Some people can abuse alcohol while still being successful in their personal and professional lives. These people are typically referred to as high-functioning alcoholics or HFAs, but in truth, no one can ignore the effects of alcohol abuse forever.
An HFA can (at least for a while) have a good job, a close family, and plenty of friends. They can make plenty of money and, as opposed to the stereotype of the disheveled alcoholic, be perfectly groomed at all times. In fact, it was found that 19 percent of alcoholics fall within the functioning subtype. These people are typically middle-aged, well-educated, and hold down stable jobs. About one-third have a genetic history of alcoholism and about one-quarter also had a major depressive episode at some point in their lives.
Just because someone is able to maintain obligations like work or relationships, doesn’t mean that no drinking problem exists. Anyone with an alcohol dependency will still have cravings, and withdrawal symptoms will appear if they go too long without.
Typical behaviors of an HFA tend to include drinking to induce relaxation or confidence, needing to drink alone, constantly becoming intoxicated, experiencing sudden lapses in memory, inability to concentrate, hiding the evidence of consumption and finishing the drinks of others. You may also not realize just how many drinks you’re consuming, or how that compares to the norm. Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Since high-functioning alcoholics can often manage for years without suffering any external consequences, they are frequently in denial that they have a problem. Without help, HFAs are usually the last ones to seek treatment for addiction. The chances are higher that they will remain undiagnosed since they don’t associate any of the classic symptoms with their own behavior.
Here are some of the signs that you or someone you know may be an alcoholic:
- You drink all of your feelings; to reduce stress, to feel happy, to deal with relationship problems
- You need a drink to go to sleep and a drink to wake up.
- You frequently drink alone or in secret
- You have to drink more alcohol in order to reach the same level of intoxication as before
- You ask friends or family to cover for you when you miss school or work because of drinking
- You ask friends or family to borrow money to pay for alcohol
Also, keep an eye out for withdrawal symptoms. Some indicators of withdrawal include you feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, nauseous, or unusually tired for an extended period of time. It is especially telling if you experience these symptoms around the time of day that you usually start drinking.
If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949)-438-4504.