When asked, Many individuals define a “Functioning Addict / Alcoholic” as someone who most likely uses substances alone from the minute they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night to avoid the ‘shakes’. These addicts or alcoholics are generally labeled as degenerate individuals with poor self-care/grooming habits (potentially homeless), who cannot live without using/drinking, and lack the will power and emotional strength to stop using. More often than not, a slang name is attached to these “misfits” as well. Perhaps you have heard these people being called a drunk, junkie, boozer, dope fiend, crack head, a druggie, lush, or a stoner? Sound about right?
Unfortunately, due to this common misconception of Addiction, many individuals with Substance Abuse problems are able to rationalize their addiction and label themselves a Functioning Alcoholic or Functioning Addict. Consequently, they do not receive the treatment they need to live clean and sober. In these instances, individuals often use a variety of explanations to minimize their use of substances:
“I can stop whenever I want”
“If you had my life, you would drink/use drugs too.”
“I’ve never used/drank at work or in the morning”
“I just use it to help me sleep at night”
“I’m not hurting anyone”
“I’ve never stolen from anyone, I support my own habit”
“It’s just alcohol & weed.. I’m not shooting heroin or anything” (Even though both are equally addictive and mind and mood-altering substances)
Truth be told, a diagnosis of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction does not depend on someone’s socioeconomic status (wealthy and able to maintain a job) or the quantity and frequency of consumption of mind and mood alerting substances. This diagnosis depends on the effect that these mind and mood-altering substances have on your personality and the obsession that follows after the first consumption. For that reason, addiction is considered to be a “thoughts and feelings” disease by the social sciences field. Due to the nature of alcoholic/drug-induced benders and binges, You do not have to drink/use every day or even every week to be considered a substance abuser. If you use/drink once a month but obsess about it the other 29 days out of the month, you could be classified as an Episodic alcoholic or addict.
Some of the further diagnostic criteria for Substance Use Disorders include: breaking one’s own rules about substance use, continuing to use despite adverse consequences, avoidance of social/personal activities in order to maintain using or to recover from using, intoxication at inappropriate times (work lunches, family BBQ), withdrawal symptoms, and preoccupation between periods of use.
So.. Take an honest inventory of yourself. Has anyone ever criticized your drinking/drug use? Are you usually the drunkest/highest person at the party? Do you usually resort to alcohol/drugs in order to seek pleasure or avoid pain? Without substances, do you generally feel alone in a room full of people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to give us a call at 201-488-6678 to make an appointment or to browse our website at www.specializedtherapy.com.
Remember… There is no shame in getting help. Addiction is a great equalizer and knows no specific gender, creed, socioeconomic status. It can happen to anyone. We look forward to working with you!