Signs of High-Functioning Addiction (And How to Get Help)

Nearly half of all American families have dealt with substance abuse in some form, whether drugs or alcohol. Addiction is more common than many people might think, likely because a high-functioning addict can almost blend in as having no addictive behaviors at all. But all levels of addiction need to be treated seriously and everyone suffering from addiction deserves help.


What Does Addiction Look Like?

Addiction looks different depending on the person. Different kinds of people risk different levels of addiction. Things like a person’s biology, environmental factors, and mental health issues can affect whether, and how quickly, they become addicted.

Who a person surrounds themselves with is also important. If their social circle is comprised of people who use a substance, an individual may be more likely to take it up, too.

The hurt doesn’t just stay with the person using and abusing a substance. Family members and friends close to the person with the addiction can get hurt by their words and actions, too. When people are suffering from addiction, they may do or say just about anything to get what they want.

They might lose interest in their old hobbies or encouraging support system. People with addictions may see their eating habits change and they may start to eat less or more. They may also display a sad or negative mood more often than not.

Still, even though many people display apparent signs of addiction, others are considered high-functioning addicts. This type of addiction isn’t always so obvious, but it can be just as dangerous to the person who is addicted and the people who love them.


5 Signs of High-Functioning Addiction

High-functioning addicts aren’t always obvious in their use of substances. In fact, they may not even consider themselves addicted to any substances. They may not show all the physical signs of addiction, but they may still have a chance of slipping further into addiction and causing harm to themselves or the people around them.

Here are some signs to watch out for in someone who may be a high-functioning addict.

1. Lying About Use

Some people may make excuses for their usage, believing it’s not as bad as it actually is. Still, some part of them knows they shouldn’t be using in excess.

One of the levels of addiction entails hiding things from the people who love and support them. High-functioning addicts may lie about how often they use a substance to make it look like they don’t have as severe a problem as they actually do.


2. Enablers Abound

Enablers make excuses for people who use. Support systems are excellent to have and many people suffering from addiction wouldn’t be able to make it out without them.

However, at some point, support might become enabling. An individual’s loved ones should want the best for them and push them to improve continually rather than making excuses for setbacks. The greatest support systems are firm but loving.


3. Constant High Stress

Stress can easily lead to addiction or relapse even if a person isn’t aware of it. Stress creeps up on people without warning and some people may not even know they’re stressed until it’s too late and they’re suffering health consequences or turning to addictive substances.

A person struggling with addiction should look for healthy coping mechanisms or other things to rely on to decrease or eliminate their stressors.


4. Substances Are Seen as Rewards

Reward systems are effective because they activate dopamine, which makes a person optimistic about the future and their abilities. That’s why they’re so effective for students who are trying to study or get their classwork done – it gives them something to look forward to while encouraging them to repeat the same patterns.


5. Help Isn’t an Option

Many people might not see that they have a problem until it’s too late. Until they hit absolute rock bottom, they don’t think they need to seek help. If someone believes they don’t need any help because it isn’t “bad enough” yet, they are likely battling addiction and may not even know it.


How to Get Help at All Levels of Addiction

Whether a person is a high-functioning addict or very visibly struggling with their addiction, they deserve quality help that can change the course of their journey and lead them to recovery.


1. Recognize Patterns and Triggers

One of the hardest yet most effective ways of tackling addictive behaviors is to notice what triggers them. If an individual turns to substances in periods of stress, they might consider immense stress a trigger. They can then dig at that information until they figure out what’s causing the stress and then deal with that. Then, they may not turn to the substance as often anymore.


2. Set Small Goals

For people who may not yet feel comfortable setting large-scale goals, smaller goals can help them achieve a little progress at a time until they’re further along in their journey. At that time, they may find it more effective to switch to a more ambitious goal. Small goals can motivate people to start on their journey because they make the process less daunting.


3. Have a Good Support System

Having the right support system is crucial to anyone’s success, whether they’re a high-functioning addict or find themselves leaning on others often. The right support system should show individuals love and care without enabling them.


Pay Attention to the Mental and Physical Signs of Addiction

Part of being a high-functioning addict means the physical signs of addiction may not be as prevalent. Addiction can come in many forms, and everyone who displays addictive behaviors needs to seek out some form of help – whether it’s through self-management or a group that can help them make the change they need. Addiction doesn’t have to be the final stop of a journey. It’s just a roadblock standing in the way of true success.

Beth Rush

Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to business, self-improvement, and mental health. In her spare time, Beth enjoys volunteering and trying out new fitness trends.

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