Hiding Alcoholism: The High-Functioning Alcoholic
Alcoholism can be misleading. Perhaps your spouse drinks excessively, but you don’t think he is an alcoholic. After all, he is responsible, takes great care of the family, is loving and more than competent at his job. Society in general would not consider this type of person to be an alcoholic due to stereotypical beliefs surrounding alcoholism. An alcoholic should be disheveled, out of work, maybe even homeless and definitely someone who evokes feelings of pity or disgust, right? That stereotype holds true in a few cases, but not the majority of the time. The truth is that high-functioning alcoholics (HFAs) are commonly middle-aged, intelligent, well-educated and hardworking, with stable jobs and families. They can drink large amounts and maintain an outward appearance of normality.
Alcoholism Facts and Stats
- About 30% of HFAs have a genetic or generational history of alcoholism and about 25% experience a major depressive illness at some point in their lives.
- In 2014 there were 139.7 million current alcohol users ages 12 or older in the U.S., with 23% classified as binge drinkers and 6.2% as heavy drinkers.
- The vast majority (90%) of people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
- About 23% of adult men reported binge drinking five times a month, averaging eight drinks per binge.
- About 12% of adult women reported binge drinking three times a month, averaging five drinks per binge.
- Of the estimated 17.6 million U.S. adults with alcohol use disorder, about 19% to 25% are classified as highly functioning or functionally dependent.