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Author Topic: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict  (Read 9144 times)

Offline Chip (OP)

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Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« on: August 12, 2015, 12:25:34 AM »
http://www.recoveryplace.com/blog/recognizing-a-high-functioning-addict/

People can be dependent and not have abuse problems at all. They’re successful students. They’re good parents, good workers. They watch their weight. They go to the gym. Then they go home and have four martinis or two bottles of wine. Are they alcoholics? You bet.”

– Dr. Mark Willengring of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


In 2009, the tragic story of 36-year-old mother, Diane Schuler, took the nation by storm when leaving a family camping trip Schuler drove the wrong way on the Tactonic Parkway for almost two miles before crashing into an oncoming SUV.

A total of 8 people died in the accident; Schuler, her two-year-old daughter, her three nieces aged 8,7, and 5, and the three others in the SUV Schuler collided with. It seemed as though the entire nation was baffled by the same question: By all appearances Diane was a great wife, a devoted mother, a warm, responsible employee and boss. Why did she make such a terrible decision that afternoon?

Two weeks later the toxicology reports revealed the shocking information that Diane Schuler not only had the equivalent of 10 drinks in her system, but was also under the influence of marijuana when she made the fatal mistake of entering the Tactonic via an exit ramp. Her family reacted with shock and dismay. To them, the woman they knew was no alcoholic, and had never shown any signs of a problem.

However, Diane Schuler is a perfect example of what has now been labeled a high functioning addict—people who maintain careers, raise a family, and have plenty of friends, yet continue to abuse alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately when it comes to addiction, as such is the case with Diane Schuler, some of the most tragic stories are those of high-functioning addicts.

While many are quick to assume they’d perceive a problem rather quickly, a 2007 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discovered that only 9 percent of alcoholics seem to fit the traditional stereotype.

While these individuals are very adept at disguising their abuse because the outer trappings of their lives indicate success, and as such they can go years and even decades without being confronted, there are a few ways to unmask a high-functioning addict:

Be aware of denial: Because high-functioning addicts don’t tend to fit the typical addict stereotypes they can often times spend years and even decades in denial. Additionally, family and friends who fail to recognize or confront the problem can compound the addict’s denial. High-functioning addicts may not stand out in a crowd often because they surround themselves with other heavy drinkers or drug users who fuel their denial.

Observe uncharacteristic patterns of behavior: While high-functioning addicts are extremely capable of hiding their actions, even the most functional addicts will experience some form of ramifications of their drug use. For instance, some may begin to exhibit subtle changes in behavior that are uncharacteristic of their sober selves, such as skipping social events. Additionally even a high-functioning addict may begin to show physical signs of addiction such as insomnia, shakiness, paranoia, etc.
Don’t accept excuses: As high-functioning addicts are often intelligent and charismatic by nature, they tend to have well-rehearsed excuses for every unusual behavior or slip up. Oftentimes these well-reasoned justifications are what sets everyone at ease and allows the addiction to continue.

Watch for a double life: Maintaining their double life is something a high-functioning addict can become extremely adept at. To the outside world they may seem as if they have it all; yet inside they may be plagued by uncontrollable cravings, unsuccessful attempts to quit, obsessive thoughts about their next drink or high, or another hallmark sign of addiction. Unfortunately, many high-functioning addicts tend to wait for some sign, or the proverbial “rock-bottom,” to motivate themselves to get treatment; something that may not come for 10 to 20 years.

Don’t ignore the signs: It’s extremely important to remember that someone who doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype of an alcoholic or drug addict can still be struggling with addiction. Even though they will continue to function, high-functioning addicts pose a significant danger to themselves and others; and can be some of the most difficult individuals to help.

Only 9 percent of individuals fit the stereotype of what many perceive an addict to be like. Keeping an eye out for the signs listed above can go great lengths in helping to determine if you or a loved one is in need of help for alcohol or drug addiction.

Additionally, it’s extremely important to remember that when questioned about their drug use, a high-functioning addict may strongly deny that a problem exists and will make greater efforts to hide their drug or alcohol addiction. As such, it often can require a series of attempts to break through the many layers of denial. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, break down the barrier and find the right drug rehab program for you.

- See more at: http://www.recoveryplace.com/blog/recognizing-a-high-functioning-addict/#sthash.PPlg4ltT.dpuf
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I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.

Offline Sand and Water

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 12:58:02 AM »
Great article. I don't know how to find it, but iirc, HBO did a documentary on this. It was titled something like "What's wrong with Diane?"  It was a raw look at the multiple effects on the family, friends and first responders etc. one family member & friend even hired PI's as well as a top medical examiner and still couldn't believe that there wasn't a conspiracy in the investigation.  My ex hid his addiction from me (we didn't live together), so I know how easy it is to blame stress, etc and not recognize what's really happening. So much of what i hear in the media is alarmist or useless (think of GMA's Dr Nancy Snyderman...grrrr". Thanks for the very relevant information Chipper.
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Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

Offline Chip (OP)

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 01:03:52 AM »
thanks brother - i'm doing my best to stimulate discussion ...

... and then hopefully you will talk amongst yourselves more.
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I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.

