How-to Spot a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Every alcoholic can look different. Some may act and look like what you think of as a stereotypical alcoholic, but some do not fit that mold. It is estimated that about 20% of alcoholics are considered to be a high-functioning alcoholic. They are going to have different signs and mannerisms that you can pick up on.

How-to Spot a High-Functioning Alcoholic: Know the Signs

What is it?

First, what is a high-functioning alcoholic? It is considered to be a sub-type of alcoholism in which a person seems to be functioning normally but is abusing alcohol in private. These people usually have families or stable relationships and jobs. Additionally, they are oftentimes middle-aged and have a family history of alcoholism.

Due to their background, they these people do not appear to have any red flags of addiction. However, they are still at risk for serious health conditions and other consequences and should seek professional help.

Drinking at Unusual Times

One of the signs of a high-functioning alcoholic is that they will drink at unusual times. Day drinking is very common sign. This could include having a drink first thing in the morning, or even sneaking drinks at work. Because they are dependent on alcohol, they will have to continue drinking throughout the day to avoid withdrawal symptoms. They may often make jokes about day drinking, or even try and hide it.

Another sign is if someone often drinks alone. Even if they go and attend a party or festivity, they will often drink heavily at home afterwards as to avoid judgment.

Heavy or Frequent Drinking

Another sign of a high-functioning alcoholic is the amount of alcohol they drink. If someone can not seem to go a day without drinking, this can be an indication of a problem. This also applies to the amount they are drinking. Someone tends to drink a lot more than the average person could certainly be dependent on alcohol.


Most times, a high-functioning alcoholic will deny that they have a problem. They may not even realize that they have issues themselves. They will likely point to the fact that they are able to function normally on a daily basis as a reason as to why they do not have a problem. Since they feel that they have control of their lives, they will not think they have a dependance on alcohol.


A high-functioning alcoholic will still need treatment. Even though they are able to function in daily life, they can still experience the negative long and short-term side effects of alcoholism. Additionally, this disease will progress if less untreated. Therefore, they will not be able to maintain being able to hold everything together forever. Whether you or a loved one are struggling with this, it is time to get help. If you are unsure of where to look for help, reach out to a support group or a treatment center.