Signs You May Be A High-Functioning Alcoholic

Everyone likely has an idea of alcoholism in mind from movies or popular culture. However, alcoholism comes in many different forms, and can even be difficult to identify. High-functioning alcoholics fall into this category, yet the alcohol abuse is just as dangerous and costly. These are signs you may be a high-functioning alcoholic and how you can seek help.

If you need a safe space to stay sober, our sober living environment at The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be right for you. Contact us and learn how we can help.

What is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?


High-functioning alcoholics are those who abuse alcohol, anywhere from mildly to severely, yet are able to maintain relationships and keep up with work and other responsibilities. They give off the appearance of not having a problem with alcohol, when in reality, there is a deep and serious issue.

Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholism


There are a few obvious, tell-tale signs of high-functioning alcoholism—relationships may suffer, responsibilities may be neglected, and a person may run into legal trouble regarding alcohol. However, some signs are much less obvious. Consider whether you or a friend meet any of these criteria, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help to take control of your life. These are signs you may be a high-functioning alcoholic:

Excessive Drinking

Excessive drinking is a major sign of high-functioning alcoholism. For women, this is considered to be more than three drinks per day OR seven drinks per week. For men, this is considered to be more than four drinks per day OR fourteen drinks per week. Drinking a lot, and doing so consistently for an extended period of time, is just as much a sign of alcohol abuse as is drinking large amounts at once.

Drinking Alone

Another tell-tale sign of high-functioning alcoholism is if you drink alone or in secret. This includes if you go to great lengths to try to keep your day drinking or excessive drinking a secret. When you drink alone, you have a higher probability of drinking too much.

It also isn’t normal to drink at all hours of the day. Getting drunk unintentionally and making jokes about how you may have a drinking problem are also indicators that there is an issue.

Drinking for Every Reason

High-functioning alcoholics drink for every reason under the sun. If you find yourself drinking to relax, to fall asleep, to cope with stress and anxiety, and/or to be more comfortable with social situations, then you are at high risk for an alcohol abuse disorder. Alcohol should not be a coping mechanism nor should it be a need. It’s a clear sign that something is wrong when it becomes either one.

Defensiveness About Drinking

If a family member or friend confronts someone with a drinking problem about their habit, the alcoholic will likely get defensive. Pay attention to how you or a loved one responds when being questioned about drinking habits.

Get the Help You Need Now


High-functioning alcoholics often look like they have everything together—that’s why they’re called “high-functioning.” But the truth is, alcohol abuse and excessive drinking will eventually catch up with you. It has the potential to interfere with relationships and work responsibilities, and could even result in legal trouble like DUI’s. If you, a friend, or family member exhibits any of the above characteristics, now is the time to reach out and get help for alcohol abuse.

Consider A Sober Living Environment

If you are struggling to stay clean and sober, a sober living environment may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation offers men’s sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC.

Contact us today. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.