What Does High Functioning Addiction Look Like?

high functioning addictionAddicts are often thought of as not being able to function in normal society. They may be considered thieves, homeless, or otherwise at the fringe of mainstream society. Believe it or not, addicts can be found in places such as hospitals, law offices, and teacher’s lounges. Addicts are frequently highly driven people who seek extremes in life. They may perform surgery and then step out for a shot of heroin. They may even be preachers, given the community’s trust and the generous donations of parishioners. So, how do they do it, and what does the high-functioning addict look like?

Here are just a few of the things a high-functioning addict may experience:


High functioning addicts and alcoholics must live in a world of denial in order to keep their ruse afloat. They often think that if they drink fine wines, beers, and liquors that they must not be alcoholics. They believe alcoholics only drink bottom of the barrel liquor. They may also rationalize their substance abuse by pointing out that they have important jobs, despite the fact that they experience blackouts on a regular basis. However, they are often only fooling themselves. The people who see the truth of the situation, often those closest to them, must endure the wild mood swings, frantic lifestyle, and perpetual instability of life with an addict.


A high functioning heroin addict is often confined to a set routine. He needs his fixes at certain times of the day and he has to rely on his dealer being available when he needs to score. High functioning heroin addicts often are loath to travel, because any time away from their fix will mean dope sickness (early withdrawal) and a frantic search for more. A high-functioning alcoholic may not own a car for fear of DUI charges, despite having a license and even driving a company car during working hours. The alcoholic might also attempt to cover daytime drinking with breath mints or other ineffective methods. Prescription drugs and high functioning addiction often go hand-in-hand. There are many people who think they are functioning ‘just fine’ since their drug of choice is prescribed to them.

Double Life

High-functioning alcoholics and addicts often need to lead a double life in order to satisfy all of their needs. They cannot afford to have one life spill into another and so may go to great lengths. Some will find bars on the other side of town from where they live in hopes of not running into any ″straight″ friends or colleagues. Others will hide in shame of their drug addiction and may disappear during off-work hours, only to reappear at home or work appearing frazzled, tired, and bleary. Family members might look for signs such as mysteriously disappearing funds, extra credit cards, and even secret bank accounts.

Are you a functioning addict or know someone who is? The first step is realizing you have a problem and that you need help.

For a confidential assessment, contact KLEAN today.

Get Help Today! Call 844-857-9167



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