"I'm a functioning alcoholic. The trick is not to get hung up on the 'alcoholic,' but celebrate the 'functioning' part of the sentence."Because Drugs Are Bad, the world of fiction is famous for treating drug addicts as feeble, broken people living in disheveled apartments (or in a worst scenario, homeless) and constantly muttering to themselves. However, there has been a general trend lately towards portraying addicts in a more positive light. These drug users, with addictions just as serious, can lead very normal lives, at least to the strangers on the street. They can wake up in the morning, go to work, have a family, and interact socially without any noticeable problems, as long as they are getting their "fix" when necessary. Simply put, the addiction does not rule this person's life. Typically, this kind of addict can go long periods of time without getting their "medicine" and doesn't depend on their drugs as a "crutch". Often, this is because they can always get the drug when they need it or have the willpower to keep themselves from getting out of control. In Real Life these kinds of addicts can go their entire lives without ever becoming dysfunctional. It isn't real likely, but it can happen. Fiction, on the other hand, almost always treats them as ticking time-bombs, slowly working up to the one event that will send them over the edge. While crossing the line into dysfunctional territory definitely happens in Real Life as well, the key difference is that fictional sources treat this as inevitable. Could be justified because fiction typically involves putting characters through unusual, dramatic and stressful situations which does increase the likelihood of an addict becoming dysfunctional. Also conservation of detail comes into play. Its usually not worth mentioning that the character has an addiction if it plays no role in the plot and tells us nothing important about the character. It's common for none of the other characters in the work to even know that there is an issue until it becomes a severe problem. It is also commonly used as The Reveal for a particular character on a Very Special Episode, where it is revealed they have been a functional addict throughout the series and are now coming to terms with it. Compare Dark Secret, for characters with any kind of sinister secret in hiding, and Drugs Are Bad, for when problematic drug use is the only kind of drug use. Also compare/contrast Addled Addict, when drugs and/or alcohol are taking their toll. Compare Recovered Addict, who may cycle into and out of addiction.
— Nathan Ford, Leverage
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- Maiden Rose: Klaus exhibits the deconstructed form of this trope. He is implied to have been addicted to morphine in the past, so that once he is injured and needs it to help enhance his performance it's not very effective and he has to increase dosages. As one would expect, he doesn't stop using it after that and it's still up in the air whether he'll be able to curb the addiction again or not.
- Misato of Neon Genesis Evangelion drinks a lot of alcohol, to the point of having a fridge full of nothing but beer, but it's never shown to interfere with her job, where she's actually quite competent and is one of the (relatively speaking) more well adjusted members of an extremely dysfunctional cast. She also seems to quit near the end of the show, replacing alcohol with coffee and cigarettes.
- In A Cruel God Reigns Jeremy becomes a drug addict and prostitute to help him cope with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he suffers from due to months of torture and rape at the hands of his step-father. So not quite "functional," but more functional than he would have been.
- Bird's Nest in Copernicus Breathing takes drugs when he is overwhelmed by the memory/ghost of his little brother Michel and is borderline Driven to Suicide.
- Ruriko Daichi from Private Actress is an extremely famous and talented actress. She's also a very bitter Lady Drunk, which is driving people away from her.
- Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid drinks a lot of beer (and is often seen suffering from hangovers), but it never interferes with her job as a programmer or her role as Kanna's Parental Substitute.
- In Cruelty, Reis Northcotte's mother is definitely dysfunctional, but Reis himself fits the bill. The facade is beginning to crack, however.
- Despite his far more well-known breakdowns, Tony Stark actually spent a lot of time beforehand as a functioning alcoholic. Of course, as typical of works of fiction, that went downhill so steeply that he slammed straight into rock bottom. Hard. Granted, Tony's gone through a lot of awful shit, so his descent into full-blown alcoholism wasn't unjustified.
- Tarn of the Decepticon Justice Division in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is addicted to transformation, but carries out his duty (torturing and killing Decepticon criminals) none the less. Somewhat subverted in that it causes him to rapidly burn through transformation cogs, which can lead to death if he wasn't getting replacements from Pharma
- In Blue Is the Warmest Color, Clémentine, who's an English language teacher, became one after being dumped by Emma for cheating on her.
- Cade Skywalker in Star Wars: Legacy seems to do fairly well despite his death stick addiction. Especially since many users don't survive too long once they're addicted.
