High-functioning users are very good at keeping up appearances. They manage to hide their substance use disorder while participating in everyday life and may even be a high performer at work. Although they may not show the usual signs of addiction, such as neglecting their responsibilities, things may feel chaotic and incredibly stressful beneath the surface. Because high functioning users do not display the common signs that other people struggling with addiction do, it can feel sudden when things spiral out of control. Learning to recognize if a friend or a loved one is a high-functioning user can help them get support before a crisis occurs.
What Is A High-Functioning User?
A high-functioning user is a person who can successfully hide their substance abuse disorder, at least for a while. They remain functional despite their addiction and can keep the wheels of their day-to-day turning, complete with social lives and successful careers. This can’t go on forever, and at some point, even a high-functioning user will hit rock bottom.
Long periods of substance abuse take a toll on a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The addiction itself and the stress of trying to hide it will eventually inevitably impact a person’s well-being. The intense emotions that accompany things falling apart for a high-functioning user can be challenging to navigate and are reason enough for even more empathy, support, and understanding, not less.
Signs Of A Person With High-Functioning Addiction
A high-functioning user is a person who always has a justification or reason for their behavior with drugs and alcohol. Perhaps they are the life of the party every weekend and say they only drink to be social but indulge far beyond partaking in one casual drink. They will likely brush aside the symptoms of a hangover or other physical signs of addiction as “just not being a morning person” and make it seem like any concern is uncalled for.
Here are a few common signs of a person with a high functioning addiction:
Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, feelings of apathy
Being sick in the morning
Their peer group struggles with addiction
They justify their drinking or drug use as part of work culture
They can’t stop after just one drink
They self medicate by drinking or taking drugs
Are only interested in social functions that involve alcohol or drugs
High-functioning users can keep things running smoothly for long periods. Because of this, their alcoholism or drug use can go unnoticed until it begins to have a severe effect on their performance at work or personal life. A person with a high functioning addiction has likely come up with ingenious ways to avoid detection and can continue to live in denial about their situation much longer than someone who is not a high functioning user. People may even be surprised to learn that someone is struggling with addiction because they appear happy and successful.
Services That Can Help
If someone you love and care about is a high-functioning user, we recommend staging a professional intervention. Although you can’t force someone to stop using or seek treatment, an intervention may just be the loving wake-up call they need. In addition to interventions, we recommend finding a suitable addiction treatment service with medically-assisted detoxification.
Trauma lies at the root cause of most if not all addictions, which is why a trauma-informed approach is necessary for greater chances of a successful recovery. High functioning users are often in more progressed stages of dependence by the time they get help and can experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to break a habit independently. They may also be given a dual diagnosis of a mental health disorder, which will require specialized care and support.
Some services that can help include:
An inpatient treatment program
Holistic and mindfulness therapies
How We Can Help You
We at The Nestled Recovery Center offer a unique trauma-informed approach to healing from substance use disorders at Nestled Recovery. Our signature program uses the Eight Dimensions of Wellness to facilitate healing by treating the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Whether you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, you will always be met with respect, understanding, and compassion.
A more complicated addiction or an addiction with a dual diagnosis requires even more in-depth personalized treatment, which is why our programs are designed to support a maximum of ten residents at all times. If you are ready to get help or want more information about our intervention services, reach out to us today.