Functional Alcoholics Do Not Hit Rock Bottom
· High Functioning Alcoholics Rarely Seek Help on Their Own ·
Functional Alcoholic Characteristics
- Functional alcoholics excel in their work life and are usually well-respected by peers.
- Functional alcoholics go to work every day.
- Alcohol consumption is an accepted ‘stress relief’ activity in most workplaces.
- Functional alcoholics often feel ‘entitled’ to drink heavily due to career stress; and career success.
- High Functioning Alcoholics rarely seek help on their own. They see no problems in their life or with their relationships.
- Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.
- Alcohol use disorder often causes other problems that are avoided by drinking; creating an ongoing negative cycle.
- Alcoholism affects everyone involved with the alcoholic – including the family.
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“Alcohol Use Disorder” or AUD (also called alcoholism) is a chronic disease that affects the brain.
An estimated 16 million people in the U.S. have AUD.
Impaired Professionals Evaluation and Treatment
Impaired professionals are found in all professions.
Functional alcoholics are often found in high stress professions. Due to the large amount of work stress – high functioning alcoholics begin to feel ‘entitled’ to drink heavily. However, the health effects of consuming large daily amounts of alcohol will catch up with the individual – sooner or later.
Professions that experience high levels of alcoholism and substance abuse include first responders, attorneys, doctors and medical professionals, airline pilots, Silicon Valley tech professionals and more.
Any intense work environment with high stress and pressure to perform is at risk for development of alcohol use disorder.
What is a Functional (High Functioning) Alcoholic?
High Functioning Alcoholics are masters of deception. Friends, co-workers and extended family may see ‘just an average person’.
High functioning alcoholics live in denial of their alcohol abuse and point to their career successes. But in private, alcoholic behaviors are fully active.
By any definition – functional alcoholics are true alcoholics. However, high functioning alcoholics do not fit the popular stereotype of a ‘down and out drunk’. The health effects of consuming large daily amounts of alcohol are extremely damaging – even when the effects are not immediately obvious.
“Our findings with regard to alcoholic subtypes should help dispel the popular notion of the ‘typical alcoholic,’” notes author Howard B. Moss, M.D., NIAAA Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research.
“We find that … nearly 20 percent of alcoholics are high functioning and well-educated with good incomes.”
Bay Area High Functioning Alcoholic Rehab
High Functioning Alcoholics rarely seek help on their own. They see no problems in their career, life or with their relationships.
Interventions may be the only possibility to reach a functional addict or alcoholic – and get them into treatment.
If you are in a relationship with a functional alcoholic or functional addict – you need to take steps to protect yourself. Family recovery programs are essential to ongoing well-being for the family of alcoholics. If there are children involved, they must be protected.
A functional alcoholic or functional addict parent may not physically neglect or abuse their child. However, emotional neglect will occur and leave significant scars. See The Hidden Trauma of Having a ‘Functional’ Alcoholic Parent
High Functioning Alcoholics and Common Stereotypes About Alcoholism
- Alcoholics have poor attendance at work.
Functional alcoholics go to work every day, with few exceptions.
- Alcoholics drink every day.
Functional alcoholics can stop drinking. But they do not enjoy sobriety and will start again asap.
- Alcoholics are mostly old men.
Functional alcoholics can be any age and gender.
- Alcoholics are unable to do well in their careers.
Functional alcoholics excel in their work life and are usually well-respected by peers.
High Functioning Alcoholics can often be found working as licensed professionals; including medicine, law, CPA’s, pilots and others.
- Alcoholics are usually homeless.
Functional alcoholics are usually well-paid and have very nice homes and cars.
- Alcoholics are single.
Functional alcoholics are usually married or in a long term relationship; often have children.
- Alcoholics always drink in the morning.
Functional alcoholics can easily go an entire day without drinking – until the evening hours.
- Alcoholics are either happy or belligerent and like to drink with friends.
Functional alcoholics are absent from family life. At home, they isolate and drink.
- Alcoholics drink because they are depressed and sad.
Functional alcoholics feel ‘entitled’ to drink due to career stress and success.
- Alcoholics blame the world for their drinking.
Functional alcoholics blame their family and career for their drinking.
Family Members Experience Trauma
Families of functional alcoholics experience significant emotional trauma. It is difficult living with an alcoholic.
But with a functional alcoholic, family members must also deal with significant cognitive dissonance.
The Cognitive Dissonance of Interacting with High Functioning Alcoholics
Family members – who have usually bought into the common ‘alcoholic stereotype’ – question the evidence of their own eyes and experience.
Eventually, some family members living with a functional alcoholic may question their own sanity.
No explanation seems to ‘fit’ what is happening. Friends and extended family do not experience the same person as family members see at home.
And the alcoholic always has a ready and very persuasive explanation for their drinking.
Functional alcoholic subtype: 19.5 percent of U.S. alcoholics. Typically well-educated, with stable jobs and families. About one-third have a multi-generational family history of alcoholism, about one-quarter had major depressive illness sometime in their lives, and nearly 50 percent were smokers.
Silicon Valley Tech Firms Re-evaluating Alcohol Relationship
Alcohol has been one of the perks associated with tech and startup cultures over the years, with young companies embracing the idea of hustling hard, but also bonding over a drink, or several, with colleagues. ‘Sober Curious‘ is increasingly becoming popular in Silicon Valley and across the U.S.
This is great news for problem drinkers and recovering alcoholics. A major obstacle for relapse prevention in alcohol use disorder has always been the pervasive nature of alcohol in our culture; and social pressure to join in alcohol consumption.
Need Help with Alcohol or Substance Abuse?
If you or your family are experiencing the effects of addiction – it is time to take the necessary steps to get help.
If PTSD or any form of mental illness is also involved (depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and more) – it is critical to make certain the recovery center you choose has Dual Diagnosis treatment.
Dual Diagnosis is also known as ‘co-occurring disorders’ in substance use disorders (SUD) treatment.
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• Each patient is evaluated by New Start Recovery Solutions staff and receives a biopsychosocial assessment; and an individualized treatment plan.
• We use Mindfulness Relapse Prevention and other whole person evidence-based therapies; including CBT, yoga, tai chi and more.
• If you or your loved one is located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, Paradise, Redding, Martinez or other northern California area – and are dealing with a drug abuse or an alcohol use disorder – welcome to evidence-based whole person addiction treatment at New Start Recovery Solutions.
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