7 Signs Your Weekend Drinking May Actually Be High-Functioning Alcoholism

by Carina Wolff

For some, having a few drinks with friends on a weekend doesn't become a problem. But for others, this frequent binge drinking can indicate a greater issue. There are a number of signs that mean your weekend drinking may actually be signs of high-functioning alcoholism, and it's important to spot these characteristics to make sure your drinking isn't getting out of control.

"Someone with high-functioning alcoholism can be difficult to identify because, to most people, they appear to have it all together," Jeremy Pitzer, LCSW, CEO of Oaks at La Paloma, tells Bustle. "Only their closest family and friends may be able to identify it, and even they may be enabling or in denial themselves. Making it even more difficult to distinguish, the drinking behaviors and preferences of those with high-functioning alcoholism vary widely. Some drink daily, while others only drink beer or specifically on the weekends."

Because binge drinking can be common on the weekends — and your friends might be engaging in it too — it can be hard to decipher between nights of fun and a developing addiction. If you think your drinking might be getting out of control, even if you're still managing to get through your everyday tasks, watch out for these seven signs your weekend drinking may actually be high-functioning alcoholism.

Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).


You Lie About Your Drinking

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If it gets to the point where you feel like you have to lie or conceal your drinking habits, this could indicate a problem. "Someone who is high-functioning will often go to any lengths to hide their drinking from other people," Sal Raichbach PsyD LCSW tells Bustle. "They might lie or downplay the amount that they are drinking or how often they drink."


You Blackout Often

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Repeated blackouts can be a sign that you are drinking more than you intend to on a regular basis. "Alcohol impacts the way the brain forms and retains memories," says Raichbach. "If you are unable to recall things that happened after a night of drinking, there is a good chance that you have a problem." And if this is the case, seeking help from loved ones, a therapist, or a substance abuse center may be the best course of action.


You Think About Drinking Even When You're Not Drinking

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Take note if drinking is on your mind outside of weekend activities. "As addiction takes over, the mind begins to develop an obsession with that particular substance or behavior," says Raichbach. "Even when an alcoholic isn’t drinking, their mind is telling them that they should be. This typically manifests as a preoccupation with good times they had while drinking or their future plans to drink."


Your Priorities Are Changing

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You might still stick to your responsibilities, but if you are foregoing other activities to prioritize drinking, it can be a sign you have a problem. "Hobbies, interests, and activities that were once enjoyable to an alcoholic are eventually neglected or abandoned as the disease progresses," says Raichbach. "A high-functioning alcoholic has to wear many hats, and naturally, they will start to let go of things that don’t involve drinking or keeping up appearances."


You Feel Regretful When Sober

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Do you feel regretful for behavior or activities that happened over the weekend come Monday? This could be a sign your drinking has gotten more out of control than you realize. "Common sentinel events are waking up in a strange [place] and forgetting how you got there, not being able to remember what you said to someone important, and losing track of your spending while drinking," Dr. John Mendelson, addiction expert with UCSF and Chief Medical Officer of Ria Health, tells Bustle.


You Have To Stick To Your Weekend Ritual

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of alcoholism is the presence of predictable repetitive drinking behaviors. "Social drinkers not afflicted with alcoholism need a reason or occasion to drink, and they can take it or leave it," says Pitzer. "Someone with high-functioning alcoholism typically controls the ritual by imposing time constraints (after work, weekends, etc.) on their drinking behavior. If someone stops at the liquor store or bar on their way home every Friday at the end of the work week, this is a pattern."


You Underestimate How Much You Drink

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People with alcoholism tend to minimize and underestimate the amount that they drink, and those with high-functioning alcoholism are no different. You might think you've only had three beers, when in fact you've had six. "The inaccurate reporting demonstrated by someone with high-functioning alcoholism can compounded by a stronger sense of denial due to the fact that they are so functional," says Pitzer.

If you exhibit these signs suspect your weekend drinking could be high-functioning alcoholism, please seek help with a medical professional or a support group.