What is a Functional “Addict”?

When defining the idea of a “functional addict” or “functional alcoholic,” much has been said. The agreed-upon understanding of this type of substance abuser is someone who, contrary to non-functional, can hold down a job, is responsible for daily affairs, including one’s own well-being. The functional addict would keep a job and might care for his family and loved ones, pay the bills, etc. In other words,  he is responsible. But hidden factors make this type of substance abuser an even greater risk to one and all.

The Functional Addict & Maintenance

The main point that differs between these two types of substance abusers is that one is at a point of incapacity in menial affairs. It has much to do with the substance being abused, the amount consumed, and the length of abuse. It is common to see a person at a high-paying job abuse cocaine week after week, day after day, dwindle down to losing everything. It has been the lot of many an abuser.

Then there is another who may abuse but has a maintenance schedule. In other words, the person knows that more than x-amount will cause bad issues and less than x-amount will cause discomfort. So, they only use what is needed to maintain their lifestyle. But there are other types we will not get into in this article.

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Substance Abuse & Background Morals

In certain individuals, their background, education and upbringing permit them to hold onto certain morals. You have probably heard of someone craving crack cocaine whose only option was stealing from their parents. And to sell it off to get the cash to buy their next fix. A lack of morals will do that.

Some addicted people draw the line at this activity out of respect for their parents. However, it does not mean they would not steal from the boss. But to do so, the person needs to work, thus the “appearance” of being functional like any other person.

Responsibilities & Substances Dependency

A common denominator exists when a person abuses illicit drugs, alcohol, or prescription meds. In all cases, the abuse is done as a solution for some underlying problem with no immediate resolution. The unwanted problem is as varied as there are people abusing substances. But nevertheless, it is done to find relief from some emotional or physical pain.

Yet, people use drugs daily and still go to work, take the kids to school and soccer practice, and clean the yard. So how does this work out? Some people use drugs and maintain their life and duties despite their ongoing ill. But the functional addict’s activity can only go on for a certain time. It matters not who the person is. The continued non-survival action will bring destruction to other areas of living; without fail.

What to do About the Functional Addict

There is only one road out of this downward spiral, and that is to reach out for help. Whether a casual user, daily abuser, or simply a binge user, we’re here to help you. The most commonly used route is to contact a certified referral counsellor. This individual is well versed in all aspects of addiction. They also know which facility best suits your situation or that of a loved one. Receive fast, respectful, and confidential assistance right now. You simply need to call us or request a callback and turn your life around toward survival actions. 

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Susan Chubbs

Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist,
Referral and Consultation Counsellor and Coach

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