what is a functional alcoholic

When one hears the word ‘alcoholic’ for most people a picture comes to mind of someone whose life is in disarray because they drink too much. Not all alcoholics fall into this stereotype, however. There’s another type of alcoholic, the high-functioning alcoholic

High-functioning alcoholics often seem to have everything going for them. They drink too much, but they excel at work and have good relationships with family and friends. Their success often works against them, making them think they have their drinking under control based upon their achievements. Eventually, whether it takes months or years, alcoholism catches up with them.

What makes dealing with high-functioning alcoholics so challenging? Functional alcoholics are often in deep denial about their problem. After all, they have managed to maintain the appearance of success in spite of their addiction. But most high-functioning alcoholics have friends or loved ones who help them cover up the consequences of their drinking. These individuals may unconsciously encourage, or enable, the alcoholic’s behavior by allowing the alcoholic to avoid the negative consequences of destructive drinking.