How Your Job Plays A Role In Binge Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, and Functional Alcoholism

March 3, 2021
How Your Job Plays A Role In Addiction

One of the major misconceptions surrounding alcoholism is that alcoholics are always apparent. 

Some people make no effort to hide their drinking from friends and family; others are accustomed to hiding their problematic behaviors every day. Still, others don’t realize they have an alcohol dependency issue.

Part of the reason for their lack of awareness is the concept of “high-functioning alcoholism.” This term describes a person who drinks excessively without allowing the drinking to interfere with daily life and work, at least at first.

Eventually, anyone struggling with alcohol will need to enter alcohol detox. California residents should know the signs of high-functioning alcoholism.

High-Functioning Alcoholism and Work

High-functioning alcoholism may stave off financial and other problems for people with alcohol dependencies, but such a routine is not viable for long. 

Alcohol abuse leads to increased tolerance, which means the person must consume more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect.

A high-functioning alcoholic will learn that managing alcohol addiction and a career—without allowing one to interfere with the other, is a whole new job in itself. 

Juggling the two sides of one’s life will eventually lead to the realization that the person is only going through the motions of maintaining a career to keep drinking.

When alcohol becomes the incentive for work, the quality of that work will inevitably suffer. This can create severe problems and jeopardize a high-functioning alcoholic’s career.

Postponing Recovery For The Job

Alcohol abuse will sometimes continue to interfere with a person’s work-life even after acknowledging the problem. Many people who work in demanding, high-stress industries and positions feel that their work is too important to take time off for an alcohol recovery program.

When facing the idea of entering alcohol detox treatment, some people will use work as an excuse not to go. They will claim that it’s the wrong time, or they’ll start alcohol treatment when the slow season starts or once a project is completed.

However, these excuses are rarely valid. Most employers would prefer their employees to take the time they need to enter alcoholic rehab rather than push deeper into dangerous dependency cycles.

The Cycle of Alcohol Dependency

People are creatures of habit and typically appreciate routine. Someone becomes a high-functioning alcoholic by developing a routine. 

For example, a person with a stressful but lucrative job may push himself or herself incredibly hard through the workweek and then blow off steam by drinking excessively on the weekends.

Over time, that individual will come to expect and look forward to this “reward” every weekend. 

The person may maintain productivity at work and have fun within social encounters, but every alcohol habit inevitably worsens. Eventually, they will not be able to maintain the same routine and would start drinking more.

Some people manage to maintain more extreme cycles, such as coming home and drinking to excess after work until late at night. They wake up with perhaps a few hangover symptoms and then do it over and over again. 

Tolerance will begin to develop, and the individual will need to drink more and more to reach the desired state. This, in turn, will lead to more intense hangovers and withdrawal, which will make it more challenging to get to work every day.

Using Alcohol to Self-Medicate

While some high-functioning alcoholics develop addiction cycles based on a sense of reward, others use alcohol to manage the stress they experience at work. 

Many people who work in dangerous or stressful work environments often take their stress from work home with them.

Individuals at risk include:

  • doctors
  • police officers
  • paramedics
  • attorneys
  • anyone in highly demanding positions

Alcohol can provide an escape that quickly develops into a dependency. Once a person begins self-medicating with alcohol, it becomes tough to break the cycle without entering an alcohol and drug rehab program.

Self-medicating with alcohol can also worsen some mental health conditions. A person who experiences trauma or witnessed traumatic events needs proper psychological care and therapy to recover. 

If they simply use alcohol to bury those disturbing memories, the effects will worsen over time and make it more difficult for the person to cope.

Regardless of why a person decides to self-medicate, the results will be the same. Chemical dependency takes time to form in the body, so most people who develop alcohol dependency do not realize a problem exists until the dependence reaches a critical level.

The pleasurable feelings alcohol produces can also cause some people to mistakenly believe that alcohol “cures” their stress. 

This opens the door for a dependency to develop over time and the harmful effects of alcohol abuse to worsen. 

Daily job-related stress can lead to daily self-medication with alcohol, a hazardous cycle of addiction that may progress rapidly.

Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction 

Some people in this position may attempt to self-detox to avoid embarrassment at work, but this is incredibly dangerous. The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependency are sometimes extreme or even fatal. 

Any high-functioning alcoholic needs to acknowledge that treatment is an immediate necessity, and the excuses for waiting are entirely in their head.

Many recovered alcoholics, who finally took the first step in seeking alcoholism addiction treatment, found that it was much more comfortable than they initially expected. Taking the first step is the hardest part, but recovery is possible.

You don’t need to face this alone. Call an addiction specialist today, and learn about the options available to help you start healing today. 

This page does not provide medical advice
Written by Elevate Addiction Services | © 2021 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Scott Friend, MSW, M.S.

December 8, 2020

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