“Functional Addict”

Posted in Speed Bump on 12/07/2009 – 8:00 pm
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I finished college. I got a job with the State, I got married, the house with the picket fence, 2 kids, a dog, and and a drug problem.  The only way I was able to stay off the meth and cocaine and other “Hard” drugs was to be pregnant; this, of course, means that in the beginning of both of my pregnancies, I was using and that’s something that is hard to talk about.  It is what it is, though, and this is my story.  I decided I would be as honest as I can, and as I am an addict, there will be things – lots of them – that I am not proud of.

When my children were young I remember life being fairly stable. Eventually, though, I began to invite people, places and things back into my life that led right back to “Old Behavior.”

I think it is important to note that I have stated that “I Invited” the chaos back into my life. Drugs didn’t walk in off the street, nothing forced itself up my nose, into a pipe and somehow smoked by me without my consent, and the people I associated with were people I chose to associate with.

I made a concious decision to use. I made a concious decision to hang aroud with people that I should not have had my children around (Although, my children were playing with their children.) I used at work, I used at home, I used constantly.

And, for many years, I was able to pull that off with consequences that were visible only to ME. Looking in from the outside, I gave the appearance of really having my shit together. I had all the “Stuff,” Cars, house, Harley, even the Picket Fence. I had the good job. I had a nice little family with well behaved children.

Everything seemed to be going fine. I thought I was pretty invincible, until one day in 1994 when I got a call from my boss who asked me to drive over to the other campus, so I did.

She asked to pee in a cup. After eleven years at the same job, someone finally turned me in. I hadn’t used in about 3 days at that time, so I thought everything was going to be fine – things were not fine.

The results of the test came back and I somehow tested positive for almost everything that they tested for. I tested positive for drugs I don’t remember using. I denied, I lied, I acted insulted…

But the tests don’t lie. I was given an ultimatum; go to a 28 day program, or be terminated. I didn’t want to lose my job. A friend knew about a rehab in the SF Bay Area I could go to, so I went there, signed up, paid the money, and was given a date to show up.

That day, I packed a trunk full of stuff, cried all day, and smoked a lot of weed. I left in the evening and went accross the bay to the rehab place, and knocked on the door. I was greeted, and told that I was not going to be allowed to stay once I got into the office. I asked why, and the guy (A counselor, I suppose,) said “You used today” and handed me my check back. I begged him to let me stay, but it wasn’t going to happen.

So, the “Functional Addict” was only functional for a while.

There is no such thing as a “Functional Addict,” because sooner or later addiction will catch up to you. Sooner or later, your meth use will show on your face, in your behavior, in your eyes.

People aren’t as dumb as we think they are when Methamphetamine gives us that feeling that we are invincible. What we are, in fact, is delusional to a greater or lesser degree. It’s just a matter of time before our covers get pulled.

This entry was written by Penelope, filed under Speed Bump.
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  1. Lisa posted on 12/08/2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    “There is no such thing as a “Functional Addict,” because sooner or later addiction will catch up to you. Sooner or later, your meth use will show on your face, in your behavior, in your eyes.”

    Co^Signed…I was fully functional at the beginning, mostly functional throughout my addiction, and completely NON-functional eventually.

    Pen, you’re right on target, per usual. :)

  2. Lori posted on 12/16/2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Although I’ve known you for quite some time now, I never knew how much your story mirrored mine.

    The house, the cars, the bikes, the kids, the husband, the great job, the “stuff”.

    Great writing my love. Thank you.

  3. Sloopy Lopez posted on 12/18/2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I have been referring to myself as a “functional addict” for a very long time. My story is quite similar to yours as well. No children & my husband died from Hep-C 10 years ago. But I had the great job, two Harleys and was sure that the world was oblivious to my unsavory habits. I only recently decided to be honest with myself. My fiance’(who is currently incarcerated) and I are both determined to win this battle. He is utilizing his current environment to aid his recovery and I am beginning my fight by educating myself…immersing myself in as much data about meth and meth addiction as I can.

