Are You a Functioning Alcoholic?

There are a lot of high functioning alcoholics out there.  Though you may never know it by their outward appearance, inside they are slowly falling apart, wishing they could stop or at the very least – cut down on drinking.

Functioning alcoholics are a bit different than non-functioning alcoholics.  For example, a functioning alcoholic may not encounter many problems in life due to drinking. She may be able to keep her job, raise her children in an orderly and loving home, have an adequate social life, and avoid the law.  By the appearance of the outward, her life looks pretty normal to her friends and family. Sure, people know she drinks on occasion, but that is considered quite normal these days.

What is the big deal?

An alcoholic is someone who depends on alcohol for a variety of reasons.  This person might be sad and feel a lot of inner pain, so she drinks in order to numb that pain.  She might also be lonely and empty, so she drinks in an attempt to fill herself up. She doesn’t drink to oblivion most of the time, but she does drink more than she’d like to.

The big deal is that he or she is using alcohol as a coping mechanism for her own issues and life’s issues that come at her.  We all know life can be tough at times. Relationships end. People get laid off. Childhood wounds haunt us. Money problems continue. We lose loved ones.  That is just life sometimes, but the alcoholic will turn toward alcohol as an escape and attempt to numb or kill the pain rather than contend with it. The problem is that instead of killing the pain, the alcohol slowly kills the spirit (and oftentimes the physical body) of the person.

I don’t drink THAT much!

Functioning alcoholics oftentimes tell those who may be concerned, “I don’t drink THAT MUCH!”, yet the quantity does not matter.  Are you drinking to kill the pain? Are you drinking to cope? Have you tried to get through things without drinking?  Do you lie to others about how often you drink? Have you drunk at work? Do you hide your alcohol? Have you said you were going to quit a hundred times to no avail?

You could come home and drink three martinis per evening, and think you don’t have a problem.  You could say that you worked hard and you deserve to take the edge off and enjoy a few drinks.  You still get to bed at a decent hour and get up every day to go to work. You think you don’t have a problem, but sometimes, when you get real honest with yourself, you wonder if maybe you are a functioning alcoholic. You wonder if you could really stop drinking if you wanted to, and you’re afraid to actually try.

Addiction is a sly thing

Addiction is cunning and powerful. It will try its best to deceive you.  Alcoholism is a disease and as of yet, there is no miracle cure.  You cannot take a magic pill and think it will just go away.  You cannot just up and say you’re done and think the cravings will never return. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that if left untreated, can and will destroy you little by little over the years.  You may be a high functioning alcoholic now, but give it time and your functioning levels will decrease. You will not find happiness in a bottle. There is not one good thing a bottle of alcohol can give you.

Alcoholism might not be curable, but it is treatable

Perhaps it is time to admit that you are a high functioning alcoholic. You have relied on alcohol for years and years to get by, numb your pain, be your crutch, and sometimes you drink just because deep down you hate yourself. You punish yourself by drinking.  This is not normal. This is the disease of alcoholism playing with you.

It’s time to admit that you’re struggling with a disease and it is time to get treatment.  You may be able to stop drinking on your own, but know that you will go through withdrawal and withdrawal symptoms can be intense.

Consider inpatient or outpatient treatment

You might want to consider an inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab for some much-needed support and counseling.  An inpatient treatment center works quite well for a functioning alcoholic, in that you get to leave your primary residence for about a month and really focus on making the break from drinking. You can take a break from work, family, friends, and the stressors of life, and begin learning about alcohol, and alcoholism.  You’ll have adequate professional support, and be around others who are trying to quit drinking too.  You’ll certainly feel less alone.

You may be introduced to a support group while you’re there, too, like Alcoholics Anonymous.  Sometimes it can be quite helpful to join up with others who are in recovery and getting a sponsor, or mentor can serve quite valuable too.  Chances are you won’t be forced to attend such a support group, as there are those who just don’t resonate with 12 Step groups, but know that the opportunity may be there in case you do.

Outpatient treatment is wonderful for those who cannot attend an inpatient treatment center. Not everyone can up and leave work or their family for an extended period of time.  The good thing about an outpatient treatment facility is that you can attend a certain amount of meetings per week, and still get to talk to substance abuse professionals and get the education about alcoholism that can help you.

Regardless of whether you attend the inpatient or outpatient group, you’ll be able to meet with a substance abuse professional who will perform an assessment on you. You’ll answer questions about your alcohol intake, and more than likely be able to co-create your treatment plan.  You’ll be able to create your goals and action plans on how to achieve those goals. You’ll also be able to learn how you can effectively combat cravings and triggers.

Is inpatient or outpatient treatment better?

It’s not necessarily a question of which treatment type is better, but rather, what do you think would work better for you?  Not everyone can up and leave their home environment to attend an inpatient treatment center, and that’s alright. If you’re not sure, contact staff at a treatment center and have a discussion with them.

Are you a functioning alcoholic?

You may wonder if you are truly a functioning alcoholic.  If you drink more than you really want to, or if others have come to you with their concerns, you may be struggling.

Have you tried to stop drinking, yet have been unsuccessful? Do you want to stop or cut down, yet you’re afraid of failing?  Is alcohol becoming more important in your life than you’d like?

These are great questions to ask yourself. Be honest with yourself, and if you think you’re a functioning alcoholic, simply admit it. There’s no shame in admitting that you’ve become addicted to alcohol. After all, it is an addictive substance.

You’re not alone in the struggle either. Millions of men and women around the world are struggling with an addiction to alcohol. Some are hardcore alcoholics, and some are functioning alcoholics. One is not worse than the other, either, and treatment is available for all.

Reach out for help

Don’t put it off any longer.  If you want to get your life back and get free from the compulsion to drink, it’s time to reach out for help.  It may feel a bit scary to admit this to another person, but realize that people understand and they want to help. And, if by chance, someone doesn’t understand and chooses to judge you, don’t let their judgment get the best of you. You just keep doing what you feel is right for you.

There are professionals willing to assist you in getting and staying sober.  You can also reach out for help from a counselor who is skilled in treating alcoholism. You can get some helpful counseling to get to the core issues of why you’re using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Do you realize many people start drinking due to unresolved trauma from their childhood?  This may or may not be the case for you, but either way, it’s feasible to get to the roots of your addiction and take care of them there.

You can also learn about the disease of alcoholism. When you learn about alcoholism, you empower yourself greatly, as you will begin to see how the disease works and then you can effectively combat it.  By learning more appropriate coping skills, you’re able to steer clear of reaching for a drink to cope with anything. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery is another avenue for help and is very effective.

If you’re a functioning alcoholic, know that you are not alone. If you’re struggling and you’ve had enough of this roller coaster ride in addiction, reach out for help.  We are here to assist you in navigating the path of recovery, by assisting you in finding just the right treatment center for you. There is a beautiful life on the other side of addiction. Reach out and accept help.  Take a season of your life and mend the broken pieces without alcohol in the picture. You deserve the best and booze is not your best.