When people think of alcoholism, they normally do not think of a successful CEO. The fact of the matter is, alcoholism can happen to anyone. Those who demonstrate success, despite their addiction to alcohol, are known as functioning alcoholics. Although these people do not seem to have a disease, they are in fact suffering and need treatment. In order to understand functioning alcoholics, it is important to also understand addiction.
Addiction And The Brain
Addiction is regarded as a chronic brain disease. This disease affects millions of people’s lives. However, many people do not know what addiction actually does to the brain. When drugs or alcohol enters the body, your body recognizes them as foreign toxins. These toxins, which do not appear naturally, cause your brain to act abnormally. Your reward pathway, also known as your limbic system, is directly affected. This pathway releases an excessive amount of dopamine, which makes you feel good or gives you a “high”. Your brain will now continuously seek out this same feeling, becoming impulsive and compulsive. Since drugs and alcohol do not appear naturally, there is nothing you do in your everyday life that can compare to the feeling.
As the person begins developing the addiction, they will begin foregoing other habits and hobbies. Relationships with loved ones will become strained or isolating. They may become involved in criminal activity due to seeking out drugs or alcohol. Despite the negative consequences, that person’s brain will still be compelled to search. Addiction, including alcoholism, cannot be treated on your own. Treatment is necessary in order to have a healthy and safe recovery. One of the reasons that treatment is so vital is that most centers will not focus exclusively on the disease itself, but all facets of a person’s life. These programs are often the most successful and relapse rates are limited.
Alcoholism is a Disease
Alcoholism is when someone can no longer control their use of alcohol, due to their brain’s persistent urges. Alcohol use disorder ranges from mild to severe. The most dangerous level being alcoholism. Any amount of alcohol can be dangerous and risk your safety. However, the highest rate of risks associated with alcohol are those that drink heavily and often. This pattern of alcohol use surrounding alcoholism can lead to many short term and long term effects, damaging a person’s health and wellbeing.
There is no timeline for when someone will develop alcoholism if they are drinking alcohol. Every person is different and has varying factors that affect their risk. These factors include genetics, social life, and prior medical history. Someone who drinks alcohol may not necessarily develop alcoholism, but this does not mean they do not have a problem that needs addressed. On the flip side, alcoholism can develop suddenly and progress quickly. However, there are symptoms you can watch for.
One of the hallmark signs of alcoholism is that a person relies on the alcohol in order to physically function. This means that their body actually is dependent on the alcohol. A person may have to drink more and more in order to feel a buzz, increasing their tolerance level. Those suffering from alcoholism will experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to cease use. These could range from anxiety to vomiting. Those who have developed an addiction to alcohol may give up other activities in order to pursue alcohol. They may forego responsibilities or commitments. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism it is important to remember that this disease does not define your character.
Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic
A functioning alcoholic is someone who is struggling with alcoholism, but it is hard to tell that just by looking at them. This is because functioning alcoholics maintain obligations, have jobs, complete school work, and keep their relationships healthy. Since they are experiencing success, many functioning alcoholics are overlooked. However, their alcoholism does reach a tipping point. By this time, their health has started to really suffer. This is when issues in other areas of their lives will hit. If you suspect you or a loved one is a functioning alcoholic, there are signs you can look for.
Signs of a functioning alcoholic often vary and can be hard to look for. However, you may notice a shift in mood or attitude. Your loved one may talk short with you or be unavailable for a chat. If you watch them drink, you may notice that they consume more than they originally had planned to. Signs can also include acting very differently drunk than how they behave while sober. If questioned, they may tell you that they simply use alcohol as a stress-reliever for when they get off of work.
Risks of Being a Functioning Alcoholic
There are many risks of being a functioning alcoholic. While alcoholism is a disease in itself, there is also the issue of denial. A functioning alcoholic has a very high risk of being in denial, due to their success in other areas of their lives. For this reason, friends and family members may also be in denial of their loved one’s disease. This can cause the disease to be left untreated for a prolonged period of time.
It is impossible to be a functioning alcoholic and not eventually experience symptoms. Those who are functioning alcoholics may experience both physical and psychological issues associated with alcohol use. Heart and liver disease can occur, as well as various cardiovascular problems. Alcoholism can also lead to anxiety and depression. Drinking episodes can cause a person to experience blackouts, seizures, and alcohol poisoning. All of these risks can lead to death.
How to Get Help
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or you suspect they are a functioning alcoholic, it is important to get help as soon as possible. This will help to limit any damaging effects that could occur due to the addiction and help you manage symptoms. Addiction can affect anyone and everyone deserves treatment.
Arizona Addiction Recovery Center specializes in individualized treatment plans that guide their patients towards success. Their team of dedicated healthcare professionals believe that everyone deserves recovery. They provide you with the building blocks you need to create a happy and healthy life. Call today and take the first step away from alcoholism.
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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.