How to Spot a High-Functioning Addict
Individuals sometimes believe those with an addiction are unable to work, go to school, or remain social.
Although movies do a good job of portraying an addiction like this, some people are able to do all of these things and seem stable. Yet, they still resort to using a substance to help them get through the day. A high-functioning addict is an individual who is able to engage in many activities, but needs a substance to do it.
Functioning Daily with a Substance Addiction
A high-functioning addict does not seem like a logical situation. Yet, many people are able to minimize their outward appearance of using well. Some may even be very successful in their careers and relationships.
The key concern with these individuals is that they are using drugs or alcohol at a dangerous level and they are very good at hiding it. By masking their symptoms and exposures, these individuals are facing a life-threatening health risk that no one around them may recognize as present.
Could Your Loved One Have a Severe Addiction?
The Mayo Clinic provides some specific symptoms to look for in a loved one who has an addiction. These include:
- Limitations at school or work, such as missing assignments or missing deadlines
- Physical health complications, such as weight gain or weight loss, a lack of energy, or an inability to sleep
- Neglected appearance, such as not grooming properly
- Problems with money, such as needing to borrow frequently
- Changes in their behavior, such as no longer engaging in relationships or activities once enjoyed
When you consider these symptoms of addiction, you may not be able to say your loved one actually has these symptoms. For example, many high-functioning addicts are, in fact, successful at work. They are “genius-level successful” or constantly receiving recognition for the good they do. They may just be using drugs to help boost their ability to focus and have energy to accomplish much more than those around them.
Others may have physical health complications, such as sudden weight loss. They may provide an excuse for this, such as stating they are on a new diet to lose weight on purpose. Others may not seem to have problems with money, but they have a pile of credit cards they cannot afford to keep paying on. High-functioning addicts are very good at hiding everything they are facing.
How to Spot a High-Functioning Addict
An individual with an addiction like this is still going to provide some warning signs along the way. A family member or close friend should monitor for symptoms of this type of condition and, if noted, find treatment options for the individual right away.
They Make Excuses
Many times, an individual in this situation is able to make countless excuses for their actions and behaviors. Family members may write this off as the individual being dishonest or just unorganized. Yet, this type of high-functioning scenario often leads to the ability to talk their way out of everything. They may also justify their drinking or drug use as a reward for the good work they have done.
Their Social Network Is Full of Substance Abusers
Individuals who have an addiction may feel safer around others who are also heavy substance users. They have friends who they may not have had before. Binge drinking, for example, is common in a group of men and women. It can happen, for example, on a college campus. If the group is binge drinking, this could be a sign your loved one is, too.
Once They Start Using, They Have Trouble Stopping
A high-functioning addict may rationalize their use of a drug or alcohol by saying they will just have one. Yet, they move on to drinking numerous drinks or may use a mixture of drugs. This is a clear indication that the individual could be facing a chemical dependency.
Help Is Just Around the Corner
If you spot these signs of drug use, take action. Encourage your loved one to consider detox as a first step. Then, consider the value of enrolling in a residential or intensive outpatient treatment program.
Don’t ignore what your loved one may be hiding from you. You may be the only person who can help them find their way out.
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