Alcoholism is frequently a hidden illness for high functioning alcoholics who manage to fulfill the requirements of daily life, often for many years. High functioning alcoholics don’t fit the stereotypical image of a stumbling person with paper bag in hand and they usually aren’t found sitting on a bar stool day after day, the physical and emotional toll of alcoholism is just as great.
According to (NIH), National Institutes of Health, there is no “typical” alcoholic. However, high functioning alcoholics comprises 19 percent of alcoholics in the United States. NIH reports that high functioning alcoholics are most often middle aged with families and stable jobs.
If you are worried about a person you care about, or if you are concerned about your own drinking, high functioning alcoholics often display common warning signs:
- Although high-functioning alcoholics drink excessively, they rarely experience hangovers. This is primarily because they are drinking constantly and their blood is never truly clear of alcohol.
- A high-functioning alcoholic may become moody or irritable when alcohol isn’t available, or if forced to remain in a situation unable to drink. Early withdrawal symptoms may include sweating, fast heart rate, agitation, headache and tremors.
- Social occasions may be difficult for high-functioning alcoholics who prefer to drink alone. A high-functioning alcoholic often can’t stop at one or two drinks, even when everybody else is sipping a wine or beer.
- Similarly, high-functioning alcoholics often decline social invitations in an attempt to keep their drinking problem hidden. They may prefer not to invite friends and family to their homes.
- High-functioning alcoholics are usually in deep denial about their drinking problem. They may refuse to talk about the problem when confronted by a friend or family member.
- A high-functioning alcoholic may have self-imposed rules about drinking. For example, he may drink beer but no hard liquor. Such rules help convince the person he is in control of the situation, thus prolonging denial.
- All too often, well-meaning friends and family help cover up the drinking problem, thus acting as enablers by helping the high-functioning alcoholic avoid consequences that might compel him to seek help.
- High-functioning alcoholics often have many ways of justifying their excessive drinking. For example, they may blame a tough day at work.
- Hiding booze is common for high-functioning alcoholics who don’t want family members to know how much they’re really drinking.