Alcoholics Leading a Double Life – Not as Thrilling as a Spy Movie
Functional alcoholics are masters of deception. Friends, co-workers and extended family may see ‘just an average person’. High functioning alcoholics live in denial and point to their career successes. But in private, the alcoholic behavior pattern is fully active.
By any definition – functional alcoholics are true alcoholics. It is true that high functioning alcoholics do not fit the popular stereotype of a ‘down and out drunk’. However the health effects of consuming large daily amounts of alcohol will catch up with the individual – sooner or later.
“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 young adults comprise the largest group of alcoholics in this country, and nearly 20 percent of alcoholics are high functioning and well-educated with good incomes.”
Family Members Experience Trauma
Families of functional alcoholics experience significant emotional trauma. It is very difficult living with an alcoholic; alcoholism affects the whole family.
But with functional alcoholic, family members must also deal with significant cognitive dissonance.
Family members – who have usually bought into the ‘typical 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.
How to Spot a Functional Alcoholic – and Get Help
Functional alcoholics rarely seek help on their own; they see no problems in their life or with their relationships.
If you are in a relationship with a functional alcoholic – 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 parent may not physically neglect or abuse their child – but emotional neglect can occur and leave significant scars. The Hidden Trauma of Having a ‘Functional’ Alcoholic Parent
Common Traits and Behaviors of Functional Alcoholics
As masters of deception (self and others), functional alcoholics can be difficult to identify. Below, some markers to assist in spotting functional alcoholics.
• To the outside world, they appear to be managing life well.
• Does not fit the ‘down and out’ alcoholic stereotype.
• Have a well-paid job or profession; often well-respected by co-workers.
• Masters of deception; often manipulative and charmingly persuasive.
• Skilled at living a compartmentalized ‘double’ life (separating professional and drinking lives).
• Are usually in a relationship and often have children.
• At home, will isolate and drink; blaming the family for their drinking.
• Deny their drinking and/or get angry when asked about it.
• DUI arrest; but if a first-time offense, will explain away their responsibility.
• Unlikely to seek help for alcoholism – they are not ‘alcoholics’.
• Feel entitled to drink because of their career success.
Family, Friends, and Co-workers as Enablers
Friends, co-workers and extended family members may make excuses for the behavior they observe and spin it so it sounds reasonable.
- “He still drinks like he did in college, but he goes to work every day.”
- “She can drink more than anyone I know, but she never seems drunk.”
- “He’s a happy drunk.”
- “She doesn’t drink at work, and it’s not my business what she does on her own time.”
High Functioning Alcoholics – Where to Get Help
Canyon Vista Recovery Center – Mesa, Arizona
Residential Program, Extended Care Treatment, Trauma Treatment, Family Healing, Whole Person Therapies, Transitional Program, and Sober Living
Canyon Vista Recovery Center is located in the heart of historic Mesa, Arizona (Phoenix Suburb) where we enjoy over 300 sunny days each year. We combine evidence-based addiction treatments, holistic therapies, and over 20 years of experience within a safe and supportive environment to provide our clients with the highest chance of success. Our treatment services include extended care treatment, trauma treatment, family healing, life skills coaching, nutritional guidance, recreational therapy, whole person therapies and ongoing recovery support for alumni. We’re a network of leading behavioral health centers for adults and families who suffer from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
Our Extended Care Treatment Program is Unique
The Canyon Vista Recovery Center Extended Care Treatment Program will help you to learn new life skills, build self-esteem, and start to repair the damage caused by your addictive behaviors. You will engage in a variety of therapeutic techniques which allow you to begin the work of addressing the issues which played a role in your substance use and self-defeating behaviors. You will experience evidence-based practices, Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma, CBT, and Mindfulness to help you in your healing process, preparing you for long-term sobriety and success.
Call David Burke at 877-367-9930 now to inquire about how we can be of assistance.
Getting Help – Alcohol and Drug Addiction Causes Serious Problems in Families
Not located in Arizona?
For immediate help in the San Jose, CA area – Call David Burke at 877-367-9930 for assistance.
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 rehab center you choose has Dual Diagnosis addiction treatment. Dual diagnosis is also known as co-occurring disorders in substance use disorders (SUD) treatment.
New Start Recovery Solutions has access to many comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs in all areas of the US.
Contact David Burke at New Start Recovery Solutions for details and more information on addiction treatment programs that will fit your needs – and work best for you.
Or call 877-367-9930 now to inquire about how we can be of assistance.
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