In all essential respects, an alcoholic who is able to function normally is still an alcoholic. On the other hand, this category of alcoholic typically struggles more than others to take the first step, which is to acknowledge that they have a problem.
A person who is an alcoholic but does not struggle with the typical negative consequences that are often seen in other alcoholics, such as financial debt, relationship problems, lying or stealing, and experiencing severe physical effects, is referred to as a “high-functioning alcoholic.” This term was coined in the 1980s to describe an individual who was an alcoholic but did not struggle with the typical negative consequences. To put it another way, the high-functioning alcoholic gives the appearance of being successful in life, despite the fact that their drinking is out of control as a result of their addiction to alcohol.
If you want to encourage a high-functioning individual who is in denial to seek help, the first step is to make them aware of the negative outcomes that can result from excessive alcohol consumption. These outcomes include long-term physical effects like liver damage, heart problems later in life, and damaged cognitive functioning. Alcoholism does not automatically mean that a person’s life is chaotic, but it does mean that their drinking will, at some point, come back to haunt them in some way. It is possible for it to kill instantly, but it also has the potential to kill over time (due to accidents, intoxication, or car crashes).
When trying to persuade someone to get treatment for alcohol addiction, it is in everyone’s best interest to approach them while they are completely sober.
The next step is to have a conversation about how the alcoholic’s drinking is affecting you or possibly the family. Avoid being offensive while still being openly expressive and concerned about the situation. Compassion, not aggressive debates or arguments, is typically the best way to approach people who are struggling with addiction. You should tell them how their drinking is affecting their loved ones without making them feel embarrassed or scared away by the information.
Lastly, if the person offers an explanation, such as “But I’m still handling my responsibilities…” or “But I’m still working…”
If someone tells you, “I’m still doing well in life,” don’t accept their statement. The use of excuses, which are methods for concealing the truth, is limited to the purpose of persuading other people that one’s drinking habits are acceptable or merited. There is absolutely no justification for alcoholic behavior. If you don’t assist them in locating a reason to alter their behavior, they will never listen to your suggestions.
If the initial conversation is not productive and the drinking behavior persists, you might want to try having a family intervention using the same compassionate approach. Above all, don’t quit. The best thing a concerned family member or friend can do to get a high-functioning alcoholic to acknowledge that they have a problem is to keep bringing up the issue and be patient while doing so. Because recovery from alcoholism requires the individual to have the will to change and the desire to be sober, the decision to quit drinking is ultimately up to the individual.