Can Drug Addicts Function Normally?

The typical understanding of an addict is someone who is out of control. Our cultural understanding of addicts is that they are people who have no control over their life. They are unable to maintain relationships and jobs. They may be in a dangerous spiral to a sad end. However, could there be folks who are getting things done and still dealing with addiction? Can Drug Addicts Function Normally? In a word, yes. From the outside, an addict can look as though they are handling things just fine, though there may be some ragged edges to what they are accomplishing and what they can accomplish. Addicts who are managing their lives and hiding their addiction often show signs of

  • denial, because they aren’t showing the traditional signs of addiction
  • odd or uncharacteristic behavior, which they will explain away
  • excuses, such as missing appointments or odd illnesses
  • fighting to appear normal and meet all the deadlines

The inherent deception of life as a functioning addict can be exhausting. As the addiction progresses, the addicted person may withdraw to maintain the appearance of control

Destructive Life Events and Health Challenges

Many addicts can’t face what is really going on in their lives until something catastrophic happens. They may

  • get stopped and ticketed for DUI
  • get into a fight and end up hurt, hurting someone else, or getting arrested
  • destroy a marriage with poor behavior or violence
  • miss a major date or appointment
  • get arrested for buying something illegal or buying a prescription drug on the black market

Another addict may have a dangerous cardiac event because of excessive drug or alcohol use. Uncontrolled diabetes can often sneak up on alcoholics who pass off ill health on their drinking when in truth their sugar levels are getting dangerously high. Normalcy for functioning addicts will start to unravel when those close to them either realize what is going on and can no longer support it, or they can simply no longer tolerate the erratic behavior. Many functioning addicts do a great deal of financial damage to their futures and the futures of their partners while hiding their spending on illegal products.

The truest danger of addiction often arises when the addict is just looking for a slightly better high. Cocaine users don’t set out to use until their hearts shut down. They are looking to be just a bit more confident and more engaged than the last time they used so they can feel better. Like other obsessive behaviors, the next high is a dangerous goal. Anorectics don’t set out to starve themselves; it’s just “5 more pounds” that finally lands them in the hospital. The physical need for drugs and alcohol is actually easily met. The danger is that addicts don’t stop when the physical need has been met. The true need is psychological or emotional, and this is a need that can quickly turn bottomless.

Addiction is defined as a behavior that generates a positive result in the addict. This positive response creates such a sense in the addict that the positive result of the behavior becomes a need. Once you need the behavior, the product and the resulting response in your head, you’re an addict. You will need a detox of some sort to lessen the intensity of the need to move forward into a healthy rehab. Too often, our culture views the addict as weak. The magnetism of the addictive substance is stronger than the personality and spirit of the addict. If you believe this to be true, voluntarily seeking help will be extremely difficult. Understanding that addiction can happen to anyone and that it is not a function of personal strength or control may mean that you can benefit from private counseling prior to seeking treatment.

It is entirely possible to receive confidential drug treatment. Be aware that you may need to undergo a supervised detox to get past the dangerous aspects of physical addiction. If you prefer not to contend with people in your community, your co-workers or even some family members, you have the right to maintain confidentiality as you explore treatment. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 833-846-5669.