Why Functional Addicts and Alcoholics Think They’re OK

People with an addiction don’t always look or behave the way that you would expect. While you may see people with a drug or alcohol addiction being portrayed as looking disheveled or unemployed, you need to know that some people can keep it together for many years.

If you find yourself wondering why functional addicts and alcoholics think they’re ok, then you might be frustrated with trying to get through to someone that you care about. Exploring the mindset of this type of person helps you get to the root of what’s going on so that your interventions are more effective.

What Is a Functional Addict?

A functional addict or alcoholic is someone that continues to live life otherwise normally except for their tendency to misuse drugs or alcohol. They can maintain successful careers, raise their children well and even hold leadership roles in the community. Many people who fall into this category are able to hide their condition so well that people would be shocked to hear that they had a problem.

Despite their mostly normal behaviors, you can spot a few signs that someone is continuing to remain functional but also has an addiction.

  • They make excuses for their behavior that are hard to dispute
  • They overdo it more often than not
  • They surround themselves with people who also have addictions
  • They appear ill in the morning and feel better as the day goes on
  • They stop doing things other than drinking or doing drugs

How Does Addiction Affect a Person’s Reasoning?

One of the hardest things for people to understand is how someone who is so intelligent and responsible could deny that they have an addiction. Understanding this is easier when you’ve taken some time to look at how drugs and alcohol affect the brain.

The first thing to know is that misusing substances for any period of time causes people to lose some of their ability to make rational decisions. In fact, your loved one may rationalize that they clearly can’t have a problem since they are able to be so successful.

Even though you know that they might eventually hit rock bottom, their substance misuse gives them false confidence that all is fine. The same type of independent personality that helps someone be successful could also be a hindrance to getting your loved one into treatment. They may say things such as that they have enough willpower to quit on their own.

Or, they may prefer not to go to treatment where their weaknesses may be exposed to others. When your loved one is being stubborn about admitting they need help, try not to view it as a character flaw. They may sense that there is an issue, but their desire to use drugs or alcohol overrides their ability to be reasonable.

How Do You Convince a Functioning Person to Get Help?

The excuses that someone with a functional addiction makes are hard to dispute. After all, how can you counteract their claim that they are successful if they just received a promotion. Typically, an intervention is the best way to get a functional addict to admit that their drinking or drug habits are out of control. Seeing that multiple people agree that they have a problem makes it harder for their excuses to work.

Setting boundaries is also important. It is possible that your loved one is only functional because they have people helping them to override their hangover symptoms or legal mistakes. For instance, they might have been able to save their professional reputation if you picked them up from the bar multiple times so that they wouldn’t get a DUI.

Effective boundaries are ones that you can set to let your loved one know that their behavior is no longer going to affect your wellbeing. For instance, you might tell them that you won’t cover for the mistakes that they make when they are intoxicated. As you do so, make sure that you come across with compassion and loving support. Letting your loved one know that you’ll be there even in their hardest times makes it easier for them to be vulnerable for a moment and agree to go to treatment. Do you prefer to get your loved one into a treatment program before they hit rock bottom? We know how to help someone who isn’t ready to admit they have a problem. Give us a call today at 844-639-8371.

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