Just because a person may seem to have their life together doesn't mean there may not be a drinking problem behind the scenes. High-functioning alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be more difficult to detect since people with this condition can often manage their daily responsibilities. Learning the signs of high-functioning alcohol use disorder can help you know when you or someone in your life needs help to prevent their drinking from getting out of control.
Left untreated, high-functioning AUD can develop into an alcohol use disorder that starts to disrupt your personal or professional life. Getting help allows you to regain control of your alcohol consumption before it worsens. Confidant Health's online medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use offers discreet AUD treatment from the comfort of home. Simply download our app to access virtual medication-assisted treatment from our highly skilled team of professionals.
Understanding High-Functioning Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease in which a person cannot moderate their alcohol consumption despite its consequences on their life. High-functioning alcohol use disorder is similar but with one key difference. When a person with AUD is highly functional, alcohol misuse doesn't appear to adversely affect their life. On the outside, they may seem to have a successful career and happy relationships. When alcohol doesn't interfere with a person's life, they or others may not think there is a drinking problem present. However, there is still a risk of alcohol misuse eventually worsening, leading to a more severe alcohol use disorder.
Who Is at Risk of High-Functioning AUD?
Approximately 20% of people with diagnosable alcohol use disorder qualify as highly functional, although some researchers believe this number is significantly higher, possibly 50 to 75%. Because people with high-functioning alcohol use disorder are able to mask their symptoms so well and may be in denial, it is more challenging to get accurate statistics.
People at the highest risk of high-functioning alcohol use disorder are more likely to:
- Be middle-aged
- Have a steady job
- Be well-educated
- Have stable relationships
- Smoke cigarettes
- Have a family history of AUD
- Have experienced a major depressive illness
Some people with AUD that are highly functional are very successful, earn a high income, and appear to have a perfect life. Since they seem to have it all, others may not suspect they are hiding an alcohol dependence. Because of this, many people with high-functioning alcohol use disorder may not believe they have a drinking problem and do not seek treatment.