- Derrick Hinch of Revival smokes weed regularly during his downtime, but he's holding down a job as a freelance tattoo artist, maintaining relationships with his girlfriend and son, and is very useful to Dana on high-risk missions. None of that redeems him in Dana's eyes due to the addiction and his lack of ambition.
- Eugenesis has Springer, a former junkie who's attempting to wean himself off the normal drugs he used to take and is also dosing up the Transformer equivalent of steroids to try and keep up on the battlefield. He falls off the wagon at the worst possible time and ends up OD'ing just as Autobot City is swarmed by Quintessons.
- Sugar Plums the main character Ume is mentioned in passing to dependent on sleeping pills to get more than few hours of sleep a night because of constant nightmares caused by her experiences. This isn't treated as a big deal by anyone until she also starts using antidepressants but neglects to tell most of her companions for fear that they'll think she's broken. Not only do said antidepressants cause negative side effects (like headaches and nausea) when she uses jutsu (because chakra is linked to emotions, so chemicals that regulate emotions messes with the drug) but after being heavily injured in a fight and going unconcious for several days she almost dies in the hospital because she starts suffering seizures from withdrawal.
- Carlito's Way: Sean Penn's character David Kleinfeld is a mob lawyer and frequent cocaine user. He starts off the film apparently able to keep his act together, but he rapidly goes downhill into a spiral of ego, paranoia, and making incredibly rash and foolish mistakes with the various criminals he surrounds himself with. It doesn't end well for him.
- The Expendables: Gunnar is heavily suggested to be a junkie (a heroin addiction, presumably, based on the typical understanding of the word "junkie", but his exact addiction is a mystery), which heavily clouds his sense of better judgment and seriously afflicts his personality, yet he was still able to take on Ying Yang, and would have beaten him in one-on-one combat had Barney not interfered.
- John McClane of Die Hard series is a near-alcoholic, and as a result, almost always has a hangover. While it causes him no small amount of suffering, he manages to remain fully capable of kicking the bad guy's ass.
- Ghosts of Mars: Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is a drug addict, but manages to hold down a job as a police officer. Ironically, her drug use ends up saving her life. When she's possessed by a Martian ghost, Jason Statham's character gives her a puff of her own drug. Melanie can take it, the alien ghost can't and bails out. Compare one of the thugs, who is addicted to a different drug (a highly-nitrated compressed air) that results in him cutting off his own finger and, eventually, dropping a grenade at his own feet. Definitely not an example.
- Minority Report: John Anderton has become addicted to "Neuroin" as a means of dealing with the loss of his son and his being framed for future-murder. He is able to hide this from all but his closest acquaintances, and it does not seem to hinder his ability to function as a cop. It's implied that New hEROIN is specifically designed to produce functional addicts. The same drug is also responsible for the creation of the precogs, whose mothers were addicts.
- Implied to be the case with Johns in Pitch Black, who steals morphine from the medkit and injects it into his eyesocket, possibly to avoid leaving visible needlemarks.
- Requiem for a Dream: All the characters begin their addictions completely functional, and most of them are functional for almost the entire film.
- Tropic Thunder: Jack Black's character Jeff Portnoy. Obviously an Expy of Chris Farley.
- The title character in Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call New Orleans. To the nth degree, and typically with hilarious results. He's still a good cop, and even a badass, but always in a believable way (I.E. not an overblown action-movie way).
- "Teardrop" in Winter's Bone. He's competent and level-headed despite being hooked on meth.
- El Indio, the Big Bad of For a Few Dollars More spends the entire film in an opium induced haze. While it definitely effects his personality, it doesn't seem to impair his planning, and he remains an efficient, competent, and frightening villain, who stays one step ahead of Monco and Colonel Mortimer until the final act of the movie.
- Gary King from The World's End is unquestionably an alcoholic, and harder drugs are implied. While he literally prioritizes getting drunk over his own survival at several points, a hint at his suicidal tendencies, he still manages to go hand-to-hand with the Blanks and maintain his toxic charisma.
- Michael of Life of the Party has managed to keep his life together pretty well for being drunk through a good bit of it. However, the movie opens as his attempts start to fall apart.
- Looper. Joe is efficient at his job in spite of his youthful addiction to the "eyedrop drug." His older self got help from his wife in getting off of the stuff.
