Daily Sober Book

The Functioning Alcoholic (Is Dangerous)

addictive behaviors Jul 02, 2024

A functioning alcoholic is someone who manages to maintain their daily life – work, relationships, responsibilities – while regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol (or their drug of choice). They can be deceptive because, on the surface, they seem to have everything under control. In contrast, a non-functioning alcoholic might struggle with these daily tasks, their addiction more visibly impacting their life.

I was a functioning alcoholic. My perfunctory life routine was straightforward and didn’t take much effort. Many people didn’t see my drinking binges because I was isolated or could mask it well. I had specific rules for myself that I would follow, such as no drinking during the day and leaving corporate functions early so I didn’t have to drink (I would drink on the way home instead).

The danger with functioning alcoholics lies in our apparent normalcy. We don't see drinking as a problem since it doesn't interfere with external success. This illusion can delay seeking help, thinking, "I don't have a problem if I can still handle my job and responsibilities."

Identifying if someone is a functioning alcoholic can be challenging. Key signs include relying on alcohol to cope with stress, drinking alone or in secret, and experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Also, if alcohol consumption is a regular, necessary part of your day, it's a red flag.

Functioning or not, alcoholism is a severe disease. It can lead to long-term health issues, strained relationships, and eventually, the inability to maintain daily responsibilities. Regardless of how well one might appear to be managing, alcoholism requires attention and treatment - get help before the consequences become severe and irreversible. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

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