How to identify and help them
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism affects more than 16 million adults in America. Psychology Today reports that at least 20%… and as much as 90% of them can be considered high functioning alcoholics.
High functioning alcoholics are likely middle-aged, and educated. They are often married with a family and have successful careers. They tend to go to work all day without difficulty, only to go home and consume an excessive amount of wine or liquor.
One of the biggest challenges faced by high functioning alcoholics is that they have developed a much higher tolerance to levels of alcohol, and therefore need more and more on order to achieve the “buzz” they are seeking. High functioning alcoholics typically do not see a loss of production or an inability to fulfill family obligations or regular tasks. They have trained themselves to function despite their constant craving for the next drink.
Denial becomes a hallmark of high functioning alcoholics. Because they can carry on relatively “normal” behavior for most of the day, they tend to believe that their drinking is under control. Even friends and family members may not know for sure whether any type of intervention or help is necessary.
We’ve put together a few warning signs to watch for if you suspect someone you love is a high functioning alcoholic:
- Justifying drinking or using drinking as a reward
- Unable to stick to agreed-to drinking limits
- Drinking while alone
- Frequent joking about alcohol consumption
- Restrict drinking to specific times or days
- Withdrawal symptoms show up after a period of sobriety
High functioning alcoholics put themselves at risk for liver disease and heart problems, as well as the possibility of driving while intoxicated. If you know someone dealing with these symptoms, please consider A New Outlook Counseling Services at 720-336-4019 or https://www.ColoradoCounselor.org. We have 4 locations to serve Colorado:
- Highlands Ranch-Main Office–Robert J. Johnson, SAP, MAC, LAC
- Denver Office– Alissa Zucker, MA, LAC
- Lakewood Office– Rick Shriner, CACIII
- Cherry Creek Office– Matthew Jarvis, MA, LPC, LAC, NCC, EMDR