Telltale Signs of a Functional Addict

Telltale Signs of a Functional Addict

No one sets out to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 23 million Americans—almost one in 10—are addicted to alcohol or drugs. One telltale sign of addiction is continuing to abuse drugs or a problematic behavior despite adverse consequences. Several negative outcomes that typically result from addiction include the following issues:

  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Drug use in situations that are potentially harmful to oneself and others
  • Legal problems due to drug use
  • Social difficulties, such as marital strife and estrangement from friends

Many addicts can function relatively well—they appear to lead normal lives and meet their obligations consistently. They actually live with a tragic secret that destroys them from the inside out, yet, because they look so normal on the outside, nobody notices that they need help. Several hallmarks of a high functioning addict include the following signs:

  • They deny a problem by laughing it off or justifying it as the reward for working hard
  • Despite their best attempts to hide addiction, they occasionally exhibit uncharacteristic behavior
  • They have well-developed excuses for using that allow the addiction to continue
  • They lead a double life, one minute fearing they have lost control and the next minute rationalizing continued use

Someone that abuses drugs but does not fit the stereotype of an alcoholic or drug addict can still have a serious disease. A comfortable income and position of power at work or home may cushion functional addicts from the consequences of drug use, while a sense of self-importance may prevent them from seeking treatment. Since it is likely that functional addicts will wait until they have lost it all before they acknowledge a problem, they rely on the people closest to them to intervene.

More Trademark Signs of Functional Addiction

Many drug abusers hover in what some experts call the “almost addicted” stage. In this stage, substance abuse may create actual or potential problems, but those problems do not rise to a diagnostic level. Negative consequences and suffering caused by substance abuse may be subtle, yet still impairing. When the addiction progresses and worsens, symptoms include the following problems:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to stop taking the drug
  • Need for higher doses to achieve the same effect
  • Obsession with the drug

Signs of psychological addiction include the following problems:

  • Mood swings
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Preoccupation with finding and using drugs
  • Depression or anxiety when unable to take drugs
  • Loss of motivation
  • Inability to handle typical pressures
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

While full-blown addiction is marked by compulsive substance abuse, dependence can be a purely physical adaptation to a drug. Both conditions require treatment, so seek help as soon as you spot a struggle with using drugs.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction; start your recovery today by seeking professional help.