Amazingly, there are people in the world who can consume a lot of alcohol without showing any signs of dependence or intoxication. Without an actual physical dependence on alcohol, it’s highly unlikely the individual would qualify as an alcoholic. They are nothing more or less than people who can frequently drink a lot without serious ramifications.
Most addiction treatment experts will agree that physical dependence is the pathway to alcoholism. If someone consumes a lot of alcohol regularly and seems to need to do that, they have alcohol dependence at a minimum. After tossing in what experts would consider addictive behaviors like drinking alone, that’s the point someone technically becomes an alcoholic.
Highly functional alcoholics are heavy drinkers that recover quickly from the effects of alcohol, allowing them to function somewhat normally during the day. They can hold a job, maintain relationships, and even come off as charming. On the outside, they come off as someone who just drinks a lot.
The problems for a highly functional alcoholic are always brewing right under the surface. The body has an addiction. The addiction will typically rear its ugly head any and every time the alcoholic misses a drinking session or two. That’s when the body is most likely to revolt in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Yes, that’s another viable sign the individual is an alcoholic, albeit a highly functional one.
Since denial is a big part of a functional alcoholic’s behavioral patterns, they often adopt a false sense of invisibility. As addiction treatment specialists, our therapists are quite familiar with this phenomenon. The air of invincibility leads the heavy drinker to believe they have the power to stop drinking “cold turkey” at any time without ramifications. If there are no ramifications, why would they need to get professional help for their addiction, right?
In the section below, we are going to address the fallacy behind that feeling of invincibility.
Will Alcohol Withdrawal Outside a Drug Rehab Program Still Be Dangerous for a High Functioning Alcoholic?
Before we delve into the issues we have with highly functional alcoholics trying to beat their addiction issues without help, we felt it was important for readers to know exactly what alcohol withdrawal might look like. To that end, here are some typical withdrawal symptoms associated with alcoholism:
- High blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
- Body seizures and the “heebie jeebies”
- Audio and visual hallucinations
- Difficulty breathing
- Sleeping issues
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Sweating, nausea and vomiting
- extreme confusion
Note: any one of the above symptoms could turn into a very serious health issue. It’s for that reason we feel compelled to say yes, it is still very dangerous for a highly functional alcoholic to go through alcohol withdrawal without help.
There is no telling what could possibly go wrong. If there are any questions, why would someone want to take unacceptable risks to save a few dollars or prove they have everything under control? The truth is highly functional alcoholics don’t have control over their bodies regardless of what their heads are telling them.
The safe solution is to find a detox program where medical professionals can oversee the detox process. If serious issues start to occur, there will be a doctor standing by for assistance, which might include prescribing relief medications to help with discomfort issues.
There’s another aspect of this that warrants discussion. The fact someone has become a highly functional alcoholic seems to indicate personal problems are driving them to drink. Just like any other addiction sufferer, they are going to need therapy to deal with their issues. Failure to do this combined with attempts to detox independently almost assures the highly functional alcoholic will continue being a highly functional alcoholic.
It’s also possible there will come a time when they lose the functionality, turning them into an alcoholic mess. That’s something they could avoid if they would be willing to go through a normal treatment process before things go south.
If you fancy yourself being a highly functional alcoholic, we caution you about developing a false sense of invisibility. Time and again, we have seen former highly functional alcoholics come to us in desperation. We don’t want that to be your experience. If you would be willing to contact us at 833-846-5669, we would use that as an opportunity to tell you about how we can help you put all your drinking problems behind you.