- Schindler's List: Oskar Schindler is shown to be a very heavy drinker. He uses this to his advantage by taking Nazi officers out in the town, matching them drink for drink and staying level-headed while the Nazis get sloppy and easily manipulated.
- Better Living Through Chemistry: Doug Varney is addicted to pharmaceutical drugs, but manages to fulfill his obligations despite his addiction, although it's clearly taking a toll on him. It helps that, as the chief pharmacist, he knows the effects of the drugs and tries to balance them out to avoid lasting damage.
- Molly ultimately becomes this when she starts taking drugs to help deal with stress in Molly's Game.
- Discworld black ribbon vampires specifically try to become this. Human blood isn't strictly necessary for Discworld vampires to survive, with animal blood being a perfectly serviceable if distinctly unsatisfying substitute. To help them be better neighbors and stop mobs from forming every few weeks, Black Ribboners take up drinking animal blood and shift the leftover addiction to a more benign hobby - shown examples include photography, politics, and police work/spying. It doesn't matter what they're doing, they're all addicted to something.
- Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict, but there was nothing wrong with it back in Victorian times. He apparently needs his fixes only when there aren't any interesting cases to solve.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was actually ahead of his time when he had Watson give Holmes a tongue-lashing over his habit in Sign of the Four.
- Although technically even Holmes fits into the "ticking time-bomb" trope: in one of the later stories (written after the harmful effects of cocaine had become more widely known), Watson mentions that Holmes' addiction had eventually gotten bad enough that it had started seriously interfering with his work, upon which he was finally persuaded to quit. Yet even after he kicked the habit, his severe boredom during downtime between cases would always cause Watson to worry about the possibility of a relapse.
- By all evidence, James O. Incandenza, Jr., of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest was one of these (for the Incandenzas)...until he became a straight-up alcoholic and ended up baking his head in the family microwave.
- Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan has a heroin problem, acquired through a pain medication regimen after a well-meaning nurse gave him a morphine prescription higher than normal during his recovery from the helicopter accident that resulted in his medical discharge from the US Marine Corps. In Patriot Games, it's noted this makes him leery of painkillers in general. It should be noted that he appears to have entirely beaten this addiction - apart from painkillers prescribed for him at the beginning of Patriot Games while recovering from a gunshot wound, he is never seen taking any kind of opiate or painkiller. His low-level cigarette addiction (A result of job stress) on the other hand...
- Tyrion Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire could be considered one. He is frequently depicted drinking and expresses a fondness for it, but is almost always in control of the situation and manages to perform most of his duties. The fact that his drinking seems to have spiraled out of control at the beginning of A Dance with Dragons underscores just how badly events have spiraled out of control for him.
- Gregor Clegane is addicted to opium, or "milk of the poppy" as it's called in setting. It doesn't stop him being one of the most deadly fighters in Westeros.
- Christiane F. : Christiane is a drug addict and a prostitute, but for all that she continues to attend school every morning (in Germany at the time, school was only half a day).
- In Addicted, Loren and Lily seem like this at first, but it soon becomes clear that their addictions — alcohol and sex, respectively — rule their lives and ruin most of their relationships outside of each other.
- Game of Thrones: Tyrion and Cersei both spend an inordinate amount of time with a cup of wine in hand, particularly when they are nervous or upset, but it generally doesn't affect their control of a situation.
- Many characters are like this in Mad Men, particularly around booze. Don Draper himself can usually work well while being an alcoholic, even boozing up at work. However, when characters in this series fall down the steep slope of addiction, they crash hard.
- 24: Jack Bauer battles a heroin addiction after having to go under a cover as a Junkie just before season 3, but remains functional.
- Southland: John Cooper is originally a functional addict, but is barely functional by the end of season three is given an ultimatum by Ben: check in to rehab or he'll expose him.
- Dexter: Obviously not addicted to a "drug", but still battles with an addiction of sorts and maintains a "normal" lifestyle. Played with, however, when Dexter is forced to go to NA, and uses his "addiction" to give his presence authenticity.
- Heroes: Exaggerated with heroin addict Isaac Mendez, who is actually most functional when he is using heroin.
- Prior to season 6 and his being detoxed at the asylum, Dr. House bounced between functional, barely functional, and "holy-crap-I-need-my-Vicodin-right now." In fact, when they first got House to admit that he was addicted to Vicodin, he refused to admit that this was a problem, since, he argued, he functioned just fine.
