Breaking the Denial of a High Functioning Alcoholic

Alcoholism is a serious disease that can be very difficult to diagnose. Unfortunately, one of the problems with alcoholism is that it can take many different forms. People that don’t meet the stereotypical view of alcoholism are often overlooked. High-functioning alcoholics and their loved ones tend to be in denial about their disease, because they have often been conditioned to believe that alcoholics can’t function in life. These people need to be aware of the true definition of alcoholism so that they can receive treatment.
High Functioning Alcoholic

Challenges With High-functioning Alcoholics

The conventional stereotype of an alcoholic is an individual whose life has been destroyed by substance abuse. Many people believe that alcoholics can’t possibly hold a job or maintain stability in their personal life. However, there are plenty of alcoholics that don’t fit this description. Approximately 20% of alcoholics are high-functioning, meaning that they don’t appear to be affected by substance abuse.

While it is encouraging that these people’s lives aren’t destroyed by their addiction, it also presents some complex challenges for treatment. Alcoholics tend to be in denial that they have a problem. They are more likely to hold that belief if they don’t meet their preconceived notions of alcoholism.

Identifying the Warning Signs

It may be easier for people to come to terms with their addiction if they are given clear symptoms for diagnosis. Here are some characteristics that they should be aware of:

  • Find out if the individual is drinking more than the healthy daily limits of alcohol consumption. Women that consume more than three drinks a day or seven a week are at risk. Men that consume over four drinks in a given day or 14 in a week are also at risk.
  • See if they need to drink alcohol to deal with anxiety or lack of confidence.
  • Pay attention whether they get defensive when confronted about drinking.
  • Monitor whether they get drunk without actually intending to.

These are some of the most common red flags for high-functioning alcoholics. You will need to pay close attention to them to ensure the individual receives treatment.

Have a Frank Discussion

You will need to have a non-confrontational discussion with anyone that you believe has an alcohol problem. Make sure that they understand that you aren’t trying to be judgmental and have their best interests at heart. Explain to them that even highly successful people can develop alcoholism and they should be open about their addiction.

They may need to be encouraged to visit a facility for a formal diagnosis. A California alcohol rehab center can help determine whether someone has a problem and needs more extensive treatment.

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