Functioning Alcoholic: Signs and Symptoms

What is a Functioning Alcoholic?

alcoholMost people associate severe alcohol abuse with the term alcoholic. However, there is a wide range of alcohol abuse from mild to severe. Mild alcohol abuse is often termed functional alcoholism. This is largely due to the fact that the functioning alcoholic functions in most areas of life with perceived minimal disruption.


Over time, however, a functioning alcoholic may experience strained or loss of relationships, anxiety/depression, difficulty concentrating, low self-esteem, fatigue, loss of hobbies and social engagement outside of drinking buddies, DWI’s, declining physical health or medical complications, and a sense of being stagnant in life – not really moving forward towards important life goals among others.


It can be difficult to seek help because life seems manageable. However, as Bradley Cooper notes, it can hold you back. Getting therapy for functional alcoholism can help you get to the root of your triggers and find ways to take charge of your life.

Signs of Functional Alcoholism

Here are a few signs that alcohol or drug use may be more of an addiction than a recreational activity:

  • Consuming more than you intended on a regular basis
  • Wanting to cut back, but not being able to
  • Spending a lot of time or money using or recovering from alcohol
  • Cravings and urges to use alcohol or thinking about when you’re going to be able to have a drink
  • Not managing what you should do because of alcohol
  • Relationship problems due to alcohol use
  • Acting in uncharacteristic ways after drinking
  • Giving up or passing on other activities to have a drink
  • Needing more alcohol for the same effect – developing tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Here is a recent interview I gave on functional alcoholism in light of Bradley Cooper’s disclosure that he was a functional alcoholic in his 20’s. Click here to read the article.

Want to learn more about Alcohol/Drugs Addiction?

Click here to learn more about Addiction therapy. Our Therapists in Houston are always ready to help.  Book an appointment with one of our counselor who is available to meet with you via phone, Skype or in person to discuss any addiction related question you might have.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

Sign up to be notified of group and workshop dates.


Comments are closed.