Alcoholism can cause a person to lose friends, family, jobs and the respect of others. It can be a devastating disease for many, controlling every aspect of a person’s life. Some alcoholics endure the same struggle, but they’re able to keep their addiction somewhat hidden. They are able to keep a job, spend time with family members and perform daily functions. These people are often known as “functioning alcoholics.”

Being able to function as an alcoholic does not mean there isn’t a problem. Alcoholism is a terrifying disease that can turn deadly. If you suspect that someone close to you is a functioning alcoholic, they probably are.

Here are eight common signs of a functioning alcoholic:

1. They Replace Food With Alcohol

Alcoholics will often skip meal times and replace food with drinks. Some completely lose interest in food, while others use meal times as an excuse to start drinking.

2. They Rarely Get Hangovers

Regularly drinking alcohol over a long period of time can cause dependency on alcohol. In alcoholics, alcohol is constantly in their blood — it never has a chance to leave their system. High-functioning alcoholics are often able to drink excessively without waking up with a hangover.

3. They Become Irritable Without Alcohol

If an alcoholic is stuck somewhere he or she can’t drink, they can become irritable, nervous, moody or uncomfortable. Their body is reacting negatively because they have become dependent on the sedative effects of alcohol. Abrupt withdrawal can cause anxiety, sweating, shaking and a rapid heart rate.

4. They Can’t Just Have 1 or 2 Drinks

While everyone else at a party or family gathering is sipping on a glass of wine or having a few beers while grilling, an alcoholic can’t stop. Someone struggling with alcoholism will drink far past 1 or 2 drinks, and they will always have an excuse for “one more.”

5. They Experience Memory Loss

Many functioning alcoholics can become obliterated without others knowing. They may have blacked out at a bar, a party or an event and they’ll wind up with no memory of what happened while they were there.

6. They Deny Having a Problem

When confronted with questions or concerns about their drinking, alcoholics will usually become angry and deny that they have a problem. They typically refuse to engage in the conversation at all.

7. They Always Have an Excuse

Most alcoholics will justify their drinking to others in any way they can. They drink because they had a long week, work stresses them out, or they just like to hang out with friends. They always come up with a reason for the constant drink in their hand.

8. They Hide Their Alcohol

Alcoholics have no problem drinking alone. They might also hide alcohol in their car or in their desk at work. Hiding alcohol is a major sign of alcoholism. They are drinking far more than everyone believes, and they don’t want others to find out.

If you have a problem with alcohol, or someone you know is struggling, head to SAMHSA’s National Helpline or consult with a trusted health care professional.

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