Millions of Americans struggle with secret addictions. Some of them recognize they have a problem that they are unable to solve alone but others can be in complete denial there is anything wrong, particularly if they are successful in most areas of their lives.

People who are able to excel in the workplace or at college despite regularly drinking to excess or taking drugs could very likely be what is termed a ‘functioning addict.’ Not only is it easier for someone to be in denial of their addiction when they are a functioning addict, others around them may not necessarily detect any issues either.

The Traits of Functional Addicts

There are some widely held misconceptions about the profile of an addict and the reason those who are functioning well often remain below the radar is because they do not meet this stereotype. Many people associate addiction with a complete loss of self-respect and imagine addicts to live in dingy, dirty homes, where they stay in and use all day long. However, stereotypes can never be applied to individuals and particularly so with addiction because it is an illness that does not discriminate.

Because functioning addicts are more likely to ‘get away’ with masking their problems with success, it is important to know the key traits they may display that indicate addiction could be an issue for them. They are:

Denial – Because functioning addicts manage to avoid the negative consequences of their addiction and are able to maintain a good level of ‘normalcy’ in their lives, it is very easy for them to remain in denial and avoid seeking help at a drug and alcohol treatment center. This is exacerbated by friends and family backing up the fact that there can’t be a problem with their loved one because they are unaware of the severity of the situation.

Uncharacteristic Behavior – No matter if someone is a functioning addict or not, prolonged substance abuse has consequences, whether to health, career or close personal relationships. It is inevitable that at various points there will be slips in normal behavior, which is a definite tell-tale sign that they need to seek drug and alcohol rehab. Obviously, those closest to a functioning addict will be best placed to notice these changes.

Excuses – One of the most important things for a functioning addict is their need to continue using, which has often become a compulsion once addiction has developed. This can lead to them going to some lengths to conceal their issues, often making excuses for unusual or bad behavior.

False Appearance of Normalcy – Functioning addicts become practiced at leading a double life; one in which they are the consummate professional and the other when they are feeding their addiction.

Importantly, it is possible to recognize functioning addicts once the tell-tale signs have been identified.

How to Help a Functional Addict

It is crucial to defeat denial before someone is capable of accepting that changes need to take place in their lives and agree to drug and alcohol rehab. However, this shouldn’t be a confrontational process and so close friends and family members who believe a loved one has addiction issues should approach the issue in a loving way. It is recommended to have professional help available if there is a planned intervention taking place. How people react to being confronted with the consequences of their behavior can vary wildly from individual to individual and so it’s useful to have an unbiased third party present.

One way in which it is possible to persuade or convince a functioning addict to commit to drug and alcohol treatment is to help them understand that if they are able to cope successfully while addicted, they can only imagine their potential when sober. Whether someone is successful and addicted or not, it is not a happy and fulfilling place to be but it is never too late for them to turn their lives around by attending a program at a drug and alcohol rehab center.