While alcohol dependence is a devastating condition that can destroy lives, a number of people who struggle with it manage to keep stressful jobs and big responsibilities. From the outside, these so-called high-functioning alcoholics seem to have it all together. They can drive great cars, live in good neighborhoods, and make a significant income.
Just because they're high-functioning doesn't mean that they're immune to the repercussions of alcohol. They're still at risk of harming themselves and others around them. A pilot nursing a hangover, a surgeon with trembling hands, or a financier managing large sums of money are each at-risk of triggering horrendous disasters if they stay on their dysfunctional course.
Here are some clues that can really help in identifying these time bombs:
1. They consume alcohol in place of eating.
Alcoholics will commonly replace meals with a few drinks, lose interest in food completely, or use mealtime as justification to start drinking.
2. They can get out of bed without a hangover, even after several drinks.
Drinking alcohol regularly over a substantial period of time can cause the body to become dependent on alcohol. Commonly high-functioning alcoholics are able to drink a lot without the same hangover that tortures the occasional drinker.
3. Not drinking makes them cranky, nervous, or uncomfortable.
If an alcoholic is forced to avoid drinking, his or her body commonly responds negatively, as they are dependent on the tranquillizing effects of alcohol. Sudden quitting can cause tension and anxiety, nervousness, perspiration, a rapid heart rate, as well as seizures.
4. Their behavior patterns alter dramatically while under the influence of alcohol.
Problem drinkers may change significantly when they drink. A generally mild-mannered individual may become aggressive, or make careless decisions.
5. They cannot have just two drinks.
An alcoholic has difficulties quiting, and may even finish others' drinks. Alcohol will never be left on the table, and there is always a pretext for one more round.
6. Periods of memory loss or "blacking out" are common.
Many problem drinkers will participate in activities that they have no memory of the following day. They may not seem extremely intoxicated at the moment, but they're unable to remember events that occurred.
7. Efforts to discuss drinking habits are met with hostility and denial.
When faced with problems involving their alcohol consumption, heavy users will generally retreat to denial or hostility, making conversation difficult.
8. They typically have a good explanation for why they drink.
Most alcoholics will have a seemingly rational explanation for their behavior if flat denial or hostility is not the chosen mode of avoidance. Stress at the workplace, problems in the home, or an abundance of social functions are common reasons to explain their damaging behavior.
9. They conceal their alcohol.
Many alcoholics will drink alone, or sneak drinks from a bottle in a workspace or in their car. This sort of hidden alcohol consumption is an enormous red flag and there is no other explanation for their actions apart from alcohol addiction.
Let's try to keep our society productive, safe, and sober by always keeping our eyes open for dubious actions in order to get these struggling colleagues, family members, and neighbors the assistance they need.
Symptoms of a High Functioning Alcoholic
From the outside, these so-called high-functioning alcoholics seem to have it all together. They can drive nice cars, live in great communities, and make a substantial income.
Just because they're high-functioning does not mean that they're invulnerable to the effects of alcohol. A pilot nursing a hangover, a surgeon with shaky hands, or a financier handling considerable amounts of money are each at-risk of causing terrible disasters if they stay on their destructive path.