Sometimes it can be easy to know if someone is an alcoholic, and other times a person can hide their signs of alcoholism. When an alcoholic appears normal and can hide the signs, they are known as a functioning alcoholic.
The Causes of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a disease that has real physical and mental symptoms. One cause can be genes that are passed down through the generations. These genes do not cause alcoholism. It just means that certain family members are more prone to have a drinking problem.
Peer pressure can also contribute to alcoholism. When starting a new job or college, a person feels like they need to fit in. If fitting in means going to happy hour every day after work or classes, this can create an alcohol dependency.
Psychological factors like stress can cause alcoholism. For some, having a drink can help them get through stressful situations. Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause a person to drink to alleviate these.
As a person drinks more, the body gets used to a certain amount of alcohol, and this person needs to drink more to get the same feelings. This becomes a vicious circle that can turn into stages of alcoholism.
Signs of Alcoholism
Having a drink once in a while does not make a person an alcoholic. But as time goes on, signs and symptoms of alcoholism might become apparent. The physical signs of alcoholism includes:
- The odor of alcohol on a person’s breath even long after they’ve stopped drinking
- Weight loss because they drink alcohol instead of eating meals
- A reddish color on the face and nose due to broken capillaries
- Drinking alone and at work
- Drinking alcohol to relax or feel confident
- Poor hygiene
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes due to liver damage from alcohol
In addition to the physical symptoms, there are other symptoms that someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD) will show such as:
- Mood swings
- Temporary blackouts
- Withdrawal symptoms after drinking which can range from a normal hangover to delirium tremens (DTs)
- Loss of motor skills
- Making excuses to drink more
- Frequently miss work because of drinking
What is a Functioning Alcoholic
A functioning alcoholic is a term that is applied to someone who drinks frequently but still functions in society. The symptoms of a functioning alcoholic are similar to those of an alcoholic except they rarely miss work and appear to function normally in society. But they do rely on alcohol, look forward to their next drink, and usually have more than 5 drinks per day.
According to AION Health, “In the United States, 32 million – or one in seven people – is thought to have AUD. Meanwhile, 19.5% of U.S. alcoholics fall under the “functional” subtype and are generally middle-aged, educated people with families and careers, but have a history of alcoholism somewhere in their family lineage.”
Many times, a functioning alcoholic will believe they don’t have a problem. And then things go wrong like a drunk driving incident, getting fired, or getting liver disease. Thankfully, there are programs that will help with alcohol addiction recovery.