High-functioning alcoholic

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A high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) is a person who maintains jobs and relationships while meeting criteria for having an alcohol use disorder.[1][2][3][4]

High Functional alcoholics account for 19.5 percent of total U.S. alcoholics.[5] Statistics from the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that 31 percent of college students show signs of alcohol abuse and 6 percent are dependent on alcohol. Doctors hope that the new definition will help identify severe cases of alcohol use disorder early, rather than when the problem is fully developed.[6]

Many HFAs are not viewed as alcoholics by society because they do not fit the common alcoholic stereotype. Unlike the stereotypical alcoholic, HFAs have either succeeded or over-achieved throughout their lifetimes. This can lead to denial of alcohol use disorder by the HFA, co-workers, family members, and friends. Functional alcoholics account for 19.5 percent of total U.S. alcoholics, with 50 percent also being smokers and 33 percent having a multigenerational family history of alcohol use disorder.[5]


  1. ^ Benton, Sarah Allen (2009). Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic – Professional Views and Personal Insights. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-35280-5.
  2. ^ Brody, Jane (May 4, 2009). "High Functioning, but Still Alcoholics". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  3. ^ "Understanding High Functioning Alcoholics". Psychology Today.
  4. ^ "What is a High Functioning Alcoholic? | Definition & Signs". Alcohol.org. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  5. ^ a b National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (June 28, 2007). "Researchers Identify Alcoholic Subtypes" (Press release). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  6. ^ Sanderson, Megan (May 22, 2012). "About 37 percent of college students could now be considered alcoholics". Daily Emerald. Retrieved September 17, 2016.