A high functioning addict is a breed of its own. They don’t fit the stereotype portrayed in the media. In fact, you may be looking up to someone in your workplace who turns out to be hiding a deep secret centered on substance abuse and addiction. You can never tell–until you read up on these signs.
Here in the Philippines, the term “addict” is often associated with disheveled, emaciated-looking person in tattered clothes living like a zombie from day to day. However, this image, while not untrue, is a stereotype. People tend to lump the term addict together to show one face, one look, which is the one typically shown by the media.
In reality, however, there are addicts who are respectable and productive members of society. They may even live in fancy houses, drive nice cars, look great, and wear nice clothes. They may be men or women working 9-to-5 jobs in some company. You may in fact pass them by the street and have no idea that they are addicts–high functioning addicts, that is.
What is a high functioning addict?
A high functioning addict is, simply put, someone whose addiction hasn’t incapacitated him…yet. High-functioning addicts have families, work overtime, hold down good jobs, have a great social life and even go to church or active in their communities.
However, behind the life of the high functioning addict are many dangers. One is, because this kind of addict is good at hiding their problems or denying that they even have one, they don’t get help. That is, until it’s too late.
How do you spot a high functioning addict?
1. They minimize their behavior. They chalk up their behavior as a way to unwind. They may even say that it’s their reward for all their hard work.
2. Drinking or using more than initially intended. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, they may start off saying they’ll have just one “hit” or one bottle. But then, the night wears on and you find them using more than what they said they would.
3. They are around people who also use drugs or have drinking problems. Their socialization is centered around their substance use. That means they have no interest in other activities or in other people unless these involve them using their substance of choice.
4. Having rough mornings. Mornings are bad times for them. They may just say they are not morning persons, but they are unusually grumpy in the morning. This is most likely due to a night of getting high or binge drinking. It may also be withdrawal symptoms kicking in paired with abnormal sleep patterns.
5. Being secretive about their substance use. They may be in denial that they have a problem. When you start to air your concern or ask about their substance use, they will start to hide it or lie about it.
Fighting for control
These high functioning addicts may seem like they have their substance use down pat, that they’re in control. However, at some point, something will give and their actions will have damaging consequences.