- And late in season 7, he appears to be headed for a full-on relapse after dealing with Cuddy's health scare by taking Vicodin. After which she broke up with him, after which he took more Vicodin. It seems to be up in the air whether he continued taking Vicodin following the events that ended the series.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: A replacement ADA is eventually revealed as a functioning alcoholic. She's able to disguise her behavior by being a hardass, but eventually she gets so out of control that she's forced to take a breathalyzer test in the middle of a trial and is subsequently disbarred... or rather, suspended. She returns the following season, attending AA meetings and overall putting in a really solid effort not to drink. Ironically, she's actually nicer when she's sober, even though irritability is an extremely common withdrawal symptom.
- The Wire:
- Jimmy McNulty is a particularly believable example; hard-drinking and described by his best friend as "an emotional train-wreck of a human being", he clearly has many issues. While he is obviously alcoholic, it's not until season 5 that his alcoholism is explicitly called such (it mostly gets accepted as typical "cop" behaviour), but in a scene where the FBI are investigating a fake serial killer McNulty has invented to gain access to funding that would otherwise be denied to less glamorous cases. The FBI only listens to a short piece of "serial killer"McNulty talking, but they use it to nail his personality almost exactly, describing him as an arrogant, high-functioning alcoholic. McNulty is visibly shaken by how accurate they are, especially given that he was loudly proclaiming the inaccuracy of FBI profiles not a minute earlier.
- Bubbles is as functional as a homeless junkie can be, which hints at all the squandered potential he had before succumbing to his addiction. He mentors two different homeless youths on how to stay alive on the street, providing a range of schemes for them to make ends meet.
- Discussed by Nate:
"I'm a functioning alcoholic, you know? And the trick is not to get hung up on the alcoholic but celebrate the function part of the sentence."
- Nate's battle with his addiction is a frequent plot point and major recurring theme throughout the series. It reaches its nadir in "The 12 Step Job" when he has to be in a rehab center as part of a con, leading to him genuinely suffering from alcohol withdrawal.
- Discussed by Nate:
- Nurse Jackie is a functional addict to Oxycodone. She regularly snorts or chews it, yet she never shows any signs of inebriation and she is able to work effectively as a nurse. Contrast to her coworker Sam, who was very clearly high at work including showing no response to pain, having glossy eyes, and showing too much amusement at the way a sheet moved while making a bed.
- Will & Grace: Karen's complete addiction to pills and alcohol is a Running Gag, but she is entirely functional and coherent in her daily life. Oddly, not lampshaded at all in the episode where Will gets addicted to pain pills.
- Played with in Dark Angel. A flaw in Max's engineered genetics means she has tryptophan deficiencies. Without large regular doses, she has crippling muscle spasms. Because of the state of America After the End, the stuff is expensive and hard to come by - though not quite as much as the steady supplies of chocolate, milk, yogurt, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, and/or peanuts she'd need to get by without supplements. Because she keeps her condition a secret from her friends, they think she's addicted to recreational drugs and throw away her pills before even confronting her. It comes across as kind of a dick move, though it doesn't help that she won't even explain herself even when they stage an intervention for her.
- You could make the argument that just about every main character on M*A*S*H has an alcohol problem.
- In one episode Margaret catches an old friend drinking during surgery and busts her. The withdrawal symptoms she goes through are...a bit disturbing. And toward the extreme end, but well within the normal range of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol detox (and depressant drug detox in general) is nasty.
- In another episode, Hawkeye temporarily quits drinking, just to see if he can. At first it peps him up, but he becomes irritable and gets on everyone's nerves. Still, he doesn't exhibit truly bad symptoms.
- Breaking Bad:
- Jesse starts out this way, mainly a pot smoker who occasionally dabbles in meth while still functioning close to normal, at least until his girlfriend gets him hooked on heroin and he turns into a junkie
- Andrea is a much more straight example. She is clearly a meth-head, but it doesn't stop her from forming relationships or being a responsible and loving parent. It appears that she's outright stopped using after she and Brock moved into a new (safer) home.
- Babylon 5:
- Doctor Stephen Franklin is addicted to Stims during the third season, having started on them in the second season to keep up with the crushing burden of running an understaffed hospital and dealing with the many crises that occur on the station. When he nearly gets a patient killed due to being strung out from lack of rest and having dangerous amounts of the stuff in his system, he tenders his resignation and goes on a walkabout to detox.