    Reading your story, and getting that confirmation that “yes, you are not the only one to go through trials & tribulations such as these” is a comfort.

    Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.

    By the way, I am in Mendo County, not too far from the Bay Area.

  4. Jib posted on 03/10/2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Hi — great writing, I agree!

    However… either I’m just in denial or else I’m the example of the rare exception to the rule. There is a reason that meth and its derivatives are prescribed to certain people, and although I don’t consider myself to fall into that camp where ADD or ADHD drugs would be beneficial, I have purposely chronicled my use since I chose to start doing meth. I’ve been more open with people about myself, and when possible (e.g. NOT to co-workers) I am open about my habit. I am pretty much a solo user and none of my other friends do it. I KNOW it’s a highly addictive drug, but for me personally it has helped reduce my perfectionism and caused me to be much more introspective and observant with regard to what drives me and who my real friends are and why we are friends to begin with. I could go on, but while some people merely put up a facade to cover the true addict, if you can be real with people and transparent about your activities, I do think it’s possible to be responsible about your use. One last comment which is sure to draw the wrath of some: I know many stoners who spend far more time pursuing their “hobby” than I do, yet they would never consider it a waste of time and justify it as “natural” recreation. Really now. :)

  5. S.A.W. posted on 04/02/2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Jib, when I read your reply I felt the need to share my opinion on functional addicts & denial. I was a wife of 25 years, a Mom to 2 wonderful kids, a full time finacial planner, PTA president of my kids school & a functional drug addict. For almost 20 years I used & abused meth on a daily basis. And for 18 of those years the only person who knew my secret was my dealer. My husband who I had been married to for 25 years didn’t know or even suspect that I was doing meth. I was careful not to allow my secret to be known because people who were hooked on meth were considered trashy lowlife dope fiends who would do anything to get their dope. I have never robbed anyone or stole lawn mowers & other shit to pawn for my dope, I just swung by the ATM for cash. I worked everyday & was always there on time, my children always had the best of everything including a Mom who loved them more than life, my house was always clean & I was always high. When I look back I still can’t believe that nobody ever seemed to notice & wonder how I carried on such a busy life without ever slowing down & becoming stressed like most people would. As sick as it sounds I loved having my secret, I was getting away with something that I felt like was no ones business but mine. I also used alone & always in my own home. I had a pipe hidden in every room of my home so I could go in & grab a hit or two while I folded clothes or something & come back out without anyone being the wiser. I actually had it down to a science so that I would never get caught, I thought I was really smart, what a joke! I had done meth for so many years & yet I was a highly functional addict & I saw no reason to quit. I knew I was hooked but so what I did every thing & more than was expected of me. This went on for 18 years before the signs began to show at all, I was bone thin & my memory had gone to shit.
    About 4:00 am one morning my husband came out of our room with a pipe in his hand & asked if it was mine. I hadn’t planned for this to happen at all, I had gotten extremely buzzed & just walked of & left it out in plain sight. My first thought was to LIE LIE LIE & hope for the best but my deer in the headlights look gave my answer so I told the truth but chose to leave out the fact that I had been a drug addict for 18 years. I expected anger from my husband but instead I got concern. I assured him that it was something I only done occasionally. He said that I had better stop before I ended up strung out or in jail, I said OK, I won’t do it again. From then on I was extremely careful when I would sneak & use. It never crossed my mind to actually stop, I didn’t want to & wasn’t sure I could.
