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.

Earlier this year Dr Frank Murray, a liver specialist and chair of Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, was quoted as saying that the switch from drinking out of home to drinking at home during lockdown meant there were ‘no controls or limits.’

Yet there are 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.

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 nearby – something which can be difficult to spot especially during Christmas and New Year when alcohol is flowing freely. 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 variety of legal alcohol testing services for local authorities and family law professionals across Ireland.

We also provide workplace alcohol testing for businesses of all sizes, across a range of sectors.

For more information, speak to our Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email info@alphabiolabs.ie.