Alcoholism is a serious issue that affects many families around the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 37,000 adolescents received treatment for an alcohol problem in 2015. Many people know when someone is an alcoholic, but what about when it isn’t so obvious? According to WebMD, around 20 percent of alcoholics are considered to be functioning alcoholics. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a functioning alcoholic can be very important.
What is a Functioning Alcoholic?
A functioning alcoholic is one that does not fit the typical “alcoholic” stereotype. We think of an alcoholic as someone who engages in domestic violence, can’t keep a job, and is not close to their family. This type of alcoholic may have a ton of friends, personal success, and a seemingly normal life. However, they are secretly suffering from alcoholism and living day-to-day with it. They can still function to the point where most people wouldn’t believe that alcohol could ever be an issue for them. A functioning alcoholic is putting their health in danger, though, because their signs of alcoholism may not be as visible to friends and family.
What are the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic?
Since functioning alcoholics don’t seem like they have a problem, it may be even harder to diagnose. Here are some signs to watch for:
- They may ask for help from friends and family for certain tasks. If someone asks to borrow money and it seems unusual for them, they may have spent too much on alcohol. Doing this brings other people into the problem who often become the enablers.
- They believe that they set their own drinking limits. If you hear someone say that they only drink with their friends, or only drink on the weekends, they may be in denial of having an alcohol problem. They may be trying to convince everybody else otherwise.
- They may isolate themselves from friends and family. When a potential functioning alcoholic spends a lot of time by himself, he may be using that time to drink. Furthermore, going to bars alone may mean they don’t want others to know how much they drink.
Should You Hold an Intervention?
The definition of intervention is, “The process by which an addict’s family, friends, counselors, or professional intervention specialists can show the user his destructive behaviors in a way that may result in the addict choosing to seek help immediately.”
When planning an intervention, make sure that you present the functioning alcoholic with your ideal outcome. Let them know what they need to do to get there. Prepare yourself for anger, denial, and refusal. Show them the consequences of what will happen if they do not decide to get help.