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How to Help a Functional Alcoholic


A functional alcoholic, or someone with functional alcoholism is someone suffering from alcohol addiction who manages to sustain – or appear to sustain – a normal life. They may not exhibit the usual signs of alcoholism, such as dysfunctional relationships and difficulties at work, but still meet the definition of alcoholism.

Should a Functioning Alcoholic Seek Treatment?

Anyone who meets the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism should seek professional help, regardless of whether they appear to be ‘functional’ or not. Left untreated, it can have severe and damaging effects on health, personal life and career prospects of the individual. In addition, it can be very damaging to the people close to them.

How Can Family Members Help a Functional Alcoholic?

If someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, you can support them by recommending them to access professional treatment services. You can also seek educational resources and support from local mental health services, as well as organisations such as SFAD (Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs), and Drinkaware.

Smarmore Castle’s Treatment for Functional Alcoholism

At Smarmore Castle, we treat patients for alcohol addiction, regardless of how functional the patient appears. Our treatment begins with a period of detox, where the patient becomes clean of alcohol. As soon as the patient is physically able, they can join in with the programme of therapy offered in our residential rehab programme.


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Smarmore Castle is located near Ardee, County Louth, about 45 minutes north of Dublin, Republic of Ireland and 1.5 hours south of Belfast, Northern Ireland.