Identifying the High-Functioning Addict


iStock_000012143104_Large resizeStatistics have shown that many people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse may be the ones you least suspect, including hardworking professionals or on-the-ball parents. These addicts are described as “high-functioning” – they’re able to hide their secret addictions by remaining successful in their day-to-day lives.

High-functioning addicts can most easily be identified by those who know them intimately. Although they may be able to maintain their façade the majority of the time, their addictions do leave them prone to slip-ups that those close to them may be more readily able to identify. Even so, it can often be difficult to spot a high-functioning addict.

According to Dr. J. Wesley Boyd in an interview with Inc., some common warning signs that an accomplished or polished person in your life may be suffering from addiction include:

  • Lowered personal hygiene standards
  • Slurred speech
  • Constant drowsiness
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Unexplained fluctuations in weight
  • Spending time alone or behind locked doors
  • Decreased quality of work or an increased tendency to ask for special considerations at work
  • Unexplained absences at work

If you suspect someone close to you is a high-functioning addict, it’s important to get them the help that they need. By ending enabling behaviors and turning to a professional interventionist or behavioral healthcare provider for help, friends or family members may be able to encourage a high-functioning addict see the eventual negative aftermath of their drug or alcohol abuse.

In some cases, those close to the addicted person might suggest that they first visit their primary care doctor in order to avoid the stigma associated with an intervention or a trip to a rehab center.

It can be difficult to help high-functioning addicts, who often hide behind a comfortable income, success at work, or denial of their issues because of their ability to avoid some of the more serious consequences of addiction, such as homelessness. It’s still crucial to provide support and help them accept treatment.

Is Your Employee an Addict? – Inc.
How to Deal With Addiction When You Have a Demanding Job – Psychology Today
When an Employee has an Addiction Problem – Mental Health Works
5 Tips for Recognizing the High-Functioning Alcoholic or Addict – PsychCentral

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