Not everyone who struggles with addiction fits one of the tragic stereotypes depicted on TV shows like “Intervention.” It’s not uncommon to be a high-functioning addict, which is a person who manages to hold down a job and maintain their relationships and the majority of their responsibilities in spite of their addiction.
While their lives may look fine on the outside, high-functioning addicts are still dealing with a chronic disease that comes with serious risks. In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways to determine if an addiction has taken hold of your life even if it may not seem that way on the surface.
An Excuse for Everything
A high-functioning addict usually has an excuse at hand to justify any aspect of their behavior. They might explain away a long night of drinking by claiming that it’s part of the culture at work; prescription drug abuse might be justified as a simple way to boost their productivity or take the edge off.
Do you find yourself making some of these excuses to justify your substance abuse and allow your addictive behavior to continue? If so, you may benefit from treatment before the addiction progresses and starts to wreak havoc on your health, career, or relationships.
Problem? What Problem?
Denial is another hallmark characteristic of a high-functioning addict. Because they’re able to handle their daily obligations and may even excel in their professional life, a high-functioning addict is unwilling to believe that their substance abuse is a problem.
In some cases, well-meaning family and friends unintentionally fuel this denial, especially if they rarely see the addicted person drunk or high. A high-functioning addict doesn’t look like a “typical” addict—they may not drink or use substances every day, and they may have discriminating tastes in wine or spirits.
If you suspect you may be struggling with an addiction, it’s important to look past standard excuses like “I only drink high-quality wine” or “My life is perfectly fine—how could I have an addiction?” and take a clearer look at the situation.
Helping a High-Functioning Addict
Although a high-functioning addict may not resemble the stereotypical image of a person struggling with addiction, the treatment options are the same. Speak to your doctor about getting help. An addiction treatment specialist can help determine the best treatment setting for your needs.
Outpatient treatment programs allow you to continue living at home while you receive treatment; however, many people benefit from the in-depth care and round-the-clock support of a residential treatment program. Support groups and 12-step programs can also play a valuable role in your addiction recovery plan, connecting you to other people who are facing similar challenges and share your recovery goals.
Even if an addiction isn’t causing you life-altering problems at the moment, it’s still an addiction. You may feel like you have all aspects of your life under control right now, but things can quickly become unmanageable. If you suspect you may be a high-functioning addict, early intervention can help you get your life back on track before any serious damage is done. With the right course of treatment, you can take control of your addiction before it takes control of you.