Telling the difference between an addict and someone who is sober can be surprisingly difficult. It is possible for even the most educated individuals to have difficulty distinguishing the difference between someone who has a problem, and someone who doesn’t. In more cases than you might think, a friend, family member or co-worker might be experiencing addiction – even if his behaviors are seemingly normal.
The most important thing you can do to help these members of your community is to become aware of the many signs and symptoms associated with a functional addict so if one of your loved ones is struggling, you can attempt to help.
Signs of a Functional Addict
There are a number of behaviors that can alert you that your loved one is dealing with addiction despite his or her functional behaviors. Some of the telltale signs of a functional addict include the following:
- Using to relieve stress – Most people can empathize with having a drink after a long, stressful day. However those who use substances such as alcohol each and every time they are stressed are often those who are silently addicted. This abuse is often driven by a mental need for the substance, rather than a physical need.
- Experiencing cravings – One of the most common signs of a functional addict is that once he starts using, he begins craving more of the substance. As a result, he keeps thinking about when he can use again to a point where his life can be slightly disrupted (until he is able to use again).
- Maintaining professionalism – This can be tricky. Most functional addicts are just that – functional. As a result, they still show up to work and get the job done, despite abusing drugs or alcohol behind the scenes.
In addition to these symptoms, functional addicts will also do things such as put on a good façade for others, be able to maintain personal relationships, and struggle with denial, as they don’t believe they fit the stereotype for an addict.
These symptoms can be so slight that you might not even notice them. However, if you are remaining vigilant, you can help stop an addiction from growing worse by offering to help your loved one. While in some cases getting a functional addict help can be challenging, doing so before it gets out of hand can be worth the effort.