How to Recognize Someone You Love Is Struggling With High-Functioning Alcoholism

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How to Recognize Someone You Love Is Struggling With High-Functioning Alcoholism

Not everybody who struggles with alcohol addiction looks the same. Some people can consume large amounts of alcohol, wake up, and go to work the next day while appearing perfectly fine. They may be able to keep up with their personal and professional obligations without seeming to have any trouble. Perhaps they also seem to have it all together on the outside by keeping up with their personal hygiene and staying fit. Yet, this does not mean that they do not still have a serious problem that they need to address with professional help. This condition is known as high-functioning alcoholism. 

This behavior can be difficult to identify because individuals with this disorder can conceal their drinking habits well. If you believe that someone you know is struggling with high-functioning alcoholism, it is vital that you confront them in the right setting to encourage them to get the help that they need. 

Why High Functioning Alcoholism Is Dangerous 

Someone with this condition may argue that if they are still in control of their lives, taking care of their responsibilities, and maintaining a solid career, their alcohol consumption habits are not really causing problems or hurting anybody. They may even be able to limit their alcohol consumption and only drink heavily on certain days of this week. Again, this does not mean that they do not have a problem. 

By continuing this behavior, they face numerous risks. For example, when someone is under the influence of alcohol, they are more likely to engage in risky behavior that could end up hurting themselves or others. Some risky behaviors could include driving while impaired, engaging in illegal activity, spending money irresponsibly, or engaging in dangerous sexual activities without the proper protection. It only takes one mistake for your loved one to end up facing lasting consequences and regret that will last a lifetime. 

Additionally, when someone engages in heavy alcohol use over time, they will face an increased risk of developing health complications. Some examples include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Digestive problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney problems
  • Overdose
  • Death

The Signs of High Functioning Alcoholism 

If you suspect that someone you love may be struggling with high-functioning alcoholism but want to be sure before you confront them about it, there are some signs that you can be on the lookout for. Some examples include: 

  • Often joking about their alcohol use 
  • Saying that they are only going to drink a little but end up going overboard 
  • Saying that they drink less than they really do 
  • Hiding evidence of their drinking 
  • Forgetting what they said or did while they were drinking 
  • Trying to cut back on drinking only to fail 
  • Drinking at functions where alcohol is not typically consumed 
  • Drinking while alone 
  • Denying that they have a drinking problem 
  • Straining friendships because of their drinking 

Confronting Someone Struggling With High Functioning Alcoholism 

It can be very intimidating to confront someone you love about their alcohol addiction. You might be tempted to put this conversation off because you are worried about how it will affect your relationship with this individual and how they will respond. Yes, it is possible that the person will lash out and deny that they have a problem. Although, this does not mean that you should not still attempt to speak with them and encourage them to get the help that they need. 

On the other hand, what you do not want to do is confront this individual when you are angry with them or when they are currently under the influence of alcohol. Instead, you want to plan out this conversation carefully. This conversation should be held in a private setting where both parties will feel secure and comfortable, and nobody will have to worry about being overheard. Plan out what you are going to say ahead of time, so you can avoid saying something hurtful that you will end up regretting later. It can also help to research local treatment center options ahead of time so you can provide these resources to your loved one at the end of your conversation. This can make their decision to get help as easy as possible. 

When you are confronting your loved one, try to stay as calm as you can and avoid raising your voice. Make it clear that you are not angry with them or judging them; rather you are concerned for their well-being. Explain how their actions make you feel and encourage them to seek professional treatment. If they agree, make sure to follow up with them and continue to support them on their path to recovery in the months and years to follow. If they are not receptive to your message, do not give up and try again at a later time. 

It is not always obvious that someone is struggling with substance use disorder. Some people struggle with high-functioning alcoholism. Those with this condition may seem to have it all together on the outside but are struggling when nobody is looking. They may be able to continue to keep up with their responsibilities and appear in control of their lives but are overconsuming alcohol behind closed doors. Some signs that someone is struggling with this condition include joking about alcohol use, denying they have a problem, drinking more than they intended, making excuses for their drinking, or trying to hide how much they actually consumed. It is vital to confront these individuals and encourage them to get the help that they need. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 today. 

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