3 Signs You’re a Functioning Alcoholic

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Alcohol addiction is extremely devastating. It has the potential to end your career, ruin relationships, and severely damage your health. However, some people are able to lead relatively normal lives, making it hard to determine if they need help. Therefore, for a better understanding, here are three signs you’re a functioning alcoholic.

1. You Drink Alcohol in Any Situation

The most obvious sign of functional alcoholism is the gnawing desire to drink in any situation. If you’re happy, you might celebrate with a drink. If you’re bored, you might pass the time with a drink. Likewise, when you’re sad or angry, you might have a drink to distract yourself.

Experiencing many different emotions is normal, but drinking on every occasion is not. Therefore, if you can’t cope with feelings when you’re sober then you’re likely in the throes of addiction.

2. Your Personality Changes A woman wonders whether she's a functioning alcoholicWhen You Drink

Furthermore, functional alcoholics go through personality changes. It’s common for heavy drinkers to act one way when they’re sober and another when they’re drinking. Thus, if your personality literally depends on your alcohol consumption, you may have a problem.

Although any personality change is concerning, one pattern is quite common. People who wake up in the morning grumpy, anxious or moody often steer clear of social settings while going about their daily tasks. As afternoon or evening approaches, the drinking begins and their mood suddenly becomes more lighthearted.

For example, these people could quickly become the life of the party. They can be outgoing and friendly, and have a large social circle. However, if you approach a functioning alcoholic before they start drinking they seem completely different.

3. You Feel Bad When You Cut Back

Generally, people with an addictive personality may drink every single day. Thus, attempting to cut back may reveal whether or not you have an addiction. For example, if you cut back and start feeling sick, you’re likely struggling with an addiction. Feeling ill is the result of the body going through withdrawal.

Additionally, when you try to stop drinking, your body rids harmful chemicals from your system Therefore, many people experience a headache, or don’t sleep well. Anxiety and irritability are also common side effects. You might want to write off these conditions as a bad day, but they are actually symptoms of withdrawal.

Help For a Functioning Alcoholic

If you identify with any of these signs, it’s time to seek professional help. Fortunately, at 1st Step Behavioral Health you can overcome your alcohol addiction with the following strategies and approaches:

Dual diagnosis treatment
Group therapy
Family counseling
Relapse prevention training
Life skills support

Even if you suspect you’re a functioning alcoholic, this lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Get help at 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida. Call (866) 971-5531 to find out how to begin your journey to sobriety today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director 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.