The Functioning Alcoholic

The "Functioning"  Alcoholic

“Buzzed” is not as innocent as we may think

Most think of alcoholism as falling down drunk. Not necessarily, so at all. Often times, one will not even be aware that a person is a functional alcoholic, as they function, quite well, on a daily basis. They can be very good at their jobs, as well as very creative. also, often times, you will not even smell alcohol on them.

As an example; my father was a “functional alcoholic”, yet I only saw him “drunk” maybe two or three times in my life. And you know how I found out he was an alcoholic? He told me himself. Way back when I was a kid. Before the term “functioning” had come about. Not only did he tell me, but he’d openly tell anyone. Well, since this was back when many of us thought of alcoholics as “drunks”, I thought to myself; “no he isn’t, he just drinks a lot, and not even every day…”. In fact, much of the time I wouldn’t even be aware of his drinking, For the most part he was a very peaceful, warm and loving man. He was a passionate person however, so if something upset him, he’d get very annoyed, and angry. And one might say that he’d become easily annoyed by things. He was kind of “anal” about things.But, he never laid a hand on anyone. Nor did I ever fear he would. And I never knew if he’d been drinking or not.

But with any alcoholic, alcohol will affect their personalities as a whole, even whe they’re completely straight. This is because alcohol is a depressant. Sure, initially it makes us feel nice, but once it wears off, we can feel really bad, and I don’t mean just physically. Emotionally. Either sad, angry, easily annoyed, or all of the above. It also has an affect on blood sugar levels, which can be part of what contributes to this. But it’s by no means like having a cup-cake. Let’s not forget the long term, negative affect of the alcohol, itself.

The “functioning” alcoholic, may not exhibit the behavior of a full blown “drunk” , because they have built a level of tolerance, where it will take them more to feel that nice feeling, or that; “buzz”. Consequently, they will consume the same amount of alcohol, as an all out “drunk”. This can result in organ damage, and, or alcohol intoxication. Just because they seem okay, doesn’t necessarily mean they are. It’s likely that they can be walking around on a daily basis with dangerously high blood levels of alcohol, and seem perfectly fine, and able to function.

My father never did quit drinking for good. He tried a few times (although not very hard) and ultimately failed. One day he said to me; “You know, I like drinking. I’m bored when I don’t drink”. But you can believe, for sure, that that wasn’t the only reason. It makes most, while drinking, just feel more confident, free of inhibitions. And yes, it does run in families. While I never had a problem with it, my brother did. He was/is a functioning alcoholic (Again, I had no idea, until he told me) but unlike my father, my brother hasn’t had one drink in more than 4 years. Has it been easy? Heck no. But he does it. He does it because it’s ultimately had a positive affect on his life. He didn’t do it alone, however. He goes to daily AA meetings, and probably always will. He feels he gets so much out of them. The way I see it he has.

While my father was very up front about it, he also felt that somehow being honest, about it, made it okay. It didn’t. Most, however will be in denial, make like it’s no big deal, and or, like you’re making a big deal out of nothing. Thus, the subject is often ignored. If something doesn’t feel right, or you find yourself falling in to a pattern, get help. Weather from group, and or, individual therapy, and, or AA. Just know that it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be a hero, qualified help is often necessary, in these situations. You/they don’t have to be falling down drunk to be a “functioning” alcoholic.

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