Most people think an alcoholic is someone who cannot keep a job, has financial and legal problems, is dysfunctional in relationships and may even be homeless. Stereotypes really do affect how we perceive people. However, for the high-functioning alcohol none of those ideas apply.

High-functioning alcoholics or HFAs may be career driven and successful professionals or the active and busy room-mother at school. HFAs are able to juggle everything effectively and maintain their relationships; all the while concealing their drinking. The problem lies in the fact that high-functioning alcoholism is a stumbling block to getting help because the individual feels that they are in control and do not need help.

HFAs are “Not the Norm”

Although many addiction specialists argue that approximately 75 to 90 percent of alcoholics are high-functioning; that idea is disputed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) – who suggests that only about 20 percent of drinkers, are high-functioning alcoholics.

NIAAA reports that the remaining persons struggling with alcohol abuse ranks as follows: 32 percent are young adults; 21 percent young anti-social; 19 percent middle-aged with some type of mental illness; and 9 percent chronic severe.

Alcoholism Progresses Differently HFAs

Although the disease of alcoholism is the same disease for everyone - for the high-functioning alcoholic, the disease progresses differently than in other persons struggling with alcohol abuse. The primary difference in a high-functioning alcoholic and everyone else with the disease is the way in which society treats the individual.

Society may discount or ridicule the individual whose alcohol abuse prevents them from coping and often times struggles to get through the day; while on the other hand overlooks the excessive alcohol use of the HFA.

The HFA and Denial

Denial is perhaps the biggest stumbling block of all for the HFA. As they continue to be successful and excel in accomplishments, their ability to function at such a high rate actually prevents them from addressing their drinking. Many will hide behind the notion that if they were really an alcoholic then they would not be able to achieve so much. The same thought pattern may resonate with the people surrounding the alcoholic including peers, family and friends.

Less Likely to Get Help

The fact is that high-functioning alcoholics are less likely to get the help they need because they don’t recognize that there is a problem. If their drinking has resulted in few setbacks and allowed them to continue without having to face their alcohol abuse; they will likely slip through the cracks without addressing the issue. Research shows that less than 25 percent of persons with chronic alcohol abuse get needed help.

At best, the wakeup call for many high-functioning alcoholics will be hitting bottom and losing everything, at which point they may see the need to make a change. However, as long as they feel that they are in control they will not likely get help.

Author's Bio: 

Lara Schuster writes for Gallus Medical Detox Centers. Gallus Detox provides safe drug and alcohol detox with customized IV therapy to comfortably alleviate withdrawal symptoms and patients are monitored 24/7 by ICU level nurses. This proven detox method was developed by Dr. Patrick Gallus after 15-plus years as an emergency room physician caring for alcohol and drug addicted patients. Gallus Medical Detox Centers features upscale private rooms, HDTV, Wi-Fi and personal massage. Patient confidentiality is always protected.