Are you a ‘functioning alcoholic’?

Most of the clients I talk to are not at ‘rock bottom’, to use the AA phrase. Their drinking is not causing many crises in their lives. Sure, there are consequences from their alcohol consumption, but quite often they are manageable. They might be termed ‘high-functioning’ alcoholics.

Do you seem to be getting away with your drinking, most of the time? If you’re feeling a bit below your best at work the next day, does anyone really notice? When you drink, do you tend to be amiable, not argumentative or belligerent? Are you one of those people who would never drive a car once you’ve had more than one drink?

Like most people, you’ve probably never noticed any major health problems due to alcohol, although also like most drinkers, you’re aware of the risks and concerned about them. Maybe you’ve even noticed some subtle costs to your health – weight gain, poor skin condition, troublesome digestion, disturbed sleep? But perhaps you try to ignore those.

Perhaps your partner has repeatedly expressed their concern about how much alcohol you drink? But they haven’t left you because of it, so you dismiss their concerns.

functional alcoholicLots of people drink way more than is good for them, yet manage to deal with the side effects. As such they can convince themselves that their alcohol consumption isn’t out of control, that they aren’t an alcoholic.

But as with most things, alcoholism is not a discrete category that you’re in or not in, it’s a sliding scale, with various degrees along the way from someone who is abstinent at one end, to a dependent alcoholic at the other. A functional alcoholic might be at about 70-80% on the scale, lets say.

Whereabouts on the scale are you?


  1. Dave 7 June, 2018 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I can relate to so much of the functioning alcoholic so I guess I am one.
    I drink a bottle to a bottle and a half of wine every day and my partner does mention now and then but doesn’t give me a hard time about it.
    I’m doing an electrical course and have an exam today I had it all worked out I would stop drinking several days before so I had a clear head but that never happened I just thought I’ll be alright.

  2. Moira Johnston 27 April, 2018 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    I would say I was a functioning alcoholic, I tried to limit myself to 1 bottle of wine every other day (i had many lapses), I don’t work so don’t have to get up early and could sleep off the hangover. My ex partner has been a good influence on me as he doesn’t drink to excess and I’m much happier than I was before I met him (or when we were together).

  3. M.Smith 12 March, 2018 at 10:18 am - Reply

    God me too, But my wife just has a go at me and tells too sort myself out

  4. Danny 29 August, 2017 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I think I’m a functioning alcoholic. I have two bottles a night most times and still get on with me thinking it’s all good , but I know it’s not. Really struggling

    • Emma 16 October, 2017 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      think i’m with you there…

  5. Becky 5 March, 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I think I was at the functional level for a really long time, but eventually dipped a little lower. When I was drinking one of the most levels in my life I got double promoted at my job in Washington DC! I couldn’t even believe it I was laughing to myself like I’d gotten away with murder. I was traveling all expenses paid all over the world and drinking and expensing every tab on work too. I was also running and ran a few marathons a year, I drank about 2 bottles of wine a day, well less some days. Things got worse though, it’s been a rapid descent since I’ve gotten a little older. I’ve quit for months and months several time though. It’s not something you can up keep forever, believe me I tried! I think my sober times like when I had my child and other sober times were really good, happy times in my life! Better than the drinking years. I’ve just got to keep it going, sober is better, I just give in when I need an escape and it goes south again. 🙁

    Oh as far as my partner…kind of funny also! He noticed I drank a lot but always thought I seemed ok. We’ve been married almost 11 years…maybe he didn’t want to think it was bad, but I did a really good job of seeming ok all of the time!

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