How Can You Tell If Someone Is a Functioning Alcoholic?
By: Lakeview Health
Published: May 9, 2019

Hollywood uses broad strokes when painting the picture of alcoholism. If you watch movies or TV shows that feature alcoholics, you might think they are all unemployed, homeless, and unable to function in all situations. While that is true for many people, some function at a high level while battling alcoholism. Many functioning alcoholics maintain relationships, keep their jobs, and are seen as contributing members of society. These people still have a problem with alcohol and could hit rock bottom at any time if they fail to get help. Lakeview Health offers help for alcoholics. Call our alcohol treatment center at 866-704-7692 to take the first step in treating your addiction. Are you unsure if you need help? See if you have any of the signs, and if you do, it’s time to enter an alcohol detox center.

Imposes Limits on Drinking

Many functioning alcoholics deceive themselves into thinking they are in control by imposing limits on their drinking. They often make claims such as “I only drink at bars” or “I only drink on weekends,” and they do their best to follow these self-imposed rules. This causes the alcoholic to think he or she is in control when in reality, the alcohol is in the driver’s seat. While functioning alcoholics set these limits, they often break them. For instance, someone might claim to only drink on weekends, but then, they may find a reason to break that rule. Maybe the person gets a promotion, drinks to celebrate or has a bad day and claims a drink is necessary to take the edge off. There always seems to be a reason to break the limits. Are you tired of setting limits, only to break them? Have you realized that you have lost your control to alcohol and want to get your power back? Lakeview Health provides help for alcoholics. Call 866-704-7692 to start the process of regaining control of your life.  

Always Thinks About the Next Drink

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. The alcohol grips people slowly, and before long, it takes over their lives. Functioning alcoholics spend much of their time thinking about their next drink. They might make plans around that drink to ensure they can get their alcohol in for the day. If something derails those plans, the functioning alcoholic might become angry or anxious.


Functioning alcoholics often appear to be social to the outside world. They might socialize at work, and many are a staple of company parties. They even attend functions with family and friends. However, whenever they have the opportunity, they isolate themselves, so they can drink in private, without anyone else knowing. Drinking in isolation is one of the most significant signs that someone has a problem with alcohol. Drinking alone is linked to alcohol-related problems, including binge drinking and poor decision making. Do you find yourself drinking alone regularly? Do you make poor decisions and put your health at risk? Our compassionate intake team is here to help. Call 866-704-7692 to learn more about our alcohol detox and treatment center.  

Failure to Follow Through on Personal Commitments

Many functional alcoholics are only functional in a work setting. They might be the go-to person on the job, but functioning alcoholics often let their family and friends down. It is not uncommon for a functioning alcoholic to cancel plans at the last minute because they are hungover or would instead be drinking. Also, many functional alcoholics forget about plans. They might say they will attend a party, but then never show up because they forgot all about it.  

One Drink Isn’t an Option

 Some alcoholics can hold down jobs and maintain relationships, but they cannot limit the amount of alcohol they consume. This is due to changes in the midbrain. Many refer to the midbrain as the “lizard brain.” This section of the brain is essentially charged with keeping you alive. When people become addicted to alcohol, the midbrain believes alcohol as necessary for survival. It ranks alcohol at the top of the hierarchy of needs, above water, food, shelter, and sex. That makes it very difficult for an alcoholic to stop after a single drink. Their brains are telling them they need more alcohol to survive, so they continue drinking well after friends have stopped. If you are a functional alcoholic, your midbrain might have changed, but you can still eliminate alcohol from your life. Lakeview Health will teach you how to survive without alcohol. With our assistance, you can rearrange your hierarchy of needs, taking alcohol out of the equation. Call us today at 866-704-7692 to finally get the help you need.   Pushes Drinks on Others Functioning alcoholics often want others to drink as much as they do, so they don’t feel like they have a problem. Also, if others are drinking as much, it is much easier for the alcoholic to remain in denial. Because of that, it is very common for functioning alcoholics to pressure friends and family to drink more.   Increased Tolerance When people consume large quantities of alcohol over a period of time, they develop a tolerance. People regularly drink more and more to achieve that same buzz. This is a sign that someone has a problem with alcohol. As your tolerance increases, you are putting yourself at risk of alcohol poisoning. Our alcohol detox center will help you eliminate alcohol from your body safely and comfortably. Contact us at 866-704-7692 to learn more about detox and treatment.   Jokes About Their Habit Functioning alcoholics are often in denial about how much they are drinking and why that is a problem. That causes them to joke about the issue. They might say something like, “I better down this drink before I get the shakes” or “Rehab is for quitters, and my mom told me “never to quit anything.” Alcoholism is not a laughing matter, and these jokes are used to deflect attention from the real issue.   Drinks to Cope  It is normal for people to have a drink or two with family and friends. However, functioning alcoholics often turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. They drink to alleviate stress and anxiety and to feel happy. You might have a lot to cope with, but that doesn’t mean you need alcohol to get through it. If you feel stressed, sad, or alone, call our intake team at 866-704-7692. Your lifeline is just a phone call away.   Experiences Blackouts Not all high-functioning alcoholics experience blackouts, but many do, and this is a sign that help is needed immediately. Blackouts occur when people drink so much alcohol that the brain’s hippocampus can no longer form new memories. When this happens, people cannot remember events that occurred when drinking. This becomes more common as people slide down the hole of addiction. They consume more massive amounts of alcohol in shorter periods, increasing the prevalence of blackouts. Blackouts aren’t just embarrassing. They are dangerous. People who blackout are prone to engage in risky behaviors and could also get alcohol poisoning. Don’t continue risking your life. Our alcohol treatment center offers specialized programs to meet your needs. Get help addressing your drinking by calling 866-704-7692.   Utilizes Enablers On the surface, high-functioning alcoholics seem to have their lives together. Sure, they like to enjoy some drinks at the end of the day, but they still manage to go to work and pay their bills. That’s what it looks like on the surface. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will realize that high-functioning alcoholics are often surrounded by enablers that help them keep their secrets. Enablers come in many shapes and forms. It’s the wife that calls in sick for her husband who is too hungover to go into work. It’s the close family friend who loans the alcoholic some money to pay the bills, and it’s the child that cleans up after the alcoholic, so the family doesn’t have to face the issue. These enablers take many forms, but they have something in common. They help the functioning alcoholic to live inside two worlds, one where he or she functions and another where he or she gives in to alcohol. If you are an enabler, it’s time to break the chains and help your loved one get help. Lakeview Health offers support for alcoholics and their families. Call 866-704-7692 to learn more.

Engages in High-Risk Behaviors Functioning alcoholics often engage in high-risk behaviors but can do so without detection or serious consequences. Of course, this is likely to change over time. At first, the functioning alcoholic might practice unsafe sex, drive under the influence, or watch their children while intoxicated without any repercussions, but their luck will eventually run out. If you engage in high-risk behaviors, the clock is ticking. You could end up with severe consequences the next time you drive drunk or participate in another risky behavior. If you are sick of playing with fire, call 866-704-7692 for help. We are a different type of alcoholic help center. We treat the body, mind, and spirit, helping our clients rediscover their inner power.   Seek Alcohol Treatment Today There is a fine line between a functioning alcoholic and someone who has hit rock bottom. Avoid crossing that line by getting help today. Call 866-704-7692 to enter an alcohol treatment program. Alcohol might have a hold on you now, but you can regain your power when you enter our program.