Functional Addict: Closer Look Who Is At Risk & How to Get Help

Functional Addict: Closer Look Who Is At Risk & How to Get Help

Functional addict is a term used to describe individuals who are struggling with addiction yet still able to maintain high levels of functioning in other areas of their life. Despite the fact that they may have difficulty regulating their substance use, these individuals often appear “normal” and can remain under the radar until it is too late.
According to the functioning addict definition and my personal experience as an addiction therapist, highly functioning addicts are individuals who have a substance use disorder yet still seem to function in other areas of their life. High-functioning professionals may be able to maintain their job performance and relationships while concealing their addictive behavior from those around them.

Unfortunately, this “hidden” nature of their problem can often prevent them from seeking help. High-functioning addicts may have difficulty recognizing and admitting their substance abuse. Still, they can hide the effects or attribute them to other causes (e.g., sickness, stress, lack of sleep) to prevent others from taking notice. 

In this blog post, we will discuss who is at risk for becoming a highly functioning addict, common warning signs, and how to get help.

Who is at Risk of Becoming a High-Functioning Addict?

High-functioning addicts are usually high achievers who may often feel overwhelmed by high expectations. They may use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, trauma, and depression. This can lead them to develop a high tolerance for their substance of choice, which leads to an increase in the amount they need to consume in order to achieve the same level of intoxication.
On the other hand, the High Functioning Drug Addiction can also be a result of high-pressure environments, such as high-stakes workplaces or high-achieving academic settings. The high stress in these environments may lead people to use drugs and alcohol in order to cope with the pressure.
That is why to understand the phenomenon of high-functioning addictions or functional addicts, you need to understand the following categories:

What is a functioning addict:

A functioning addict is someone who can still work, go to school or hold a steady job while they are abusing drugs and alcohol.

What is a high-functioning addict:

A high-functioning addict is someone who appears to have it all together on the outside but is struggling with an addiction internally.

Whats a functioning alcoholic:

A functioning alcoholic is someone who is able to maintain a job and appear outwardly successful. However, their alcohol consumption is impacting their health, relationships, and ability to function on a daily basis.

What percentage of addicts stay clean:

The percentage of individuals who remain successfully clean after treatment is estimated to be between 40 and 60 percent.

High is Hobby not Habit

The statement “high is my hobby, not a habit” means that the person sees their drug use as something that they enjoy and do for pleasure rather than something they feel compelled to do or can’t control. However, this distinction doesn’t change the fact that the person is still addicted to the drug, and it can be dangerous to see drug use as a hobby rather than a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Remember that “high is a hobby not a habit,” and when it comes to high-functioning addiction, the best way to prevent it is to get professional help. It’s important to remember that addiction is an illness and not a moral failing – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Recovery is possible for high-functioning addicts with the right support

Who's an addict

Now you clearly understand “Who’s an Addict” and What kind of addiction people can suffer. To get the right treatment, you must find out who’s an addict so that you can take the first step toward recovery.

However, functional addict doesn’t always easily recognize their situation and may often attempt to hide it from the people around them.

Common Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Addiction

High-functioning addiction or functioning crackhead can be difficult to identify, as the individual may appear high functioning and successful on the outside despite their internal struggle. 

Here are some common signs of high-functioning addiction:

  • Loss of control over substance use – A high-functioning addict may have difficulty regulating how much or how often they use a substance.
  • Experiencing high tolerance – A high-functioning addict may need to use more and more of a substance in order to achieve the same high.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – When someone stops using, they may experience physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, shakes, and sweating.
  • Denial – High-functioning addicts may deny or minimize the problem, even when it’s clear to others.
  • Using substances as a coping mechanism – If someone is relying on drugs or alcohol to manage their emotions and stress, this is a sign of high-functioning addiction.

i) Telltale signs of high functioning anxiety

It is not necessary that high-functioning addicts exhibit all of these signs and symptoms, but if you have noticed any of them in yourself or in a loved one, it is important to seek help. With the right treatment and support, high-functioning addictions can be successfully managed.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by high expectations
  • Perfectionism and high-achieving behavior
  • Fear of failure and criticism 
  • Difficulty managing stress and anxiety
  • Avoid high-pressure situations or social events

ii) Secretly addicted

High-functioning addicts may be able to maintain their addiction in secret for long periods of time. They may hide the fact that they are struggling from friends and family, making it difficult to get help when needed. 

This can make high-functioning addictions particularly dangerous as the individual may not realize how much damage their addiction is causing until it is too late.

Impact of High-Functioning Addiction on Mental Health

High functioning addiction can have a significant impact on one’s mental health. Those who struggle with high-functioning addictions may experience high levels of stress and anxiety, as well as difficulty sleeping and concentrating.

In addition to physical health problems, high-functioning addictions can lead to depression, feelings of guilt or shame, and isolation from friends and family. If left untreated, these mental health issues can worsen, leading to serious consequences.

