Alcohol Addiction
man struggles with high-functioning alcoholism
By BrightView
Author Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
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Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Dan is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with supervision designation (LPCC-S) and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor... read more

Published: October 21, 2021
Updated: October 6, 2021

Alcohol addiction treatment is not just for those with severe alcohol use disorder. A person dealing with high-functioning alcoholism may still experience the adverse side effects of alcohol, although not the most noticeable signs indicative of an alcohol problem. If you or someone you know shows signs of high-functioning alcoholism, it may be time to consider alcohol addiction treatment before the condition progresses.

BrightView is here to help you overcome high-functioning alcoholism with our medication assisted treatment (MAT). Withdrawal symptoms will be kept at a minimum through medication while you work with our counselors to address the underlying causes of alcohol use disorder. Give us a call at 1-833-510-HELP to learn more about how we can help you recover from high-functioning alcoholism.

What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

A high-functioning alcoholic is a person who can maintain their daily obligations while exhibiting symptoms of alcohol use disorder. They typically do not view themselves as an alcoholic and may not be considered as such by others since they do not show typical symptoms of alcoholism, such as:

  • Problems at work, including job loss or chronic absences or lateness
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Visible signs of intoxication, like slurred speech and an odor of alcohol at inappropriate times

High-functioning alcoholics often do not raise red flags to others since the signs are more discreet.

What Are the Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholism?

It can be more challenging to determine whether you or someone you know is experiencing high-functioning alcoholism. Here are some of the signs that may indicate high-functioning alcoholism:

  • They do not appear to be intoxicated after consuming large amounts of alcohol.
  • They are elusive about the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • They are in denial of a problem with alcohol despite heavy consumption.
  • They excel at work or school despite excessive drinking.
  • They blackout from alcohol consumption and experience shame or embarrassment over behavior caused by drinking heavily.
  • They try to hide their drinking from others.
  • They get defensive if others comment on their drinking habits.

There is a misperception that if a person can keep up with their daily responsibilities, there is no reason for concern about their drinking. However, excessive alcohol use can cause many physical and mental health problems and may eventually lead to a worsening of the alcohol use disorder.

What Does High-Functioning Alcoholism Look Like?

A person with high functioning alcoholism may not draw the attention of others unless they are paying close attention. They can usually drink heavily, which is considered more than three drinks a day for women and more than four a day for men, yet they can go about their day without visible impairment. People with high-functioning alcoholism:

  • Attend work or school regularly and perform well
  • Appear to be in a healthy relationship with their spouse or significant other
  • Take good care of their children
  • Maintain a pleasant home environment
  • Pay all of their bills
  • Have an active social life

Since a person with high-functioning alcoholism seems to be leading a successful life, their excessive drinking may be overlooked by those close to them. Even if a person can hold down a job and fulfill their family obligations while working to overcome alcohol use disorder, that does not mean they do not need treatment. The condition can worsen with time, and the consequences may spill over into work and family life. If you or someone you care about are showing signs of high-functioning alcoholism, you are encouraged to get help from an alcohol addiction treatment center.

Break Free From High-Functioning Alcoholism at BrightView

When the signs of high-functioning alcoholism have you concerned, BrightView is here to guide you with a better approach to addiction treatment. We utilize an evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment program that combines medication with therapy and support so that you can eliminate alcohol from your life with minimal discomfort. Together, we will explore the underlying reasons for your alcohol dependence and help you find healthier coping methods. Give us a call today at 1-833-510-HELP to get started on your path to alcohol-free living.