Home » Expert Q & A » Addictions » Addictions: Jennifer Hamilton

High functioning alcoholics

  • anonymous Asks ...

    Do high functioning alcoholics eventually stop being high functioning or can some people keep it together forever?

  • Jennifer Hamilton Says ...
    Jennifer Hamilton

    Well, that is an excellent question. I will have to answer it in general terms, however. There are many individual differences that can effect whether a person "keeps it together", such as the amount of alcohol used, the frequency it is used and the basic genetic make-up of the person. Other individual differences include healthy eating and exercise, a good social support system and exercises to stimulate mental capacity such as working puzzles and reading difficult material to challenge the brain. In other words, people have different levels of "functioning" regardless of alcohol.

    That being said, alcoholism is a degenerative disease. It will eventually lead to deficits in thinking and memory. The ability to access emotions when sober is effected as well. Relationships are harmed. I have taken personal offense to the term "functioning alcoholic" because I have experienced many people who worked, paid bills, had homes and other items, but because they were unable to resolve problems in their relationships, they were not "fully functioning". I realize this is a bias I have because my father was a "functioning alcoholic", but lost his family to divorce and his children and grandchildren through an early death from the disease of alcoholism.

Featured Experts