High Functioning Alcoholics
Often, we see the classic description of an alcoholic on the TV, or in movies as someone who heavily drinks, and its life is falling apart. They look filthy, unshaved and smells like alcohol all day. However, this is not always the case.
Reality can be a bit different: an alcoholic can look just like an average person. They have a good job, dress well and have good relationships. But under the surface, this form of Alcohol abuse can still cause severe psychological and emotional damage to the alcoholic and his or her loved ones.
What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?
According to her, Functional alcoholics can still look fine outside and they may not act in the manner you expect them to behave even though they are abusing alcohol. These people can be successful and productive in their careers, family life, and social life. They could even occupy a high position or excel in their field. As a result, their alcoholism is often overlooked by their loved ones and their circle of friends.
But that’s not all most functional alcoholics are in denial of their problem with alcohol abuse and addiction, some even come up with the idea that alcohol helps them become sociable and often make excuses, like drinking only expensive wines.
They are also not aware that their behavior has an impact on people that are very close to them. It is very crucial to understand that their success is achieved not because of alcohol, but in spite of alcohol use. But prolonged and frequent abuse brings with it fatal health effects and numerous consequences.
According to Robert Huebner, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, despite their success, they are not doing fine. He adds that no one can drink alcohol too much for an extended period of time, and keep major accountabilities. Huebner says that if someone is a heavy drinker, his actions are going to catch up with him. Sooner or later, the alcohol will tear them down physically, socially, and emotionally.
Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholism
The problem with high-functioning alcoholics is that they rarely admit that they are suffering or have a problem. However, they do develop certain behaviors that can help you to recognize the problem.
Watch out for these signs so you can help save yourself or your loved one from alcohol abuse and addiction.
- They often limit drinking to a particular beverage, time, or situation. This self-imposed restriction often blinds the alcoholic and convinces him that he controls his drinking habit. However, these are merely a facade, because, in one way or another, he will break them.
- They use family or friends to conceal their actions. A high-functioning alcoholic could use his wife to make excuses for his absence at work because of a hangover. He could ask for financial help from a co-worker because he spent everything on alcohol and could not pay his utilities. Functional alcoholics thrive because of the supportive behavior of their loved ones.
- A high-functioning alcoholic likes to isolate himself during his private time. He may look and act sociable during company affairs. However, when not busy working, he prefers his alone time drinking at bars.
- They tend to compromise personal obligations due to their drinking habit. They could receive recognition in their careers for working excellently. However, they often forgot important family affairs because he has a hangover or drunk.
How to Confront an HFA/Functional Alcoholic?
High-functioning alcoholics are the most difficult type to confront. Aside from being in denial of their current situation, they do not believe that they need your help. You need to be patient, firm, and honest if you really want to help this type of alcoholic.
- When confronting a functional alcoholic, make sure that he is sober. It will be useless if you talk to someone who is under the influence. It can be best to talk to your HFA loved one if he is suffering from a hangover.
- Do not be offensive. Always make your loved one see how his actions affect you and your family. It is also important not to express your personal feelings to avoid them getting defensive.
- Approach your HFA loved one with compassion and love. However, do not allow that love blind your judgment.
- Like any other addiction, high-functioning alcoholics have lots of excuses. Simply resist accepting these.
Treating a High-Functioning Alcoholic
People who are HFA or functional alcoholics will not acknowledge that they have a problem and they may attempt to conceal the problem from their loved ones. Because of this, it is crucial that you look for signs that can indicate that there is a problem. If that the case you might need to organize an intervention help them to understand the dangers of their drinking habit. Nevertheless, you need to be prepared because people suffering from alcohol use disorder might not want to participate in an intervention since they are afraid of being judged.
If you want, you can contact a doctor or an addiction specialist to help you before, and during the intervention. They can teach you the best way to approach your loved one and assist you out in case your loved one is in denial.
If you are living with a high-functioning alcoholic, your own health could be compromised. If you have an alcoholic wife or husband, Mountain Springs Recovery offers support to encourage your loved one to get into rehab.