What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Are you or a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction? You may be wondering what a person with high-functioning alcoholism might behave like and how it differs from other forms of alcoholism. High-functioning alcoholism is an often misunderstood form of addiction characterized by the individual’s ability to maintain their job, relationships, and other responsibilities despite their alcohol abuse. Keep reading to learn more.

Defining High-Functioning Alcoholism


What is a high functioning alcoholic? And how does being “high functioning” differ from other forms of alcoholism? For starters, someone with high-functioning alcohol use disorder is someone who has a severe alcohol addiction but still manages to maintain their work, family, and social life. These individuals may be able to hide their drinking problem from others, as they are often successful in other areas of life. In reality, though, these individuals have an incredibly serious addiction which can cause both physical and mental health issues if not addressed properly. Unlike others with alcohol use disorder who are unable to hold down jobs or keep up with everyday responsibilities, high-functioning individuals appear to maintain their priorities on the surface; however, this can also make it harder for them to get help since they do not fit into a stereotype. This type of alcoholism often develops over time as people are typically able to find ways around problems associated with heavy drinking such as legal or financial ramifications. High-functioning alcoholism is dangerous because it can go unnoticed for long periods of time before major complications arise due to its ability to coexist with success in all areas of life. It’s important that those suffering from this condition receive proper medical care and support in order to manage the addiction and prevent any further damage caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.

Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Alcoholism

While these individuals may appear to be functioning normally on the surface, their reliance on alcohol can lead to serious physical and mental health problems in the long run. The signs and symptoms of high-functioning alcoholism can vary from person to person but typically involve drinking more than intended, consuming large amounts of alcohol regularly, or binging for several days at a time. They may also have difficulty controlling their consumption or experience withdrawal symptoms when they cut back or stop drinking altogether. Furthermore, many high-functioning individuals will deny that there is any problem with their drinking habits despite the fact that it is interfering with other aspects of their lives such as work performance, relationships, and finances. Other common signs include neglecting responsibilities due to hangovers or being intoxicated, blackouts after heavy drinking episodes, constant cravings for alcohol, hiding bottles around the house, or lying about how much they are consuming.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Alcoholism


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for high-functioning alcoholism. CBT focuses on modifying thoughts and behaviors that maintain problem drinking patterns by teaching the individual how to identify triggers to their drinking, build problem-solving skills, learn healthier coping strategies, and better manage stressors. Through this approach, the person can gain insight into how their thinking affects their behavior and start making positive changes in order to achieve sobriety. The primary goal of CBT is to help the client recognize any unhelpful thought patterns they may have about themselves or the world around them which could be contributing factors in perpetuating unhealthy drinking habits. By recognizing these types of thoughts and challenging them with more realistic perspectives it helps create a foundation for developing healthier coping mechanisms that don’t involve alcohol consumption.

Altogether, someone with high-functioning alcoholism presents a unique challenge to society because of their ability to consume alcohol without showing overt signs of addiction. While this may appear to be a positive trait, the reality is that this type of drinking can lead to serious physical and psychological health issues if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent further harm.

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