What Are the Signs of a High Functioning Alcoholic?

A high-functioning alcoholic may be able to do many things everyone else can do: work, socialize, and go about daily life without being hindered by drinking behavior. Some people may even be able to become top achievers at the height of their professions. Even so, a high functioning alcoholic will struggle to keep obligations and commitments eventually and the veil will come off the whole thing. Learn to recognize the signs of a high functioning alcoholic and how to help.

Common Signs

A high functioning alcoholic will produce some behavioral signs to loved ones. If you have a family member or friend who is struggling, here’s how to know what to look for:


If you are struggling or a loved one is having trouble with alcohol, it is hard to recognize how much drinking is going on. The evidence of drinking behavior is swept under the rug because as long as you work, go to school, and socialize it is not really a ‘problem.’

Drinking to Function

Anyone with a substance use disorder who is high functioning can struggle with emotional and physical issues. Just to get through the day, you may throw back a beer or glass of wine to cope in the morning, then again during the day and at night just to cope.

Work and School Stress

Getting to school and work is an accomplishment in itself when you have addiction but even while drinking heavily you may continue going to school and working. There may be no problem showing up right now but at some point you will continue to falter in school and work.


If you are hiding the signs of drinking too much, you are likely a high functioning alcoholic. More bottles of beer are showing up in the recycle bin which is a sign things are out of control.

Risky Behavior

Even if you seem to be in control of your behavior, you are more likely to take risks such as driving drunk, having unsafe sex, or otherwise poor judgment which results in higher risks of accidents.
Drinking behavior will catch up with you whether or not you are high functioning. The effects on the brain and body will still creep up on you and it will be hard for you to hide this from friends and family. Before it gets out of hand, why not consider seeking help for addiction and move forward with living a fulfilling life.

Oceanfront staff is here to help you cope with alcoholism. We will support your journey from detox to recovery. If you are struggling with alcoholism, call us to see how we can help you get well: 877-279-1777