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There’s a stereotype that revolves around the word addict. We all tend to picture it when we hear that word. We see it on the TV and in the movies… the perpetual loser itching for his next “fix”. We see it on the streets when we commute to work… the vagrant begging for our spare-change. We cringe should we ever find out someone we casually know suffers from an addiction. But as with all stereotypes, the closer you look, the less generalization can be made.

According to a 2007 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, only 9 percent of alcoholics display those devastating effects we so often attribute to alcoholism or addiction. This leaves us with a much larger group of people who fall under a different sub-group – the high-functioning alcoholics. Stay-at-home moms, powerful business executives, the guy who bags your groceries, or the guy who flies your plane – people who maintain outwardly seeming normal lives could just as easily be hiding self-destructive secrets of their own. Another study, done in Sweden, and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, estimated that 11.1 percent of workers were alcoholics, and 13.7 percent were even small-scale entrepreneurs. So take a minute to re-examine that stereotype, because it’s not only alcohol. Cocaine, prescription medication, even methamphetamine are common drugs used by the functional addict.

Leading a Double Life

Functioning addicts often live a double-life. Because their addictions haven’t yet seeped into their professional lives, most fail to see a problem even existing. Even if a high-functioning person is able to acknowledge that they have an addiction, they aren’t likely to seek treatment. They’re fooled into thinking they have everything under control. They might use their career as an excuse, their reputation, their income, whatever rationalization they can to avoid addressing the severity of their problem. The problem they fail to realize is this: sooner or later, their addiction WILL catch up to them.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

It’s difficult to identify secret addictions in people who we would never consider addicts – but there are a few signs, symptoms, and things to consider that can help you spot whether someone you love might be a high-functioning addict:

  • Changes in behavior or attitude when drinking or using.
  • Defensiveness when questioned about drinking or using.
  • Secretive behavior or lying about whereabouts.
  • Moodiness or irritability.
  • Frequent occurrence of sickness or observable lethargy in the mornings.
  • You often detect the smell of alcohol around them, even when you have not seen them drinking.

Getting Help

Even if someone you love doesn’t show all the outward signs of addiction, it’s important to recognize they can still have a problem. Because they are often in denial themselves, high-functioning addicts are some of the most difficult individuals to help. But it’s important to note that when they do accept treatment, they usually enjoy the most successful recoveries. For more information or to find out if treatment is right for you or a loved one, contact the admissions team at Serenity Acres today.