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Living with A High-Functioning Alcoholic: 5 Ways to Cope with The Struggles

Do you have a loved one who struggles with alcoholism? If so, you know better than anyone that it is a daily challenge to cope with and manage the mental, emotional, and physical toll of living with an alcoholic.


You might think that having a high-functioning alcoholic who shows Signs of Addiction in your family or close friend circle isn't as bad because they appear normal on the outside and may not be drinking excessively every day - but this can make it much more challenging to recognize the relationship problems brewing beneath the surface.


High-functioning alcoholics can put up walls to mask their issues which makes it even harder for those around them or they can become codependent and blur the lines of emotional dependence. Recognizing the distinctions between codependent and interdependent can help you understand where they are emotionally and can help you support them into a safer, healthier relationship. If you want to learn how to handle these issues, read on for 5 tips and strategies for managing life with a high-functioning alcoholic.


What is A High-Functioning Alcoholic?


A high-functioning alcoholic is someone working with alcohol abuse and has an alcohol use disorder. They may be successful in their professional and personal life while also secretly suffering from substance addiction. It can sometimes be tough to diagnose a high-functioning alcoholic since the signs may not appear as obvious.


If you think you or someone be a high-functioning alcoholic, it is crucial to seek help as soon as possible. A mental health professional can provide tailored treatment options to help the person overcome their addiction and get back on their feet.


The Signs & Symptoms of Alcoholism


Signs of this disorder may include regularly engaging in binge drinking, craving more alcohol than one usually needs, and having trouble controlling one's drinking behavior despite being aware of the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption.


Other symptoms may include

  • Feeling the need to have a drink first thing in the morning

  • Hiding alcohol use from others

  • Regularly engaging in other risky behaviors.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone near you, it may be time to seek help from a professional.


5 Ways to Cope with A High-Functioning Alcoholic


When dealing with a functional alcoholic, you may struggle to cope with their habit. By functional, we mean those who can still maintain daily activities despite drinking often and in excess. The functional "mask" of alcoholism can make it especially challenging when working with the alcoholic to help them stop or reduce their intake.


However, if you are able and willing to take on such a task, there are some essential steps you should take. When dealing with a functional alcoholic, you may struggle to cope with their habit. By functional, we mean those who can still maintain daily activities despite drinking often and in excess.


The functional "mask" of alcoholism can make it especially challenging when working with the alcoholic to help them stop or reduce their intake. However, if you are able and willing to take on such a task, there are some essential steps you should take.


Educate Yourself on Alcoholism and Its Effects


Becoming educated on alcoholism and its effects is a vital step toward understanding how to help those around you. A great place to start is the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Here, you can read the latest information regarding treatment, risk factors, prevention, and more.


Also, by getting familiar with what defines functional alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD), creating a safe and supportive space for the individual to talk about their habit, encouraging accountability for their actions, offering professional help if needed, and looking after your well-being.


You will also find resources for family members of alcoholics and valuable insight into functional alcoholics - people who appear to have their drinking habits under control but may be dependent on alcohol.


With an informed approach and supportive environment, the positive impact of educating yourself can trickle down to those in need!


Seek professional help if needed


If excessive alcohol use negatively impacts your life, you may consider seeking professional help. It is difficult to understand and process the behaviors associated with a high-functioning alcoholic.


Addiction Medicine specialists can offer individuals and their families the guidance needed to tackle this difficult situation. They are experts in identifying common signs of excessive drinking and can provide appropriate support in managing withdrawal symptoms.


Taking the matter seriously will go a long way toward improving your health and quality of life.


Set boundaries with the alcoholic in your life


Establishing and working with boundaries for an alcoholic can be challenging yet necessary. It's critical to recognize the warning signs of alcohol abuse, such as an individual having more than seven drinks within a single week or using alcohol to the point of feeling significant negative consequences either physically or emotionally.


Doing so can help you better establish an effective boundary that respects the person's safety and yours. Once this is done, it will be easier to understand what expectations can and cannot be met for you both to thrive. Establishing boundaries in the face of alcoholism is not easy, but doing so can bring a sense of stability and understanding into any relationship.


Connect with others who are also living with an alcoholic


There are ways to connect with others in a similar situation who understand what you're going through. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Families Anonymous can provide the help, encouragement, and guidance many need while living with an alcoholic family member.


Additionally, if you seek counseling or therapy for yourself, your therapist may be able to refer you to appropriate support groups or resources. It is important to know that according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), alcohol use is only considered an issue when drinking causes distress or interferes with daily functioning; simply because a person drinks does not necessarily mean they have a drinking problem.


Connecting with others living with someone whose drinking is detrimental can provide much-needed comfort and support during difficult times.


Take care of yourself - make time for self-care and relaxation.


Regardless of how familiar you may be with the signs and symptoms of high-functioning alcoholism, it is essential to take care of yourself.


Whether that means reserving some time for self-care or relaxation, getting enough sleep each night, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, or any other activity that helps your well-being - make sure to prioritize your well-being.

By taking care of yourself, you will be better equipped to support an alcoholic and provide the support they need. By learning more about this condition, you can also learn how to care for yourself while living with a high-functioning alcoholic.


These disciplined steps can give you the best chance of helping someone living in functional alcoholism manage their drinking better and ultimately improve your relationship with them.


To Wrap Things Up


Alcoholism is a severe condition that can negatively impact the lives of the alcoholic and those around them. If you are living with an individual struggling with high-functioning alcoholism, there are steps you can take to support them and yourself. These may include setting boundaries, connecting with others in similar situations, and prioritizing self-care and relaxation.


By working with the alcoholic in your life to manage their drinking, you can help them regain control of their health and well-being. Ultimately, understanding high-functioning alcoholism and learning how to address it are essential steps toward improving your relationship with an alcoholic loved one.


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