How Can You Tell if Someone is a Functioning Alcoholic?


The only person suitable to make the diagnosis of alcoholism is a qualified health professional. However, if you suspect you, or someone you know may be a functioning alcoholic, there are signs that you can look out for:

  • If they consume over the recommended amount (more than three drinks per day, or more than seven drinks per week for women; more than four drinks a day, or 14 drinks per week for men);
  • Variability in mood, that is affected by the availability of alcohol;
  • Health problems;
  • Changes in appearance;
  • Changes in risk taking behaviour;
  • Making jokes about alcohol abuse;
  • Increased secretivity;
  • Drinking in the morning, during the day and/or on their own.

If someone meets the above criteria, it is advisable that they seek help from their GP/doctor immediately.

How many people are functional alcoholics?

It is hard to collect data on this subgroup of alcoholics, because they are, by definition, more difficult to detect. However, the US’s National Institute of Health estimates that 19% of people experiencing alcohol addiction problems meet the criteria for this classification.

How We Treat Functional Alcoholism

At Smarmore Castle, patients suffering from alcohol dependency undergo a period of detox, to clear alcohol and drugs from the system. Our patients then follow a personalised treatment plan, set out by a Consultant Psychiatrist and their focal therapist, which incorporates a range of specialised addiction therapies and complementary therapies, combined with a programme of exercise and healthy meals.


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