Often when thinking of addiction, you might picture all of the ways that this condition can debilitate people: losing one’s job, being unable to form healthy relationships, struggling with mental health, becoming isolated, and so on. It’s easy to see these as the hallmarks of addiction. But sometimes, the consequences of addiction aren’t so clear.

If you are a functioning addict, you might not be able to clearly see how addiction is impacting you or your loved ones. Here, we will explain what a functioning addict is, the risks that come with this condition, and how to find an addiction treatment program to help you feel like yourself again.

Can Veterans Be Functioning Addicts?

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The relationship between veterans and addiction is quite complicated. Unfortunately, many veterans experience unthinkable hardships while protecting our country. This can include combat exposure, becoming injured, witnessing deaths, experiencing military sexual trauma, and more. As a result, veterans are forced to cope with things that many people could never imagine.

However, there is a stigma around having mental health distress, especially if you are a veteran who is expected to be strong and unflinching in the most challenging of situations. But this stigma around mental health simply leads veterans to struggle with the symptoms and dangers of various conditions on their own.

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Thus, veterans have a much higher chance of developing PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions. Veterans who have these mental health conditions are then at an even greater risk for developing a substance use disorder. Additionally, veterans are less likely to get treatment for mental health distress and addiction than the general population.

Addiction and mental health disorders affect each veteran differently. While one veteran might be able to find specific treatment that helps them recover right away, another veteran might be a functioning addict who doesn’t even realize that they have a problem with alcohol or drugs. So, in short, yes: veterans can be functioning addicts who have all the symptoms of addiction but are practiced at hiding their struggles from family members and other loved ones. 

If you are a high-functioning addict, you might feel as though you do not need help because you are able to get through each day and keep the pain inside of you. But the dangers of addiction in veterans are heightened when you are a high-functioning addict because you won’t know how to help yourself find recovery before it is too late.

How Do You Know if You’re a Functioning Addict?

It can be challenging to identify if you are a functioning alcoholic, functioning heroin addict, functioning meth addict, or any other type of functioning addict. There are a few ways to get a better understanding if you are a functioning addict and if you need addiction treatment.

First, you might take a high-functioning drug addict or high-functioning alcoholic quiz to recognize your own habits and symptoms. Secondly, if you have a suspicion that you are a high-functioning addict, you can speak to mental health professionals and receive insight on whether or not you need treatment. 

Lastly, you can familiarize yourself with some of the signs of a functioning addict below. If you live with a high-functioning alcoholic or a high-functioning drug addict, you might recognize some of these signs in your family members or friends as well. These include:

  • Storing or hiding alcohol
  • Drinking or using to get through the day
  • Making dangerous decisions while under the influence
  • Spending time with other addicts
  • Downplaying the effects of drinking or using drugs
  • Lying to others about how often you drink or use

If you recognize any of these high-functioning alcoholic signs in yourself or in somebody you care about, consider a veteran-focused addiction treatment program. Recovery cannot truly begin until you understand the problem and find the motivation to heal.

Do You Need Treatment if You Are a Functioning Addict?

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You might be a veteran who is able to keep a job, have healthy relationships, or do anything that non-addicts are doing. But if you are a high-functioning addict, the reality is that you have a condition that can lead to serious health complications, including worsening mental illness, heart failure, and even death. 

Treatment for high-functioning alcoholism and drug abuse typically begins with safe, medically supervised detox. Then, you will have the opportunity to experience treatment options specifically for veterans to help you understand why you turn to drugs or alcohol and to teach you what you can do instead to keep yourself emotionally well.

At Heroes’ Mile, a recovery center for veterans in Florida, you will have the chance to meet other high-functioning addicts in group therapy to show you that you are not alone in this process. You might also receive treatments such as:

If you are tired of hiding your addiction and mental health struggles like so many other veterans do, give Heroes’ Mile a call at 888-838-6692 or fill out our confidential form online with your concerns. Here, you don’t need to pretend any longer—you can find yourself and true happiness once again.

As with a functioning addict, a functioning alcoholic is someone who can put on a facade or act as though they are completely okay. They might even be able to successfully fulfill their daily responsibilities. However, all the while they are struggling through an addiction to alcohol and require professional treatment to recover.

There is a huge difference between social drinking and alcoholism. The main aspect of being an alcoholic is that you cannot control how much you drink. Some signs of alcoholism include not being able to stop drinking after one alcoholic beverage, using alcohol to cope with mental health distress, and feeling withdrawal symptoms whenever you are not drinking.

A functioning addict is somebody who has a substance use disorder but is able to “mask” or hide the symptoms in their everyday lives. Thus, a functioning addict might be able to work, keep healthy relationships, and socialize without anyone picking up on the fact that they are struggling.

There is not one defining characteristic of all addicts that set them apart from non-addicts in society. This means that anybody can have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, even if you cannot “see” it. In fact, many addicts—especially veterans, who resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms as a means to survive—are particularly good at hiding signs of addiction from their loved ones and even from themselves.

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