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The Danger of Secret Alcoholism

High-functioning alcoholics are often hiding in plain sight—and they're often more dangerous than drop-dead drunks.

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I was one of those confusing invisible alcoholics. I didn’t stumble or slur. I didn’t break out in handcuffs. No one ever told me to stop drinking. There were
 no emergency rooms or rehabs. Most of the day, I considered myself sober. From the outside all was well: I had a loving husband, two terrific kids and an enviable career. From the inside I was hollowed out by despair. I got through the mornings on coffee and sugar, promising myself that I wouldn’t drink again. In this twilight state I lived my life—driving cars, arguing with the IRS, complaining about my marriage. By evening there only seemed one solution to the unbearable hammering of the hours—a glass of white wine, and then another. I felt entirely alone. Now, 20 years later, I realize that I had a great deal of company.

Susan Cheever is a columnist for The Fix, and the author of many books, including the memoirs Home Before Dark and Note Found in a Bottle, and the biography My Name Is Bill, about AA's founder.