Are you actually a high-functioning alcoholic? | Stepaway Blog
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Are you actually a high-functioning alcoholic?

Approximately 20% of alcoholics worldwide are highly functional, and are able to maintain the façade of their public lives, and their professional and personal relationships along with their jobs and responsibilities.

By maintaining their everyday lives at work and in public they avoid being labelled as having a drinking problem. , They are often hard-working, effective individuals who would never be assumed to have an alcohol addiction.

Typical defensive behaviours of the functional alcoholic

  • Drinking habitually such as “only on weekends and never during the week” or “only at bars and never at home”.\
  • Drinking in order to boost confidence, relieve stress, calm nerves or unwind.
  • Label themselves as an alcoholic in a joking manner.
  • Become defensive when questioned about their drinking habits.
  • They often don’t suffer from hangovers, leading them to believe they drank responsibly.
  • They drink more than the recommended weekly limit for women (3 drinks a day or 7 a week) and men (4 drinks a day or 14 a week).

The excuses:


  • It’s just a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers after work in the evening “to unwind”.
  • A stressful situation at home, it’s just a drink or three to take the edge off.
  • A busy social life, one often entailing alcohol.

So what’s the problem?

Without all of the general signs of alcoholism, high-functioning alcoholics often go unidentified and appear to be living normal everyday lives.

Understanding the life of an alcoholic and what they go through isn’t easy.  As their addiction to alcohol progresses they become slaves to alcohol.

For many the functional alcoholic is only the maintenance stage of the disease as it progresses.

As their disease begins to take over and their lives become unmanageable a few may reach out for help, and some may resort to desperate attempts to control their drinking habits.

By far the majority will witness a steady deterioration in health, declining professional respect, eroding family and interpersonal relationships until the alcoholism becomes full blown.

It is a feature of the highly functional alcoholic not to seek help until their lives spin out of control, but by then the damage to personal and public lives may well be done.

It is never too late however to seek help to enter into an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous Programme) or an alcoholism rehabilitation programme receive counselling and treatment for their alcoholism along with ways in which to overcome the addiction and choose to live a life of sobriety.

Step Away is a fully equipped alcoholism treatment centre, a licensed alcohol rehab in South Africa, we provide medically supervised alcohol detoxification treatment along with group counselling, individual counselling and dedicated aftercare.

Contact us today if you believe someone you know or you yourself may be a highly functional alcoholic.

Step Away is a centre dedicated to helping people recover and reclaim power over their lives; giving them a second chance at choosing a richer more fulfilling life.

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