Not all addicts are what the media portrays — someone living in a dingy home with no furniture or living on the street in a makeshift tent. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. A high-functioning addict is someone who seems to be able to function normally, even at a higher than average level, while continuing an active addiction.There are many addicts who have a social circle, are involved with their children’s school, make their car and mortgage payments and even appear completely put together in a fashionable manner. These people are society’s high functioning addicts
So what really is a “functioning addict”? This is someone who can still hold down a job, hasn’t lost their home while providing necessities of life and perform the basic tasks of daily life while at the same time, hide their addiction from their family and the public at large. While most addicts do not have the capacity to maintain their addiction and normal life, the high functioning addict does. They have found a way to appear to be a sober and responsible person while in many instances, they are not. These types of addicts have spent a lifetime trying to perfect their ‘game’ for quite some time. In other words, they have learned to separate their addict and professional lives. Common substance abuse for high functioning addicts may include, but are not limited to:
- prescription pills
It is not uncommon to find that many high functioning addicts are relatively successful, intelligent and educated. You may find some to be unsupervised executives, those who work from home or those who spend much of their time travelling for work which can successfully provide the privacy and time necessary to manage their addiction.
There is no specific criteria for the high-functioning addict however there is one common key characteristic found: the more enablers they have, the longer they can function. While society may believe that the stereotypical addict is one who is in and out of homelessness, many do not do so by choice. They lack the enablers in a position to provide a better life for them while aiding their addiction. High-functioning addicts are not especially immune to addiction; no one is. The only difference between a high-functioning addict and an addict is enablers who facilitate their ability to continue being an addict. High-functioning addicts NEED enablers to maintain this lifestyle. Examples of enablers are family (including spouses), employers, friends and even doctors. Enablers may help addicts because they are codependent, or it may be because they are getting some benefit from the addict continuing to function on his or her terms. The unfortunate tragedy is that many of these addicts become so consumed by the enabling, that they never take recovery seriously, and they continue functioning until they perish from their addiction.
Addiction gets worse with time as it is a progressive disease. No one is immune to addiction, including the high-functioning addict who has a tendency to believe that they are invincible. High-functioning addicts may feel invincible and believe that they have a super-human tolerance to drugs or alcohol, or they may believe that they are just too important in life to succumb to addiction. The reality is that no one is immune to addiction and its effects. It may take longer for high-functioning addicts to hit rock bottom, but the problem is that rock bottom for too many of them is death.
If you or someone you know is a high-functioning addict with enablers facilitating the functioning, seek professional help right away. We at TruVida Recovery are here to help not only the addict, but also the enablers by helping them to understand the damage and harm they are causing.