It could also lead to an inability to fulfill work or school obligations, financial instability, and legal troubles. Not only does functional addiction have long-term consequences, but it can also affect the individual’s relationships with friends and family. 

Remember! Not all functional addictions are the same, so treatment should be tailored to meet each person’s individual needs. With the right support and help, functional addicts can successfully manage their addiction and live happy, productive lives. Do not hesitate and get in touch with us today before its too late:

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It’s important to remember that functional addiction is not a sign of weakness but rather a medical condition that should be treated with compassion and respect.

Strategies for Overcoming High-Functioning Addiction

The good news is that high-functioning addiction can be successfully managed and overcome with the right treatment and support.
  • Seek professional help – It is important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional who specializes in addiction treatment. They will be able to work with you to develop an individualized plan for recovery.
  • Build a strong support system – Having supportive family and friends is essential to overcoming addiction. It’s important to have people who you can rely on and talk to about your struggles.
  • Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety and can be a great tool for managing addiction.
  • Avoid triggers – Knowing your triggers and avoiding them is essential to recovery. This can include people, places, or things that make you want to use drugs or alcohol.
High-functioning addiction is a serious issue, and if left untreated, it can lead to dangerous long-term effects. With the right help and support, it’s possible to overcome high functioning addiction and reclaim your life.

I. How to deal with addicts

If you are dealing with a functional addict, it is important to understand that it takes time and support to help them get healthy. Having patience and understanding is key in helping an addict. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
  1. Stay supportive – Show the functional addict that you care and are there for them no matter what. 
  2. Listen without judgment – Allow the addict to express their feelings without interruption or criticism. 
  3. Avoid enabling behavior – It can be difficult, but it’s important not to enable a functional addict by covering up for them or giving in to their demands. 
  4. Help creates a structure – Encourage the addict to establish strict boundaries and guidelines for their behavior. 
  5. Offer positive reinforcement – Praise the addict for making positive changes, even small ones.

II. How to help an addict in denial

If functional addict is in denial about their addiction, it can be difficult to get them to seek help. However, there are some things you can do to encourage them and show your support:
  1. Educate yourself – Learn more about functional addiction so you can understand what they’re going through. 
  2. Talk openly and honestly – Express your concerns to the functional addict in a non-confrontational way. 
  3. Offer options – Provide information about treatment programs and support groups that may be helpful. 
  4. Lead by example – Show them how they can live without drugs or alcohol through your own behavior. 
No matter what approach you take, it’s important to remain patient and supportive. With the right help and guidance, functional addicts can learn to manage their addiction and reclaim their lives.

Treatment Options for High-Functioning Addicts

High-functioning addicts can benefit from a variety of different treatment options, including individual counseling, group therapy, and 12-step programs. It is important to find the right treatment plan that works best for you. 

Your mental health professional can work with you to create an individualized plan that meets your needs and helps you reach your goals. The goal of treatment for functioning addicts is to learn new coping skills and gain insight into the underlying issues that drive their addiction. 

However, the following are some basic tips that functioning addicts can use to help support their recovery:

i) Cultivate a sober lifestyle

Make sure to find activities and hobbies that do not involve drugs or alcohol. This can include joining a gym, attending social events, or pursuing creative endeavors.

ii) Change your environment

Take steps to create an environment that supports sobriety. This can include getting rid of any drugs or alcohol in your home and avoiding places where substance abuse is likely to occur.

iii) Establish healthy relationships

Connect with people who support your sobriety and avoid relationships that could lead to relapse.

iv) Get enough sleep

Rest is essential for optimal functioning and mental health.

v) Make time for self-care

Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. This can include getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and making time for relaxation. 

By following these simple tips and seeking the right treatment, functioning addicts can make significant progress in their recovery journey. With proper treatment and support, functioning addict recovery and an individual can overcome their addiction and reclaim their life.

Final Thoughts

Functional addiction is a complex condition that requires professional help and support. Understanding the underlying causes of functional addiction, such as trauma, understanding triggers, working through resentments, and learning how to manage stress in healthy ways is important. 

Treatment should also focus on developing relapse prevention strategies, repairing relationships with loved ones, and setting goals for the future. With the right approach and support, functional addicts can learn to manage their addiction and reclaim their lives.


For more information about Functional Addiction and for proper treatment and assistance, Get in touch with the specialized psychiatrist now!

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Faith Behavioral Health Group
Frisco, TX 75034

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McKinney, TX 75071


About Author
Dr. Sadaf Noor Psychiatrist, MD

As a skilled psychiatrist, I specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental health issues, emotional disorders, and psychotic conditions. Drawing on diagnostic laboratory tests, prescribed medications, and psychotherapeutic interventions, I strive to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for my patients in Frisco and McKinney, Texas, while assessing their biological, psychological, and social components of illnesses. I am committed to helping them achieve healthier and more fulfilling lives through my work.