High Functioning Alcoholics And Relationships

“They may be quite skilled at hiding their alcohol use and not fit ‘alcoholic’ stereotypes,” said Travis Chenoweth, a social worker at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. They may acknowledge that they drink more alcohol than they should but deny that it’s a problem and that need to stop drinking. However, heavy drinking will almost always become a problem over time. Functional alcoholics often appear in total control socially, yet they may also spend extended spells drinking alone, whether at home or in bars. When someone is drinking heavily long-term, they may not experience hangovers anymore. Indeed, rather than waking up feeling too sick to drink, an active alcoholic will feel sick if they don’t drink.

The functioning alcoholics find it challenging to admit they have an issue, so below are signs to determine if they are one. High-functioning alcoholics might seem to have it going well, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t facing business and personal problems. Being in a relationship with a high-functioning alcoholic can cause emotional and serious psychological damage.

The fallacy called a functioning alcoholic

Diseases like addiction tend to be highly personal, and every person’s trajectory, triggers, and prognosis will be different. The symptoms and side effects of the disorder will also differ for each person, and researchers categorize alcoholics into five distinct subtypes. Alcohol use disorders, binge drinking, problematic drinking, and alcoholism can be devastating to families and relationships if allowed to continue. Ultimately, no matter who is in your life with a drinking problem, their struggles with alcohol can be exacerbated if they do not receive timely intervention. Someone who is living with a high-functioning alcohol habit may appear on the outside to be mentally and physically healthy. Their habitual drinking rarely, if ever, causes them to miss work or ditch responsibilities.

When it comes to high-functioning alcoholics, might be intoxicated one time and sober the next. This is the result of a split personality, where a person is either up or down. Compared to a roller coaster, this type of emotional management can take a toll in the long run.


Functional alcoholics are often responsible, productive, and high achieving. Justifications for their drinking often are having many friends or an active social life. They could be in denial of the mistaken belief they don’t fit the stereotypical mold of an alcoholic. The reality is heavy consumption of alcohol is essentially counter-intuitive to maintaining a stable life with managed responsibilities.

how to separate from high functioning alcoholic

An opposite warning symptom can be an attempt to make light of drinking often in order to normalize it. The National Institutes of Health has reported the average life expectancy high functioning alcoholic of people hospitalized with alcohol use disorder is years for men and years for women. On average, people with AUD die years earlier than people in the general population.

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how to separate from high functioning alcoholic

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