Debunked: The Myth of the Functioning Addict

man in suit drinkingA functioning addict typically believes that they are different than addicts who no longer have it together. But what does this term really mean? How are the effects of their addiction any different?

In this post, we’re taking a look at some of the myths surrounding the term “functioning addict.”

Symptoms of a Functioning Addict

Addiction is when a person abuses a substance – like alcohol or drugs – over a period of time. The addict becomes dependent on the substance and can no longer resist the urge to use.

A functioning addict can maintain their social presence. They work to mask their addiction by going to work and keeping up a normal appearance. They keep their addictions hidden from their loved ones.

While a functioning addict might be in denial about their addiction, it’s important that they get help right away. Addiction is a progressive disease, and a person will have more negative consequences the longer they continue to use.

Here are a few signs of a functioning addict:

  • They make excuses for their behavior.
  • They can’t control their usage.
  • Their friends also have issues with addiction.
  • They continuously look hungover or ill in the morning.
  • They quit their hobbies.

Why “Functioning Addict” Is a Myth

While a functioning addict may still be appearing to have it together, an addict is an addict. Their emotional health may be taking a bigger toll. Even if they aren’t suffering physical consequences, the emotional consequences can be just as toxic.

No matter how well an addict is functioning, addiction is still a disease to be treated. As an addict continues to use, they’ll lose their ability to function and hold their daily activities. Serious consequences, like losing a job, divorce, or overdose, are always a possibility.

100 people die every day from a drug overdose. Death and other serious consequences, like losing a job, divorce, or overdose, are always a possibility.

The Stages of Functional Addiction

Here’s what happens as a functional addict continues to use:

  • Their tolerance increases. This means it takes higher doses or more drinks to get their fix, leading to more health problems and dangers.
  • They start using as a coping mechanism. The addict begins self-medicating as a result of both positive and negative emotional triggers.
  • They isolate themselves. As their addiction gets worse, the individual becomes all-consumed. Their mood and behavior changes.
  • Their physical health declines. There are several health-related issues associated with addiction, including mental disorders, infectious diseases, stroke, overdose, even death.

A Functioning Addict Still Needs Help

The term “functioning addict” is problematic because it makes their condition seem less threatening. The addict may still be able to hold their job or support their family, but this will only get worse and can be fatal.

Many addicts who are still able to perform their daily duties are in denial about their addiction. They may not think they need recovery or are turned away by the stereotypes associated with addiction. But the individual needs help.

In any case of addiction, professional intervention is the best way to help. Midwest Recovery Centers aims to provide quality addiction treatment in a safe and structured environment. We enhance each client’s personal growth through professional therapy, education, and 12-step support.

Contact us to learn more about our services.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Click or Call Today! 844-990-1578

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