Offline suboxstitute

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 02:22:15 AM »
Touched a nerve with me... I was a high functioning addict for years and no one knew, although I think they might have suspected.  Had a great job, managed lot of people and clients, raised a family (although kids were grown), a husband that I (thought) I was close to.  None of them knew.

And when they found out, the fall for them was greater than if they had known all along... it was bad. 
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"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher 1895-1986

Offline Poppy

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 02:52:38 AM »
My late uncle was a perfect example of a high functioning alcoholic. None of us were aware of the extent of his alcoholism until he died suddenly from ruptured oesophagal variances which are caused by liver cirrhosis. He was 46. My brother is also a high functioning alcoholic who is in total denial.

I'm a relatively high functioning heroin addict/alcoholic in as far as I don't think anyone would be able to tell just by my appearance. (maybe I'm kidding myself - I hope not!)
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Offline Diacetylmorphinefiend

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2015, 07:54:53 PM »
I wish I was a high functioning addict. I unfortunatly seem to fall into that 9 percent stereotypical junky class. It sucks but I never can put work/family/ other shit before using for very long. I have a friend who is a high functioning addict to the point where I don't know if he is just a heavy user instead of an addict. Its crazy to me.
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Offline Chip (OP)

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2016, 11:13:35 PM »
My late uncle was a perfect example of a high functioning alcoholic. None of us were aware of the extent of his alcoholism until he died suddenly from ruptured oesophagal variances which are caused by liver cirrhosis. He was 46. My brother is also a high functioning alcoholic who is in total denial.

I'm a relatively high functioning heroin addict/alcoholic in as far as I don't think anyone would be able to tell just by my appearance. (maybe I'm kidding myself - I hope not!)

i wonder if the term "high functioning" applies to a stimulant chipper who's on Methadone but has no job ... ?

we should all aim to be high-functioning but if you can't do that then at least be "functioning" ... and if that's not on then at least be "high" ::) :)
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 12:30:13 AM by chipper »
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I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.

Offline Guts

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 11:56:20 PM »
I hate how people say "drugs and alcohol"... it's just drugs... alcohol is a drug.
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Offline Snoop

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2016, 11:59:25 AM »
Naw man..... alcohol is a vitamin.

Vitamin A, I think.

Makes you act right, think more clearly, makes you handsome/beautiful, makes you interesting.

My stars! The wonderment of Alcohol.
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Offline Guts

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2016, 01:36:31 PM »
Mnmmm vitamin B and... melatonin.
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Offline 10kites

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 04:25:26 PM »
Be On The Lookout for the High Functioning Addict...........Why? How 'bout we just leave a M-Fer alone. We are High Functioning after all. This is like a commercial for a treatment center. Hunt down the high functioning addict, turn him in to the treatment center so they can make him conform to societies expectations.
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Offline Wildcat

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2016, 04:55:43 PM »
Naw man..... alcohol is a vitamin.

Vitamin A, I think.

Makes you act right, think more clearly, makes you handsome/beautiful, makes you interesting.

My stars! The wonderment of Alcohol.

You forgot; also makes you SMARTER and drive better too.
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"They put their hand out to you when you need it, and you have to remember to put your hand out when they need it too, that's what friends do"  - Mick Dodge

Offline Wildcat

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2016, 04:57:20 PM »
Be On The Lookout for the High Functioning Addict...........Why? How 'bout we just leave a M-Fer alone. We are High Functioning after all. This is like a commercial for a treatment center. Hunt down the high functioning addict, turn him in to the treatment center so they can make him conform to societies expectations.


Sounds like you need a drink.
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Offline DeadCat

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2016, 05:29:58 PM »
For YEARS I found heroin helped me do well at a variety of jobs from hard work to sales. It killed physical and psychological pains associated with all kinds of work and the stress they cause. I only got on buprenorphine becasue I realized that as much as I love(d) opiates today's American reality was not going to accept me and I don't have "fuck you money" and it wasn't going to end well for me if I chose to continue using. No "rock bottom," just a rational choice because I saw the writing on the wall. I am old enough to remeber when drug use was a LOT more "cool" and intriguing and certainly less feared and hated. That changed in my lifetime.

I think you only stop being "high functioning" if your drug of choice is really impairing your ability to hide your use, like being visibly intoicated when it isn't socially acceptable, calling in sick too much, etc...  And, a lot of the problems associatd with opiate and IV use are a result of prhibition. Arrests, illness, social ostarcization, poverty, they will all put an end to "high functioning." In placese like Portugal where their approach has changed to decriminalization and treatement outreach and substitution drug-dependent people go about their lives about as normally as anyone else.

After all, cigarette smokers are addicted to nicotine but they can be completely "high functioning" for long lives and some die young from lung cancer or other maladies caused by smoking.

Honestly, I think atleat 90% of "news" articles about drugs are just fear mongering to keep the drug war business going, intentionally or by herd mentality.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 05:36:29 PM by DeadCat »
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Offline GOOPYBREATH

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Re: Recognizing a High Functioning Addict
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2016, 03:26:33 PM »
Though I am not a long time user and more of a chipper these days, I definitely felt that during my time using I was able to conceal it rather well. It was only when I started abusing cheap fentanyl analogues that my habit really started to expose itself to the world. I'm glad those days are behind me, for sure. Now I stick to the tried and true drugs for the most part. Good article.
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