When a person is in active addiction to drugs or alcohol yet seems to be able to function normally in their day-to-day lives, they are considered to be in “high-functioning addiction.” Sometimes, people with addiction are even able to function at a higher-than-normal level. Addiction affects everyone differently. But the truth is most people with a substance use disorder will eventually find their lives more and more difficult to manage until eventually they will be unable to hide their addiction from those around them.
Who Is Likely to Be High-Functioning in Their Addiction?
Just because a person appears to be a responsible substance user, it does not mean they are. Some people have learned how to separate their substance dependence from their professional lives. Many people who are high-functioning in their addiction are educated, intelligent, hold a steady job, and maintain an active social life. Some are very successful in high-powered careers. Many own homes and have children.
Signs of a High-Functioning Addiction
Although some people are able to hide their addiction, they will eventually reach the point where they need help in order to keep functioning. Since they are very adept at hiding their substance use disorder, it is very important to be able to recognize subtle signs of addiction. By being able to identify the addiction, you may be able to help your loved one receive the treatment they need before their drug or alcohol addiction dismantles their life.
1- Doing More Drugs or Drinking More Alcohol Than Intended
It is not unusual to go out intending to have one drink and have several instead. The problem arises when that occurs every time or almost every time the person uses drugs or alcohol. People who are addicted are not able to sufficiently limit the amount of drugs or alcohol they use.
2 – Denial and Excuses
Almost all people suffering from addiction share the common behavior of making excuses and denying their problem. But someone in a high-functioning addiction can often make their excuses and denials sound reasonable. They may say they deserve to have some fun because they work really hard. Or say they have to take drugs or drink to relieve the stress of their intense career.
When someone prefers to spend their time alone using their substance of choice instead of spending time with family and friends, this may be a sign of addiction. They may be able to convince others that their isolation is normal or part of their personality. Maybe it is. But if you notice that they spend more and more time alone and start to abandon people or activities they used to enjoy, this is a red flag.
4 – Memory Issues
It is common for people addicted to drugs or alcohol to have memory issues. They may experience times when they have no memory or an incomplete memory of certain moments. If the person is experiencing memory issues, they need to get help immediately. It is an indication that their substance use disorder is affecting their brain’s normal functions.
5 – Withdrawal symptoms
A person dealing with addiction may appear ill in the morning. They may have headaches, stomach issues, or be lethargic. To justify how they are feeling, they will say that they have a common illness or that they are “not a morning person.” It is more likely they have a hangover or are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a sure symptom of addiction. Common withdrawal symptoms include headache, anxiety, fatigue, and sweating.
If You Need Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, you are not alone. We can help you regain your sobriety and your life. Call and speak to a professional counselor at English Mountain Recovery located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We will answer your questions and help you begin your journey on the road to a high-functioning recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.