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Can an alcoholic be high functioning?

An alcoholic can be high functioning. A high-functioning alcoholic is a person who fits the criteria for an alcoholic (based on amount and frequency of alcohol consumption) but is able to maintain a job and relationships. This is not the stereotypical alcoholic who is unemployed and lives on the street, but a high-functioning alcoholic is still at the same risk as the homeless alcoholic for developing health problems related to the alcohol (cirrhosis, heart problems, etc.).
Paul  Hokemeyer, PhD
Marriage & Family Therapy

Often when people think of an alcoholic, they think of a man who is shuffling around in dirty clothes clutching a brown paper bag hiding a bottle of cheap whiskey. We think of these extreme cases because the most dramatic cases get our attention. The truth of the matter is that alcoholism impacts people of all races, genders, religious backgrounds, income levels and sexual orientations. It is an equal opportunity disease. Because it’s a disease that thrives in secrecy and in people who isolate themselves around their drinking, most of the cases of alcoholism are what we call “hidden”. This means that the people in the person’s life don’t have a full awareness of the magnitude of the alcohol problem. In addition, most alcoholics are high-functioning in many areas of their life. They show up for work or school, pay their bills and manage households and businesses.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.