Self, Health And Wellness

What's A Functioning Alcoholic? How To Tell The Difference Between Having A Drinking Problem & Staying In Control

do i have a drinking problem functioning alcoholic

Life is hard and alcohol makes us feel like we can unwind and forget our troubles for a while. It’s popularity is understandable, and drinking cocktails, beer and wine can be fun, but we tend to get caught up in the excitement of the next new alcoholic trend and forget to ask the serious question: Are we becoming a generation of functioning alcoholics?

There are all kinds of justifications for developing a drinking problem. “I’m just a social drinker” — but do you socialize every day? "Wine is good for your health” — but how much are you drinking? 

Like any other problem, the justifications have to stop to acknowledge it.

RELATED: If You Do These 10 Things, You're Becoming An Alcoholic

So, when does drinking become a “problem”? 

Is it only when it starts to affect your health or your life? Or is it before this? Or, more importantly, should it be before this so that it doesn’t escalate into a life-shattering dilemma?

Arguably, your daily alcoholic intake should not exceed the recommended amount given by the CDC, which is “up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men," other than on special occasions. Sure, alcohol can be fun and frankly, freaking delicious, but everything good needs to be moderated.

Drinking more than recommended is generally just a risky practice. It can be good for you to have a single drink, relax, and socialize with friends and/or family because relaxing is vital to mental health and overall well-being, but alcohol is generally just empty calories that you can literally get addicted to if you’re not careful.

Have you been concerned about the amount you or a loved has been drinking lately? Maybe it’s time to look into how much is too much. When concern arises, take time to discover the difference between an alcoholic and a functioning alcoholic.

What is a “functioning alcoholic"?

The biggest difference between a "regular" alcoholic and a “functioning” alcoholic (sometimes referred to as a “high-functioning alcoholic”) rests in how alcoholism affects said person’s life.

Basically, the key difference is that a “functioning alcoholic" doesn’t fall into the “alcoholic” stereotype because on the outside, they still have their life together. Their job, family, social life, etc., are all normal and fine — sometimes even great — but they are dependent on alcohol all the same.

Is a functioning alcoholic the same thing as alcoholism?

Yes and no. Just because you're “functioning” doesn’t mean you aren’t an alcoholic. However, in ways being a functioning alcoholic is worse than what we think of when we imagine full-blown alcoholsm. If you're a high-functioning alcoholic, you tend to be in denial that you may have a problem, and it can be hard for the people that care about you to realize you have a problem in the first place.

Functioning alcoholics tend to use any success and the fact that their life isn’t in shambles to justify “not having a problem” even though they clearly drink too much. Since a functioning alcoholic doesn’t fit into the “I lost everything to alcohol” stereotypes about alcoholism, they don’t think their large consumption of alcohol is an issue.

However, a functioning alcoholic generally has enablers that may be covering up the negative sides of their drinking problem, even further justifying the alcoholism.

RELATED: People With This Color Eyes Are More Prone To Alcoholism 

Has alcoholism become a trend?

With the increasing popularity of alcohol-heavy weekend brunches and happy hours, masked alcoholism is the new trend.

In an article published earlier this year on Huffpost, the author explains how “alcohol has joined bacon and eggs as a brunch staple, with restaurants clamoring to offer bottomless cocktail deals to reel in customers.”

It’s not just drinking in excess on Friday nights anymore. Alcohol has made become an acceptable Sunday morning side.

People are also making up new words to justify their drinking.

Urban Dictionary defines “alcoholist” as: “Much different than an alcoholic. Alcoholists do not have a dependency on alcohol. They merely enjoy drinking large amounts of alcohol to reach that 'happy place,' which usually means blacking out and trying to figure out what the hell happened last night.”

So, basically an “alcoholist” is just an alcoholic in denial.

In an age that puts drinking on a pedestal, it is important to ensure your alcoholic consumption is healthy and that you are not dependent on alcohol. Learn how to identify the signs of alcoholism and draw distinct lines when it comes to how much is too much. 

RELATED: Science Says There's 4 Types Of Drinkers: Which One Are You?

Nicole Bradley-Bernard is a writer who needs coffee more than she needs anyone’s approval. She enjoys putting bright colors in her curly brown hair, spending time outside on cool days and being with her partner in life, Eric, who she considers a continuing source of inspiration.