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Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic & How to Help

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic & How to Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, you know first-hand how devastating this disease can be. Sometimes, an addict is open and honest about their addiction and it is obvious they are struggling. In other cases, someone might be a functioning alcoholic and the signs aren’t as obvious. 

But in today’s post, we’re going to tell you what it means to be a functioning alcoholic. This includes the signs to be on the lookout for. At the same time, we will talk about some of the options you have for getting help for yourself or others.

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

To begin, we’ll start by defining what it means to be a functional alcoholic.

Let’s turn to alcohol.org for a comprehensive definition:

“Many of those who struggle with severe alcohol use disorder are unable to function well in their daily lives, while others—sometimes informally referred to as “high-functioning alcoholics”—may seem more able to maintain a semblance of normal life by continuing to perform and succeed in their careers or other tasks. To varying extents, they may also be able to maintain relationships and physical health and may have been fortunate enough to have so far avoided any serious infractions with the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much research on people suffering from functional addictions, primarily because they are less likely to seek treatment for any of the potential problems they encounter in relation to their drinking.

Functional alcoholics may seem “normal” to other people, even while under the influence, and may appear to have a higher tolerance for alcohol. They may not experience overt blackout episodes, display significant personality changes, or lose control of their emotions due to alcohol use. In some cases, an element of luck may be at play to explain how a more functional alcoholic has seemingly dodged some of the consequences of their problematic drinking; however, these people may still be fundamentally struggling with an addiction similarly to those with more immediate or recognizably debilitating issues.”

Is that definition ringing a bell with you about you or a family member? 

What are the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic?

Let’s now talk more about the specific signs of alcohol abuse to watch out for.

  • Blacking out from drinking 
  • Concealing your drinking, including drinking in private or hiding empty bottles
  • You often find you are the only one drinking in a social situation, including daytime activities
  • Getting defensive if someone inquires about your drinking habits or share feedback
  • Craving alcohol
  • You consume alcohol in unsafe situations, including driving or at work
  • Drinking alcohol to reward yourself for accomplishments or after stressful days
  • Developing a high tolerance to alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal from alcohol
  • Lying to yourself or others about your drinking
  • Justifying your alcohol intake because you are still able to keep up with responsibilities and obligations

Now that you know more about spotting the signs that can point to functioning alcoholism, let’s talk about what to do if you, or someone you love, is showing these signs.

How to Help a Functioning Alcoholic

First things first, it’s helpful to educate yourself about alcohol abuse. This will give you a lot of insight into the common behavior and thought processes involved in alcoholism. As you start your research, you’ll quickly learn that alcoholism is a disease—not a choice, for many people. This can change the way you approach helping someone who is struggling and also help you feel compassion toward them instead of anger. 

As you educate yourself, it’s also important to learn about having difficult conversations with someone experiencing addiction, including the best way to approach these conversations. Additionally, you’ll want to learn about recovery options that might be useful for suggesting to that person during your discussions. 

Next, you can pick a time to talk to your loved ones about your concerns. It’s always best to come from a place of compassion, rather than blame or anger. However, it is understandable that you may be experiencing these difficult emotions. When you pick a time to have this conversation, try to do it on neutral territory but in a private place where your loved one will be comfortable open up. Prepare yourself for them to get defensive or even take themselves out of the conversation. At the same time, be prepared for it to take a few conversations to get someone to admit they have a problem.

Finally, it’s important to offer your support and compassion to this person throughout their addiction, treatment, and ongoing recovery process. This includes letting them know they can always come to you to talk and that you’re there to help them access treatment services, sober coaching, and other options.

How Can Elysian Sober Services Help?

Speaking of those treatment options, let’s talk about what sober coaching and sober companions can do. In-patient recovery and treatment isn’t necessarily the best choice or option for everyone. Not to mention, it sometimes simply isn’t possible.

For some people, working with a sober coach or enlisting the help of a sober companion can be extremely beneficial during those early days of recovery. These are the times that are known for being particularly challenging. One of the greatest misconceptions about working with a sober coach or companion is that you need to attend treatment first. But this isn’t true! A client is not required to enter in-patient treatment before hiring a sober companion.

A sober companion is an effective form of treatment for those who are unwilling, or unable, to enter a residential treatment facility. Sober companions also offer extended after-care to those who have completed a residential treatment program and are effective in helping the client apply tools that help prevent relapse.

Do I need a sober companion?

We understand that after reading this post many of the signs of a functioning alcoholic could resonate with you. Now, you’re wondering what your next steps are. You want to know where to turn to for help and what your options are. Included in those options is sober companionship, but you want to know more about if that’s right for you.

So, who are these services for? Sober companionship is for those who are looking for an alternative to traditional treatment services. Of course, long-term sobriety cannot be guaranteed. However, having a sober companion has been proven to be an effective way to build a life free of drugs or alcohol.

Let’s say a client has been to residential treatment in the past and it has not worked. Or perhaps a client is unable to enter a residential facility. In either case, a sober companion would be the best course of action to get a head-start on a new life.

More information about sober companions:

  • Sober companions can stay with their clients for hours, days, weeks, and even longer in some cases.
  • The length of treatment is determined by each client’s individual needs.
  • Each sober companion will tailor their schedule to the needs of the client. They stay with them until their services are no longer needed.
  • Costs of services may vary. But on average, the cost per day is equal to the daily cost of a mid-priced residential program.
  • Sober companions are those who are in recovery themselves and have a solution for staying sober, long-term.
  • Sober companions offer a wide variety of services. These range from running errands, transport to work, going to 12-step meetings, making sure the home of the client is clear from drugs or alcohol, and other tasks that help support the client in their journey to sobriety.

Call Elysian Sober Services in Jensen Beach, FL. to learn more today. 

Did you learn a lot from this post about the signs of a functioning alcoholic?

Here are more posts to read next:

Everything You Need to Know About A Sober Coach
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