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Symptoms & Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic

Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic, How To Help High Functioning Alcoholics? Signs & Symptoms

What Is A High Functioning Alcoholic?

According to Healthline, the terms “high-functioning alcoholic” or “functional alcoholic” have been previously used to describe someone struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) while still being able to maintain a job, friendships, and family life. [1] What are the signs of a high functioning alcoholic? Although you might not hit all the criteria for the condition, and the impact on your life may appear minimal, AUD is a chronic and progressive condition.

How To Tell If Someone Is A High Functioning Alcoholic?

When someone you love is struggling with the signs of a high functioning alcoholic, it is natural to want to help but to be unsure how. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are common in this situation. You may have tried talking to said loved one or offered various forms of help, but to no avail. You are not alone.

Getting someone to admit that they have a problem and that they need to accept help is rarely a smooth and quick process. Persistence is the key. In due time, you can get your loved ones the help they need and deserve. Here are 8 tips [2] for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program and how to help a drunk person:

Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic
What are the signs of a high functioning alcoholic? Often, people with AUD may hesitate to get help because they fear judgment.
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Find the Right Time to Talk

Increase your chances of getting through to your loved ones by trying to talk to them when they are as sober as possible. You want them to be able to think clearly about your conversation and to be able to react in a calm manner. Talking to someone when they are intoxicated may go poorly or they might even forget the conversation.

Typically, the morning or after a major drug-related incident is the best time to try and talk to someone with a drug or alcohol addiction. After an incident, they may be particularly vulnerable and receptive to getting help. Additionally, whether you plan on having a one-on-one conversation or an intervention, making plans to have a tough conversation in the morning is a safe bet.

Be Intentional with What You Say

Words have power and they can either drive someone away or lead to a breakthrough. Before you even try sparking a conversation or leading an intervention, make sure that everyone involved thinks long and hard about the words they use. The words you use and the way you say them are critical. Rehearse what you have to say and how you plan on saying it. Focus on being warm and open in your voice, tone, and body language. If things start to take a negative turn, change the subject and resist any urge you may have to fight or argue.  

Understand the Recovery Process

Research addiction treatment so that you can speak intelligently about what treatment encompasses and what the different options are. Do you know what to expect from cocaine detox or how alcohol withdrawal symptoms are managed? Do you know the difference between IOP and PHP treatment? Look into different types of treatment and find a few different centers that you can present as options to your loved one. Consider the benefits of a holistic program that offers alternative addiction treatment.

Also, take the time to read through some stories written by those who have been through treatment or their families. This can help give you perspective on what to expect.

Become a Part of the Process

Get involved and let your loved one know that where possible, you will be by their side even if they struggle with the signs of a high functioning alcoholic. Many treatment facilities include family therapy as a part of their program. In family therapy for addiction, you all can work through any underlying issues, as well as build better communication on how to help a drunk person.

You can also find an open Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting that you can attend together. Some people prefer to attend group support meetings without their families so that they can speak more openly, but others appreciate the familiar company. Don’t be afraid to ask if they want your company and then respect the decision.

Set and Maintain Boundaries

There is a fine line between supporting and enabling. To avoid crossing this line, set some boundaries. Make it clear that rehab and recovery mean they are expected to dedicate a certain amount of time to treatment programming. Offer support in the form of verbal affirmations, but make sure they contribute to their recovery in ways more than just showing up. This will help your loved ones help themselves to overcome the signs of a high functioning alcoholic. They will be forced to take their recovery seriously as well as take some of the pressure and stress off of you. 

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Let Them Decide to Identify as an Addict

Don’t call your loved one an addict unless they have already identified themselves in this manner. It is up to the individual to designate how they identify. Additionally, saying “a person with an addiction” instead of “an addict” supports that they are more than their addiction and that this part of their life does not define their entire being.

