“Functional alcoholics” are often the people who would benefit the most from an intervention. When someone defines themselves as a functional alcoholic or addict, they usually mean, “My addiction doesn’t impede my professional life.” This statement is another justification, or a “hall pass” given to justify addiction. Most addicts hold a portion of their life together, and maybe even excel in one aspect (think rock stars and celebrity addicts). However, when someone is in active addiction, their life will not function at a high level for long–the time spent drinking or using is robbing from other areas of their life.
Here’s another way of thinking about “functional alcoholics”: if a person is able to maintain the illusion of control while addicted to drugs or alcohol, think about how successful that person could be without drugs and alcohol stealing focus from the important areas of life.