Learn more about the extra precautionary measures we are taking amid COVID-19 concerns **Updated November 25, 2020

CHAT WITH US
GET HELP NOW
people drinking and discovering the difference between alcoholic and functioning alcoholic

What’s the Difference Between an Alcoholic and a Functioning Alcoholic?

Popular culture has helped shape an image of the “classic alcoholic” in people’s minds. Usually, we imagine an alcoholic as a middle-aged man who looks a bit disheveled and staggers in and out of bars all day and all night. He is so easy to recognize because he makes no effort to hide his drunken condition. This caricature of an alcoholic might work well in movies and TV, but is it accurate? Of course not. People who suffer from addiction can be any age, any gender, any race, and any socioeconomic class. And many of them go to great lengths to hide their alcoholism and never appear drunk. A functioning alcoholic is the most successful at keeping his or her alcohol abuse under wraps. Read on to learn more about the difference between an alcoholic and a functioning alcohol and how The Ranch TN can help with treatment.

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

A functioning alcoholic consumes far more alcohol than doctors recommended. Having a few glasses of wine every evening to relax may seem more sophisticated than binge drinking beer at a bar. However, in terms of the amount of alcohol consumed, there is little difference. Functional alcoholics might not get drunk very easily. However, this ability to “hold one’s liquor” does not exempt someone from suffering from alcoholism. In fact, it is a sign of tolerance to alcohol, which is a giant red flag for addiction.

A functioning alcoholic may reach the point of feeling anxious if something interrupts his or her usual drinking routine. These cravings are another sign of addiction. The key phrase is, of course, “functioning.” A functioning alcoholic does not experience very many interruptions in work, life, or relationships as a result of his or her drinking patterns. But the problems may build slowly. These issues can include showing up late to work more often, being less productive, taking more sick days, and potentially even drinking on the job in hopes of quelling nerves and anxiety.

In some cases, functioning alcoholics have a lingering fear that their alcohol consumption will cost them their job, and they sink into a cycle of drinking to help with their anxiety. However, this then causes them to feel anxious because of their drinking. They are then caught in an endless cycle where drinking may help them ease their short-term issues but creates more long-term problems for the individual.

Help for a Functioning Alcoholic

At some point, something has to give. Functioning alcoholics may feel too proud to admit that they need help. Or, they may be in denial that they have a problem since they are able to hold down a job. This is why it may even be harder for a functioning alcohol to get help and enter into treatment. In our East Coast addiction treatment center, we offer many different ways for people of varying addiction levels to get help. Someone who is a functioning alcoholic may benefit from an outpatient program, so they can still go to work and participate in treatment such as therapy at the same time. The treatment will improve your quality of life and will help you excel in your work and in your relationships.

It is important to remember that alcohol consumption takes its toll on our bodies and minds. One day, it won’t be so easy to keep the alcoholism a secret. Even if you are able to function in everyday life, you still need treatment to help you heal physically and mentally from addiction. Get help before it becomes an emergency. Contact The Ranch TN at 1.844.876.7680 for a confidential consultation.

Scroll to Top