Functional Alcoholic

Is it possible to be an alcoholic and still a functional member of society with a job and a family? Opinions are split on the questions; let’s take a look at what might qualify someone as a functional alcoholic. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to defining an alcoholic. The general belief is that nobody can know if another person is or is not an alcoholic. Only that person can know for sure. Therefore, we examine if one is a functional alcoholic by theorizing about what makes an alcoholic.

Many people are mistaken that you must fulfill certain criteria in order to be an alcoholic. These can vary, but some believe that to be an alcoholic, you must:

  • Drink alcohol every day
  • Have lost a job or a marriage due to drinking
  • Drink in the morning
  • Have made one or more trips to a rehab or treatment center
  • Made one or more visits to jail as a result of drinking

These misconceptions are due to the fact that every alcoholic has their own limit. It is often referred to as the alcoholic’s bottom. There are low-bottom drunks who end up homeless and jobless because of their drinking problem. However, there are many more alcoholics who never suffer such consequences. Thus, it is the consequences that help you determine if one is a functional alcoholic.

If a person has ever suffered interpersonal, financial, legal, psychological, or medical consequences due to drinking, they may have a problem with alcohol. Now, it doesn’t mean that one is an alcoholic. There’re many who can best be classified as problem drinkers. They have faced obstacles due to their drinking but have been able to stop or moderate their consumption. On the other hand, an alcoholic is an individual, when faced with a compelling reason to stop or moderate their drinking, they can’t do it and make excuses to defend their addiction.

A functional alcoholic is often described as a person who drinks frequently but doesn’t incur sufficient consequences that they must stop or moderate their drinking. Many recovery specialists believe that functional alcoholics don’t truly exist. They say that a person is either alcoholic or isn’t alcoholic at all.

It is my belief that many people who believe themselves to be functioning alcoholics are simply in a less advanced state of alcoholism, and their consequences will continue to mount until they’re forced to stop consuming alcohol. One cannot remain both a functioning member of society and an alcoholic for much longer.

Alcoholism is a progressive and terminal condition. If a person continues in their disease untreated, they will either continue to deteriorate over time or will die as a result. If one is merely a problem drinker, they can continue to drink until presented with a reason to stop or moderate. Therefore, when all is said and done, it is likely that there is no such thing as a functional alcoholic. All alcoholics will, at some point, become dysfunctional. If they don’t, it’s likely that they never were an alcoholic in the first place.


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