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Seeing Your Functional Addiction Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Functional addicts tend to believe their drug or alcohol problem is invisible to everyone, but to those closest to them, the dysfunction is obvious on many levels. Beyond being less than sneaky, a functional addict creates relational pain through the inherent dishonesty of his behavior. If you or a loved one in Des Moines may be a functional alcoholic, it can be helpful to identify the key characteristics of this destructive, yet often hidden, disease.

The Signs of a Functional Addict

Addiction experts have agreed upon the following signs of a functional addict:

  • Denial: Functional addicts are very quick to jump to denial. She will fixate upon the generally accepted image of an addict – unemployed, broke, and using heavy drugs – and declare with certainty she does not match any of these characteristics, and can therefore not be an addict.
  • Uncommon patterns of behavior: Even the most careful functional addict will slip up once in a while. Perhaps he becomes a bit less engaged socially, or he struggles to be timely with his work or school responsibilities. He may even be trying to mask the typical signs of addiction – insomnia, paranoia, and shakiness, among others.
  • Quick excuses: When the functional addict is caught in her drug use, she will have very well reasoned defenses for her choices. The alcohol is necessary for the nature of her job. The uppers help her focus, and the rigors of her job require a vigilance she does not have naturally. The excuses always seem reasonable, but they are nonetheless only excuses.

A functional addict is leading a double life. Every effort is made by this individual to hide his problem and to disguise his addiction. This deception creates a series of negative emotions and confusion for those closest to him.

How a Functional Addict’s Choices Impact Friends and Family

Friends and family of a functional addict are often confused by the individual’s erratic or self-destructive behavior. If the family member or friend is not aware of the addiction, she may be continually hurt and baffled by the addict’s behavior. Once she finds out about the addiction, she may lose trust in the individual and feel a sense of betrayal, and eventually isolation. This can result in the addict battling his disease alone, without the support of friends and family.

Practical Steps to See the Truth of Your Addiction

Nobody wants to be alone in her time of need. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to see the truth of your addiction more accurately. The following are several ideas that may open your ways to seeing your addiction through another’s eyes.

  • Ask family members or close friends – There is no simpler path, and no greater risk, than the direct approach. You can always choose to tell the truth, and ask for support directly. Frame the conversation in the context of being tired of your addiction, and needing help to break free. If you initiate the conversation, the odds of keeping your support system are far better. And studies have shown that having family support is one key to a successful recovery.
  • Consider how you were before your addiction – When you look at your daily life, it is far too easy to discount the impact of an addiction on your life. Instead, consider how you lived your life five or ten years ago. However long it takes to consider a life before addiction. You will see significant differences between then and now, and then you will have a picture of how others see your deterioration.
  • Dream a little about the future, a future without addiction – Typically it is very difficult to think positively about your future when addiction is part of your present. The challenge is to deeply consider what your best future is. Then, ask yourself if you can get there as a functional addict. Odds are, you’ll need to break the addiction to live the life you truly want.

Once you see your behavior and substance abuse accurately, you will be able to find the motivation to begin the path of recovery.

Continuing to Hide an Addiction Is Not the Answer

It might seem to make sense to continue using your drug of choice, especially since you feel you are able to function effectively despite its use. Particularly when combined with the very painful withdrawal symptoms, continuing with the addiction feels like the right choice. It might feel as though life is just too physically painful to push through recovery. But understanding that you are not fooling those closest to you and applying the strategies listed above will allow you to start taking steps toward recovery.

Consistent use and abuse of any drug or alcohol is not a viable way to live your life, no matter how little you believe it impacts you on a daily basis.

If you or a loved one in Des Moines is struggling with addiction, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free helpline are available 24 hours a day to help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.