A misconception about addiction focuses on the fact some people can manage to keep a house, car or job and that defines whether the individual has an addiction. In reality, a person does not have to hit rock bottom in order to be addicted or start on the road to sobriety. Addiction lives on a spectrum, affecting every person differently. Learn more about why some people can be high functioning alcoholics and how to know if this is happening to a loved one.



On one end of the addiction spectrum people may lose everything that seems to matter: homes, jobs, even health. It is these individuals who are most often discussed in the news and across communities which fit a certain stereotype of what the average person believes to be a person with addiction. People fall on all ends of the spectrum and in between. Addiction is not black and white. A person who seems high functioning is not necessarily living a life that is unmanageable.


High Functioning Addiction

A person who is high functioning in addiction may not have experienced outwardly negative side effects from drinking but that does not mean addiction has not negatively impacted the person’s life. The following characteristics are often true of persons with addiction who are high functioning:

  • Individuals who are high functioning often feel as if it is possible to juggle and hold it all together
  • People who are high functioning have not experienced devastating consequences due to alcohol use and are able to overcome anything else negative that happens
  • Denial comes as a result of not having experienced consequences for actions
  • High functioning persons with addiction may not experience hangovers because the individual has to take care of responsibilities while being an alcoholic but may also be used to completing tasks while hungover
  • The person may be unaware of help or how to seek support
  • Surrounding self with others who drink similarly which makes it easier to ignore personal habits if everyone else is also doing it


Addict or Alcoholic?

It may be difficult to discern for oneself whether addiction is a problem. The following tips can be helpful in the process:


  • Don’t compare oneself to others. Take an inventory of personal drinking and using habits to get a better picture
  • Conduct a personal inventory. How a person looks on the outside does not always match the inside. Be honest with oneself about the pain and need for change if drinking has truly gotten out of control
  • Understand the reason why drinking continues. Examine use including when, where and why it occurs. How much it occurs also helps as everyday habits define whether a person’s drinking has become a problem or not.


Every individual experiences addiction differently, but there is help available for everyone. Noticing the signs can help bring change to a person’s overall wellbeing and health now as well as into the future.


If you or a loved one appears to be a high functioning alcoholic, help is available. Hired Power provides access to resources and tools to make decisions about next steps for addiction treatment. Call us to find out how we can help you get started on the road to health and sobriety.