Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on March 31, 2020.
Maybe you're not losing jobs, breaking relationships or receiving DUIs. Perhaps you don't even feel that you're drinking an abnormal amount at one time. The side effects of your substance abuse may be subtle — but this doesn't mean you're not struggling with an addiction to alcohol.
It can be difficult to spot the signs of a high-functioning alcoholic. Look out for these five signs as telltale signals of a functioning alcoholic who may be in need of help.
Many adults choose to drink socially over dinner or at a social event with friends or family. However, using alcohol as a remedy to life's problems is an unhealthy warning sign. Turning to a stiff drink as a way to escape work stresses, depression, anxiety or any difficult emotion can soon lead to unhealthy alcohol dependence.
Do you turn to alcohol in a variety of situations, like to wake you up, calm you before bed or give you courage in social settings? Even if you're not drinking a heavy amount, consuming alcohol on a daily basis — particularly in the morning — can be a red flag.
Normal drinking habits usually take place in a social setting, like with a group of friends or a partner. A major sign of high-functioning alcoholism is when drinking is regularly done alone. In this scenario, drinking no longer serves a social purpose. It is often used as an escape because the person feels they need or can't resist it. This is particularly telling when solo drinking is kept a secret from others.
Perhaps at one point, by the time you'd finished a drink, you felt drowsy or slightly light-headed. Now, it takes three drinks to reach the same effect. If you're building up a tolerance and consistently requiring more alcohol to feel the effects, this is likely a sign that you're drinking too often and too heavily.
For women, heavy drinking is considered consuming more than four drinks in one session. For men, it constitutes more than five.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms can be a key red flag for a functional alcoholic. Withdrawal might include feelings of anxiety or depression, irritability, fatigue, nausea or alcohol cravings. As a high-functioning alcoholic, it might feel easy to blame these symptoms on other causes, like being overworked or having slept poorly. However, if these symptoms hit during the same time of day you normally begin drinking, it's a strong indicator of an addiction.
If you've avoided many of the pitfalls of an alcoholic lifestyle, it can be tempting to tell yourself that you don't have a problem. It may be easy to excuse consistent or binge drinking as just blowing off steam. However, if you're experiencing any of the signs above, it's time to admit that you may have an alcohol abuse problem.
Diamond House Detox is here to help. We offer medically-assisted substance abuse detox treatments and rehab programs to assist clients who need help overcoming their addictions. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment plans and in-patient rehab in Northern California.