Symptoms of Functional Alcoholism

Not all alcoholics fit the stereotype of a homeless drunkard who drinks from a paper bag and wanders the streets until passing out on someone’s lawn or front step. In fact, many alcoholics lead successful lives. They accomplish goals in the workplace. They have a strong group of close friends and a loving family. They may miss work or social events occasionally due to drinking, but for the most part they seem completely normal. This is called functional alcoholism. Outward appearances aside, functional alcoholism poses the same risks of cognitive impairment and organ damage as ordinary alcoholism.

Symptoms of Functional Alcoholism

Functional alcoholics consume a large amount of alcohol daily, but this habit may go unnoticed by their friends, because functional alcoholics do not exhibit outward signs of intoxication. They have developed a high tolerance for alcohol and may be described in public with statements such as “he can hold his liquor.” Functional alcoholics do not only drink socially, however. They often drink at home to relax after work each day. If they have to work late or have some type of event that prevents them from drinking, they may become irritable. They drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms and to maintain the “buzz” that helps them through daily life. They do not feel normal unless they drink.

Denial of Functional Alcoholism

Though friends and family may gradually notice that their loved one has a problem, those who suffer from functional alcoholism are often in denial. Because functional alcoholics earn money, own homes and maintain relatively healthy friendships and family relationships, they find it easy to deny that they have a problem. They may deny their condition, because they fear the severity of the withdrawal. Also, they may fear how their condition will affect their relationships. To maintain denial, functional alcoholics sometimes mask their addiction by bragging about how much they drink in an attempt to demonstrate to themselves and others that what they drink is their choice and not a compulsion.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Help for Addiction

Over time, withdrawal symptoms which may occur only hours after drinking become more frequent and more difficult to hide. Withdrawal symptoms may indicate that the alcohol user is losing control over his or her condition. Alcohol withdrawal may include any number of symptoms such as the following:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Tremors

Functional alcoholism is a treatable disease and should not be a source for shame and judgment. Drug rehab programs offer the support and treatment necessary to overcome functional alcoholism. Because functional alcoholics may be in denial of their condition, friends and family can take the first steps towards seeking treatment for their loved one. Through treatment and a positive network of support, long-term recovery from alcoholism is possible.

Need Help with Functional Alcoholism?

If you or someone you love may be a functional alcoholic, we can help. Our trusted counselors are available through our 24 hour helpline. We can answer your questions, discuss your story, verify your insurance coverage and let you know what level of treatment is best for you or your loved one. Don’t let functional alcoholism slowly destroy your life. Call us today.