What Is A High Functioning Alcoholic?
Itâ€™s estimated that 20 percent of all alcoholics are high functioning alcoholics (HFA). A high functioning alcoholic is someone who drinks to excess, but appears to function normally — or even optimally. HFAs can be very successful in their careers, well-off financially, have a happy family life, and get along well with others.
In many cases, no one except close family members know how much a high functioning alcoholic actually drinks. Sometimes, even close family members donâ€™t know. HFAs learn early to conceal excessive drinking, and they sometimes live a double life. If the alcoholic is a binge drinker and not a daily drinker, excessive drinking is even easier to hide.
Most HFAs are in denial about their alcoholism. They donâ€™t consider themselves alcoholic. They have good lives and havenâ€™t experienced any negative consequences due to drinking. If confronted about how much they drink, HFAs usually become defensive. Because they have all the outward signs of worldly success, they can’t imagine that they might have a drinking problem.
What Are The Characteristics of A High Functioning Alcoholic?
High functioning alcoholics can be smart, witty, clever, attractive, talented, and well-liked. They are often well-educated and never appear drunk or tipsy. They may be leaders in their chosen professions, in good health and in good shape. At social events, they are charming, entertaining, and amusing, and they donâ€™t seem to be drinking any more than anyone else. HFAs can be devoted to their families, active in their communities, and for all intents and purposes, living an ideal life.
When people think of “an alcoholic,” they often imagine a hopeless creature with a broken life and a twisted spirit. A â€œtypical alcoholicâ€ might be someone who is homeless, defeated, sickly, penniless and living under a bridge. The term, “alcoholic” might conjure up visions of someone dressed in rags and reeking of alcohol who drinks Mad Dog 20/20 out of a bottle wrapped in brown paper.
However, according to a 2007 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, only a small percentage of alcoholics fit this stereotype. The high functioning alcoholic is more likely to be a pillar of society than one of society’s castoffs.
What Is The Relationship Between Alcoholism, Consequences, And Rehab?
Alcoholics who enter treatment for substance abuse are often facing painful consequences brought about by drinking. These consequences can include legal problems, financial problems, getting a DUI, injuring someone in a car wreck, losing a job, going to jail, becoming estranged from a spouse, and being denied visitations with children. When an alcoholic becomes embroiled in these mishaps, and the mishaps are due to drinking, it becomes impossible to deny that there’s an alcohol problem any longer.
Once the drinking problem has been acknowledged and accepted, the alcoholic may become willing to do something about it. Coming to terms with a substance abuse disorder and getting help is something that most alcoholics wonâ€™t do unless itâ€™s the last possible solution for the problem.
On the other hand, if a high functioning alcoholic is somehow able to continue abusing alcohol day after day and year after year with few or no unpleasant consequences, they really have no compelling reason that would make it worth their while to ask for help.