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Is a Functional Addict or Alcoholic even a thing?

Many people structure their lives around a strict routine in order to function properly and manage their time well.  Some people set the coffeemaker to 6:30 AM and prepare their lunch the evening before to prevent chaos in the kitchen before the sun rises.  Others iron their work clothes to avoid an early-morning fashion emergency.  Many folks leave their wallet and keys together in a specific place to ensure that walking out the door is a breeze.  All of these small but conscientious methods are utilized by well-organized professionals to start the day on a positive note.  But let’s take a look at the approach a functional alcoholic or addict might take.  In this situation, the functional alcoholic may hustle before work to iron his work clothes, disoriented from a long night of drinking.  Or perhaps an outfit is hastily thrown together as the alcoholic or addict ignores the alarm clock and prepares for the battle of the next morning.  This morning is never peaceful or serene, but instead a profanity-laden struggle.  There’s rarely time (or the stomach) to think of food, coffee, or anything besides a handful of pills to ease the ache.  The morning routine continues with the hunt for keys or the search for a wallet that was tossed absentmindedly in a drunken stupor.  The blurred morning sets the tone for yet another turbulent day.

Surely the functional addict finds no joy in this jumbled routine.  So why is it that our functional alcoholic or addict continues to live his life this way?  With every waking moment feeling as rushed and frantic as his morning routine, how can he integrate addiction treatment into an already busy life?  Where can he spare a moment to focus on recovery?

Often we refer to this batch of alcoholics and addicts as “functional” because despite the inability to live a healthy, clean lifestyle, they are often motivated by external factors (such as money, job title or prestige) to maintain the appearance of control.  While their lives are in shambles, they are often able to perform a job well.  Sometimes family and coworkers suspect that nothing is out of sorts at home.  Unfortunately, this façade allows the functional alcoholic/addict to believe that self-destructive behavior is less harmful than we think.  They compare themselves to others based on the outside appearance and decide they may not need addiction treatment, even when the need for help is blatantly clear.  By immersing themselves in work and other activities, they believe they simply don’t have the time to invest in rigorous addiction treatment.  Are you tired of masking the torment of your addiction? Are you prepared to invest time and energy in recovery, which will open the doors to a new sense of freedom?  Stop telling yourself you’re too busy.  If you have enough time to drink or use, you certainly have time to get into recovery.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a free consultation regarding addiction and treatment options, please call 609.709.4205.