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What Is a Functional Alcoholic?

a person looks out of a window behind a glass of wine and a bottle

In 2019, about 25.8% of people 18 and older had binge drinking in the past month. In addition, about 6.3% said they had heavy alcohol use in the past month. 

Alcoholism can be detrimental to you and your family members’ lives. Even if you’re a functional alcoholic, you might feel stuck, that there’s no way out. 

The first part of treatment is understanding that there’s a problem. Read this guide to understand what functional alcoholism is and decide on treatment options. 

What Is a High Functioning Alcoholic? 

While it’s not a formal medical diagnosis, it’s someone who is dependent on alcohol but still functions in society. Many will only be temporarily functional. 

You might find that you can manage your home, family, and job. Others might find you mentally and physically healthy. 

Behind closed doors, you might experience obsessive thoughts, cravings, unsuccessful quitting, etc. These are all signs of alcohol use disorder.

Functional alcoholism is an alcohol disorder. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to find alcohol treatment centers in San Diego

Some risk factors include: 

  • Low self-esteem
  • Peer pressure
  • High stress
  • Binge drinking
  • Mental health disorders 
  • A relative that abuses alcohol

Alcohol Use Disorder Signs

Some signs might include blacking out from alcohol consumption, drinking a large amount, drinking at lunch, and lying about how much you drink. You might notice a strong urge to drink even if it’s not yours. You might try to quit but aren’t able to stop. 

Some signs could include: 

  • Not being able to quit
  • Problems at school or work
  • Drinking more than two glasses per day
  • Financial problems
  • Giving up goals or activities
  • Disagreements with family
  • A dedicated time to drink
  • Defensive about their use of alcohol

Early Intervention

Early intervention with rehab centers in San Diego matters. This could help prevent you from further developing this condition. 

Alcohol detox will be the first step. Some rehab centers will teach you positive coping mechanisms to avoid alcohol abuse. If it’s a loved one, speak with them about the signs you notice. 

There are a variety of settings, including outpatient and inpatient services. Patients might need to stay at a San Diego alcohol rehabilitation center.

Outpatient centers will allow them to stay in their home and work while receiving treatment. Self-help and peer support groups could help. Alcoholics Anonymous is a popular spiritual-based program. 

Alcohol Use Health Risks

Binge drinking is when men drink five or more glasses in one sitting, and women drink four or more. Heavy drinking is 15 or more for men per week, and 8 or more for women per week. By being a moderate to low drinker, you could reduce your risk of health consequences. 

Short-term health risks could include: 

  • Stillbirth or miscarriages
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Injuries
  • Risky sexual behavior 

Long-term health risks could include: 

  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke
  • Mental health problems
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Social problems 

Do You Have To Drink Everyday To Be an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism isn’t only about the amount or frequency that you drink. It’s also about how it impacts your mental and physical health. 

You might go days or weeks without drinking and then binge drink. Alcohol users tend to have negative effects on their daily lives, including personal relationships. 

High functioning alcohol drinking tends to include: 

  • Trying to continually drink moderately or quit
  • Drinks alone
  • Lose control while drinking
  • Performance issues at work 
  • Health problems
  • Drinking takes top priority 

Getting Help

San Diego rehab centers can help you receive therapy, treatment, and medication. Motivational enhancement and cognitive behavioral therapy are common.

Medications can include Disulfiram, Naltrexone, Gabapentin, and Acamprosate. Gabapentin could help reduce cravings. Disulfiram could help you stop drinking since it causes unpleasant side effects. 

Naltrexone blocks opioid activity to stop the pleasurable effects of drinking. Acamprosate promotes abstinence from alcohol. 

Alcohol Detox

You might require alcohol detox. Medical professionals monitor your symptoms and prescribe medications to treat symptoms. 

Detoxing is necessary because alcohol withdrawal could be dangerous. Once you finish detox, you’ll enroll in outpatient, residential, or inpatient treatment. 

Signs you’re no longer functioning might include: 

  • An increase in alcohol tolerance
  • Cravings
  • Lose control while drinking 
  • Become intoxicated
  • Hide their use 
  • Can’t stay sober even with health problems or trouble with the law

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms could include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability 
  • Nausea

Why Receive Treatment? 

Treatment is also necessary because it affects others in the household. Children might stop having friends over. 

Relationships could dwindle due to alcohol. Temperaments at home might suffer. Family members could feel on edge. 

Group or individual therapy might help. Some educational books and resources could help you with recovery. It’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of rehab programs in San Diego to help. 

Tell your loved one how their behavior impacts you. Go over how a treatment program might help them. 

Identifying a Functional Alcoholic

After exploring this guide, you should better understand what a functional alcoholic is and isn’t. So notice the signs and symptoms, and don’t delay getting treatment.

Are you or your loved one ready to get treatment and start enjoying life again? Then, reach out for treatment today!

We specialize in alcohol treatment programs as well as mental health disorders. We’re here to assist you through this process and answer any questions you have along the way. We’re available to answer any questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 619.458.3435