What is a Functioning Addict?

About the Functioning Addict


A functioning addict is someone that is able function in everyday life while engaging in his or her addiction. They are often able to hold a job, make advancements in his or her career, maintain a household or care for his or her children. While their addiction may go unnoticed for longer periods of time, the threat to their safety and the safety of those around them remain a serious issue. The functioning addict is often in denial about their addiction and rationalizes their behavior due to their ability to “function” in different areas of their life. Their drug or alcohol addiction is just as serious as an addict who is unable to function in everyday life.


When most people think of an addict they think of someone whose life has fallen apart. A common misconception about addicts is that they are homeless, unable to hold down a job, or have a criminal record. A functioning addict may be a student, a teacher, a nurse or even a doctor. While their addiction may not be overtly recognizable, they are at great risk. Most functioning addicts are in denial about their condition. Often the only way light is shed on their condition is when a crisis occurs, being arrested for driving under the influence, losing a significant other due to behavior or losing their job.

Despite apparent consequences, the emotional toll addiction takes on an addict is severe. A functioning addict may appear to be normal but the psychological impact of addiction can cause depression, decrease in pleasure in everyday life, mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, complication of mental illness and cravings. While they may appear to be functioning normally, the psychological effects of addiction are often difficult to conceal for long periods of time. Addiction is a progressive disease and continued drug or alcohol abuse will result in more severe physical consequences.


Signs of a Functioning Addict


Denial:due to lack of serious negative consequences and ability to maintain a sense of normalcy in everyday life, the functioning addict often denies that they have a problem with substance abuse. Denial makes receiving and asking for help challenging.

Double-life: from the outside, the functioning addict appears to lead a healthy and normal life. However, in order to feed their addiction they create a complicated double life. This can cause great emotional distress. Concealing ones addiction is both difficult and emotionally draining.

Rationalization: the functioning addict rationalizes their behavior and often makes excuses to hide the problems they are experiencing due to their addiction. As time goes on this becomes more challenging.

Abnormal behavior: a functioning addict works to maintain a sense of normalcy. While engaging in their addiction their behavior will change. These abnormal behaviors may look nothing like the functioning addict in their normal state. This uncharacteristic behavior may lead to problems with relationships at work and at home.


How to Help a Functioning Addict


Denial is the single most difficult challenge one faces when trying to help a functioning addict. The functioning addict works endlessly to hide their using and some may truly believe their behavior is not consistent with a substance abuse problem. It is imperative that the functioning addict is approached in a non-confrontational and loving manner. An intervention is often the most effective way to help a functioning addict. It is important to understand that the consequences of addiction vary among addicts. Some addicts may have severe consequences related to their addiction; losing their job, losing the support of loved ones and losing their homes. Other addicts are able to maintain a sense of normalcy while suffering from addiction. Regardless of the apparent consequences, addiction is a serious and progressive disease. Someone suffering from addiction will continue to unravel as the abuse continues. In order to achieve physical and emotional recovery, one must seek help. Recovery is possible. If you know someone who struggles with functional addiction, Clear Recovery Center can help, give us a call at (877)799-1985 or simply click on the banner below.


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