Superstar actor Brad Pitt first opened up about his battle with alcohol addiction in a candid and important 2017 interview that took place several months after a high profile split with his former wife, Angelina Jolie. The actor discussed struggling with alcohol and his realisation that his drinking had become a problem. For Brad Pitt alcohol had become a negative influence, and one he recognised the need to address.
Despite a highly successful career, for Brad Pitt alcoholism had become a way of life. He disclosed that he couldn’t “remember a day since I got out of college where I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something.” So, is Brad Pitt an alcoholic? Pitt is an example of what is known as a functional alcoholic, which is a person who very few people would suspect or know have a problem. For functional alcoholics like Brad Pitt, alcohol isn’t always a label that seems to fit, as success in other aspects of life can make it seem like drinking isn’t that problematic. However, the National Institutes of Health has recognised functional alcoholics as one of the five alcoholic subtypes since 2007.
People may wonder, is Brad Pitt sober today? In his 2017 interview, for Brad Pitt sobriety meant a variety of lifestyle changes to break away from drinking, such as substituting alcohol for cranberry juice and fizzy water. Pitt also mentioned at the time that he was seeing a therapist, which is a crucial step in any alcohol addiction recovery. He explained that he went through two therapists to get the right one, and was no longer running from feelings.
His recovery was continuing in 2019, when he told the New York Times of his decision to quit drinking, “I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges.”
Entertainment Weekly interviewed Pitt again in 2020, following a recent National Board of Review Awards win for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In his acceptance speech, he named fellow actor Bradley Cooper, also a recovering alcoholic, as a critical figure in his sobriety. Pitt said, “Bradley just put his daughter to bed and rushed over here to do this. He’s a sweetheart. I got sober because of this guy, and every day has been happier since.” This highlights the importance of a strong support network during recovery.
In a 2022 interview with GQ, Brad Pitt’s sober journey was further explored. The interview reported that Pitt had not had a drink in nearly six years. Brad Pitt rehab included attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and he explained, “I had a really cool men’s group here that was really private and selective, so it was safe. Because I’d seen things of other people who had been recorded while they were spilling their guts, and that’s just atrocious to me.” Pitt’s decision to share his experiences with alcoholism and recovery publicly have helped shine an important light on functional alcoholism.
When it Comes to Treating Addiction, Don’t Limit Yourself
Addiction is often referred to as a cycle, and it takes a lot to break out of this cycle. Travelling for rehab is perhaps the best and most obvious way to introduce radical change and begin to establish new and positive behavioural patterns. People who stay within the confines of their own country greatly narrow their options for treatment which puts their recoveries in serious jeopardy. Seeking addiction treatment in Thailand, away from triggers and familiar people and situations, greatly reduces the risk of premature withdrawal from treatment and relapse.
Thailand provides a completely new and exotic setting for an addict who is seeking drug treatment and/or alcohol treatment. This novelty opens up opportunities and mindsets and encourages individuals to accept alternative treatment approaches that they may have otherwise not considered in their familiar settings. This new landscape enables individuals to build positive and healthy patterns and routines to replace the old behaviours.
What is A Functional Alcoholic?
“Truthfully, I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional,” Pitt candidly disclosed in the GQ interview. Functional alcoholics, who are also called high-functioning alcoholics, are defined as people who are able to maintain a regular level of outside functioning in personal, professional or academic conducts while they continue to drink alcoholically.
A functional alcoholic might behave differently than what we would expect out of a typical alcoholic. They can be viewed as productive and responsible since they still go to work and perform as usual. They could also be seen as powerful or high achieving. Oftentimes, a functional alcoholic’s success may be the reason why people do not notice their drinking.
Many functional alcoholics are also in denial about their habits. They may think that they are doing well in their professional and personal life, or they might make excuses to prove that their drinking is not a problem. However, they are not doing okay. A person cannot drink at the level of an alcoholic and uphold their responsibilities for extended periods of time. No one can drink heavily without it catching up with him or her eventually.
How Can You Spot a Functional Alcoholic?
Even though a person may seem to have their life in order, it does not mean that they do not have a problem with substance abuse or are not suffering from a mental disorder.
A person with an alcohol abuse problem may acquire a tolerance to alcohol, which will cause them to drink more each time to reach the same effects. They may also experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or experience hangovers, when they do not have alcohol. However, some functional alcoholics may not even get hangovers since they have trained themselves to function despite the negative effects of alcohol.
Signs of alcohol addiction usually include being unable to fulfil responsibilities or tasks, as well as loss of production at school or work. But functional alcoholics do not show these problems. Nevertheless, alcohol will start to have negative effects on the person’s brain and their ability to function as normal.
Some warning signs to look for if you suspect a functioning alcoholic include:
- Drinking more than a predetermined limit
- Needing alcohol to relax or relieve stress
- Drinking in private or in secret
- Episodic memory lapses or inability to remember events while drinking
- Prioritising drinking when making plans
- Using alcohol as a reward or using excuses to have a drink
- Sober periods involve mood swings, agitation, irritability and restlessness
- Drinking and performing hazardous behaviours, such as drunk driving or having risky sex
- Making jokes about alcoholism or alcohol consumption on a frequent basis
How Do You Help a Functional Alcoholic?
Denial is quite common in both the functional alcoholic and those who love them. An important step towards recovery is to be able to recognise the signs and admit that there is a problem. Families and friends may realise that the person has a drinking problem before the alcoholic does and helping them reach the same conclusion can take some work.
It can be ideal to talk about a loved one’s alcohol use when they are sober, especially if they are hungover or feeling guilty and remorseful after a drinking episode. Another way to get a functional alcoholic the help that they need is to find a professional interventionist. They will help you create a plan and stage an intervention to help your loved one agree to enter a treatment programme on their own accord.
Remember that most functional alcoholics can keep functioning for years without realising that there is a problem. They are usually in such deep denial that they will go to extreme lengths to hide and feed their addiction. Since they are usually convinced that they are not a classic alcoholic, the chances of them staying undiagnosed are even greater. Without assistance, functional alcoholics tend to be the last ones to get treatment for their addiction.
Treatment for Alcoholics at The Dawn Rehab in Thailand
Treatment for functional alcoholics is the same as any other form of addiction. It is best to find a treatment centre that offers evidence-based treatment methods for alcohol addiction and medically-supervised detoxification.
The Dawn offers effective treatment models to help with recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. We also have a fully equipped detox clinic onsite for those who require a medical detox from alcohol. The Dawn is run by a team of medical experts and offers competitive rates at a quarter of the price of Western alternatives.
If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, now is the time to face the facts. Contact The Dawn today to receive a no-obligation assessment and find out what help is available.