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?