The mental image some people have of a sloppy drunk isn’t always the reality of alcohol addiction. The fact is, some people hold jobs, maintain families, and stay active even if they drink. A functioning alcoholic may seem like they are doing fine. They may say they don’t drink that much. They may ask why does it matter if they do. They go to work every day, and the bills get paid. How can you help someone like this get into an alcohol rehab program?
What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?
One key identifying factor for alcohol use disorder is the inability to control your drinking despite the consequences. You could argue that a functioning alcoholic has no consequences, but you’d be wrong.
The consequences of drinking alcohol in excess are not always as obvious as not holding a job. Long-term alcohol use impacts a person’s mental and physical health even though everything may appear to be normal.
Someone who is functioning can drink a large amount of alcohol and seem unaffected by it. Their body has built up a tolerance to the drug. Now, they drink to avoid withdrawal more than to feel drunk. That doesn’t change the fact that alcohol is negatively impacting their life and health.
What Is Heavy Drinking?
For families and friends who might worry, it’s important to understand the definition of heavy drinking. For women, the line is three or more drinks a day or seven drinks in a week. For men, that number is four or more a day or 14 drinks in a week.
Measuring the amount of alcohol someone consumes isn’t really the indicator that someone needs alcoholism treatment, though. There are signs families can watch for that are better indicators.
What Are the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic?
There are red flags that can show alcohol use disorder. They would include:
- Legal problems relating to alcohol, such as DUIs
- Drinking early in the day
- Sneaking in alcohol to work or at home
- Needing alcohol to relax or to feel confident
- Making jokes about drinking
- Missing work without an explanation
- Getting angry when someone mentions drinking
- Drinking alone
Someone who is a functioning alcoholic may have one or more of these signs. They may still go to work most days, though. They are often hard-working but say they like to relax with a drink.
Once you recognize the signs of an alcohol use disorder, the next step is to consider whether you contribute to the problem. Codependency is a trap that is difficult to recognize.
People who are codependent protect someone with a substance use disorder from the consequences that come with their behavior. They may sacrifice their own needs to make everything seem normal and make excuses for their loved one’s alcoholism. They may also try to manipulate this person into changing.
Getting Help for a Functioning Alcohol
It starts with getting support for the people in this person’s life, like a spouse or adult children. Once they have the backup they need, they can work on getting their loved one into an alcoholism treatment program like CeDAR in Denver, Colorado.
CeDAR is a comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program. Many of our patients have alcohol use disorder.
Services at CeDAR include:
- Medical alcohol detox
- Residential rehab
- Partial hospitalization
- Family therapy
We even have a separate program for professionals in need of treatment. Our experts can offer advice on ways to approach the subject with a functioning alcoholic.
Functioning alcoholics do benefit from treatment. Give us a call at 720.848.3000 or go online and fill out our contact form if you notice the signs of alcohol use disorder in someone you love.