    Another year pasted before my husband showed up at my job & literally drug me outside & threw some papers at me & asked me if I was f*cking crazy or what. The papers were our bank statemnts which I also kept hid that showed that we were 56,000 bucks in debt to credit cards & he had already figured out why. He was now angry & had every right to be & from then on I was watched like a hawk & questioned everytime I went to the bathroom & had no credit cards anymore. I thought that it was about time to quit or at least slack off some, that sounded alot easier than it was. After 3 days with no dope I couln’t get up to go to work or do the things for my family that needed done. By the 6th day with no dope I was the bitch from hell & had missed 4 straight days of work & I didn’t even care. After 18 years of functioning just like other people it took less tha 1 week for me to become simply a drug addict. I made it 11 days before I said F*uck it & got me some dope. As soon as my husband saw me he knew I was high again & I did try to LIE LIE LIE this time. Now I had become a drug addict AND a liar, I was headed to rock bottom at 90 mph. I was told if I used again he would leave because he wanted no part of a drugged up wife. Within 2 weeks I had lost a great job that I had worked at for 15 years & everyone at work knew my secret. I was so ashamed & upset I HAD to get some dope so I could deal with everything that was falling in on me but everythin just kept falling faster & faster & I hated my husband for trying to make me give up something I needed & loved so much. I was severly depressed & ill all the time & I had intense cravings constantly. I did half heartedly try to get off the dope & function again but I was so pissed at being forced to quit, so again I headed to my dealers place, before I could get out of my car good my husband came sliding in the driveway behind me, I was so excited about getting high that I never noticed he was following me & this time not only was he angry he was finished dealing with his drugged up wife. I had no one to blame but myself, not only has I messed my own life up I had messed my whole family up. The next day I was all alone & there was nothing I could do to fix things. I couldn’t believe what a mess my little secret had caused. I decided to get help in hopes of getting my life back. Getting off this shit & staying off of it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. After 6 months clean I finally started to feel normal again but by then it was too late & I ended up divorced, had to sell my home & was flat broke & unemployed. For the next 3 months I rarely ever left my home, I was severly depressed but I was still clean mainly because I had no way to get money for dope. After a little over a year clean I finally found a job & proceeded to move on with my life on my own for the first time in my adult life with only my own stupidity to blame. I lived my life one day at time & patted myself on the back every night for making it 1 more day. I am proud to say that I have been clean for 8 years & 3 months. Even after all this time I still don’t trust myself sometimes so I have to keep myself & my mind busy.
    This drug will eventually take even the most functional user on a ride that leads straight to hell & being in denial finally slaps you in the face & screams, You are nothing but a drug addicted fool. Denial doesn’t lessen the fact that a person is a drug addict.
    So to any functional users who may be in denial if you continue to use long enough this dope will eventually kick your ass & turn you into a full fledged drug addict & functioning becomes virtually impossible. I never dreamed that my life would fall apart because I liked getting high but that’s just what this dope does & not only to me but to anyone who does it. At some point you’ll stop functioning at all. This drug was not worth what I lost in my life but at least now I have a life again & function very well without the help of chemicals that were killing me. An addict is an addict, it doesn’t matter if you function or not.

  6. Greg posted on 06/16/2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I would like to ask the person who posted last, or someone who has a similar history as the person who posted last, if there was anything that anyone could have said or done to you that would have made you admit your secret. I’d also like to ask, how could someone have caught you, like your husband earlier on? What’s the best way you could have been caught that you can tell us–little secrets that only someone doing that would know? Maybe it’s what kind of places to look for hidden drugs or pipes, little things that are kept in purses or on the person that seem like nothing but that have to do with use. I found a pipe and some baggies with residue in my closet and my girlfriend has signs of use including insomnia and loss of appetite, but that could be from so many other things. I just have a gut feeling that if she was using that it would explain so many things with her and the way she lives her life. Is a way that I can approach her about it, maybe something I could ask or say, that would really show whether she’s using or not? I can’t even believe I’m writing this. Thanks.

  7. Penelope posted on 06/30/2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Greg – I have to be quite honest. When I was using, if you asked me about my drug use (Or confronted me about it,) if my lips were moving, I was lying to you.

