Not all addicts are similar to what you see in the movies. In fact, many addicts don’t fit the mold at all. They’re successful employees, promising students, great parents, and respectable members of society. In fact, they go to the gym, maybe even keep an all-organic diet, frequent libraries and museums, and seem to have everything in control. Then they go home to drink or go to their dealer to use shabu or meth. Are they addicts?
In fact, according to a study on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, only 9% fit the alcoholic stereotype. And the same can be said for those addicted to other substances. A big chunk of substance addicts are actually what we call “high-functioning addicts.”
What is a high-functioning addict?
Forget about everything you think you know about what an addict looks like. Most of the addicts aren’t like that at all. In fact, you’ll see these addicts working overtime to hold down jobs that support their habits and keep up appearances to not be found out. These high-functioning addicts even enjoy career success, have active social lives, and even the people closest to them have no idea about the skeletons they hide.
Since these high-functioning addicts don’t look the part and are great at covering their tracks, loved ones are left in the dark until it’s all too late.
So how do you spot a high-functioning addict?
Signs of high-functioning addicts:
1. Excuses. They are good at making excuses for their addictive behavior. They chalk up their drug or alcohol abuse as normal behavior, or make it seem like their reward for their hard work.
2. Lack of control. They simply can’t control how much they drink or use drugs. For them, bingeing is actually a regular occurrence. If they say “just one,” never hold their word for it as they never really do “just one.”
3. Peers. Look at their peers. If they are surrounded by friends who have substance addiction problems, then they’re more likely the same.
4. Not a morning person. They may also say they’re not morning persons, but they are actually just hiding the fact that they have constant headaches, hangovers, and episodes of lethargy or even long periods of sleeplessness followed by excessive sleepiness as a sign of alcohol or drug addiction.
5. Uncharacteristic behavior. They may have hobbies that they don’t do anymore, or they may suddenly have moodswings. Any sudden changes in behavior are slips that are tell-tale signs to watch out for.
Getting them help
You can get help for the high-functioning addict in your life. At Bridges of Hope, we work with families of those suffering with substance or behavioral addiction in order to come up with a plan of action and treatment options that can best help them achieve sobriety and recovery before it’s too late.