Many of us think of addicts as those who are obviously struggling at rock bottom. Several movies and TV shows contribute to this stereotype. However, not all addicts are the same. In fact, addicts can be high-functioning.
What Is a High-Functioning Addict?
A high-functioning addict is someone you may not recognize as an addict, especially if you do not know what signs to look for. High-functioning addicts do not fit the stereotype. Instead, they can hold down jobs, work overtime, maintain full social lives and hide their struggles from loved ones for a while.
Unfortunately, this distinction can make addiction more dangerous. The affected individual becomes so good at hiding their struggles that loved ones are unaware that a problem exists until it is too late. Treatment is just as important for a high-functioning addict.
Signs of a High-Functioning Addict
With some knowledge and understanding, you can identify the signs of a high-functioning addict so you can intervene. Look out for the following indicators:
- The person uses a substance more than intended. A high-functioning addict seems unable to control their usage of the substance. For example, no matter how many times this person promises to have just one drink, they frequently end up having several.
- The person loses interest in their hobbies. When your loved one suddenly seems disinterested in their hobbies or passions, this could be a sign of addiction.
- The person makes excuses for their behaviors. High-functioning addicts may excuse their actions. For example, they may say that their substance use is a reward for success in their career or for their hard work.
- The person has friends who struggle with addiction. A high-functioning addict may also have friends who frequently use illegal substances or binge drink. They may also want to socialize only when alcohol or drugs are involved.
- The person shows signs of fatigue or sickness. If this person is often lethargic or has frequent headaches, they may be suffering from withdrawal symptoms or hangovers. To excuse these symptoms, a high-functioning addict may claim to simply not be a morning person.
- The person uses their ability to function as a defense. If you have brought up your concerns to your loved one, they may point out their ability to function as a way to refute your concerns of addiction. They may not realize the extent of their problem.
Do High-Functioning Drug Addicts Have a Common Trait?
High functioning addicts’ common trait is their ability to seemingly continue going about everyday tasks as they normally do. While every addiction is unique, many addicts are well-educated, have supportive families, hold down a job, are in denial and can hide their addictions for a long time.
Overcoming the Risks of High-Functioning Addiction
Because high-functioning addicts can often hide their condition, they can be at a greater risk of not getting the help they need. If you believe you or a loved one may be a high-functioning addict, contact us at Gateway Foundation to learn more.