time until they do.If you are a functioning alcoholic, please seek treatment. You can have a fulfilled life without alcohol.