    The only thing that made me admit I was an addict was my desire to stop using drugs… and the repeated knocks on the head were how I became willing. I feel very grateful to have not ended up in jail, in an institution, or DEAD as a result of my addiction.

    I’m sorry that my answer to your question is simply “No,” nobody coud say or do anything to make me admit my “Secret.”

    I was lying to everyone, including myself.

  8. S.M.V posted on 07/25/2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Wow, my husband has been using of and on for about 4 1/2 years. He went to a 28 day rehab 2.5 years ago and then lived in a sober living house for a few months before moving back in with me and the kids. Then he confessed to using only 2 or 3 times to me when I had actually caught him in the months following. Things continued to spiral though and about 8 months after he moved out of the sober living home our family was in all out melt down and I know he was using very heavily again. He refused to admit it and our fights became so intense that I filled an EPO against him to protect me and our children.
    He then lived with his mom for about 4 months and went to meetings and worked on things and we went to marriage counseling for a very short while but once he moved back in with me and the kids he started blaming me for everything again just like he always has, he was very bitter and angry about the EPO and felt I lied about all of it and that was the only reason the judge would have granted it. We also stopped marriage counceling and he stopped doing all the things he was doing to maintain sobriety.

    Now 1.5 years later we are back at square one, he’s been using again very heavily. He’s lost tons of weight, I’ve found 3 pipes in the home which I turned over to our local police department, which to him is another betrayal, but I don’t want that stuff in my home with our 4 kids. He is facing felony charges b/c of it.
    Yet, with all the evidence at my feet he continues to say he is not using at all and he will pass a hair folicle test (which is required for custody now that I have filled for divorce b/c I cannot live my life like this anymore). I love him so much but I also believe I am being emotionally and psycologically abused by him as well.

    I don’t want to end it this way but I feel I have no choice and need to protect my kids from his further spiral downwards. He was the most amazing man ever and thats why I fell in love with him.
    He is now going to move back into the sober living home he lived in before but is there any real hope if he won’t confess the true nature of what he has been up to or if he really doesn’t think he has a problem. He is going to fight me tooth and nail for custody of our kids. Its going to be ugly. He says I gave up on our marriage, but I am only giving up a life of turmoil and unrest. He blames me for everything and my misdeeds in this marriage like not loving him enough are as bad as his meth abuse and infidelities. I read on another site about being “gaslighted” and I have to say that is what he does to me on a daily basis, makes me doubt my sanity.
    Is there any hope at all? Will he ever see the light of what his meth abuse has done to our marriage and how his meth abuse has turned him into a monster when it comes to dealing with me. Will he ever realize if he stays clean long enough the hell he put me through and the emotional abuse I’ve suffered at his hands while he was on this drug?

    I know I have to move on even if he never sees it but it would be so nice to have hope that someday he might possibly see the damage this drug has cost him and our family. Is there any hope?

  9. Penelope posted on 08/01/2010 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    There is always hope, but HE has to be willing to change. At least that’s been my experience and observation with myself and other addicts that I know.

  10. Lynda from puyallup posted on 11/03/2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    i used meth on and off for 20 years. i was 18 when i first used it and was hooked immediately on the weight loss, the creative energy and the art i created. when i was 30 i started smoking it and lost my job, home and custody of my son. i also became a criminal and it is an absolute miracle im not in prison, because thats where almost everyone in our crew is. either that or theyre dead. ive been clean for over a year now but i still think about it everyday. i am now 40 years old and i have a job, an apartment and a car, but i am 20,000.00 in debt from never paying my bills because dope was more important. all of my non using friends are homeowners with real lives, and i struggle with depression from all the dope harming my brain. i have trouble retaining information, my memory is bad. my son went to a juvenile prison for over a uear trying to duplicate my criminal lifestyle that i thought i his from him. im scared, i have anxiety about my future. im lucky, no one knows im scared, no one knows that i think about dope everyday. the two times i slipped in the past year i thought i would have a heart attack, and i know im not going to seek it out in reality, but i actually escape into a fantasy in which im high and thin with pretty clothes and lots of jewelry again. why cant i focus on the future instead of the past, where it was anything but glamorous? sure, i had designer clothes and jewelry but i picked at my face and body, slathered makeup on the sores and couldnt look people in the eye unless i was in some psychotic rage, and i abandoned my son, letting his dad win custody and he was miserable. i would sit in some fancy hotel, with my fancy crap, tears running down my face because it was another missed visit and i could not stop smoking the pipe to go see my son. that is the real truthof what meth did to me. i feel better for venting and i am going to stop feeling sorry for myself and be grateful that i have any life at all. thank you.

