Secret Alcoholics

Secret AlcoholicsYou may remember having shared a few drinks with a colleague after work on a few occasions. The colleague was drinking responsibly and only having a few drinks at the holiday office party. The colleague may also have looked well-groomed, was a responsible person, and was a friendly and competent worker. That is why it can be so surprising to find out the colleague later went through alcohol addiction rehabilitation.

“Secret” or “high-functioning” alcoholics often drink privately and may gradually develop a dependence on alcohol. Since no one notices their drinking habits, secret alcoholics often do not get the help that they need in order to overcome their dependence or addiction to alcohol.

Not Just Another Stereotype

For most people, the term “alcoholic” conjures up images of a sleepy-eyed, stumbling person sloshing their drink over their hand as they talk with slurred speech. The stereotype is noticeably louder, has trouble standing or walking, keeps re-filling their glass of alcohol, and has their own bar stool at the local tavern. But that stereotype only fits some alcoholics.

The “secret” or “high-functioning” alcoholic can be the “Teacher of the Year,” a loving parent, a talented businessman, or a trusted and well-respected friend. This alcoholic drinks in private. They may be reliant on their nightly drinks before bed. Some may be in a constant state of withdrawal and not reveal any drastic personality changes in front of others. Some are not even aware that they are dependent on alcohol or would even consider that they could be labeled as an alcoholic.

Noticing the Signs of a Secret Alcoholic

While secret alcoholics tend to mask their drinking habits, there are some signs that might uncover the secrets of a high-functioning alcoholic.

Revealing the Reality

Silence isn’t golden if someone’s life is on the line. If you suspects that your friend, colleague, or loved one is a secret alcoholic it is best to gently confront that person. Standing by idly and wondering could be allowing more time for a person to become involved in self-destructive behavior.

First approaches should be caring and sensitive. After being a supportive listener, you can help a secret alcoholic by encouraging them to seek professional help.