You’re probably familiar with the term “high-functioning alcoholic”—but what does it actually mean?
Most basically, a high-functioning alcoholic is someone who struggles with addiction, but doesn’t fit into all the stereotypes of alcoholic behavior. Someone in this category might not have any externally visible social effects of their alcoholism; they aren’t financially bereft, unemployed, or homeless.
Instead, the high-functioning alcoholic maintains a job. They pay their bills. They foster relationships. They may even be involved in social clubs or hobbies.
A Dangerous Secret
This is an insidious form for alcoholism to take. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that high-functioning alcoholics have an especially hard time acknowledging that they have a problem. When their drinking doesn’t seem as though it’s doing any damage, they assume that they’re perfectly healthy.
Additionally, the effects of alcoholism can be difficult to spot—even among close friends and family members—so the high-functioning alcoholic may not be under any pressure to seek treatment.
The Effects of Alcoholism
High-functioning alcoholism is not harmless, though, and the alcoholic has not escaped its effects. It’s still a mental health disorder, and its effects can still be corrosive over time. The high-functioning alcoholic will eventually become overstressed, and as the disease progresses its degenerative effects on body and mind only become more obvious.
If you fall under the heading of high-functioning alcoholic, we encourage you to seek help. And if you believe your loved one is secretly struggling with alcohol abuse—perhaps due to secretive behavior or another subtle giveaway—we urge you to contact us and ask about family interventions.