  11. Lynda from puyallup posted on 11/03/2010 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    i wish ther was a way that i could go back in time and tell that young girl that she was worth a lot more than tweaking in some crappy studio apartment with a man 13 years older who shot up and then wanted to masturbate for days while croaking out fantasies about children. that she had an incredible talent for art and that meth would take away the desire for art unless she was high. that any man who tried to string her out was someone to avoid at all costs. that she would blow off every decent job that ever came her way. that she would be a wonderful mother until she started smoking it. that she would ruin her chances of becoming financially self sufficient. that she would question her own sanity and have twisted and sick thoughts. that she would pick at her face until she was covered with yellow and green scabs. that money drugs and stolen jewelry would mean more than her own family. that she would sleep with ugly dirty bikers. help cook dope. try to kill herself. i wish i could tell her thats what would happen to her. i wish i could tell every young person who thinks its a magic potion that makes you cool and thin. that girl was me.

  12. Kristin Birch posted on 12/06/2010 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    i can’t believe what has happened to my life. I was with him for 15 years. I thought I knew him. He would never do this to me or our children. It’s been two years since I divorced him and I still am in shock. Meth is evil and made him evil.

  13. Jessica posted on 12/19/2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    There is hope. There is always hope. But it depends on the addict. It is all up to the addict. There is no way for to see how unrational or how distorted our (addicts in active addiction)thinking has become until we get clean, and even then it takes a while to truly gain perspective. This drug is such a destroyer. We become delusional. What we think is irrelevant because METH USERS HAVE NO CREDIBILITY while high.

  14. Penelope posted on 12/30/2010 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Jessica – I couldn’t agree more. If I stay clean for about 20 more days, I will have 7 years clean; remembering the way I percieved the world back then (When I was high) compared to how the world looks through my eyes today? It’s like looking through the eyes of two different people, because that is how meth affects me. If I am high on meth (Or anything else, actually,) I am not “me.”

  15. lisa posted on 06/03/2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I think my boyfriend is a functional drug addict. I can’t prove it and he would never admit it to me, but all the signs are there. My number one concern is that he does not raise any of his four children. His ex-wife raises the boys and his ex girlfriend raises the girls. Yet he constantly talks about how much time he spends with his kids, but he doesn’t have joint custody and they don’t live with him much less spend the night at his apartment with him. Plus, his behavior is inconsistent. He sometimes calls me everyday, about twice a dya, then the next week I will hear from him every three or four days. He claims to be perpetually busy, going to soccer and basketball games, school functions and the like. Even though he says he wants to be with me, he never seems to be able to make time for me. Sometimes when I do see him he is always exhausted and his eyes are really red like he is high. Then he avoids eye contact with me. Several times I tried to stop by his place when his car was out front. He did not answer the door. I was positive he was not with another woman. He is able to go to work every day and pay his rent, so it is not a case of him not being able to function. Whenever I ask him what’s going on he always gives me an excuse about his busy schedule, or says he was asleep when I came by. I have heard the doorbell ring in his place, and it would definitely wake someone up. He never leaves me alone in his place anymore, so I am not able to scavenge for dru paraphrenalia. Does this sound like an addict to you, or is he just not that into me?