How Does a Person Become a Functional Alcoholic?

Alcohol and alcoholism has been a feature of human society for millennia. For some it takes months or years to develop a problem, while others become hooked after their first drink. Genetic predisposition seems to play a role as does environmental exposure. Regardless of how people become addicted, alcoholism comes to define people’s lives. Between the extremes of enjoyment and devastation lies the zone most problem drinkers find themselves in. They may be able to maintain a job, and their relationships may be manageable. Their lives haven’t completely fallen apart yet. These are the functional alcoholics.

How Functional Alcoholism Develops

Most functional alcoholics had absolutely no intention of developing the disease. They drank for recreational or social reasons and always felt in control. Their use of alcohol likely started with weekend parties and then evolved to include nightly drinks. Over time, they slowly evolved habits and routines that allow them to continue a portion of their previous life, work and relationships, with alcohol as a constant backdrop. Binge drinking certainly speeds up the process, but drunkenness is not necessarily a prerequisite of alcoholism. Many functional alcoholics don’t even suspect that they have a problem, until they try to quit drinking and cannot.

Many alcoholics deny addiction problems which can lead to depression and increased drinking. The psychological underpinnings of the disease make it extremely difficult if not impossible for the alcoholic to admit to anyone – let alone him or herself – that there is a problem that needs help. Excessive drinking is defined as more than two drinks per day, and it will cause a wide range of physical problems such as the following:

  • Liver disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Various cancers
  • Nerve damage
  • The risk of impaired driving that can lead to loss of driving privileges, prison time or even death

Getting Clean from Alcoholism

Whether a person’s alcoholism is still being managed or has the individual living under a bridge, he or she will need serious help in order to achieve long-term freedom and recovery. The most successful programs combine medically supervised detox that alleviates the worst symptoms of withdrawal with deep, customized rehab of the psychological and emotional aspects of the disease. Small group discussions, individual counseling, twelve step programs and education are all a part of the process. Many people choose to skip the rehab process and quit on their own. This is rarely successful. The physical and psychological underpinnings of the disease are just too strong. Rehab allows the necessary time for the brain to readjust to life without drink. The process begins in treatment, but continues for months, years or even a lifetime through support group meetings and counseling.

Find Help for Alcoholism Now

If you fear that you have developed an alcohol problem we can help. Call our 24 hour toll-free helpline for confidential and reliable advice on how to find freedom from alcoholism. The call is free, and there is no shame in seeking help. Call today, and talk with one of our specially trained addiction counselors. We are here for you, when you are ready to take this disease seriously and get well.

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