Alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder can affect anyone. There is no one picture of a single person who struggles with alcoholism. Time has shown that the stereotypical portrayal of alcoholism is far from the reality for many people who can’t control their drinking. These misleading depictions make it difficult to notice when someone outside that caricature is struggling with alcohol.
Alcohol use disorder affects people from all walks of life; young and old, poor and rich, employed and unemployed. Despite the assumption that people with AUD are disheveled and disorderly, research shows that an estimated 20% of people with a drinking problem are high-functioning drinkers.
What is Functional Alcohol Use Disorder?
Functional alcohol use disorder, also called high-functioning, is a category of AUD. It describes people that seem to function normally while abusing alcohol behind closed doors. Most people on the outside have no idea that the person has a problem with alcohol.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) outline common characteristics of people who have functional alcohol use disorder, such as:
- Have a steady job
- In a steady relationship or has a family
- Family history of alcoholism
These characteristics make it seem like the person wouldn’t have a problem with alcohol. Their ability to keep up outward appearances has little to do with the real nature of their drinking. All it does is allow them to continue drinking with little cause for concern until it becomes a more serious problem.
No matter how mild a person’s drinking may seem from the outside looking in, they may have a bigger issue than it appears. Alcohol use disorder is a serious condition and can lead to both short- and long-term consequences when left untreated.
If you’re concerned about someone in your life, these are five signs someone may have a high-functioning alcohol use disorder.
1. Using alcohol to cope with stress
Adults face all kinds of stress throughout their daily lives, from work to relationship problems to caring for a family. Many people have a drink to unwind at the end of a particularly stressful week. When drinking becomes a go-to stress reliever, it may be a sign of a problem.
2. Drinking during the daytime
People who depend on alcohol drink during the day to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Someone with high-functioning alcohol use disorder may drink during the day to keep these symptoms at bay. This means they might hide alcohol at work, drink during their work breaks, or even have a drink as soon as they wake up in the morning.
3. Often drinking alone
Having drinks with friends is a common way for people to spend time together. People may have a glass of wine or a mixed drink over dinner. But someone with a drinking problem doesn’t need to drink with others; they have no problem drinking alone. Frequently drinking alone is a possible cause for concern.
4. Drinking frequently and heavily
As a person’s drinking problem develops, they drink greater amounts more frequently. If you notice your loved one is drinking more frequently and heavily, you might want to keep a closer eye on their behaviors. When they can’t go a day without drinking there is likely an alcohol problem at play.
5. Denying or avoiding concern about their drinking
People who have problems controlling their drinking do not like to be confronted about it. If they’re dismissive or defensive when you present your concerns about their alcohol use, they may have a high-functioning alcohol use disorder.
Consequences of High-Functioning Alcohol Use Disorder
Any form of alcohol abuse, whether infrequent or near-constant, comes with consequences sooner or later. Those who abuse alcohol are at risk of developing both short- and long-term consequences. Alcohol has damaging effects on a person’s physical and psychological health. Over time, functional alcohol use can progress into more serious, less controlled use.
Some of the health problems and risks associated with high-functioning alcohol use disorder include:
- Aggression or violent behavior
- Difficulties sleeping
- Driving under the influence
- Alcohol poisoning
Regardless of how mild a person’s drinking problem may seem, it’s never too soon to seek help. People are more likely to get and stay sober when they receive treatment earlier rather than later. Seeking professional help is the first step toward overcoming problem alcohol use and escaping the cycle of alcohol use disorder.
How Soberlink Can Help
We know the journey to recovery is not easy. Alcohol is everywhere and a major part of society. With Soberlink, a person has an extra layer of accountability. Soberlink’s remote alcohol testing allows individuals to test anywhere at any time. It also help individuals prove their sobriety to family and friends with real-time results.
For more information on how Soberlink can help your journey to sobriety visit: www.soberlink.com.