Home » What is a ‘functioning alcoholic’? Taylor Swift’s lyrics create buzz

What is a ‘functioning alcoholic’? Taylor Swift’s lyrics create buzz

by UNN Feed

Taylor Swift’s song “Fortnight” is getting a lot of attention for lyrics that include the line “I was a functioning alcoholic.”

Swift, who co-wrote the track, hasn’t said whether she’s singing about herself in the first single from her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” But she’s talked about giving up alcohol in recent months.

The singer once toured “like a frat guy,” but stopped drinking as she got in shape for her blockbuster Eras Tour to be able to keep up with its physical demands, she told Time in December 2023. Each concert on the tour, which resumes in May, lasts more than three hours and features a 44-song set list with demanding choreography.

“Doing that show with a hangover,” Swift said. “I don’t want to know that world.”

What is a functioning alcoholic?

There is no such medical term, and the word “alcoholic” is no longer used in medicine — the correct term is somebody who suffers from alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction, says Dr. Lewis Nelson, a distinguished fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Informally speaking, a “functioning alcoholic” is a person who drinks heavily, perhaps even unsafely, but can function in a day-to-day existence, he notes.

“They can hold a job, they can have friends, they can have a family. A lot of that, of course, is a misperception of reality. Because in reality, there is probably no such thing as a functioning alcoholic,” Nelson, professor and chair of the department of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells TODAY.com.

“It’s a pathway downward. … You can look normal to the outside world. You convince yourself that you’re ‘normal’ as you are compulsively using. Eventually, it will catch up with you.”

People who drink a lot can learn how to “hold” their alcohol a bit better, developing a tolerance to it and hiding their consumption well, but at some level, even that is going to be surpassed, Nelson says. As they…

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