< 10 Signs of High Functioning Alcoholics And How to Deal With It

Being an alcoholic is not just a problem of how to deal with addiction. The topic is more than that, related to psychological, emotional well-being, professional career, personal relationship, and also physical problems. The problem about drinking and alcoholic that we will discuss in this article is about signs of high-functioning alcoholics and how to deal with it. A lot of people who seems normal in their daily life are actually having severe problems about alcoholic addiction. These kind of people can manage to function like regular person, doing the responsibility like nothing is going off-track. To know more about high functioning alcohol, let’s give it a brief review.

What Is High-Functioning Alcoholics?

Within the society, there will always be people who have a good career along with happy personal life. But in fact, it is possible that they are involved in alcoholism problem. Apparently there are 2 categories of people with alcoholic problem:

  • High-functioning alcoholics
  • Individuals struggling for a normal life

In this article, we will focus to the first category, which are high-functioning alcoholics. If you wonder what is the difference between the former and latter category, the latter is still struggling to have a normal life due to the alcoholic habit. While the high-functioning alcoholics have different stereotype than average alcoholic people. To make it clear Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned that alcoholic person is the one who has more drinks than the average limit. This is also called binge drinking. For women, binge drinking is defined when they have 4 or more mix of beverages in one drinking episode; while for men when they combine 5 or more drinks during one session. The session period in this term is around 2 hours.

The drinking problems are increasing. The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defined that approximately 17 million adults in US above 18 years old had alcohol use disorder (AUD). This data was gathered in 2012, and the number keeps on increasing.

10 Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholics

The high-functioning alcoholics keep everything under control. The career, personal life, and also the drinking habit as well. They do drink too much, but it doesn’t stop them from making achievements. But actually they are in denial about their alcohol addiction. So it’s important to know major signs of it. In this article, we have summarized for you 10 signs of high-functioning alcoholics and how to deal with it. These are the signs:

1. Drinking Schedule

High-functioning alcoholics tend to restrict their drinking schedule to specific situations. They also choose specifically what kind of beverages to take. These self-limitations appear as suggestion to convince them that they can control the drinking habit. Of course, they often break their own rules.

2. Reducing Stress

When someone needs to drink to release the stress of work or ongoing anxiety, the drinking habit most likely will be out of control. Essentially, alcohol is a drug for depressant, not the media to cope with stressful situations. So when an alcoholic person runs to drink in order to cope with environment, this is a red alert.

3. Telling Lies

It’s a fact that being an alcoholic will destroy personal and professional life. Or at least, they will need to create a story to cover the truth. When they are unable to work due to hangover, they will ask for friend or partner to ask permission from the office, by calling that they are sick. Or when they are in debt due to too much spending on alcohol, they will tell lies, bigger and bigger. So it’s true that there is a correlation between high-functioning alcoholics with the permissive behavior from the nearest people.

4. Hide the Fact

Maybe you know high-functioning alcoholics as friendly people and sociable. But when they have the urge to drink, they will spend the time alone. Or maybe they will do it alone at the house, and reject any unwanted guest. What for? To make sure that the drinking habits won’t be exposed.

5. Mental Illness

Another signs of high-functioning alcoholic are they secretly struggling with mental illness. Actually the bad habit to compensate the social phobia, eating disorder, or even depression. Who knows that they have anxiety about financial power, competency, social status, and everything else? The National Institutes of Health released that at least 25 percent of high-functional alcoholics are struggling with depression.

6. Increasing Amounts of Alcohol

As they tolerate the alcohol drink intake, it is possible that the amount of alcohol will be increased. It means they will have to drink more quantities to reach the level of intoxication. One of the signs of high-functioning alcoholics is consistently finishing off alcohol drink for themselves. The level of tolerance for alcohol will increase, creating addiction cycle.

7. Harder Withdrawal

High-functioning alcoholics will feel terribly difficult to withdraw from the addiction. Once they started to drink was in order to cope with the problems from social life or environment. So when they try to withdraw from alcoholic habit, it will be hard for them. They will feel tired, depressed, and anxious for extended period of time. They will feel this symptom the most when they start to skip the drinking schedule.

8. Drinking Too Much

Not only too much, another sign of high-functioning alcoholics is drinking too often. This is a problematic behavior for them. As we mentioned above, the limit for women for a day is 3 drinks. While for men, it must not over 4 drinks within a day. But if people drink more than this basis, it is most likely that they are high-functioning alcoholic.

9. High Frequency

Compared to moderate alcohol drinker, the high-functioning alcoholics tends to drink in any place or any time. They need to consume the alcoholic drink to address any situation. Whatever the feeling, such as anger, stressful, embarrassed, need to sleep, or anything, they feel the need for a drink. And this is usually happens in daily basis.

10. Supportive Circle

The people with high-functioning alcoholic signs can’t cover all the bad habits by themselves. They need to hide it with the help of surrounding people. Or when the people around them don’t care at all. If this situation happens, it means that there must be a complete change. The people around them should not be permissive of this habit. Help them to get rid of this situation.

How to Deal with High-Functioning Alcoholics

The people who are high-functioning alcoholics often well educated, intelligent, hardworking, and have good attitude. They have good career and professional status. So it’s not an easy task to know, or even approach them related with this addiction problem. But they need to know that the negative health consequences such as heart disease, liver, neurological damage, cancer, or even depression can come at any time. Here are few ways to deal with high-functioning alcoholics:


Basically they feel lonely and fear of the world. They are full of insecurities. So the basic principle that you have to do is to be companion. Make them believe that you will gladly help them to leave the bad habit. This won’t happen instantly. You have to do it consistently until they believe that you can help them.

Presenting the Consequences

Once you enter the nearest circle of high-functioning alcoholics, explain slowly to them the consequences of this situation. Give comparison of what is happening right now with the threat in the future. Explain in detail and give arguments of how drinking has took their family and life at dangerous phase.

Recovery Plan

There are numerous recovery plans that you can access to help high-functioning alcoholics to deal with their problem. Most of these services will keep the identity confidential. By joining this, the agent will have plan if the alcoholics still in denial phase. Remember, alcoholics can be so manipulative and sensitive if they are forced to have alcohol treatment.

So What Is the Problem?

No matter how smooth everything is going for high-functioning alcoholics, the impact of alcoholism will eventually catch them. They are in the situation of denial about their problem. As time goes by, they will feel the urge to keep the achievements, in spite of their addiction. So basically they are in dilemma, whether to avoid the negative impacts of destructive drinking or living “fake” life that they built from time to time. This is a big deal, as WebMD mentioned that 20 percent of all alcoholics are classified as “high-functioning”. So it’s important to know it earlier by detecting 10 signs of high-functioning alcoholic, and know how to properly deal with it.