Addiction is a complex disease that continues to develop beneath the surface until addressed. While words like “addiction” may bring up stigmatized images in one's head, the fact is that addiction is a disease that can affect anyone in a variety of different ways. Socioeconomic status, marriage status, race, level of education, or any other characteristics mean little when faced with substance abuse. These outward appearances can cause addiction to develop unnoticed if one does not fit into what someone who suffers from addiction “should” look like.
Likewise, an individual does not need to be tripping down the stairs drunk to be diagnosed with an addiction. Many of those who suffer from addiction may still have fruitful social lives or continue progress
ng towards professional ambitions. However, none of this makes addiction any less dangerous. Terms like “high-functioning addiction” can be birthed from one's ability to still tend to responsibilities, even if the reality may be much more complicated.
Addiction Is Addiction
There are many different forms that addiction can take. Some may engage in binging, where a period of time is spent engaging with these substances almost exclusively, and in high frequency and dosage. Others may not reach a point of wholly compromising intoxication, but instead, continuously take sips of a drink or take smaller doses of drugs throughout the day – with breakfast, before work, while at lunch, and otherwise. Regardless of one's ability to tend to regular responsibilities or maintain social relationships, addiction can still embed itself in one's life. No one kind of addiction is more or less dangerous than another.
High-functioning addiction can then be a dangerous assumption. While one may still be able to tend to responsibilities, one's mental, emotional, and physical health are all still being actively compromised with each passing day. Regardless of if one is considered to be “high-functioning,” the need for change, recovery, and sobriety is still present.
The Dangers of High-Functioning Addiction
“High-functioning addiction” is simply another way that addiction can take hold of an individual's life. Those suffering from this kind of addiction often still hold down jobs, maintain a social life, and even regularly tend to any other obligations. This makes it difficult to identify the existence of a substance abuse disorder beneath the surface. However, one's ability to accomplish these tasks is often used as a method to justify one's continued use of addictive substances or disregard the potential dangers that the addictive substances have on their life.
Other traits of this type of addiction include:
Overconfidence in one's ability to manage their use of addictive substances
Higher risk for legal repercussions, such as public intoxication or DUI charges
Hiding alcohol or drugs from others
Engaging with addictive substances at work
Normalizing the effects of substance abuse (considering sleep issues or chronic headaches “normal”)
While this is not an exhaustive list of the potential effects that addiction can have on an individual, those suffering from high-functioning addiction may find that these symptoms can be extraordinarily prevalent. However, the greatest hallmark of those suffering from high-functioning addiction is one's ability to continuously attempt to rationalize or justify their use of addictive substances. This allows them to convince themselves and others that such behaviors are normal or within one's control, even making deals with oneself to continue this facade.
The Gateway to Further Addiction
It is this false sense of control that is incredibly dangerous, leaving an individual overconfident in their ability to manage addiction while it is still continuing to affect them, virtually unchecked. A person may have started with the ability to continue to tend to professional obligations as their use of addictive substances increased.
However, the negative effects of addiction will likely catch up with them, potentially costing them their job or simply coming to a head in a wholly negative way.
Getting help to overcome addiction, in whatever form it may take, is essential. While identifying high-functioning addiction can be difficult, it is necessary to address the unique way that this kind of addiction impacts one's life.
There is no easy way to overcome addiction, but getting help as soon as symptoms surface can make the transition to a sober lifestyle a bit smoother. However, knowing that addiction has many forms can help each individual approach the recovery process in a unique and personal way.
Reaching out for help with symptoms of high-functioning addiction and setting goals pertinent to one's situation – with goals and milestones catered to one's unique experiences – can help construct the proper recovery route. Despite the illusion of control that high-functioning addiction presents, addiction is a serious disease that demands active attention before further destructive routines begin to manifest.