functioning alcoholic

What Does Functioning Mean?

It’s never easy to have a loved one who uses substances or lives with mental health challenges. Some days they may be fine and others they may bring harm to themselves or their family members. It can be tough to know what’s part of life’s usual ups and downs and what are the signs that you and your loved one may need help. Often the question comes down to “functioning.”

Is your loved one functioning? While this seems simple on the surface, the issue is more complex. Your answer may differ from your loved one’s – but it’s also crucial to getting the support you all need and deserve.

What is Functional Impairment?

We define functioning as how well someone can manage their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. According to the Mayo Clinic, a mental illness or substance use disorder can cause changes to that control that make it hard to operate in daily life. This is called functional impairment. Some common areas where this issue may arise are:

  • work or school
  • home life and personal relationships
  • social settings

If someone has mental health challenges or a substance use disorder, they may appear to function well. On the outside, they may be on top of their work responsibilities. They may keep up with friends and personal commitments. They are sometimes called “high-functioning addicts” or “people with high-functioning alcoholism.”

Even if someone is a “high-functioning” alcoholic or addict, they may need immediate help. According to WebMD, they may be putting themselves or others at risk. They can end up in dangerous situations like drinking and driving. Eventually, they may not be able to perform at work or school, so others see that they do have a functional impairment.  

What Are the Signs Your Loved One Is Not Functioning?

Some people with substance use disorders are very good at hiding the issue from others, even those closest to them. So it’s no one’s fault if they don’t see the problem right away. Here are some clues that someone you love might need help:

  • joking about having a substance problem
  • overdoing it frequently, such as getting drunk when they only meant to have a few drinks
  • needing alcohol or drugs to relax or de-stress
  • memory loss related to drinking or doing drugs
  • hiding alcohol or drugs or getting angry when asked about using
  • using in the mornings

As a substance use disorder gets worse, the person may no longer be “high functioning.” They may lose friendships and cause conflict in the family. Their job or school work may suffer. Even with these immense losses, they may continue to use.   

Get Help From Whitman Recovery Service

If you think your loved one may need help for a substance use disorder or mental illness, you don’t have to face it alone. Trained and compassionate experts can be the solution to help your loved one recover and for your family to heal.  

Whitman Recovery Service is a team of intervention specialists who can help you and your family do the tough work of helping a loved one break the cycle of substance abuse. Planned and structured interventions can be the first step your loved one needs to admit they have a problem and to get on the road to recovery. To learn more, contact us today