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What does someone with an addiction look like to you?

Do they come from an underprivileged background? Have they been through trauma? Are they violent, aggressive, or abusive?

Perhaps someone with an addiction is the exact A-typical stereotype described above, or perhaps they are the exact opposite?

This is generally what a fully functioning addict looks like–someone with their life seemingly in order. Only they are experts at hiding their addiction.

This just goes to show that addiction does not discriminate. It can affect anyone.

If you suspect a friend or loved one to be hiding an addiction, here’s what to look for in a fully functional addict.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is not a one-hit-wonder kind of disease. It’s a gradual process of substance abuse which builds up over several months or years.

Usually, an addict has no intention of becoming addicted to a particular substance, but its abuse over time has led to a life-changing dependency.

Substance abuse among addicts can stem from a number of factors. Some of these may include:

  1. Childhood, adolescent or adulthood abuse and trauma
  2. Genetics or hereditary traits of addictive behavior
  3. Environment – an abusive relationship, stressful divorce, strained home life, a stressful career
  4. Mental illness such as PTSD, anxiety, depression
  5. Peer pressure

Generally, there are six key stages of addiction, these include: initial use, experimentation, regular use, dependence, full-blown addiction, and recovery.

Functional drug addicts tend to begin their foray into substance abuse as an experimentation in social settings or a relief from everyday pressures.

The social use of drugs and alcohol can quickly progress into a tolerance and physical dependence, which soon leads to full-blown addiction.

Ultimately, it’s a vicious cycle which spirals out-of-control until an intervention is staged or an addict hits what is known as “rock bottom.”

7 Tell-Tale Signs of a Functioning Addict

As previously mentioned, an addict can come from all walks-of-life and any social background, addiction does not discriminate.

Ultimately, addiction is a disease which can stem from just one or a number of various factors.

You could have a high-flying career, beautiful family, and healthy lifestyle, but hide an addiction from both yourself and your loved ones.

Most functional drug addicts are experts at hiding their addiction but fully rely on this substance to get through their day. Without it, physical withdrawal would begin to take effect.

Whether you’re a functioning heroin addict, cocaine addict, alcoholic or addicted to painkillers, denial about addiction is all the same.

Here’s what to look out for if you suspect a friend or loved one to be hiding an addiction.

1. They Don’t Know When to Stop

A high functioning addict could be someone with an ”all or nothing” kind of attitude. They fail to have only one drink on a night out but must have a bender instead.

If you notice this kind of behavior becoming increasingly common, this is a sign they may have an addiction.

If you have a friend or loved one who does drugs ”recreationally” to blow off a little steam but is failing to control this habit, this is also a tell-tale sign.

If a friend or loved one who frequently experiences black-outs or memory loss but can resume life as normal the following day, this is also a red flag.

2. They Try to Justify Their Substance Abuse

In general, addicts learn to become masters of disguise over time. This means they can never really be up-front and honest about their actions while struggling with addiction.

Functional drug addicts or alcoholics tend to have every excuse under-the-sun in order to justify their habits. Many of them will blame drug use or excessive alcohol consumption on peer pressure, work pressure or needing to ”show face”.

This also means they are in a stage of denial about their addiction, unwilling to admit to themselves or loved ones they have a problem.

3. They Try to Cover up Unusual Behavior

The effects of drug and alcohol abuse cannot be hidden from loved ones for long. After all, they are the ones who know us best.

Depending on the substance being abused, an addict may exhibit unusual behavior. This may include a lack of coordination, slurring, aggression, or highly affectionate and sexualized behavior.

When questioned about this behavior, a high functioning addict will generally find an excuse to cover up for it.

They may blame work pressure for being aggressive, moody, or tired or try and guilt trip for you questioning their affection towards you.

They may also appear highly sensitive and defensive when questioned about their behavior.

4. They Have Become Withdrawn and Keep Bad Company

Are you seeing less of a loved one because of the company they keep? This is yet another red flag to look out for.

A loved one or friend suffering from an addiction will generally become increasingly withdrawn over time.

They tend to spend more time with people who enable their addiction and less time with people who question their actions (i.e., the people who truly care).

This is because enablers help functioning addicts to feel less guilty about their actions and less isolated in their addiction.

However, this is a toxic relationship which is merely fuelling their addiction.

So it’s important to take note of who a loved one is spending time and why if you suspect them of harboring an addiction.

5. They View Substance Abuse as a Reward

After a long, hard day there’s absolutely nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer.

But if these ”rewards” start to become a little too much, a little too often, most especially during the week, this could be a warning sign.

If you notice a loved one or friend using substance abuse as a ”reward” system or an excuse to overindulge a little too often, they could be battling addiction.

6. They Play the Blame Game

This where the consequences of an addiction begin to show themselves and a high functioning addict tends to blame other factors for it.

Forgotten appointments, forgotten children, unattended children, driving under the influence – these may be scenarios where an addiction is spiraling out of control.

Instead of acknowledging that they were high or intoxicated during this time, an addict will blame other factors.

Some of these may include being overworked, overtired, too stressed to think straight, etc.

If these scenarios are becoming increasingly common, an undercover addiction could be to blame.

7. Their Thoughts Are Constantly Preoccupied

A high functioning addict is someone who may have alcohol or drug use consistently on their mind.

They may seem withdrawn, distant and lost in their thoughts thinking about when they can secure their next ”hit” or sip of alcohol.

If you have a friend or family member who is constantly obsessing over ”blowing off some steam” or making excuses to get out of family activities, this is another warning sign.

Get the Help You Need with Paramount Recovery Center

Are you a functioning addict or know of someone who could be? Paramount Recovery Center based in Dallas is here to help get your life back on track.

Set in a truly serene environment and with over 20 years’ experience in treating addiction, we provide a recovery plan that works.

Call us today to book your path to recovery.