“The trust of the innocent is
The liar’s most useful tool.”
– Stephen King, writer and
recovering (high functioning) alcoholic
When Stephen King provided the above quote, was he talking about himself? Undoubtedly, a master of his craft (his bank account will be a testimony to that), yet, for many, many years, a sufferer of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Who knows when Mr. King finally admitted his abuse and sought treatment? The bestsellers kept coming, so whenever it happened, his work continued. But sought treatment he did.
So when do you know? You may be a bestselling author, forever on the New York Times’ lists, you may be an auto mechanic, a manager, or a doctor. Whoever you are, you are clearly not alone. The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders reports:
“Approximately 7.2 percent or 17 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had an AUD in 2012. This includes 11.2 million men and 5.7 million women. The severity of an AUD – mild, moderate, or severe – is based on the number of criteria met.”
Many sufferers of alcoholism believe that an alcoholic is, for want of a better word, a bum, someone who can’t keep a job, a home, a partner – someone whose life is simply falling to pieces. However, that is definitely not the case. There are those who are able to disguise their disorder, to hide it from plain sight.
This group of alcoholics is described as “high functioning.” That is, even though they are addicts, they can still function to a level where their abuse is not evident; for example, they can do very well at their job, have a nice home, they have family and friends.
The high functioning alcoholic, because their life appears to be ok, will clearly be in denial to some extent. They may even think their life is totally as it should be. The aim of this article is to provide you with 6 clear warning signs of being a high functioning alcoholic. Just because you can “function” doesn’t mean that you are in control of your life.
1. A Way of Coping
One of the clearest signs of alcoholism is using alcohol as your coping mechanism, whether that is to relieve stress from work, to try to feel better because you are sad, even depressed, or to attempt to control worries and anxiety over a particular situation that you are facing.
This is where your problem with thinking that alcohol helps you in these ways comes to the surface. Alcohol is a depressant. Therefore, in time, it will only make matters a lot worse. If you use alcohol to deal with your negative emotions, you will not find a clearer danger signal in what is written here.
2. Alcohol Whatever the Situation
If you find that you are reaching for a drink whatever the circumstances are or the situation you are in, you may well be suffering from AUD.
Drinking to feel better, drinking to calm down, drinking to wake yourself up, drinking to sleep – clear indications of how big a part of your life alcohol has become. Remember, alcoholism doesn’t have to be getting wasted 3 times a week. It can be simple daily drinking, without fail.
3. Drinking Alone
Another of your big, red flags when it comes to the symptoms and signs of alcoholism is this. Reaching for a drink consistently when you’re on your own, perhaps even in secret, it sends or should send, a clear message to you. You need to ask for help.
“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes you,” as another world-famous author, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote.
4. Too Much, Too Often
The high functioning alcoholic, as discussed earlier, presents a different face to the outside world. However, there is scientific evidence of dangerous consumption levels.
Ladies, your limit is 3 drinks in a day, or 7 drinks a week. Gentlemen, yours is 4 drinks in a day, or 14 drinks a week. Going over these limits regularly shows you to be at risk of alcoholism.
5. Increasing Consumption due to Increasing Tolerance
If you drink alcohol for a period of time, you will inevitably build up a level of tolerance towards it. Continue to do so, and, before long, you will need considerably more to achieve the same effect as previously. And so it goes on. Continue to continue, as it were, and you will become alcohol-dependent. For you, one drink will never be one drink – it will just be the start.
6. Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcoholics, be they high functioning or not, all suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they have gone too long without a drink. With a brain and body that is becoming alcohol-dependent, or has reached such a dependency, withdrawal symptoms surely follow. They may include:
● Anxiety or depression or both
Any of these symptoms, experienced at the time you would usually reach for an alcoholic drink, are another clear warning sign to you that you are a high functioning alcoholic, and you need help.
What You Can Do
If any of these warning signs appear to be a part of your daily life as it is today, please be aware that it is not too late to seek the help that you need. With treatment, you can return to being a high functioning person, parent, or friend. Alcoholism has no cure, but it is remedial. That is, treatment is available for you that can return you to what you once were.
These 6 warning signs of being a high functioning alcoholic – a way of coping, alcohol whatever the situation, drinking alone, too much and too often, increasing consumption, and the symptoms of withdrawal – are your indications that being able to present an acceptable level of appearance and behavior is not an indication that all is well in your life. Your life can be better.
Are there any other warning signs, or your own personal experiences, that you would like to share with other readers? Please do so in the comments below and thank you for those. Remember, high functioning doesn’t equate to feeling happy with your life.