When the words “https://www.healthline.com/health/can-you-function-alcoholic” are used to describe someone, it’s usually as a way to avoid labeling an individual as a typical alcoholic. It’s true to say that alcohol is the most frequently abused substance in the United States. Therefore, there are some key stereotypes that we associate with alcoholism. If we picture somebody who has an alcohol addiction, we usually imagine him or her as a disheveled person who has lost everything because of his or her addiction. However, while this stereotype certainly exists, an individual only reaches this point at the end of a long process. This can mean so-called “functioning alcoholics” are misled about the severity of their problems since their lives don’t fit into the stereotype yet. Anyone who is using the words “functioning alcoholic” as a description of himself or herself is denying how bad his or her problem really is. In fact, functioning alcoholics are still controlled by alcohol.
How Can I Spot A Functioning Alcoholic?
There are several key signs that indicate someone may be a functioning alcoholic. These include:
• Someone drinking alcohol instead of eating food.
• A defensive or angry reaction if anyone suggests he or she could have an alcohol problem.
• Inability to recall things he or she said or did after drinking alcohol.
• Setting limits for the amount of alcohol to drink but then regularly exceeding those limits.
• Pre-drinking before going out for the evening.
• Hiding drinking from other people.
• Drinking alcohol alone, during the day or during the morning.
• Making jokes about being an alcoholic.
It’s important to be aware that addiction to alcohol isn’t something that appears instantly. It will develop slowly over time. Although individuals go through the progression differently, you will find there are four stages an individual will progress through on the path to becoming a stereotypical alcoholic.
1. Binge Drinking
The initial stage seen in the development of alcoholism involves experimenting with alcohol. At this point, individuals could be unfamiliar with the various kinds of alcohol available and, therefore, testing their limits is common. Individuals at this stage will drink specifically to get drunk. They are also often abusing alcohol to escape from negative feelings or thoughts. Although binge drinking may not lead to a long-term alcohol problem, it lays the foundation for alcoholism.
At this early stage, it’s unlikely the individual will drink every day. Performing everyday activities is no problem and, while drinking probably doesn’t fill his or her every waking thought, the person will probably find he or she needs to consume more alcohol to become intoxicated. At this point, individuals tend to think they are functioning since they’re still able to attend college or hold down a job and maintain their relationships. However, while this may be something they tell themselves, it is, in fact, untrue, since after consuming the first drink of the day, they will then struggle with controlling the amount they drink.
2. Drinking To Cope
Eventually, an individual will progress to the next stage, during which he or she will become obsessed with obtaining alcohol. Many people drink alcohol as a way to relax and unwind. However, for those with an alcohol addiction, drinking becomes the only viable way of relieving the stress in their lives. With time, they will lose any other way of coping, and they will only be able to address negative feelings and thoughts by consuming alcohol. At this stage, physical addiction may not exist, but, psychological dependency will be in full sway. Individuals at this stage will have no changes in their outward appearance, but they may be regularly hungover.
3. The Consequences Begin To Appear
Once an individual has reached this stage, others will be starting to realize he or she is drinking too much and will start showing concern. For the individual, Stage 3 centers around managing the results of his or her alcoholism. Individuals at this stage usually try setting limits but find they cannot follow them. They may tell themselves, or even others, they’ll only have a set amount of drinks before stopping, or, perhaps, they’ll just have a beer rather than hard liquor. Even at this stage, it’s likely the individual will feel he or she is functioning, even though he or she has had to make changes in his or her life. An individual’s whole life will now be centered around the management of the results of his or her addiction. At this point, the individual will probably fail to see he or she is an alcoholic simply because he or she does not yet physically match the stereotype. At this stage, some common consequences of drinking may include:
• Social isolation – If someone starts to feel uncomfortable about drinking alcohol with friends and family, he or she then starts to drink alone to avoid the embarrassment.
• Anxiety and depression – Using alcohol for extended periods affects the emotional state, which results in mental health disorders. If alcohol is the only thing an individual uses to cope with unhappiness or stress, negative emotions will be amplified after drinking.
• Legal problems – These arise when people start to behave aggressively in public or if they get a DUI. This can lead to more drinking to forget the problem.
4. Psychological And Physical Changes
By the time an individual gets to the fourth stage, he or she will no longer look the same. The person may have flushed skin or a beer belly. His or her body isn’t just changing on the outside, it is changing inside, too. Side effects may include hypertension or http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000281.htm. The individual may find his or her hands shake in the mornings and the person could have frequent heartburn. By this point, the person will be drinking daily, and usually, it is so he or she can avoid the discomfort of withdrawal. Yet, even at this stage, the person may well believe he or she can function since he or she is still physically able to attend work or college. But, just because a person can physically attend doesn’t mean his or her performance is up to scratch. The individual probably feels he or she has to work harder to act and feel normal.
The stages of alcoholism can be broken and you can get your life back. If you think you may be an alcoholic, consider researching https://sobanewjersey.com/long-term-alcohol-rehab/ facilities in your area to get the help you need.