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A Functioning Addict in the Family: The Double Lives They Lead

functioning addict in the family

A Functioning Addict in the Family: The Double Lives They Lead

Is there someone in your family who is addicted to an illicit drug? All too often, when an individual is struggling with an addiction to drugs, they end up living double lives – they live one life where they are happy and successful and well-liked, and this is the side they show their friends, family members, and co-workers, and they live another life where they feel the constant need to use drugs in order to function, and this is the side they keep to themselves, buried deep below the surface where no one can see it. If you are noticing signs of a double life in a loved one, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to a qualified addiction recovery counselor about the available treatment options for a functioning addict in the family.

What are Functioning Addicts?

Most people picture the typical junkie when they think of an addict, a homeless person getting high on the street or begging for money to pay for drugs, but there’s another type of user, called a “functioning addict.” Functioning addicts are people who seem to have their life together – a steady job, loving family members, a nice place to live, a car, a wide social circle, all the trappings of a seemingly successful life – but who are simply “passing” for something they’re not. A functioning addict is someone who wears a mask of sorts around the people he loves, showing them the face of someone who is doing okay when in reality, he is struggling with a substance abuse disorder.

When it comes down to it, functioning addicts only don’t fit the stereotype of what we typically see as an “addict.” They go to work, they take care of their family, they pay their bills, and they fulfill their everyday obligations, so everything must be fine, right? So what if they sometimes use drugs, so long as they aren’t always getting high, right? You would know if a person you loved was really in trouble, right? Unfortunately, for a functioning addict in the family, it’s only a matter of time before they become nonfunctional, and then it may be too late. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million people aged 12 and older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009, and only 2.6 million received treatment at a specialized rehab facility.

Signs of a Functioning Addict in the Family

Drug addiction is a serious issue, but it’s one that often goes untreated. In some cases, a functioning addict may even be able to fool himself into thinking everything is fine, but if it becomes necessary for the person to use a substance to feel normal or function properly on a daily basis, that is a definite red flag. The very nature of this type of addiction means it ‘s hard to spot, and the addict himself is likely in denial about it, but there are certain warning signs of drug addiction friends, family members, and coworkers can watch out for if they suspect someone of being a functioning addict. The physical and behavioral signs of a functioning addict may include:

  • Changes in appearance, i.e. dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, unusually heavy eyelids, or eyes that appear glassy
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • A detectable odor of alcohol, strong mouthwash or mints
  • Habitual tardiness and absences
  • Secretive behavior
  • An unusual or inappropriate wardrobe, i.e. wearing long sleeves in the summer to hide track marks
  • Changes in mood, i.e. being unusually emotional, moody or erratic, or reacting to things in an unexpected way
  • Making excuses for their behavior, appearance or mood

Call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today for Help

The unfortunate truth about a functioning addict in the family is that they often don’t get the help they need, either because they refuse to admit they have a problem, or because they are successful at hiding their drug use from the people around them. The family dynamics in addiction are especially complicated, particularly when loved ones are left in the dark about a family member’s addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to cocaine, heroin, painkillers or another type of drug, call our toll-free number today to discuss your treatment options with the substance abuse experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services.

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