A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who doesn’t seem like they have an alcohol addiction, but secretly are reliant on it. They don’t have the signs and symptoms which people would expect to see from an alcoholic – so lots of people in their life don’t realise they have an issue. 

However, it can be hard to hide this problem from someone who lives with them. If you are this person, you may be struggling to address the situation in the right way. This blog will help you decide if their alcohol use is a cause for concern, and it will suggest ways in which you can talk about it. 


What are the signs of a functioning alcoholic?

It can be difficult to spot the signs, as functioning alcoholics appear to go about their lives as normal. They maintain their job, their appearance, and generally function well day-to-day. These signs, however, suggest that someone may need help with their addiction. 

  • They consistently drink a lot more than the recommended amount of alcohol. 
  • They surround themselves with heavy drinkers. 
  • They can consume a lot of alcohol in a short period. 
  • You find evidence of them drinking alone. 
  • They try to rationalise their alcohol consumption. 
  • They deny that they have an issue with alcohol. 
  • If they do not drink, they have withdrawal symptoms. 


How do I discuss alcohol addiction with a functioning alcoholic?

If you are living with someone who you think is a functioning alcoholic, a conversation about it can be well worth having. These tips will help you have the most effective conversation:

  • Talk about it in a private place. This will make them feel most comfortable and will allow them to open up as much as possible.

  • Include sentences such as “I can’t help but have noticed…” and “I am worried…”. This will stop you from sounding like you are making an accusation or being critical.

  • Expect them to deny the issue. If they are functioning well, they will use this as an excuse. Explain how you are worried about how it may affect them in the future. \
  • It is ok to walk away if they become very defensive or angry. If they get their guard up, it is highly unlikely anything you say will get through to them.

  • Accept this may be something you have to revisit. By continuing to explain how you feel to them in an effective manner, this can help them to realise their issue. 

It can be very hard to watch someone ruin their heath due to alcohol. However, in order to recover, this person needs to want to make a change. You cannot force them to seek help, but you can make them aware of how you feel about it. 


If the conversation goes the right way, and your loved one agrees to seek help, our team at Parkland Place can provide them with the treatment and care they need. Each of our guests is unique, so the most appropriate way for us to begin the admissions process is to have a short assessment of the requirements of our prospective guest. 

Contact us now on 01492 203 421 to begin your referral in complete confidence.

Article Name
Living with a Functioning Alcoholic
A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who doesn’t seem like they have an alcohol addiction, but secretly are reliant on it.
Publisher Name
Parkland Place