- It is implied in the fourth season that Commander Ivanova is a functioning alcoholic, doing double-shots of vodka to try getting to sleep at night after Sheridan falls at Z'Ha'Dum, Garibaldi is abducted by the Shadows, and she is left trying to help Delenn hold The Alliance together as it threatens to unravel.
- Londo is a more-or-less functional addict, holding down his job despite heavy drinking and gambling; as his arc grows progressively darker, the gambling and the drinking both taper off, except when he's drinking to put his Keeper to sleep. For contrast, Garibaldi is an almost completely non-functional alcoholic; once he starts drinking, things go downhill for him and anyone around him at a staggering rate of knots, but once he's made aware of just how bad it's gotten, he fights his way back to sober and apparently stays there.
- Keep in mind that sobriety and teetotalism is regarded as a vice in Centauri society. Presumably, many in the royal court and governing assembly are functional addicts.
- Justified: Played with. Detroit mob lieutenant Robert Quarles pops Oxy pills like candy, but he's still shown to be a cunning and ruthless villain. However, as his plans are thwarted by Boyd and/or Raylan, his drug use increases and his stability and sanity decrease.
- Colton Rhodes is a former military policeman who was kicked out of the army due to drug use. He initially seems to have his drug use under control and quickly becomes The Dragon to Boyd Crowder. However, a few setbacks and having to go against his Even Evil Has Standards morals causes him to start seriously abusing heroin again and he quickly becomes a wreck. Toward the end of the season he manages to stop using for a bit and he briefly regains his previous competence.
- Zig-zagged in Elementary, given that Sherlock Holmes is a recovering addict. He claims that he doesn't need a sober companion, anonymous meetings, or a sponsor, saying he's done with drugs. However, various episodes reveal that, at different times, he was either a complete wreck or at the top of his game. In fact, one episode ("A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs") has his former drug dealer come into town asking Sherlock to find his kidnapped daughter. When he notes that Sherlock doesn't appear to be on the same level as before, he offers Sherlock a hit out of desperation. Sherlock appears to want the bag but then throws the guy out. At the end of the episode, he reveals that he fights the desire every day, and that particular temptation was merely one of many. Later episodes reveal that when his addiction was at its peak, he was barely functional and bungled quite a few cases due to this.
DI Lestrade: It's a drugs bust!
- The titular character's addictions include nicotine (in the form of patches) and mysteries. He can normally function well as long as he has the latter. However, at least one episode has him running around demanding just one cigarette when no cases are available.
- There is also this exchange from A Study in Pink that implies that if Sherlock isn't using currently, he did at some point. (The fact that Lestrade thinks to call it a drugs bust at all also suggests that maybe the police know something that John doesn't.)
Dr. John Watson: Seriously. This guy, a junkie? Have you met him?
Sherlock Holmes: John.
Dr. John Watson: I'm pretty sure you could search this flat all day and you wouldn't find anything that you could call recreational.
Sherlock Holmes: John, you might want to shut up now.
Dr. John Watson: Yeah, but come on... (sees Sherlock's expression) No...
Sherlock Holmes: What?
Dr. John Watson: ...You?
- A surprisingly realistic example in Supernatural: by Season 4, Dean is drinking heavily in order to self-medicate his Hell-induced PTSD. He never really quits, but his alcoholism doesn't interfere to any great degree with his ability to function. Bobby and (it's strongly implied) John were also functional alcoholics. It seems to be a fairly common affliction for hunters. The rest of the characters certainly treat it very matter-of-factly.
Sam: Can you even get drunk anymore? It's sort of like drinking a vitamin for you, right?
- Sam is also this but with demon blood instead of alcohol
- A number of characters on Cheers could be considered high functioning alcoholics - excluding Sam, a teetotaller due to his past experiences with the bottle. Norm Peterson might be the prime example. He's able to keep up with his accounting job for years despite the alarming amount of time he spends getting soused at the bar. When he loses his job it has nothing to do with his drinking, and he rebounds into a successful housepainting career.
- Call the Midwife has Nurse Beatrix "Trixie" Franklin, a seemingly bubbly glamour girl who is—although genuinely trying to be happy, positive, and having a good time—also hiding a childhood with a Shell-Shocked Veteran father where she was one of a very small number of good things in his life. While her drinking is always seen as a little on the high side, it doesn't affect her work until Series 4 (1960), when she runs into several major crises at once.
