A classic societal view and Hollywood portrayal of alcoholism often involves a person drinking too much constantly, with their life and everything around them falling apart due to the alcoholism. While this scenario can be true in some cases, it’s not always the reality. Some people can have alcoholism and be functioning, even high functioning – to the point where it’s hard for others to even recognize the alcoholism unless they take a closer look. The New York Times describes “high functioning” alcoholism as maintaining respectful, even high-profile lives – one that is easily continued until something drastic happens that reveals its truth to those around the person addicted.
High functioning alcoholism is also known as a “hidden problem” – and because of this, it can be very difficult for someone to receive help in adequate time. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, states for Everyday Health that people who have high functioning alcoholism are often middle-aged, educated, employed, and have a family. They do not always recognize that they have a problem, so it goes untreated.
A person with high functioning alcoholism may not ever hit “rock bottom”, and they may believe they can control the amount of alcohol they consume. Work functions, such as after-work meetups at the bar, may perpetuate and normalize the alcoholism. Friends and family who often meet up for drinks may not even realize the amount or frequency of drinking by their loved one. Side effects of alcoholism may not creep up until old age; chronic alcohol abuse can cause anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure, and more.
Dr. David Greuner provides several signs to tell if your loved one has high functioning alcoholism:
- They drink instead of eating
- They wake up with no hangover, even if they had several drinks the night before
- Not drinking makes them irritable, nervous or uncomfortable
- Their behavior patterns change significantly while under the influence of alcohol
- They can’t have just 2 drinks
- Periods of memory loss or “blacking out” are common
- Attempts to discuss drinking concerns are met with denial and aggression
- They always have a good explanation for why they drink
- They hide their alcohol
If you believe you may have high functioning alcoholism, treatment is necessary for recovery. New Vista Behavioral Health provides several treatment centers that offer home-like atmospheres for recovery. We care about your overall health, and will be there with you every step of the way. Call us today at 855-398-7959.