Occasionally even I am guilty of using the term when too tired or lazy to argue a point, but tonight after a long debate with a very determined colleague it’s time to set the matter straight. There is no such thing as a functional alcoholic. It’s a myth just like Dionysian satyr- a half man/half goat that supposedly made his living drinking wine, chasing women, and dancing- both were created to explain the excesses of man and neither creature can pass the test of logical scrutiny. There are two reasons why I wish to make this case.
The first is obvious, I like to be right. I won our debate this evening because once you define an alcoholic- it is obvious that functional exists nowhere in the description.
The Journal of the American Medical Association defines alcoholism as “a primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.” ~ Wiki
Basically an alcoholic by definition is someone who has no control over their usage and places a priority on drinking above all things. So the classic “functioning alcoholic” who yes certainly abuses alcohol, cannot be defined an alcoholic because they still have the power to rein in their behavior and place a higher priority in maintaining a specific lifestyle or existing within normal society. When they reach a certain pain threshold they abstain, yet an alcoholic by definition continues drinking “despite adverse consequences.”
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