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It is well documented that stress, anxiety and boredom as a result of the pandemic are all factors that have led to an increase in habitual drinking and alcohol-related health problems.

At the height of lockdown, UK supermarkets and shops saw a sharp rise in alcohol sales, with Public Health England reporting a 25 per cent increase.

Despite this shift in drinking habits however there still those who can carry on as normal even while drinking to excess, with the move to working from home making it easier for people to mask habitual drinking.

So, just how do you identify alcohol dependency when a person’s day-to-day routines are seemingly unaffected by the volume of alcohol they drink?

What is a functioning alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is defined as someone who suffers from alcoholism but is still able to keep up their daily activities, such as working and socialising.

This ability to live a reasonably normal life even when drinking to excess is what makes a functioning alcoholic so difficult to spot.

“With few apparent negative consequences, a functioning alcoholic is unlikely to want to change whilst they feel they still have time,” says Martin Preston, CEO of health and addiction specialist, Delamere.

“Alcohol addiction is at the chronic end of the spectrum of alcohol use disorders for which there is no cure. It can, however, be successfully treated and the sooner treatment is undertaken the better for the individual concerned and their loved ones.”

The warning signs

Here are 10 warning signs that you or someone you know might be a functioning alcoholic:

1. Staying stocked up

Always making sure drinks are to hand. Hiding alcohol in strange places such as the office or in the car can also be a sign.   

2. Drinking at strange times

Regularly drinking at unusual times such as in the morning or at lunchtime.

3. Behavioural changes

Being unable to sleep without a drink or becoming erratic, spontaneous, irritable, angry or generally behaving out of character.

4. Loss of memory

Experiencing alcohol blackout or having trouble recalling events that took place while intoxicated.

5. Taking risks

Such as driving children to school while over the limit or driving to work the morning after a night of heavy drinking.

6. Loss of control

Struggling to get on top of day-to-day tasks or difficulty controlling temper.

7. Binge drinking

Consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time.

8. Pre-loading

Drinking prior to a night out or ‘pre-drinks’. For a functioning alcoholic, this means they can drink more without feeling they are being judged for just how much they have drunk during a certain period.

9. Avoiding events

Someone struggling may cancel plans to avoid being questioned about their drinking.

10. Drink and drugs

People with alcohol dependency – even if they are a functioning alcoholic – will often combine drinking with other substances, such as prescription drugs. This is because as our bodies get used to drinking, we need to drink even more to experience the same feeling.

Alcohol testing at AlphaBiolabs

At AlphaBiolabs, we offer a range of alcohol testing services including legal and workplace testing and solutions for members of the public.

We also provide the latest in alcohol monitoring solutions with Smart Mobile™ Portable Alcohol Monitoring and SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring®.

For further information and expert advice, contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com and a member of the team will be in touch.