Be Patient With Their Signs Of A Highly Functional Alcoholic

Becoming an addict doesn’t happen overnight and neither does recovery. Every step of this journey is going to be a process. Getting sober takes time and staying sober does not often happen on the first try. How to help a drunk person? There will be good days and bad, but consistency in your patience, love, and support will go a long way. This brings us to the last tip for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic
What are the signs of a high functioning alcoholic? For some people, AUD may also mean more than physical dependence, but a stress reliever or source of psychological escape.

Don’t Give Up

An intervention does not always guarantee admission to a treatment program. If your first conversation doesn’t appear to change anything, you can never know for sure the effect it will have on their head. It might take 2 or 20 attempts before you make a breakthrough and even once your loved one does enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, this does not guarantee long-term sobriety. Relapse is always a possibility. There may be times when your loved ones will want to give up themselves and they may need you to keep trying for the both of you. Don’t give up on the signs of a high functioning alcoholic. You and your love are powerful.

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Signs And Symptoms Of A High Functioning Alcoholic

It is important to note that these signs of a high functioning alcoholic may not be obvious to a loved one or friend. This is because people can be skillful at hiding the signs of an issue with alcohol.

  • Avoiding critical feedback about drinking patterns
  • Blacking out from alcohol consumption
  • Irritability and extreme mood swings
  • Concealing alcohol consumption — for example, hiding empty bottles, covert drinking before events, drinking alone, and hiding alcohol
  • Drinking substantial amounts of alcohol without appearing to be intoxicated
  • Drinking during inappropriate situations, for example, at work
  • Finishing other people’s drinks
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after periods of drinking
  • Trying — and failing — to control alcohol consumption
  • Experiencing strong cravings for alcohol when not drinking
  • Drinking in potentially dangerous situations, for example, before driving

Warning Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic

Here are some warning signs of a high functioning alcoholic and signals that you need help according to VeryWellMind: [3]

  • Are you the first one at the bar after work or do you pour yourself a drink the moment you come home from work?
  • Do you get agitated, irritable, or nervous if a meeting or other occurrence prevents you from having a drink?
  • Are there often times when you drink more or longer than you intended?
  • Do you tend to joke about alcoholism? For example: “I’m a drunk, alcoholics go to meetings.”
  • Do you constantly talk about drinking, or brag about stockpiling liquor so there’s “enough” alcohol available?
  • Do you “drink” your meals or use mealtime as an excuse to start drinking? 
  • Have you engaged in any high-risk behaviors (even if you never got caught), including binge drinking, driving under the influence, drinking while caring for your children, or practicing unsafe sex?
  • Has a loved one ever confronted you about drinking? Did it make you feel angry or irritated?
  • Have you ever experienced an alcohol-related blackout, during which you could not remember parts of the night or how you got home?
  • Has your drinking caused any relationship problems?
  • Have you ever hidden your alcohol consumption?
  • Do you experience symptoms of withdrawal when you’re not able to drink alcohol?

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How To Help High Functioning Alcoholics?

Having social support is very powerful in addiction recovery.  It can help recovering addicts stay motivated, be held accountable, or be relied on for practical assistance. You can also help someone in recovery by acting as a buffer in social situations. If you start to see any conflict or judgment coming from others, step in and change the subject or pull the person away by saying you need them in the other room.

Signs Of A High Functioning Alcoholic
People who are close to a person with the signs of a high functioning alcoholic may need support to understand how to help their loved ones.

If your loved one is suffering from the signs of a high functioning alcoholic or a substance abuse disorder and needs medical assistance on how to help a drunk person, contact a treatment center to get advice on how to get an alcoholic help. The best way to go about getting an addict admitted to a program is case by case and differs depending on a number of factors, but admissions specialists are professionals at walking you through this process.

If you think you or your loved one has a drug or alcohol addiction and you want to get them help or you want to learn the signs of a high functioning alcoholic, call We Level Up today.

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[1] High-Functioning People with Alcohol Use Disorder –
[2] How Families Can Help With Alcohol Addiction Recovery – Level Up Lake Worth
[3] What Is a Functional Alcoholic? –