High Functioning Alcoholics – Red Flags

Are You a Functional Alcoholic?

Problem Drinking Has Consequences – Even if Not Immediately Evident

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery - Are You a Functional AlcoholicMedia images of ‘an alcoholic’ often feature heavily intoxicated individuals who unsteadily beg for money in parks to fuel their alcohol consumption.

This image of a ‘real alcoholic’ has become firmly entrenched in our shared cultural view. This view interferes with accurate assessment of problem drinking and alcohol abuse.

If alcohol consumption seems to be causing difficulties in your work life, personal life or family life – it may be time to consider that problem drinking is the cause. While it is estimated that only 10% of all problem drinkers receive treatment for alcohol use disorder – the sooner individuals enter alcohol recovery treatment and declare independence from alcohol – the better.

9 Red Flags of a Functional Alcoholic

  1. Functional Alcoholics have developed a high tolerance for alcohol consumption.
  2. High tolerance for alcohol consumption is often due to genetic factors; multi-generational drinking patterns should be examined.
  3. In the beginning, more than moderate alcohol consumption does not produce classic hangover symptoms.
  4. If one drink is good – two are better. Functional alcoholics can’t have just one or two drinks – and stop.
  5. After a period of time, memory loss and blacking out are common.
  6. Hiding alcohol use: Functional alcoholics often isolate themselves in a home office and drink; or claim to be ‘working late’.
  7. Not drinking causes severe anxiety.
  8. Good explanations for why they drink: work stress, home or relationship problems.
  9. Drinking heavily often perceived as an ‘entitlement’ for their hard work.

At Least I’m Not Like Him!

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Are you a Functional AlcoholicIn a 2007 study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes, researchers found:  19.5 percent of U.S. alcoholics meet the criteria for the functional alcoholic sub-type.

The researchers found that individuals meeting the functional alcoholic sub-type are typically middle-aged and well-educated with stable jobs and families. About one-third have a multi-generational family history of alcoholism, about one-quarter had major depressive illness sometime in their lives, and nearly 50 percent were smokers.

‘Alcoholics have poor attendance at work’. ‘Alcoholics drink every day’. ‘Alcoholics are mostly old men’. ‘Alcoholics are usually homeless’. ‘Alcoholics are unable to do well in their careers’. ‘Alcoholics always drink in the morning’.

These are just a few of the stereotypes about alcoholics which are pervasive throughout society. These stereotypes increase denial and prevent many alcoholics from getting proper diagnosis and treatment.

A landmark study in 2007 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism categorized alcoholics into 5 subtypes: only 9% are of the “chronic severe” subtype, fitting the stereotype of the low-bottom alcoholic. Other addiction experts estimate that between 75% and 90% of alcoholics are high-functioning.
From Psychology Today, Characteristics of High-Functioning Alcoholics

Denial as a Fine Art

Of course, active alcoholics love hearing about the worse cases, we cling to stories about them. Those are the true alcoholics: the unstable and the lunatic: the bum in the subway drinking from the bottle: the red-faced salesman slugging it down in a cheap hotel. Those alcoholics are always a good ten or twenty steps farther down the line than we are, and no matter how many private pangs of worry we harbor about our own drinking, they always serve to remind us that we’re ok, safe; in sufficient control. — Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story

Impact on the Family

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery,-Mens Functional Alcoholism RecoveryBecause the alcoholic appears totally ‘fine’ to everyone else, there is no active support offered for the spouse and children of a high-functioning alcoholic.

To the outside world – the high functioning alcoholic looks ‘fine’. Even when there begin to be doubts about the possibility of drinking problems – coworkers, relatives and friends often enable abusive alcoholic behavior to continue by refusing to acknowledge and confront it.

What is a standard drink in the United States?

A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

Alcohol Consumption FAQs


Is beer or wine safer to drink than liquor?

No. One 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. It is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type of alcoholic drink.

What does moderate drinking mean?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.

How to Get Help for Functional Alcoholism

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Boomer Men's Rehab, Prescott AZArrowhead Lodge Recovery is a gender specific residential-only rehab for men, ages 30 and older; located in the beautiful, pristine mountains above Prescott, Arizona. We are accredited by The Joint Commission.

Mature Men’s Rehab for Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Opioid Addiction and Pain, Co-Occurring Disorders

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery provides treatment for chronic alcoholism, opioid addiction with pain management and drug addiction; as well as treating co-occurring disorders. Each of our patients is given a comprehensive evaluation and assessment and has a unique personalized recovery plan.

Our average client is age 45-65+.

Arrowhead-Lodge-Recovery-Exterior-ViewsWe use an integrated multi-disciplinary addiction treatment approach implemented by licensed professionals. The Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff includes a Physician-Addictionologist, Addiction Psychiatrist, Physician Board Certified in Pain Medicine, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Registered Nurse, several Licensed Therapists, and an addiction Nutritionist.

Mindfulness training, healthy exercise, nutritional counseling and educationcognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducation are a part of our treatment program. We have chosen to keep our facility small and staff to client ratio large. Each client receives individual therapy and counseling; as well as group therapy and counseling.

Chronic Alcoholism Treatment Program

Arrowhead-Lodge-Recovery,Men's Rehab Group Therapy, Prescott AZThe experienced, licensed and accredited Arrowhead Lodge Recovery staff allows us to help men with chronic alcoholism for whom previous treatment attempts may have failed.

We assist our clients in finding their personal connection to the spiritual. Through years of experience, we believe in the power of spirituality in the addiction healing process. We assist our clients in discovering their unique path to living a more authentic and joyful life.

Our addiction recovery programs treat the whole person and include Mindfulness for recovery and relapse prevention.

Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program and EAP Programs

We have an Impaired Professionals well-being program. If you are monitored by a board that oversees your professional license and requires an assessment, addiction treatment, or both – our Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program provides solutions.

We also have EAP Employee Assistance Programs.

Alcoholism Recovery Journey to Wholeness and Healing

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Mens Rehab, Thumb Butte Trail

At our mountain retreat facility above Prescott, Arizona in Prescott National Forest – men find and strengthen inner peace, and experience tranquility.

We equip our clients with the depth and stability to handle all the curves and disappointments – as well as joys – in their regular daily lives once they leave Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.

Start your journey to alcohol recovery by contacting Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.

Your confidentiality is assured when you contact us.

Speak personally and privately with Executive Director Dr. Kenneth Chance at (888) 654-2800.


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