Functional Addiction: Living a Lie
One of the typical characteristics of addiction is an inability to lead a ‘normal’ life. When one is under the throes of drugs or alcohol, it can be difficult to hold down a job or a relationship, let alone have a decent social life. Sometimes, however, it is possible to ‘have it all’ – at least as far as appearances are concerned. Functional addicts seem to do well at work, have partners and be ‘the life of the party’ – until the cracks start appearing in the perfect picture they have painted.
Statistics indicate that functional alcoholism is much more rampant than we realise. Findings include:
- Around 19.5% of alcoholics are classified as the ‘functional’ sub-type.
- Around 8 % of full-time and 10.2% of part-time workers use illicit drugs.
- Workplace drug testing has shown that post-accident drug tests are four times more likely to find narcotics than pre-employment drug tests.
Functional addiction can be spotted in many ways. Those affected can change their behavior when drinking, become defensive when the subject of their habit is raised, make excuse for increased use (‘Part of my job is entertaining clients’ etc.), spend considerable time with drinkers or drug users, finish others’ drinks and hide their use of drugs and alcohol.
Because functional addicts can keep their addiction a secret for a long time, it can be harder on them to seek help than those who are open about their problem. Often, they only seek assistance when ‘real problems’ ensue, including the breakup of relationships, job loss, withdrawal symptoms, blackouts, memory loss, legal issues, etc.
Signs of functional addiction include:
Deception: Family or friends may complain about discrepancies in an addict’s excuses or fabricated stories.
‘Passes’ for Bad Behavior: Family, friends or employees may have to constantly accommodate an addict’s bad behavior, tardiness, inconsistent promises, etc.
Enabling: Sometimes, loved ones enable addiction by purchasing alcohol or drugs for someone else, or not speaking up when they notice abuse.
Seeking Real Success
Often, the biggest stumbling block for a functional addict, is their fear of losing the prestige and power they have, should they admit they have a problem – many dread seeking help from specialists. Yet the trappings of success are empty when one is struggling against the serious internal conflict caused by alcohol or drugs. Real success means being brave enough to pursue lasting change, even when we have to remove the beautiful mask we have donned for so long.
Laura Fallon works as a writer now. Prior to this, she’d worked in a very pressured job in the city. It was during this time, she developed an addiction to painkillers in order to cope with her rising stress levels. With the help of loved ones, she was able to overcome her issues, although it has been a long road to recovery. She’s now a mom to two daughters, but works from home in order to keep her home/work life balance better. In her spare time, she volunteers with a couple of mental health charities.
Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions and Public Speaking Events
Chris Delaney is also a published author “The 73 Rules of Influencing the Interview – using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques”
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