The Myth of the Functional Addict

Is the Functional Addict Really Different?

Addiction is a condition where an individual abuses a substance over a period of time and becomes physically and psychological dependent. When an individual begins using a substance, their goal is to not becoming physically dependent. Over time the individual becomes unable to resist the urge to use and as a result become addicted.

The goal of most addicts is to be able to use without negative consequences. When an addict is able to engage in their addiction without consequences they often enter a state of denial about their condition. While a functional addict may not have experienced serious consequences, it is just a matter of time. A functional addict WILL experiences negative consequences if they continue to engage in their addiction. The fact that functional addicts often believe themselves to be different than addicts who have lost all hope is false and an extremely dangerous state of mind. Addiction is a progressive disease. It is imperative that an addict receives help before endangering the lives of others and themselves.

Although a functioning addict may be able to tend to daily responsibilities, the emotional toll addiction takes is often times severe. The consequences of one’s addiction vary. Some addicts experience health related consequences such as overdoses and infectious diseases. Some addicts experience personal relationship consequences such as divorce and estrangement from children, family and loved ones. Some addicts experience financial consequences such as loving a job or their home. Some addicts experience legal consequences such as driving under the influence and public intoxication. Regardless of visible consequences, most people suffering from addiction suffer greatly emotionally. The emotional consequences of addiction are just as dangerous and the physical consequences. Addiction is a disease; regardless of apparent consequences treatment is needed.

The Stages of Functional Addiction

As the functional addict continues to engage in their addiction, the issues progress:

• Increased episodes of using and Increased Tolerance: addicts drink and take drugs to feel the effects of their substance of choice. With increased use comes a higher tolerance. When an addict develops a tolerance to alcohol or drugs they will require higher doses and quantities in order to receive the same effects. This leads to further potential health risks and quantities. Once an addict has developed a physical dependence to alcohol or drugs, they will experience negative withdrawal symptoms when they are without that drug. While all withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, some can cause serious health related issues and even death. It is imperative that if an addict is physically dependent they detox under direct medical supervision.
• Self-medicating: an addict will start using as a coping mechanism. When using is their only coping mechanism, they have entered a dangerous point in their addiction. Addicts often find it difficult to function normally without drugs or alcohol. Negative and even positive emotions may trigger an addict to self-medicate with their chosen drug.
• Depression, Isolation and Consequences: as addiction progresses, the addict tends to isolate in order to feed their addiction, experience bouts of depression and may suffer from relationship, career or legal consequences. Behavioral changes are one of the most apparent signs of addiction. Many addicts experience fluctuations in their mood. Addiction can often be all-consuming, this causes many addicts to isolate from others.
• Health Issues: over time, addiction affects a person’s overall health. The health issues associated with addiction vary and can be severe. Here are soma examples of health issues associated with addiction: weight loss, weight gain, emotional instability, mental disorders, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, stroke, alcohol poisoning, overdose, coma and death.

How to Help a Functioning Addict

A functional addict is still an addict. Although they may still be able to keep a job, support their family or have good academic performance, they are suffering from a disease that is progressive and can be fatal. An addict who is able to function relatively normally in day-to-day life may be in denial about their condition.The functioning addict works endlessly to hide their using and some may truly believe their behavior is not consistent with a substance abuse problem. Approaching the individual in a loving and non-confrontational manner is often the best method. An intervention mediated by a trained professional may be the most effective way to help a functioning addict. If you know someone who struggles with functional addiction, Clear Recovery Center can help, give us a call at (877)799-1985 or simply click on the banner below.

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