Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 Round 2 - Functional Addiction: How long must we keep up appearances?

Name: Alec Can...
From: Ft. Wayne, Indiana
School: Carroll High School
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 Round 2 - Functional Addiction: How long must we keep up appearances?

Functional Addiction: How long must we keep up appearances?

Functional Addiction: How long must we keep up appearances?

 

My mom’s father is a functional alcoholic. Her mother is a probation officer. As an observer of my mom and my grandparents, I have a few insights to share with people in the area of addiction crisis, specifically alcohol, and the impact on the individual and societal level.

 

As a nation we are dealing with addiction crisis. I’ve been fortunate to travel and see many beautiful cities, but it also gave me the opportunity to see the parts people wish didn’t exist. From the addicts in San Francisco parks shooting up to the homeless people drinking out of bottles wrapped in paper bags on the streets of Fort Wayne, Indiana, it is easy to see there is a problem. What it isn’t as easy to see is the people that are functional addicts. They can keep a job, own a business…basically keep up appearances. They might be known as the life of the party, but I can tell you from experience that for family members they don’t always agree with this description.

 

My mom tells stories about her dad ruining almost every big moment in her life. Even if alcohol wasn’t served at an event, he would make sure he drank enough before to have fun. He ruined weddings, holidays, birthdays and marriages. Her mom had a social service degree, but went on to be a probation officer and run AA meetings after my grandparents divorced. Here is the thing, outside people never labeled him as an addict because he was considered successful. When my mom refused to let us see my grandfather she was seen as the bad one because it was “family”. This of course is just the weight a family has to carry. It has societal ramifications.

 

Before Covid the addiction crisis was bad in terms of functional addition as well as others. With Covid it almost seems that functional alcoholism is even more of a trend. Liquor stores offering curbside service, restaurants selling mixed drinks in batches to go…everyone seems to be promoting alcohol as a coping method of the pandemic. These are all great options for people without being an addict. For addicts, you’re adding fuel to the already burning fire. The consequences are now on a dire level. With loss of jobs and loneliness, higher alcohol use affects contributes to poor physical health, poor financial health and child neglect.

 

So, what can we do about an addiction crisis, specifically functional addiction? In my opinion it is not hiding it. For families of functional addicts, it is embarrassing. But honestly, if people spoke out about it more it would become as common as talking about the flu. I almost think it is easier to deal with someone not functional for the family. The functional addict accuses their loved ones of overreacting and friends of the addict either like their “fun” friend or don’t want to interfere with someone else’s family. When you are a family member that can be lonely. Hiding the truth allows that behavior to continue.

 

As adults we need to be aware and strong enough to step in if we see friends and family struggling with functional alcoholism and of course other forms of addiction. Take away the stigma of seeking treatment, even when someone isn’t at rock bottom. We go to doctors for physical problems and seek gyms and health coaches when trying to lose weight. Society should have the same feelings about addiction. My grandmother has told stories about how great recovery can be for people. She has also shared what happens when people don’t seek treatment with jail time, death, loss of jobs, and children being taken away.

 

For kids, we need to talk about it in schools and how kids can handle situations they may be facing as a result of addiction. For some it is survival and knowing what to do if it escalates. For others it may be ways to talk to family members about it. Whatever the case may be, we as a society need to shift our thinking about alcohol and realize that for some a beer can be as dangerous and giving a peanut to someone with an allergy.


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Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 Round 2 - Functional Addiction: How long must we keep up appearances?
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