The Facade of Functional Addiction

For many of us in recovery, we remember a time in the story of our addiction when we thought we’d be able to maintain our lifestyles the way they were and still continue to feed our addictions. We felt like we had figured out a way to manage our lives and still be able to use our addictive substance or behavior of choice. We thought we had found a way to “get away with it.” Over the years, we often were struggling but hadn’t been made too uncomfortable, or been so inconvenienced, or even harmed, that we had no choice but to want to give up our addictions. We were coasting along, comfortable, in the familiar comfort zones of our lives as we had designed them. We were able to convince ourselves and others that we didn’t have a problem, that we had everything under control. We may not have raised concerns with the people closest to us or given anyone cause to be alarmed. We may have appeared to have been fully functional and able to manage our work, finances, and other obligations and responsibilities. When we’re able to manage our lives and maintain our addictions, we sometimes won’t have enough reason yet to make the decision that we need help.

Being a functional addict is similar to someone with functional depression. At first glance, we seem like fully functioning, well-adjusted people with no problem handling our lives. Upon further examination, though, you’ll see that we can’t actually function without our drug of choice. We may not be able to make it through the day without it. We might not have the energy to handle our demanding jobs. We might not be able to fall asleep at night, calm our racing thoughts, or have an appetite. We might need it to relieve our anxiety. We might feel depressed without it. We might feel like without it we aren’t able to be sociable or interact with people. We feel like we need it to cope with life.

This dependence is far from functional. We’ve developed dysfunctional ways of handling our lives, our thoughts and emotions. We essentially aren’t really handling them at all. Our drug of choice has given us a false sense of security and a warped perspective on ourselves and our reality. We’ve created a superficial comfort zone for ourselves that isn’t actually real. Understanding addiction means being able to identify when an addiction, and an addict, appears functional but is actually quietly, covertly self-destructive.

Recovery for us is personal. At Riverside Recovery, we have personal experience with addiction and recovery, so we understand. Call us at (800) 871-5440.