Understanding Addiction with Reflections Recovery Center

Signs You're Living with a Functional Drug Addict

Signs You’re Living with a Functional Drug Addict

Addicts are generally depicted as people who have turned to illegal substances and have hit rock-bottom. They have been stereotyped as individuals who come from dysfunctional households, earn meager income, and are school dropouts. Addicts are usually assumed to be violent and angry people who are either high or just coming down from one. This is far from true. There are actually addicts who do manage to do things normally and successfully, or so they say.

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

Signs You're Living with a Functional Drug AddictA high-functioning addict can be the family doctor, a preschool school teacher, the successful lawyer with the nice office, or the busy and very personable soccer mom. A high-functioning addict may seem to be living a happy, balanced, and successful life. He has a caring and loving family and friends, have great a job, is active in church and the community, and has interests and hobbies for him to de-stress. The reality is that he secretly takes his substance of abuse for him to function through the day.

A high-functioning addict is highly capable of keeping his addiction a secret from everyone. He is skilled in going through his daily activities without his addiction getting in the way. Most high-functioning addicts believe that they do not have a substance abuse problem. They think that they can handle their substance addiction, unwittingly jeopardizing themselves for psychological and physical health problems.

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What is Addiction?

Addiction is a state in which an individual is compelled to repeatedly use an illicit substance or engage in an activity that he finds rewarding. A person can be addicted to substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, cocaine, and more, or in activities such as gambling.  Scientific studies indicate that the addictive substance or behavior strongly activates that brain center of reinforcement and reward, involving the dopamine neurotransmitter.

Individuals who develop an addiction are not readily aware that their tolerance to the pertaining substance or behavior has increased.  The brain’s executive functions are affected that is why an “addict” does not realize that his behavior is harming himself and those around him. Thus, a high-functioning addict’s mindset is the same.

Recognizing a High-functioning Addict

Individuals turn to drugs for various reasons. For example, a college student may use stimulants to enhance his focus while studying, or an athlete may use prescription painkillers due to an injury, or a stay-at-home mom may turn an occasional wine before dinner into a devastating alcohol addiction.

Are you living with an addict? If he or she is a high-functioning one, then knowing if he or she is an addict is not as easy. High-functioning addicts can readily hide or disguise their drug problems without family and friends knowing any better. However, there are ways to discern and unmask one.

Denial is a key sign of addiction. High-functioning addicts may not use drugs on a daily basis. They may prefer to drink only the finest wines and do designer drugs. They can effortlessly manage their family and career, fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities easily. They may even feel entitled to indulge in their substance of addiction as a means of rewarding themselves for their hard work. Recognizing that they have an addiction problem is farthest in their mind. Their friends and loved ones sometimes fail to recognize the addiction problem even if they are presented with facts.

Changes in Behavioral Patterns. No matter how many functional addicts rationalize that they do not have an addiction, they will still experience the consequences.  Subtle changes in their behavior uncharacteristic of them may appear. They may have the tendency to isolate themselves, refusing to interact socially and failing to do family obligations. Professionally, they may show lack of focus in doing tasks, miss deadlines, and might frequently call in sick. They may show some physical signs of addiction such as paranoia, insomnia, and unsteadiness in their movements.

Master of Excuses. A high-functioning addict is a master in making excuses for his unusual behavior and strange occurrences. Coming home drunk or high, he will usually cook up a seemingly realistic story to cover his addiction.

Double Life Situation. Leading a double life becomes the norm for high-functioning addicts. He is the exact opposite of the person he shows and maintains to the outside world. He exudes confidence, success, and everything that is truly remarkable but when the curtain is drawn and he is by himself, his inner demons manifest. On occasions, he feels the burden of his lies and deception, but this does not mean he is ready to admit his addiction and seek rehabilitation. Hitting rock-bottom seems to be the thing that could motivate him to seek treatment.

Being in a relationship with a high-functioning addict is not easy as he does not fit the typical drug addict or alcoholic.  His job is his anchor of keeping sane as it offers him financial stability to support his addiction. The regular working hours offer him consistency and structure. The job gives him a sense of being someone else, and not an addict. He is mostly at work that it makes it easy to do his drugs or alcohol away from the eyes of his family.

A great concern is that unless he admits his addiction, he continues to be a liability to himself and to those around him.

Tell-tale Signs of Addiction

Classified as a chronic brain disease, addiction will ultimately lead to lower quality of life, health issues, financial problems, work problems and family/relational problems for the addict. Are you in a relationship and is not quite sure if your partner has addiction problems because of his weird actions? Here are some signs that you are dating an addict.

  • Your partner can’t seem to limit his drinks or “recreational drugs”.
  • He claims that he is feeling just a bit under the weather and needs to drink or take drugs to feel nice and comfy.
  • You notice that something is not quite right with his behavior, and then he attempts to weave stories and lies about his consumption.
  • He has not introduced you to his buddies, and then you found out that his buddies do drugs or binge on alcohol.
  • After a tasking work is done, your partner rewards himself by binging on alcohol or drugs.

Addiction has its repercussions, and an addict will most likely attribute his addiction-related problems for other reasons. His thoughts are preoccupied with the substance of his addiction, always finding ways to get a hit. Since high-functioning addicts can deceive their family, the very same family became his enablers -defending and making excuses for him. Until he hits rock-bottom, a high-functioning addict will not seek help.

The question now is: “How to help a functioning addict?”

For family and friends, it is important to support and understand the person with an addiction problem. There are various reasons why he started abusing substances and condemning him at this point will not be constructive. Intervention and treatment are the solutions. Now!

Reflections Recovery Centeroffers detoxification and rehabilitation for men with substance abuse problem. There is none of that sterile-constricting hospital setting but facilities that afford a young and edgy vibe that inspires patients to get well.

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