Renaissance Ranch

Recognizing High-Functioning Addiction

May 1, 2017

Some people have a natural image of an addict in their head – a dirty person on skid row, pushing a shopping cart around and begging for handouts. In reality, though, this isn’t the common profile of someone struggling with addiction at all. Many of those in the throes of addiction lead lives that will often look relatively normal in many ways to outsiders.

This is called high-functioning addiction. At Renaissance Ranch, many of those we help through their addiction fall under the high-functioning label, and true addiction recovery for these people involves coming to terms with the reality of their addiction. As a friend or loved one, you can help here too – here are some common signs of a high-functioning addict.

Behavioral Excuses

Someone with high functioning addiction will always have an excuse for their negative behavior, and that excuse will never get back to their actual addiction. Some people will justify drug or alcohol use as standard behavior in their profession or social circle, and others might use it as a reward for working hard at a job or during school. In many cases, these justifications are just as much for themselves as they are for anyone else around them.

Social Circles

If the only friends someone has seem to be people who routinely take part in similar addictive habits, or if the person in question doesn’t seem capable of or interested in socializing unless their substance of choice is present, this could be a big sign.

Inability to Control Usage

Many of us have had a few isolated incidents in our lives where we’ve had a couple drinks too many, but for a high-functioning addict, this is a constant issue. They’re completely unable to control usage of a particular substance, or often multiple substances.

Hobbies and Enjoyment

Things that may have once interested the high-functioning addict might no longer be of much use to them. Addiction can take over lives to the point where even some of our favorite hobbies or activities are no longer fun.

Morning Problems

Many of us have issues in the morning, but this is a whole other level. Someone with high-functioning addiction, particularly related to substances, will constantly have trouble with lethargy and headaches in the morning. These will often be hangover or withdrawal symptoms, regardless of what they claim is happening.