Therapists refer to someone struggling with alcohol dependence as suffering from an alcohol use disorder. So then, what is an alcoholic? In the vernacular, people refer to those who drink to excess repeatedly as alcoholics. Are they the same thing?
Alcoholism as a Disease
The “man on the street” definition of what is an alcoholic is symptom-oriented. Signs that someone suffers from the disease vary from person to person. That said, there are some signs that occur with a high frequency.
- Inability to limit alcohol consumption. Suffering from an alcohol use disorder, by definition, expresses itself through excessive drinking. Someone cannot stop at one or two drinks. Instead, s/he continues to drink to excess.
- Failure to meet obligations. Whether it is attendance at a family function, regular work habits, performance at school, or the ability to maintain a personal relationship, someone struggling with the disease frequently falls short.
- Withdrawal symptoms and obsession to use. If too much time elapses between drinks, this person will suffer the beginnings of withdrawal symptoms. These go hand in hand with irritability and an obsession with getting the next drink.
What is an Alcoholic Who Meets the Definition of Being High-functioning?
When discussing common alcoholic problems, you inevitably run across the example of the person who doesn’t fit the mold. Not everyone suffering from an alcohol use disorder is hanging on to the job by a thread. Some, who drink to excess regularly and suffer all the symptoms of the disease, do so without missing a day of work or falling behind on bills.
You may recognize one or more of the signs that accompany this pattern.
- Jokes about alcohol use. Folks qualifying as high-functioning alcoholics may have a drink early in the morning and refer to it as a “breakfast beer.” They might claim that it is “five o’clock somewhere” when having some drinks at lunch.
- Gets angry when confronted about alcohol use. When a spouse, business partner, or close friend asks about alcohol consumption, a high-functioning alcoholic becomes indignant. Citing responsible work patterns and handling of financial affairs, this person denies having a problem.
- Drinks heavily. Daily alcohol consumption, drinking every night, as measured by empty bottles, is beyond normal. This person may get a DUI and spends money on attorneys to plead it down. S/He begins to suffer from alcohol-related diseases while hiding the drinking from the doctor.
Overcoming an Alcohol Addiction is Possible
So, what is an alcoholic and do you recognize some of the patterns in yourself or a loved one? Stop hiding behind your ability to pay the bills or keep up with obligations. Find out what it’s like to get up in the morning without a hangover or obsessing about the next drink. Dial 866-605-0532 to connect with the rehab expert rehab staff at Beaches Recovery today!