"Functioning" addicts and the confusion / anger that brings


I have been dating my partner, who struggles with substance abuse, for close to 4 years now. It’s been anything but easy, with a few break ups/breaks throughout that timespan. In the last 4 years, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with an amazing CRAFT therapist (you know who you are!) who truly helped me learn how to navigate the windy road of being the loved one of an addict.

Something I’ve never seen talked about on here is the confusion (and, often, anger) that comes with being close to someone who is a “functioning” addict. By functioning, I mean they lead relatively normal lives and only a handful of people know of their serious struggles.

My partner is a great boss, a better boyfriend than he has been in the past, a good brother and son. So much so, that he’s very good at hiding a very, very serious addiction.

My confusion and anger stem from the disconnect that happens when on the outside (to his employees, friends, family) an addict can appear “okay” - even incredible and successful, but to those on the inside (mainly just me), they’re the ones who see struggles, the “bad/terrible days” and those moments that would make anyone think “who WOULDN’T notice what’s happening.”

I know I can’t control others, nor is it my responsibility, but I find it frustrating that so many people are unaware of what to me is so obvious.

I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar circumstance and feel a little less alone in these thoughts.

Sending love + light to all xx


I know it sounds silly, but I’ve actually gotten angry when I see my husband’s family celebrating all the “supposed-to’s” on Facebook - the vacations and the new jobs and the big milestones - and yet they rarely make the same kind of big deal about the little wins that occur in their own son’s recovery. I don’t know if that’s what you mean, but I think there’s some connection there. It’s the stigma of even just talking about the struggles in the first place. So no one even knows about them, because we’re all just putting out this highlight reel and hiding what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loving someone through active addiction and recovery has actually helped me be more compassionate towards others, knowing that we don’t know what is going on with anyone. Sure, someone might look successful and happy and have it all, but they could be feeling alone and angry and confused. A seemingly happy marriage may be on the verge of falling apart. It has helped me to not compare my life to others, because no one’s life is perfect.

I hope that helps. Thank you for posting this and for opening up this conversation. I think it’s important and has a lot of different layers that many of us struggle with.


I love this question @mnlamja thank you for asking it!

I’m a huge supporter of the idea that we can be advocates for changing the way that the world views addiction, and to me a huge part of that is educating others. For me it was important over time to let others know what was really going on with my loved one, realtime. To encourage them to support their healthy behaviors and not their using ones. And to be increasingly transparent with exactly what is going on, so that those who love my loved one can also be the best supports for them.

It can feel heavy to carry that knowledge around alone, and ultimately I want to see the world change its’ response to addiction. From one that is endured behind closed doors in isolation, to one that rallies a village to heal and help!

Love to hear your thoughts on any of that :slight_smile: <3