Many people wrongly believe that it is easy to spot someone suffering from addiction issues. While some addicts display visible signs of addiction, others are not as easy to pinpoint. The truth is that around half of the addicts in the UK are what is known as functioning addicts, and it is usually impossible to tell that these individuals are suffering addiction issues.
Most of those who have no experience of addiction have a stereotype in mind when they imagine what an addict looks like. They picture people who live on the streets and drink or take drugs down dark alleyways. They assume that these individuals are from a poor background and that they have not had a good upbringing.
Nevertheless, the reality is that many people who suffer from addiction have their own homes, their own families, and are considered successful in their lives. They often have good jobs, and those who know them would be shocked to hear they are struggling with drugs, alcohol, or gambling issues.
Hiding the Problem
Functioning addicts are skilled at hiding their addictions. Just because a person has a good job and a secure home life does not automatically mean that he or she has a good life. Many of these individuals are drinking excessively high amounts of alcohol every day to mask the fact that their life is actually a mess. They may be having marital problems or may be trying to numb the pain of an experience or bereavement.
The problem with functioning addicts is that they often go long periods hiding their problems and do not get the help they need. There is also the risk that their life will come crashing down around them abruptly and in very dramatic fashion.
Why Being a Functioning Addict is Harmful
Addiction is harmful regardless of the circumstances but, for the functioning addict, the consequences can be even worse. Those who carry on hiding their problems for a long time are in danger of their problems escalating. The fact that they can drink, take drugs, or gamble in secret means that they will continue to do so for as long as possible. While others are unaware of their problems, they will not be confronted and may feel as though they can get away with anything.
Because functioning addicts are not recognisable, they are often in denial about the fact that they even have an addiction. After all, if others are not worried, then it is obviously not that much of a problem. In addition, if others have not noticed and are not putting pressure on them, there is no need for them to stop.
Nonetheless, functioning addicts are unlikely to be able to hide their addictions forever and when people do eventually find out, the damage to the affected person’s health or their financial situation may already be done.
Signs of Addiction
Even if someone you love is a functioning addict, there are still some signs that you may notice that could give you cause for suspicion. For example, if this person is generally quite quiet but becomes the total opposite when drinking alcohol, you may be concerned, especially if he or she becomes defensive when asked about their alcohol consumption.
Functioning addicts often act in a secretive manner and may lie about what they are doing or where they have been. They may suffer from mood swings and appear quite ill every morning when they are not drinking or taking drugs. You may also notice that this person quite often speaks of cutting down on the amount they drink, but then never seems to manage this.
If you are worried about a loved one and are concerned that he or she may have an addiction, contact Addiction Helper today. Our team of advisors and counsellors are on hand to listen and to offer addiction advice and support where appropriate.