Types of Alcoholics: Functional Alcoholics

Alcoholism is still a problem in Ireland. According to Alcohol Action Ireland, from 1960-2001, 4.9 litres to 14.3 litres of alcohol have been drunk per person for those aged fifteen and over. There are different types of alcoholics such as functional alcoholics who appear sober in public but alcoholics in secret.

Psychology Today says 20%-90% are functional alcoholics. The common stereotype of alcoholics is that they are alone, cannot hold down a job, and always appear intoxicated. Functional alcoholics are different in which they are middle aged, have successful marriages, jobs, and believe they have their drinking under control. They can go to work all of the time, see family, go to the gym, and then late at night go to the bar for a night of binge drinking. They may not drink everyday but indulge in heavy drinking every few days. Many are leading a double life when they appear sober around people but then go to bars in secret and unleash the alcoholic within.

It is hard to know whether or not someone is an alcoholic if the signs are not apparent but they can still exist. An alcoholic can develop a tolerance in which they feel they have to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol. They also can suffer from withdrawal but may not exhibit being hungover as they know how to train themselves not to end up that way. Functional alcoholics use alcohol as a way to de-stress or to relax. They can also experience occasional memory lapses or blackouts. Many tend to drink alone or in secret as drinking is used as a reward. They can experience moods like agitation, irritability, restlessness, and mood swings as well as engaging in hazardous behavior. They even make jokes about alcoholism or consumption.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to open up to that person either when they are sober, hungover, or feeling bad about that episode of drinking. Make sure that you sound nonconfrontational or non judgmental. By that person seeking treatment, they can find out from a therapist if they are using alcohol as a way of relieving mental illness symptoms like anxiety or depression. By encouraging that person to seek help, they will be preventing their chances of getting pancreatitis, liver disease, cancer, brain damage, high blood pressure, domestic violence, and fetal alcohol syndrome if pregnant.


Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.

Schedule Your Assessment

Smarmore Castle has the facilities and staff to help you regain control of your life, request a call-back from one of our professionals today. The choice you make today could change your life forever.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.