Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

If you’re a high-functioning alcoholic or addict, chances are, you’ve never really hit rock bottom because of your drinking or using. In fact, if you’ve been able to hold down a good job, purchase a nice home, provide for your family, and maintain what looks like the perfect cookie-cutter life from the outside, you may not think you need to stop drinking or using at all. Perhaps you’re even a high-powered executive who successfully manages a large team while hitting important company milestones on the regular. That splash of bourbon in your morning cuppa at the team meeting isn’t really hurting anyone, right? Maybe not now.

Here are some of the dangers of being a high-functioning addict or alcoholic:

  1. It’s difficult to recognize. If you lead a successful life while actively drinking or using in an addictive way, you might not actually realize you have a problem. Deep down, you likely have a hunch that you need help, but that nagging feeling in your gut telling you to take a look at your drinking or using is very easy to ignore when you’re holding it all together. 
  1. It’s challenging to admit you have a problem. You may actually recognize that you have a drug or alcohol problem, but guilt and shame have kept you from admitting it or asking for help. This can be particularly common for people who are very successful as they tend to think everyone views them a certain way. Not only do you feel you need to set a good example for family, co-workers, and employees, but you have an image to uphold. You might be under the impression that how people view you if you come out as an alcoholic or addict could shatter that image. 
  1. It’s easy to justify your drinking or using because you’re still holding it all together. This is another biggie and it pretty much reiterates what was said in the beginning. You’re holding down the fort, your job is going great, and you haven’t burned the house down along with your family. You’ve got it all under control, so why should you stop having fun with the booze, the blow, the pills, the smack, the reefer, or all of the above? Seriously, for all you know, it’s actually helping you move forward in life, right? In all honesty, that’s probably a big fat NO, but it’s a nice theory. High-functioning alcoholics or addicts love to justify their drinking and using, but it can be a very dangerous and slippery slope. 
  1. Your ego. As the popular saying goes, “your ego is NOT your amigo.” Sadly, however, many of us addicts and alcoholics have behemoth sized ones (egos), and admitting to ourselves or anyone else that we’re not absolutely perfect can be a real challenge. This can be especially true if you’re a successful, high functioning human with an important job, a beautiful family and home, designer clothes, a luxury sports car, and a well groomed front yard. That ego of yours always wants to save your face before your ass. More than likely, however, that ass eventually will need to be saved, but unfortunately, many high-functioning addicts and alcoholics get themselves into a right mess before they’re willing to admit that something is wrong. Because they’re high-functioning and have been holding it all together on the outside, this “right mess” could be something like fibbing on their tax returns and winding up in severe debt, or health-related challenges like liver failure. 

While being a high-functioning addict or alcoholic might seem like a pretty sweet deal to some, the consequences can often be severe. Because the indicators are so subtle, it can be really challenging for both the alcoholic/addict and his or her loved ones to recognize that there’s even a problem. The downside to this is that it could lead to much deeper problems down the track that can have an impact on the addict’s or alcoholic’s emotional well being, health, finances, and the list goes on. If you or someone that you care about drinks or uses drugs on a fairly regular basis, it might be worth examining the drinking or using a little closer. Alcohol or drug abuse can be tricky to recognize in someone who’s high-functioning, but usually those who are closest to them can tell when something seems “off”. If you, yourself, are the heavy drinker or drug user in question, your gut likely knows what’s really up, and careful examination should indicate if it’s something you need to look at more closely. 

For those seeking treatment or information about drug and alcohol abuse for themselves or a loved one, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Please reach out today to speak with a member of our staff or one of our counselors. You never have to do this alone. 

**Due to travel and social distancing restrictions, there may be temporary changes to Kembali Recovery Center’s offerings. Please inquire about these when you’re speaking with us and we’ll update you with the latest information. 

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