- Bron|Broen: Henrik takes pills for insomnia, then takes stimulants to counteract the strong sleep aids and get through the day. He does not get high, and it does not affect his professional performance negatively. However, his illegally obtaining the stimulants opens him up to blackmail; he can't quit without going through withdrawal; and eventually he overdoses.
- ER's Doug Ross, who from the very first episode—where he showed up at the hospital drunk and his coworker's reaction made it clear that this wasn't the first time—was established to have a drinking problem, but never once admitted to being an alcoholic, even when he finally got his life together. Given that it never caused him any professional problems and he seemed less inclined to drink when his life was going well, it's possible he was just very good at Drowning My Sorrows.
- Pulsaciones: In the first episode Álex Puga can perform successfully more than half of the surgeries in his department due to the drugs he takes allowing him to stay active for longer. But eventually Reality Ensues and his drug abuse gives him a serious heart attack.
- In Arrow Season 2, Laurel having turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with repeated trauma, grief, and guilt is initially this. Several other characters are noticeably worried, but she manages to balance her addition and job as an ADA. Then Sebastian Blood exposes the fact she's illegally self medicating when he realizes she knows he's a Villain with Good Publicity, leading to her being fired from the DA's office and facing a review from the Bar Association. Lacking a reason to be functional, she quickly stops being functional and spirals.
- Community: In the last season, Jeff has slipped farther into alcoholism and depression, but is still able to do his job without much trouble. He doesn't seem to understand what the word "alcoholic" actually means, as when Frankie calls him a "functional alcoholic" he thinks it's an oxymoron.
- Doonesbury: Duke has consumed an enormous amount of alcohol and drugs throughout his life, in accordance with the Hunter S. Thompson caricature he was originally. While few of his many schemes and high-profile jobs have proved successful in the end, that hasn't been due to Duke's substance abuse so much as his arrogance, jerkassery and poor judgment even when sober.
- All vampires in This Is War count as this, being equally fleshed-out and functional characters as any other species, but needing regular hits of blood to survive
- Heavy Rain: Norman Jayden is apparently a functional addict of Triptocaine (however, ARI is what's actually causing the withdrawal effects), though he can die from overuse.
- The Templars of the Dragon Age series are essentially this. Their anti-magic powers are strengthened by eating lyrium, which is extremely addictive. All active-duty templars are functional addicts, but for every one of them, there's several for whom the years of enforced lyrium dependency have lead to becoming burnt-out shells. Alistair, a Templar-in-training who became a Grey Warden before taking vows, still has Templar abilities without the lyrium or the addiction - "lyrium just makes templars' talents more effective, or so I was told. Maybe it doesn't even do that."
- Frank Fontaine from BioShock is on ADAM, like the rest of Rapture, but has used just enough of it to survive while avoiding going into full-on Splicer status. When you corner him at the end, though, he overdoses on all of the ADAM in his possession, becoming superhuman... and utterly insane.
- Max Payne, arguably. The painkillers are not just a gameplay mechanic, but per the Word of God, Max has a genuine addiction to them. He still manages to do his job, or at least shoot straight. Which, in Max's case, makes up about 95% of his functionality. Deconstructed in Max Payne 3: the painkillers and alcohol (and V drug) combined make Payne superhuman when fighting normal mooks, but half of Payne's problems and failures throughout the game wouldn't have happened if he didn't have a serious need to drink himself stupid. Most notably, Mrs. Branco (his boss' trophy wife) might have stayed alive if Max wasn't busy drinking instead of doing his job - BODYGUARDING.
- High Elves in World of Warcraft were essentially to addicted to magic and functioned for generations by sustaining themselves on the magic of their sacred Sun Well, but when the Sun Well was destroyed their entire race descended into withdrawal and they became the Blood Elves. The Blood Elves started siphoning fel magic from demons to sooth their withdrawal and a faction of them even enslaved an angelic entity to feed off of it. Player Character Blood Elves up to restoration of the Sun Well were functional addicts; and various forms of degenerate blood elves who had descended too deeply into their depraved addictions were common antagonists in the Burning Crusade Expansion.
- Anthony "Gay Tony" Prince from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony is pretty much constantly off his ass on cocaine. And he somehow manages to run two of Liberty City's hottest nightclubs.
