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How to Get a Functional Alcoholic into Rehab

man discusses how to get a functional alcoholic into rehab with a friend

Often, when talking about the issues that might of alcohol addiction, it’s common to talk about the vast toll that a lifestyle of drinking takes on a person’s life. Alcohol addiction can impact your career, finances, education, social commitments, relationship, and family obligations. However, it’s important to remember that not individuals who are addicted to alcohol are the same. There are functional alcoholics who are able to maintain many aspects of their life while still struggling with addiction.

If you’re worried about a functional alcoholic in your life, it’s important to understand how to get them into rehab when the time is right. Often, these individuals are in denial about their drinking problem and will not seek help from an alcohol rehab center on their own.

Functional Alcoholics: Defying Stereotypes

Some people may still go about their lives, maintaining their responsibilities and garnering success while they suffer from alcohol addiction. It is this very success and ambition that is often detrimental to their lives—this is because it fosters a false sense of security, creating an image of a person who is balanced and set upon the correct path.

If someone drinks heavily while working forty hours a week, pays their mortgage on time, and continues to invest time in meaningful relationships and family responsibilities, do they still have a problem? Yes. In order to determine if a person may be struggling with alcohol addiction, it can be helpful to understand the other signs and symptoms that may point to a closeted drinking problem. These may include:

  • Finding that they are hiding alcohol or drinking behind people’s backs.
  • Joking about their drinking by making seemingly humorous references to the fact that they’re an alcoholic.
  • Becoming overly emotional or angry if someone brings up their drinking.
  • Making excuses for why they drink. For example they may cite that they deserve it after a hard day’s work or a certain success within their job.
  • Acting in ways while they drink that are not in keeping with their personality and subsequently feeling ashamed about their actions.
  • Noticing that they have an inability to stop or moderate their drinking after they’ve had one drink.
  • They always have an excuse on the ready—they may be chronically late or absent, disorganized or irritable, and attribute it to something else.

Drinking heavily in any capacity is a worrisome and dangerous behavior. This harmful pattern of compulsive drinking can create vocational, educational, social, physical, mental, and emotional ramifications. Alcohol use and addiction have been implicated in an increased risk of many illnesses and diseases. Alcohol directly impacts your brain chemistry, altering the way critical neurotransmitters function. Due to this, a functional alcohohic may experience mental or emotional vulnerability that they self-medicate by drinking instead of asking for help from an alcohol rehab.

Even Functional Alcoholics Need Help from Rehab

Eventually, a functioning alcohol’s facade will crack, their balancing act will falter, and they will stumble while their carefully constructed life begins to unravel around them. What is most dangerous about this, when it occurs, is that they already have a dangerous coping mechanism in place—their drinking behaviors. Often it is when these problems finally start to show that their addiction begins to accelerate even more. They may appear to go from zero to sixty, falling apart before people’s eyes in a very short period of time.

How to Help a Functional Alcoholic Understand the Necessity of Rehab

Though it is true that it can be challenging to encourage a functional alcoholic to find help, it is not impossible. As they are managing to maintain the majority of their life’s responsibilities and relationships, it can be helpful to begin by outlining the ways their drinking behaviors impact you or other individuals within their life. In doing so, it is important to be mindful of:

Regulating your tone and demeanor

Taking care to not blame or shame them

Avoid telling them how you think they should be living their lives

Maybe you know that they have anxiety or depression, or perhaps they’ve begun to develop an unstable mood. Begin a conversation about this by asking how they’re feeling and how they’re managing their symptoms. Through the course of the conversation, they may begin to talk about or even see for themselves that they’re not in control as much as they think they are. They may even begin to see that they’re using alcohol as a coping tool.

Inquire about their physical health. As many functioning alcoholics are in denial that they need to get into rehab, they may even ignore telltale signs that their drinking is damaging their body. Have they developed high blood pressure or other cardiac problems, liver problems, reduced functioning of their immune system, or found themselves engaging in activities that jeopardize their health, such as driving a vehicle while drinking or unsafe sexual practices? Talking about these things in the open may help them to begin connecting the dots to their harmful drinking practices.

Understanding the Role of an Intervention for a Functioning Alcoholic

In certain cases, you may find that you do not have the skills or circumstances that are optimal for helping convince a person that they need help. Perhaps you’ve tried to no avail. At this point, it may be wise to stage an intervention. Enlisting the aid of a professional that specializes in interventions can ensure that the process is as successful as possible.

If someone close to the person needing help leads an intervention, personal histories, tensions, doubts, and blame may flare, which can hijack the session and make the person even less receptive towards help and change. You will still have an opportunity to voice your concerns; however, in this setting, you have the added benefit of having a moderator should tensions arise.

Woodland Recovery Center Mississippi Can Help You Provide Resources for a Person in Need

If someone close to you exhibits the signs of being a functional alcoholic, please don’t fall prey to denial. Even if the damage isn’t apparent, remember the alcohol is still hurting their body and mind, and it is only a matter of time before other aspects of their life follow suit and begin to crumble. At Woodland Recovery Center Mississippi, we understand how hard it can be to watch someone you care about suffer from alcohol addiction, especially when they are in denial. Our caring staff is standing by to offer you further resources, encouragement, and information about treatment options so that you can get your loved one the care they need. Contact us today at 662.222.2989 or reach out online for more.