The word functional means what it seems to mean – we can function. We can look normal. We can behave normally. We can be living what appears to be normal, even healthy lives.

However, we can still be alcoholics – not a good thing. 

Even if you are on the low end of the spectrum of how much you indulge in alcoholic beverages in one sitting, you can still be doing a lot of damage inside your body and to your friends and family, not to mention on the job. 

Some Physical Health Risks

Physical Health Risks

Alcohol, an irritant, burns upon contact, even if you do not always feel this happening. Heavy consumption can lead to cancer. Some alcohol can remain in the stomach instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream even with lighter drinking.

When this happens, ongoing use, though mild, can corrode your stomach lining, potentially leading to ulcers and immune function deficits. 

When going into the small intestine, alcohol can be damaging to your digestive tract – where about two-thirds of your immune system resides – and it can block the absorption of important vitamins, etc., such as B vitamins, fat, amino acids, etc. 

When alcohol passes through the heart, it can inflame the muscular walls. Functional alcoholics, while still allegedly remaining “in control,” drink regularly, so this can be an ongoing inflammation process.

Over time, you can develop disruptions to heart rhythm. 

Of course, you have heard about liver damage which can occur even with mild use.

Inflammation of the liver can and does happen, which may adversely impact bile flow, and jaundice can result (or even worse things).

The pancreas is similarly affected, which can eventually lead to diabetes. The brain, too, is impacted – drinking over longer periods of time can affect your motor skills and judgment, and in more extreme cases, you can die or fall into a coma.

Need I say more? This isn’t even a complete list! Please watch this short video by Dr. Imad Alsakaf (MD): for more information. 

How Can I Tell if Someone Is a Functional Alcoholic (Or Another Drug User)?

People who are drinking on a regular basis, even while still functioning in society, may be hiding what amounts to alcohol abuse without any major losses being apparent, and for a long time (although likely not forever). 

Be careful, if you suspect a family member or close friend has a problem with functional alcoholism, as you are likely being asked to cover up for this person (do you really want to enable?), live with someone who isolates herself at home (this is hard on close friends and family members emotionally), etc. 

For more information, please see my website!