- Trevor Phillips from Grand Theft Auto V is a psychotic speedfreak. He's also a crack pilot, and pretty much rules the meth scene in the desert almost single handed, gleefully stating that meth keeps him young.
- Using chems can lead to chem addiction, which gives stat penalties while you're in withdrawal. It's not that hard to get by with an addiction, however, as chems tend to be plentiful, and doctors can cure your addiction for a few caps. In the earlier games, it was possible to become addicted to Nuka-Cola. Nuka-Cola withdrawal didn't even give stat penalties, just messages about how a Nuka-Cola would be nice to have.
- In Fallout 4, John Hancock, a possible companion of the player character, abuses every chem in the Commonwealth (and even became a ghoul originally after taking a hit of an experimental radioactive drug) but it never fazes him one bit. How much of this is due to using chems for so long, or his ghoul physiology, is unknown. Cait, a human companion in the same game, is also an addict, but in her case it's treated as a legitimate problem for which she eventually seeks assistance from the Sole Survivor in curing, if she ends up liking them enough.
- Every dwarf in Dwarf Fortress "needs alcohol to get through the working day". Trying to run a functioning fortress without booze is generally a bad idea.
- In Piss Moira functions well enough to maintain her job as a mercenary, despite a severe drink problem.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2, Solid Snake wryly notes that his "retirement" consisted of him being "holed up in the middle of nowhere in Alaska, drinking too much." He was still, however, able to properly raise and race an absurd number of huskies during that time, and when called back to do the mission on Shadow Moses, he seems to suffer from no ill effects from being away from alcohol over a 24 hour period. As well as this, Snake is a heavy smoker for the entirety of the series; it's only when his health begins to fail him in Metal Gear Solid 4 that the other characters become concerned and insist that he quit, despite his refusal to do so (the logic being that if he's going to die soon anyway, what harm could it do now?). He does eventually quit, however.
- LISA has party members who are often addicted to Joy which has alot of nasty withdrawal symptoms often than not rendering the party member useless. The two exceptions being Brad and Carp who still can hold their own while in withdrawal.
- Stellaris implies this with leaders who develop the "Substance Abuser" trait. The description notes that the leader has turned to substance abuse (the specific substance being left to the player's imagination) to cope with the stresses of their position. While it noticeably shortens their lifespan, they're not any worse at doing their job until they shuffle off the mortal coil.
- String Theory: Dr. Schtein, without a doubt. Considering all the drugs he's on, it's astonishing he can manage to walk, let alone work as a super-scientist for the government.
Schtein: I sometimes take amphetamines. You know, to stay alert...but that's more of a casual use thing...Um, then...sometimes I take sleeping pills. You know, the speed sort of keeps me awake. Maybe a little pot, and if someone offered me coke at a party I wouldn't exactly say no, uh...Spent as entire weekend when I was nineteen tripping balls on Ayahuasca...that's not important though, is it?
- Irrelevator: The green stickman is a meth addict who's functional, but he's still pretty stupid most of the time.
- Imp: Celina seems to have no problem staying sober when she's away from home, according to her imp.
- Parody Janeway in SF Debris's reviews of Star Trek: Voyager survives mostly on a cocktail of coffee, booze, nicotine, and an ever-shifting blend of Romulan marijuana and old-fashioned human cocaine. While it wouldn't be technically accurate to call her "functional", given her status as a Memetic Psychopath, most of her dysfunctions are independent of the drugs and come from her being a cackling supervillain.
- We Are Our Avatars: Basse is confirmed to be an alcoholic and regularly engages in drug usage, however she is frankly one of the groups more consistently rational and collected characters.
- Qrow Branwen from RWBY is constantly seen with a flask in his jacket, which he'll whip out at a moment's notice. This doesn't seem to stop him keeping an eye on RWBY.
Winter: He was drunk!Glynda: He's always drunk.[Both turn to Qrow, already sipping from his flask.]
- Sterling Archer, like Max Payne above, is constantly drunk (or seeking drink due to his high tolerance) yet can still shoot and/or whore his way out of any combat situation. At least three quarters of said combat situations are egged along (or outright started) by Archer's whoring, lack of social empathy and addiction to his own adrenaline; yet the alcohol itself is (rarely) the direct cause of his woes.
- In Season 5, Pam becomes addicted to cocaine, sometimes eating pounds of it in a day. The only problem this causes is to ISIS' finances, since they want to sell the stuff; Pam's health isn't affected (in fact, she loses quite a bit of weight) and her behavior is mostly the same barring the comedic rampage she goes into once she gets caught off.
