Super Bowl Parties May Hide the Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

Whether it’s an over-sized plate or an overfilled glass, overindulgence is not unusual on Super Bowl Sunday. For a functioning alcoholic, this can be an excuse to overdo it on the drinks while blaming it on the game.

About half of those with a drinking problem are functioning alcoholics. A functioning alcoholic is someone who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with his or her alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully, but the question becomes, how well are they handling their role of spouse, parent, driver, financial manager or community volunteer while under the influence?

In identifying a functioning alcoholic, it’s not one single event that people need to watch for, but whether there’s a pattern of behavior, according to Lori Dammermann, Executive Director, Gateway Carbondale.

“One night of over-drinking at a Super Bowl party doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a functioning alcoholic, although if this happens on a regular basis that’s a cause for concern,” Dammermann said.superbowl_alcohol

One misperception about functioning alcoholics is that they drink every day. For some of them binge drinking is more common, especially among women.

Some key signs that someone could be a functioning alcoholic:

  • Hides alcohol use from others
  • Drinks more than they say or admit
  • Drinks to reduce stress or boost self-confidence
  • Drinks far more than others during social drinking
  • Becomes irritable or anxious when refraining from alcohol
  • Becomes defensive or angry if someone comments on their drinking
  • Behavioral changes when drinking: from shy to social, from amiable to aggressive

It’s important for someone who is a functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks for them may be just as serious as they are for someone who has a more obvious addiction to alcohol. Many people do not know what are considered moderate drinking amounts. Learn about USDA moderate guidelines for drinking alcohol.

Are you concerned a loved one may be a functioning alcoholic? Learn more about functioning alcoholics online or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a free consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Binge Drinking and the Many Degrees of Alcoholism

In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987, Gateway aims to increase public awareness and understanding of alcoholism and the alcohol treatment options available for individuals and families who may need help.

Gateway’s substance abuse treatment Experts Patricia Ryding, Psy.D., and Paul Getzendanner explain binge drinking and the varying degrees of alcoholism: 

People tend to think of alcoholism as an all or nothing proposition. The perception is, if you can handle your liquor you are fine, as opposed to the drinker whose life is falling apart. The reality is, alcoholism is a progressive disease with many different degrees.

binge drinking

Substance abuse expert, Gilbert Lichstein explains binge drinking and the degrees of alcoholism.

Any level of alcohol abuse presents serious dangers. Consider: 60 percent of fatal burns, drownings and homicides involve alcohol; 50 percent of sexual assaults and 40 percent of fatal car crashes involve alcohol.

A prevalent and very deceptive form of alcohol abuse disorder is the functioning alcoholic. A functioning alcoholic can hold a job, take care of the children, and otherwise fulfill his or her roles in life. This ability to manage creates a false sense of security.

The question becomes first, “How well are they really doing these things?” and second, “How long can they keep it up?” It’s safe to say, any form of alcoholism eventually catches up, taking a toll on a person’s body that includes making changes to the brain.

Binge drinking presents another serious aspect of alcohol abuse…Read Full Article> 

To learn more about treatment options for alcoholism , or our free consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org

MODERATE DRINKING: HOW MUCH ALCOHOL IS IN YOUR DRINK?

moderate drinking, drinking guidelines, gateway treatment centersEven conscientious drinkers who limit themselves to one or two alcoholic beverages could easily find themselves beyond the legal limit for driving in addition to unknowingly putting their health at risk warns The National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

Drinks served in bars and restaurants often contain more alcohol than people realize. When you consider the alcohol volume, the size of the pour and the size of glass your drink arrives in, there can be a lot of variance,” explains Gateway Foundation Clinical Director Dr . Phil Welches.

The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines define moderate drinking as one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

So what can you do if you’re trying to moderate the amount of alcohol you drink? In some situations, careful label reading and measuring will help ensure you don’t overdo it.

  • At home, measure the pour a couple of times in the same size glass so you know what a standard drink looks like.
  • At bars and restaurants, assume that poured drinks are more like one-and-a- half standard drinks and maybe even more for mixed cocktails, such as martinis and Long Island iced teas.
  • If the alcohol volume is higher than a standard “drink,” drink less.

Then it’s simply a matter of sticking to the limit you set for yourself. Once you reach your max, drink water to make sure you stay in control and help protect yourself from dehydration and a hangover.

To understand the warning signs of alcohol abuse, what it means to be a functioning alcoholic, how to help someone who may be struggling with alcohol dependence and more, visit RecoverGateway.org/alcohol-abuse

Concerned Your Spouse is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is someone who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with his or her alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully, but the question becomes, how well are they handling their role of spouse, parent, driver, financial manager or community volunteer while under the influence?

It’s important for someone who is a functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks for them may be just as serious as they are for someone who has a more obvious addiction to alcohol.

Take the Alcoholism Test created by Dr. Neill Neill, Ph.D., R.Psych., Author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide. Dr. Neill’s Alcoholism Test is designed for anyone who suspects their partner may be a functioning alcoholic.

Alcoholism Test

1. Your spouse sometimes admits to a drinking problem; quipped about being a functioning alcoholic.

Key Insight: Intuition is usually right.

2. Your spouse has lost days at work or school because of drinking. He/she has gotten into fights when drinking and lost friends due to drinking. There has been a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Key Insight: These and many other negative things begin to happen when the alcohol consumption has become a compulsion. What counts is not an isolated incident, but whether there is a pattern of such events.

3. Your spouse says he/she needs alcohol to reduce tension or stress, and a drink helps in building self-confidence.

Key Insight: Many high-functioning alcoholics have low self-esteem. The real issue is whether or not your partner has become dependent on the alcohol to overcome another mental health problem, low self-esteem.

4. Your partner often has a drink in the morning. Sometimes you find your spouse drinking alone or he/she gets drunk without meaning to. Your partner forgets what he/she did or said during the previous evening of drinking.

Key Insight: The first three statements suggest that drinking has become a compulsion and is suggestive of addictive drinking. The last item describes alcoholic blackout, again characteristic of longer-term alcohol abuse.

5. Your partner has sometimes denied drinking when he/she obviously was drinking. You know that he/she hides alcohol so others won’t see it. Your partner gets resentful, defensive and angry if anyone comments on his/her drinking.

Key Insight: Denial is the major line of defense for most problem drinkers.

6. You often worry about your partner’s drinking and lose sleep over it. You make threats that you don’t follow through on. You sometimes make excuses or cover for your spouse when he/she has been drinking.

Key Insight: Your partner may well be a functioning alcoholic, but you have become codependent. All of these behaviors do more to support his alcoholism than to remedy it.

Understanding whether or not your partner is an alcoholic is not simply a matter of counting drinks or counting answers to a questionnaire. The issue is quite complex. The Alcohol Test exercise may help you see more clearly what your unique situation really is. If you have questions about your spouse’s drinking, Gateway Foundation has the answers you need. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Gateway Foundation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

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