When you picture a drug addict you may picture someone living on the streets, in trouble with the law, stealing to feed their addiction, and generally hopeless. What about the drug addict that still has a stable job, a home, a family, and decent health? Can you be a drug addict that hasn’t yet been to jail, lost a home, lost a family, or experienced many of the other harsh consequences many drug addicts experience? Absolutely. Can you be a drug addict and function optimally? The answer is no. There are several key differences between a high functioning addict and a non-functioning addict. The National Institute of Health identifies 5 key characteristics of a functional alcoholic or addict that include:
- Stable job
- Supportive family
- High level of education
- History of major depression
- Family history of addiction
You might have heard this person say things like “I’m not as bad as that guy, drugs help me focus at work, I’ll never use needles, I’ve never lost a job or gotten into trouble, I take care of my family, I don’t use illegal drugs.” What we know is drug addiction is a progressive illness. While that addict might be functioning now, what separates them from the non-functioning addict is time. In contrast to the high functioning addict, a non-functioning addict will exhibit deficits in key areas of life. They may have increased anxiety, depression, or psychotic episodes. They may be experiencing increased physical health conditions. An increase in conflicts socially can occur with increased loneliness and isolation. Work performance or attendance may decline potentially resulting in a job loss. Money for retirement or bills may be spent on drugs. Legal problems may arise as the addiction progresses. If you have a good job, own a home, and have the support of your family you may identify as a high functioning addict. Being secure financially can often mask the true dysfunction of an active addict. How happy is the family? Could work performance be better? Are you a reliable friend? Do you feel joy and a deep connection to a higher purpose? While you may look very different than the homeless addict you share the common bond of not being able to live life without drugs.
High functioning addiction is not the story you want for your life. Oceanfront Recovery, a residential treatment program, can help you change your story from addiction to recovery. We believe when you change your story, you change your life: 877.279.1777