What defines an Alcoholic as high functioning?

high functioning

To be considered high functioning, an alcoholic or addict must meet the criteria for having a substance abuse problem and still be able to maintain a work and personal life. They may drink regularly but may have not yet faced any consequences for these actions. They may even drink throughout the day to stave off withdrawal symptoms. This is part of the reason why they are so hard to identify; they appear normal on the outside. They often lead double lives to hide their addiction from their friends and family members.

What are the long-term effects of addiction?


The most obvious long-term effects include, heart problems, liver failure, memory issues, depression, anxiety and weakened immune response. These are just some of the subsequent health issues. There are also many indirect effects that can have a devastating impact on the user’s life. This includes motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, and alcohol poisoning. Often high-functioning alcoholics have managed to avoid major consequences. This is why the behavior continues unnoticed for long periods of time. However, there is no way to escape the long term affects of this disorder. Even if they do not get caught with the law, they will still experience negative side effects of the disease.

The signs of a high functioning Alcoholic?

  • Drinking at unusual times, such as in the morning
  • Drinking Alone often
  • Drinking more than everyone else in social settings
  • Trying to cover up their drinking habits.
  • Has a record Of DUI’s.
  • Uses Alcohol to deal with emotions.

There is never a totally clear distinction between functioning and none. On the outside someone may appear to have everything together when they are barely getting by. This is often the case with high-functioning alcoholics. Even if they are good at hiding their bad habits and behaviors, there may be distinct signs of a problem. One common sign is drinking at weird times or alone. Often, they will drink to calm themselves, this may lead today drinking or drinking in the morning. When they are out with friends, it will be common for them to have more drinks than everybody else. They may even show up to meet friends after already having drinks. Past behaviors can also be a good indication of alcohol abuse. It can often be hard for them to cover up things such as drunk driving if they have a record of it. They may also be absent from responsibilities as well such as work or school. The signs can also be discreet such as jokes about problems with alcoholism or oversensitivity with their own drinking.


Just because someone is a high-functioning alcoholic does not mean they will stay that way. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. Without proper treatment all high-functioning individuals will eventually reach a point that they become non-functioning. Therefore, it is important to look for the warning signs to prevent them from facing more serve consequences, that are inevitable otherwise.  


Addiction is a serious condition that effects many people, and it can have a devasting impact on the individuals suffering and their family and friends. However, not all treatment is the same and not all clinics are the same. This is where StepHouse recovery comes in, we offer inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and monitored hospitalization. Overall, we have five different levels of treatment designed to provide the exact level of care for each case. We also provide an inhouse detox program and dual diagnosis therapy.  

Call StepHouse Recovery or Contact Us today and one of our caring representatives will hear you out and point you in the right direction.

Our YouTube channel is full of testimonials from our patients.

Stay update with us on our Facebook page.

Call Now Button