60 million people have admitted to binge drinking in the last month. Chances are someone you know could be labeled as a high-functioning alcoholic.

We all know someone who has the occasional drink during lunch hour, breakfast mimosa, or Friday night brew session. But at what point does the intermittent alcoholic beverage become too much?

What’s more, is it really possible to become a functioning alcoholic?

Undoubtedly, more of-age adults are drinking than not. As of 2014, about 57 percent of all adults admitted to drinking within the last month and 71 percent of adults said they drank in the last year. With that many folks downing alcoholic beverages, let’s examine the margin of individuals who may have a more serious relationship with drinking.

Okay, it might not be so surprising to see that more than half of people are drinking at least once a month. Alcohol has been around for quite some time and it has been proven that Americans love to drink it. However, you might be shocked to hear that about 25 percent of adults who drink have admitted to binge drinking within the last month.

If we break that down a little bit further, we can truly understand what an extreme number this is. It is estimated that there are more than 242 million adults currently living in the US, and 25 percent of this number would equate to about 60.5 million people binge drinking every single month.

What does it mean to Have a “working relationship” with alcohol?

Someone who can be described as needing to drink multiple times per week, everyday, or even multiple times per day may label themselves (or be labeled as) as a “functioning alcoholic” or “high-functioning alcoholic.”

Often times, these individuals believe that they need alcohol in order to behave as they normally do. They may even see a heightened version of themselves when they are drinking which seems appealing to them. Heavy drinkers also tend to believe that they do most things better when they are under the influence. Functioning alcoholics are not people who simply drink on the weekends.

So, how would you know if you or someone you know is a functioning alcoholic? Alcoholics often substitute drinks for food. Either because they are more concerned about the drink and forget to eat or because they simply with to achieve drunkenness faster. They are often sick, agitated, or anxious when they haven’t had a drink. Having just a couple drinks is not possible for them. They are the people who have the best and most creative reasons why they need to consistently drink.

Does this mean that your friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor isn’t a good person? Definitely not. Rarely do people expect to have a dependency on alcohol or other substances. Something that makes you feel good surely can’t be sinister, yet, somewhere along the line, the drinking went from fun and safe to necessary and destructive.

The fact of the matter is functioning alcoholics have an alcohol addiction, which they will need help to cure.

Who is most likely to become a functioning alcoholic?

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 certainly drink the most, but heavy drinking actually commonly continues through the age of 49. There is a decline in drinkers between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49, but the decrease is only slight. It isn’t until the ages of 50-65 that we see a significant decline in the interest of alcohol. These statistics would assume that the people who are drinking, and doing it heavily, may have a high chance of carrying these habits into middle age.

Furthermore, young professionals often fall victim to the normalcy of functional alcoholism. The stress of a demanding job and the glamour of a grandiose lifestyle can wear down on the strongest of individuals, namely younger adults. An adaptation of such a lifestyle, especially with those around you maintaining similar drinking habits, does not seem at all unusual for many professionals.

In conclusion, don’t be ashamed to enjoy a tasty beverage. Kick back and have a brewski if you like, but remember that alcoholism is a serious disease. No one can control the effects of any substance. Even if someone tells you that “they know what they are doing” or “they have it under control” — they don’t.

Alcoholism does not discriminate against any age group, race, sex, or class. Drinking should be experienced as a superfluous and happy addition to fun and safe activities. Anyone who believes they need to  extend drinking beyond this forum, into their daily lives, could have a serious addiction.

Some helpful resources for alcoholism and addiction:


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About the author

Trisha Miller
Trisha is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle – including mental health. Find her on Twitter – @thatdangvegan