Are you a functional alcoholic?

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Alcohol is not just another drink. Alcoholism creeps up on people. It starts with a drink every evening, then a couple of drinks every evening and then more than a couple of drinks. Then as time passes you start at lunch and before you know it you have an alcoholic drink at odd hours such as in the morning in your regular cup of tea or coffee.

Your friends probably jokingly tell you that you drink too much yet you never agree. When you attempt to quit alcohol it brings on withdrawal symptoms and other health issues. This alcohol dependency may cause problems in other areas in your life more than you can imagine. You basically survive through a functional life but at the same time alcohol has affected a big part of it.

Person drinking. Image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/11989489/Market-report-Deal-making-ends-FTSE-losing-streak.html
Person drinking. Image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/11989489/Market-report-Deal-making-ends-FTSE-losing-streak.html

Though a functional alcoholic may not act the way you think they would. Their lives are still perfectly normal and seem quite okay. Such a person believes that as long as bills are paid and may even be very successful. When it comes to women, heavy drinkers are those who have more than 3 drinks a day or 7 drinks a week. These are at “risk” drinkers. For men the limit is 4 drinks a day or 14 drinks a week. I found some red flags in this article.

1. Joke: One may joke about alcoholism to try and make the matter look lighter than it really is. This is even worse if your friends are the same as you and see no major problem with how you all drink. This means that you’re all sustaining each other’s alcoholism one way or another and there is no constant sober person that reminds you it is not normal to drink that much.

2. Alcohol becomes a need: When you need alcohol to rest or feel more confident then there is an issue. Keeping in mind alcohol is anti-depressant so if you need it to be happier even when you know it can potentially damage you or ruin your day’s plan then you need it. If nothing in your life can be fully entertaining without alcohol then you’re probably abusing it.

3. No intent of getting drunk: You may not have planned to drink then you end up drinking and getting drunk. Your sobriety may soon end as soon as you wake up and you decide to drink.

4. Hobbies: Your hobbies must have a drink somewhere in between otherwise you do not feel fulfilled. Simple hobbies such as nature trails or reading a book are thrown out of the window as it is more preferable to go to a bar or stay home and drink up with your friends as you all enable each other.

5. Cause loved ones to worry: The people who care about you keep mentioning your drinking habits and how they are worried about it. You keep making excuses but you feel like they nag you or some know that the only way to grab your attention is if they offer to get you your favorite drink.

6. Budget: Most of your money after you pay your bills is allocated to buying booze. No matter how broke you are you are not willing to sacrifice alcohol you would rather drink cheaper drinks as long as you get a high. Many times you even forget to pay your bills because you went and drunk all the money.

People who are functional alcoholics may put themselves at serious risk as well as others by doing the following

1. Having unsafe sex: Because alcohol impairs judgment, it is very easy to be in a position whereby a drunken person has sex without considering the risks and may not use a condom. With this risk he/she may pass on infections to their loved ones among other consequences. This action may not even be remembered the next day.

2. Drinking and driving: This may lead to an accident or being jailed for putting other drivers at risk.

3. Blacking out: Anything can happen while someone has blacked out, you can be mugged amongst other things that will not be pleasant especially if your friends are tired of looking after you or you are all blacked out.

There are health damages such as:

1. Cirrhosis: This is a liver disease characterized by irreversible scarring. Alcohol and viral hepatitis, including both hepatitis B and C are among the many causes of Cirrhosis. It can cause the yellowing of skin (jaundice), itching and fatigue. Liver transplantation is becoming more common with such patients.

2. Pancreatitis: Sudden inflammation of the pancreas. Usually caused by alcohol abuse, gallstones, trauma, and surgery to the abdomen etc. The pain may be sudden and intense or pain that is made worse by eating and slowly grows worse. In severe cases, bleeding may occur and may lead to shock and sometimes death.

3. High blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is, by definition a repeatedly elevated pressure exceeding 140 over 90, a systolic pressure above 140 or a diastolic pressure above 90. This is usually treated with aerobic workouts and weight reduction.

4. Gastritis: This in simple terms is an inflammation of the stomach and some may know it as ulcers, hyper-acidity or simply acid. This may also lead to stomach cancer.

5. Weight gain: Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Many people either eat a lot after drinking especially fatty foods or simply cannot eat resorting to weight loss. Nevertheless, the main issue is usually weight gain which may cause diabetes amongst other diseases that are caused by weight gain. This is even made worse when you fail to workout.

If you feel that either you or a loved one is going through the above problems then it is best to check into a rehab center preferably out of town or an addiction and treatment center. With rehabilitation you can come out a totally new person but you will need to change your enabling environment which might include your friends who are alcoholics.

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