- Futurama: Bender is essentially a commentary on functional alcoholism, as he literally needs alcohol in order to function, or else his fuel cells run dry, even though it makes him surly and he could actually survive on mineral oil.
- Futurama robots could be an inverse; without alcohol, they get uncoordinated, have difficulty speaking, and are prone to erratic behavior. In other words, sobriety is to robots as drunkenness is to humans. Also, alcohol doesn't make Bender surly, he's always like that; now, having to drink mineral oil instead of liquor, that makes Bender surly.
- Homer from The Simpsons is one, but Depending on the Writer, this can vary greatly.
- Brian on Family Guy—if he's not shown holding a drink or in a bar during an episode, chances are that there will be some reference to him smoking weed.
- Dr Venture on The Venture Bros. is described by the creators of the show as "an addict, not a junkie.". He needs the pills to function (and take care of his various neuroses) but never is portrayed as pathetic because of that, more as a side-effect of why he's REALLY pathetic.
- Rick and Morty: Rick is constantly drunk, yet remains the most intelligent (albeit idiotic) person in the series no matter how drunk he is. He's also dexterously athletic with lots of stuttering and burping. While the symptoms of extreme alcoholism are apparent, Birdperson is quick to explain that the abusive nature of alcohol is the only thing preventing Rick from committing suicide due to the horrors he has witnessed/committed. Subverted with his daughter Beth, who inherited his alcoholism and is shown to be quite the miserable wreck when drunk.
- While generally not vilified, coffee (caffeine) and cigarette (nicotine) addicts count, in addition to commonplace things such as sugar, salt, and fat, all of which the body naturally craves. As with any stereotypical narcotic, however, an addict of these things will still be pressured by society to quit or cut back when their functionality is affected.
- Drinking enough to get an elephant drunk had been a popular and widely tolerated pastime in the Eastern Bloc throughout the Communist Age (as in the top of yearly alcohol consumption per person, the former Communist countries hold still 11 of the first 12 places as of 2010) and shunned only when the drunkard became too dysfunctional to work and socially interact properly.
- Theodore Dalrymple's Romancing the Opiates, among other interesting facts, describes studies in which people with opiate (i.e. opium, morphine, Heroin, Oxycontin) addictions were able to maintain jobs for years, quite sufficient to maintain their habits. Compared to other abused substances, the short-term effects of opiates is not all that debilitating (compared to say, alcohol or cocaine).
- Studies have shown that giving pure medical heroin on prescription left a group of heroin addicts more functional than a control group that was treated with methadone. In countries that allow these kinds of programs, they figure it's better to have addicts get their fix in a medically supervised setting with known purities of the drug rather than them getting them off the street. The theory also applies to methadone maintenance. Methadone doesn't get users high, but as with heroin maintenance therapy allows addicts to develop a stable lifestyle instead of committing crimes to get their fix.
- Ernest Hemingway was known as a functional alcoholic who drank heavily but still managed to write classic literature.
- William S. Burroughs became a heroin addict during WW2 and remained one to his death at 83. He was a well regarded Beat Generation and postmodern artist.
- "I wrote my songs despite the fact that I was a drunk, not because of it." — Warren Zevon, commenting on the early days of his success.
- Hunter S. Thompson put his drug use on center stage in much of his work, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He was also a legendary drinker. To the point where his biography notes that at one point he went in for an operation and nearly died after the surgery from alcohol withdrawal.
- Billie Holiday among many other jazz musicians were frequent heroin users.
- Oskar Schindler was a very heavy drinker who was noted to have a nearly superhuman tolerance for alcohol. One of his favorite tactics to getting favors from the Nazi government was going out drinking with Nazi officers. They would get sloppy drunk, while he stayed level-headed.
- Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős is well-known for being jacked up on speed and caffeine most of the time. He died at the ripe old age of 83, being one of the most celebrated scientists of the century. His many friends had long tried to get him to drop the habit, but once he went sober for a month on a dare, the man complained than while high his head is teeming with ideas after just stealing a glance of a piece of paper, the only thing he sees while sober is an blank piece of paper.
- Up and coming Souncloud rapper Lil Peep was self described as a "productive junkie", but also advised his audience to stay away from drugs. However, he ended up overdosing on fentanyl and dying at the age of 21.