Having an alcoholic drink or two is something that millions of people practice socially, often to unwind or relax after a difficult day or week.

It’s possible for those who frequently drink socially to do so without developing a problem, and because of this, it can be difficult to tell when a problem arises.

How can you tell if your drinking has gone from social practice to the development of addiction?

There are a few factors to consider when looking at your alcohol consumption in order to determine potential risks and define types of alcohol abuse.


What Is Problem Drinking?


It’s commonly assumed that if you have to think about your drinking and whether it’s become a problem, it has already become a problem. 

However, understanding problem drinking is a more involved process than simply answering yes to a question the moment it comes to mind.

Drinking issues cannot be determined by simply listing the number of times you drink alcohol in a given week. 

The behavior surrounding the drinking sheds light on the severity of the issue and the type of issue you’re facing.

For example, if you’re a problem drinker, you’re not physically dependent upon alcohol and you may not drink every day or even every week.

However, when you do drink, the following problems may arise.

  • Becoming combative and starting fights when drunk
  • Driving drunk
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Missing school or work due to being drunk or hungover
  • Losing friends due to drinking behaviors
  • Putting other people at risk when drunk


What Is High-Functioning Alcoholism?


Many people assume that as long as they’re able to keep up with the commitments in their lives, they do not have a drinking problem.

This assumption is not true, as many alcoholic individuals are able to juggle addiction and life commitments.

Again, alcoholism is deeply rooted in the behavior surrounding the drinking, not so much the ability to mask the issue. 

High-functioning alcoholics can perform well at their place of employment, involve themselves in family life, and present a great life to people outside their close circle.

However, when the workday is over, these people also drink somewhat heavily (more than 3 drinks a day for women and more than 4 drinks a day for men). 

Unlike social drinkers or problem drinkers, a high-functioning alcoholic has become physically dependent on alcohol.

This individual no longer drinks because it’s fun or because they’re unwinding, they drink because it has become a necessity. 


Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholism


It can be difficult to be sure whether a person’s drinking has become a problem without examining the reasons why they drink and their drinking behaviors.

High-functioning alcoholics may exhibit the following symptoms.

  • Frequently drinking alone. You may start wanting privacy when you drink in an effort to avoid being asked about your alcohol consumption.
  • Rushing to drink. You may spend the last hours at work counting down the time until you’re free to drink.
  • Hiding alcohol. You may keep stashes of alcohol hidden in different places within your home.
  • Getting angry at concerned loved ones. You may become annoyed or angry when loved ones express concern about your drinking.
  • Drinking early in the day. You may dedicate your day to drinking if you have no prior engagements.
  • Needing to drink instead of wanting to drink. You may drink even when you don’t particularly want to or may have found drinking to have lost its fun.
  • Getting drunk unintentionally. You may plan to have a drink or two, lose count of your drinks, and become drunk without intending to.


What To Do About Functional-Alcoholism


If your drinking has become a problem, or you worry that it may become a problem, there are steps you can take to recover. 

If you have a supportive system of friends and family, you may want to discuss your concerns with people who will help you during your recovery.

Additionally, it’s wise to speak with a licensed therapist while trying to recover from alcoholism.

A licensed professional will not only listen to you without judgment, but they may also help you come up with recovery techniques and address the issues in your life that led to alcohol dependency.

Drinking does not make you a bad person, and there should be no shame in seeking help for alcoholism. 

If you’d like support in working through your problem drinking, you’re welcome to contact our offices as soon as you’re ready. We’ve helped many people struggling with alcoholism and we would be honored to help you, too. 

Please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation.

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