Everyone knows the signs of a typical alcoholic. They’re drunk all the time, abusive, and are probably out of a job. Nearly 14 million Americans display these symptoms and are bonafide alcoholics.
Unfortunately, still more Americans are functioning alcoholics. What is a functioning alcoholic? They’re the people who drink heavily but don’t display any of the stereotypical behaviors of an alcoholic. In fact, you might not notice their alcoholism until it’s too late.
So how do you recognize a functional alcoholic? Read on to learn the signs.
1. You Manage Stress with Alcohol
You’ve had a hectic day at work. You have a million deadlines that you’re not going to make and your boss wants to “have a talk.” If you can make it through the day, you can have a nice glass (or three) of Pinot when you get home.
People manage stress in many different ways. Some exercise while others break out the salt lamp and meditate. But if the first thing you think of when it comes to stress is a stiff drink, then you might be a functional alcoholic.
2. You Set a Limit (but Never Stick to It)
You always say you’re only going to have two drinks when you go out. You don’t have a ton of money to spend, but you wanna have a good time. Two drinks turn into four, and four drinks turn into you waking up Sunday morning with a $100 bar tab you swear you don’t remember running up.
If you can’t control yourself at the bar, then you might take a moment to evaluate your behavior to see if you might benefit from alcohol abuse treatment.
3. You Organize Your Social Activities Around Alcohol
Whenever you get an invite to a social event, the first thing you wonder is what the alcohol situation will be like. You probably won’t even consider going to a get together that doesn’t have alcohol, and events with an open bar are like hitting the jackpot.
Social activities are meant to reinforce friendships and celebrate milestones. They’re not about getting blitzed. If you can’t fathom going out without alcohol, then it’s time to take a step back from the sauce.
4. It’s Having an Impact on Your Work Performance
In college, you could drink all night long and wake up the next morning and ace your midterm. As you get older, your hard-partying habits start to translate getting to work late or missing days altogether.
Drinking can be a fun social activity, but the minute it begins to impact your work performance (and financial stability) then it’s definitely time to cut back or eliminate alcohol altogether.
5. You Can Drink Way More Than Other People
You and your friends love to regale others with stories about how you can drink pretty much anyone under the table. You might think this is a talent, but in reality, high tolerance to alcohol is a surefire sign that you have a problem.
The more you drink, the more you need later on to get drunk. If it takes a fifth of whiskey to get you going, then it’s more than likely that you have a problem.
You Might Be a Functional Alcoholic If…
If you or a loved one display any of these symptoms, then you may be a functional alcoholic. It’s easy for functional alcoholics to slip through the cracks because their life isn’t in shambles — people just think you’re a hard partier. But it’s important to know that even if your life isn’t in shambles, it’s never too early to seek help if you need it.