Are you worried that your partner is secretly battling alcohol use disorder? Closet alcoholics are not that uncommon. Even if your loved one appears to have complete control over their lives, alcoholism will catch up to them, whether it takes months or years. This is why it’s important to know how to spot problematic drinking as soon as possible and get help for addiction before more serious issues start to appear.
What Is a Closet Alcoholic?
Alcoholism takes a severe toll on multiple areas of a person’s life. Many alcoholics, however, learn to hide their addiction without suffering major consequences to their careers, studies, and personal relationships. If you notice that your partner drinks too much but enjoys success and still maintains good relationships with friends and family, then he or she may be a high-functioning alcoholic, also known as a closet alcoholic.
The Warning Signs of a High-Functioning Alcoholic
There are many signs of alcohol abuse, and they vary depending on the person. However, some common signs include drinking alcohol in excess, blacking out or losing memories of what happened while drinking, experiencing withdrawal symptoms like shaking or sweating when not drinking, and neglecting responsibilities in favor of drinking. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, it may be time to seek help from a professional.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 20% of all individuals struggling with alcoholism are classified as “high-functioning.” The signs and symptoms can vary greatly depending on the person affected, but the following are common indicators to watch out for.
1. Hides Their Drinking
If you’ve noticed empty bottles of alcohol, have caught your partner trying to hide their drinking, or were met with anger when confronting your partner about a potential drinking problem, then there’s a good chance they are suffering from alcoholism.
Not everyone who hides or lies about their drinking, however, is a problem drinker. Closet alcoholics tend to drink every other day, consume five or more drinks on average, and spend more time with others who drink heavily.
2. Denies or Downplays the Alcohol Problem
Many closet alcoholics are well-educated, intelligent, and have good jobs. If your partner doesn’t fit into the stereotype of a struggling heavy drinker, they may use their success to deny a drinking problem.
They may also feel ashamed of their drinking and lie about how much they’ve consumed. While most social drinkers store alcohol in the refrigerator, in a wine rack, or a beverage cabinet, your loved one may have bottles everywhere, worried that someone might find and take them.
3. Is Often Late or Misses Work and Social Events
Has your loved one been missing out on important family gatherings, parent-teacher conferences, or work commitments for unexplained reasons? If so, then it may be a tell-tale sign of an addiction problem. Even though closet alcoholics can appear highly motivated in their work and are active in their family, they will have many moments when they will prioritize their alcohol use. This can often lead them to neglect social commitments and lie about what they were doing during the period of absence.
4. Suffers from Memory Loss
If your partner often wakes up without remembering the events or conversations that took place prior to sleeping, it can be a glaring sign that they consume large quantities of alcohol. High-functioning alcoholics may still be able to walk home, eat their meals, and change their clothes as they normally would. Have in mind that they put a lot of effort to hide their alcohol dependency. It’s only when they sober up and their brain can begin to process memories normally that you’ll notice they were blackout drunk.
5. Has a Tendency to Isolate
Relatives, co-workers, and even close friends may often notice that your partner disappears for any length of time. This desire to be alone can be caused by their fear that others will find out about their drinking problem. In fact, your partner may disappear for days without you and others ever getting a phone call or text. This behavior isn’t limited to individuals struggling with alcohol abuse, but it can be a sign of an underlying drinking problem.
6. Finds Excuses to Drink
A closet alcoholic suffers from addiction, and as such, will look for any excuse to consume the substance to satisfy the addiction. Your loved one may frequently ask his or her friends to meet them somewhere for a drink, or use just about any situation at work, both good and bad, as an excuse as to why they should drink.
They may even exaggerate their feelings about a not-so-positive event related to family, friends, or the relationship to convince others that their drinking is normal given the circumstances. It can be tricky to spot whether your partner is an excessive drinker or is just temporarily coping with events using alcohol, so the keyword to remember is “excessive.” If their excuses to drink reach the level of excess, they may be struggling with alcohol use disorder.
Get Help For Your Partner Today
If you suspect your loved one is a closet alcoholic and you want to learn about the treatment options available to your partner, seek help from a reliable addiction information service provider today. You may also consult directly with an alcohol use disorder treatment facility to get your partner the addiction care that they deserve.