Am I a functioning alcoholic?

Being an alcoholic does not necessarily mean that you have lost all in life an are living in the gutter drinking cheap alcohol from a brown paper bag. For some, yes it does reach these depths and strip them of everything materialistic and take away their dignity.

For others, functionally, they are able to hold on for quite some time before the cracks start to show, by which time it is often too late. They eventually lose either their life or drive family and friends and everyone who cares for them, away.

Alcoholism is a very complex psychological condition that affects different people in different ways. However alcoholism presents itself in an individual, it has the power to kill if left untreated professionally.

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

It can be hard to acknowledge that you are a functioning alcoholic. The fact you are still able to hold down a job, look after your children and run a home doesn’t fit the picture that is conveyed of individuals that suffer from alcohol addiction.

The belief that alcoholics lose everything, prevents those who need help and treatment from seeking it. It is easy to fool yourself if you are still able to turn up for work or get the children to school on time.

A functioning alcoholic is someone who is reliant on alcohol but is still able to function at a reasonable to high capacity, whether it be at work or as a parent. They tend to be what is referred to as “top up drinkers” or “binge drinkers”.

Whilst functioning, functioning alcoholics are able to carefully keep their alcohol levels stable to enable them to continue to achieve. Outside of committed “functioning time” they often drink much more, sometimes to black out or incapacitating levels.

Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse, talented, beautiful and young; tragically lost her life to alcohol addiction, despite numerous rehabs and her success in the music industry.

Functioning Alcoholic Celebrities Who have Died From Alcoholism

Take many celebrities, for example, they are still able to hold down their job and present a certain persona to the public, yet behind the scenes, they are in and out of rehab. Before losing their job and celebrity status, they end up tragically losing their life. This not only applies to those with alcohol addiction, but to those suffering from drug addiction also.

Celebrities that have lost their life due to alcoholism include:

Billie Holiday – Singer – Cause of death – Alcoholism, Cirrhosis of the liver

Errol Flynn – Actor – Cause of death – Alcoholism, Cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease

Oliver Reed – Actor/Director – Cause of death – Alcoholism

Peter Cook – Screenwriter/Actor/Comedian – Cause of death – Alcoholism, gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

George Best – Professional footballer/sports personality – Cause of death – Alcoholism

Amy Winehouse – Singer/Songwriter – Cause of Death – Alcoholism, alcohol poisoning and drug addiction

Richard Burton – Actor – Cause of death – Alcoholism, brain haemorrhage

The list goes on…

Jasmine’s Story

“I never saw myself as an alcoholic, yes I drank heavily, I enjoyed the lifestyle and networking that went with my career. Alcohol was my social lubricant, I felt I operated better with it. I would turn up for work, on time, makeup and hair perfected and suited. I looked the part and was very successful.

“Only I knew that I had a bottle of vodka in my handbag all the time; only I knew that I was always mildly intoxicated as I topped up – but I didn’t see it as a problem, how could I? I had everything I wanted in life and had worked hard for it.

“It was only when some blood tests came back for unexplained tiredness and swelling in my stomach, showing that I had the beginning of cirrhosis that I realised I was drinking too much. When I tried to cut back, I really knew I had a problem as found I couldn’t.

“Once I knew, I could no longer deny the fact that I was slowly killing myself. I took some time out and went to rehab, returned back to work and relapsed; it got a lot worse!

“14 months ago I finally stopped drinking through a second admission to a PCP alcohol rehab this time. They helped me to see it was a life or death situation and I had a choice to make. I have not yet returned to work; the pressure, stress and expectations were always a recipe for relapse, especially in the early days of recovery.

“I have a lot less in terms of money today but I am sober and much, much happier and healthier. The damage to my liver can’t be undone, so a complete lifestyle overhaul has been required to sustain my health and recovery, which today are so precious to me. I thank God I had the humility to accept help when I needed it and use a strong programme of recovery to prioritise and maintain my sobriety today”
Jasmine, 46

Am I a Functioning Alcoholic? The Signs and Symptoms

Accepting help when you are a high functioning alcoholic could well save your life. We have already provided examples of functioning alcoholics that perhaps you can relate to.

Many functioning alcoholics are alcohol dependent (but not all) and require an alcohol rehab admission for medical alcohol detox and an alcohol rehab programme to safeguard their sobriety.

Signs and symptoms you may be a functioning alcoholic include:

  • Regularly topping up your alcohol to stay on a level
  • Drinking at any time of the day to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Booking time off work or time away in order to binge drink
  • Juggling different projects, i.e work, family, hobbies in order to maintain the facade you are in control
  • Working long hours and possibly having a work addiction
  • Unable to switch off and relax without a drink
  • You need alcohol in order to function
  • Alcohol is affecting your health
  • You drink outside of committed working or family hours to excess
  • You may drink in the morning in order to operate and function effectively
  • Using other substances or abusing medications to bring you up or down, depending on what the demands are for your day ahead and your physical needs
  • Others have expressed concern over your drinking
  • You think about alcohol A LOT and try to ensure you are never far away from it
  • You try to hide the truth of the amounts you are consuming
  • You feel guilty and pressured to keep on going
  • You think you have good ethics and morals, but look closer… are you drink driving? drug driving? operating heavy machinery? not available for the family emotionally when they need you?
  • You feel you are in control of your drinking, but it is a fine line and art you feel you have mastered
  • You are scared to admit to having a problem and lose control of what you consider important to you, your career, money, network, status, family etc
  • You feel that others depend on you and would not survive without you, and so you continue to bow to pressure
  • Attempts to stop result in alcohol withdrawal symptoms and so you continue
  • You very much lead a double life – the reality of your illness that is controlling you on one hand and the life you present to the world – that you are the one in control

Professional Help for Functioning Alcoholics

The line between a heavy drinker who is still in control and a functioning alcoholic can be hard to distinguish. If you want rehab help or are still unsure if you need professional alcohol help and treatment, please call us for a free of charge consultation.

Our team of friendly professionals will quickly be able to deduce if you have a problem that needs addressing and can recommend an appropriate rehab programme that will help you to overcome your drinking problem before it destroys your health. Contact us for addiction advice.

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