11 Warning Signs That You’re A Functioning Alcoholic

Last Updated: Sep 21st 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Did you know drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion a year? A lot of people struggle with addiction. Some folks have functional alcoholic symptoms. 

Are you wondering what the signs are of a functioning alcoholic? Not to worry! In this guide, we’ll go over the symptoms.

Want to learn more? Keep reading to find out!

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

People who depend on alcohol yet still maintain a job are functional alcoholics. High-functioning alcoholics are in denial that they have a problem. They deny it because they seem to do well at their job or contribute at home.

If your health begins to suffer, people around you will notice you have a problem. You might realize you’re struggling with alcoholism after a significant life change. Let’s look at some signs of a functioning alcoholic.

1. Drinking Alcohol to Cope

If someone has their drinking habits under control, they might drink once a week with friends.

In contrast, drinking can get out of control if you drink to reduce the stress of work. You may start to drink to reduce your anxiety about a relationship.

Alcohol is a depressant drug. You shouldn’t drink as a way to cope with a stressful situation or sad emotions.

Even if you tell yourself that your habits don’t constitute a disorder, these signs are a red flag. If you drink as a way to cope with your life, you may need to seek professional help.

2. Drinking at Every Situation

Moderate drinking can become problematic when you drink in every situation. This could include needing a drink to sleep, to wake, or to calm down.

You may think alcoholism’s limited to consuming too much alcohol in one sitting. It can consist of drinking a moderate number of drinks every day.

3. Drinking Alone

This is a sign that you’re a high-functioning alcoholic. Good drinking habits involve drinking with your friends or loved ones. When drinking alone, its harder to limit the amount you consume. 

Take note of when you like to drink. If you find yourself buying a bottle of wine a few times a week, you might want to get help. 

4. Drinking Too Much

Those labeled as functional alcoholics might not get into trouble or behave in a poor manner at work. You may care for your family at home and keep up with projects at work.

You might not exhibit any negative behaviors like depression or anger. If you are drinking a lot during the week and weekend, you could have a problem. 

5. Building Tolerance

If you drink often, your body will build a tolerance for alcohol. This means that over time, you’ll have to drink more alcohol to reach a level of intoxication.

If you’re always finishing off a bottle of wine after it’s opened, you’ll build a tolerance. This creates a cycle of dependence, and you’ll begin to crave. 

6. Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

If you drink often, once you stop for a couple of days, you’ll see a difference. You might feel anxious, irritable, depressed, or nauseous. If you experience these symptoms during the time you start to drink, this is a sign you need help.

7. Can’t Have One Drink

High-functioning alcoholics have a hard time limiting their alcohol consumption. You might say you’re going to have one drink. Over the course of the evening, do you consume more than one drink?

If you drink a lot at a party or rush when its last call at the bar, you might have a problem. High-functioning alcoholics don’t leave unfinished drinks at the table. Whereas others might leave behind their drinks.

8. Denying the Problem

Most alcoholics will use denial to avoid a conversation about their problem. Do you come up with a rational explanation for your behavior? They might say they drink because they are super stressed at work.

You might start to use excuses relating to work or problems at home.

9. Joking About Drinking

Do you joke about your drinking habit? Often, people use humor to try and make light of a serious situation. This reveals how they’re denying the reality of their addiction.

Take note if you’re always joking about your drinking with friends or family. 

10. Separate Drinking

A common sign of a problem is when someone separates their drinking from other areas of their life. Do you go out with different people when you’re drinking? Do you have separate social spheres? 

11. You Have Tried to Quit

A high-functioning alcoholic may have tried to quit drinking but failed. This pattern is often repeated. Have you gone through periods where you don’t drink and periods where you drink a lot? Have you refused treatment?

This is part of your misconception, thinking you can handle drinking on your own. Being able to admit there is a problem is the first step towards recovery.

Do you see these symptoms in yourself? There is good news. It’s not too late to seek help for recovery.

Alcoholism is a disease that you can treat. Alcohol rehab helps individuals struggling with addiction to withdraw from alcohol. At rehab, you’ll learn how to cope with the cravings. Learn more about how inpatient treatment can help

Contact Us Today

We hope you found this article on signs of a functioning alcoholic insightful. If you’re experiencing this seek treatment.

Want to talk to a professional? Contact us today to learn more about recovery.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.