The Myth of the Functioning Addict

high functioning addict

Drug and alcohol addiction are serious disorders that affect almost 21 million Americans. Each year, tens of thousands of people die as a result of their addiction, either by overdose, suicide, driving under the influence, or other health complications. Unfortunately, a large majority of individuals who suffer from addiction never get professional treatment. 

Addiction Affects Everyone

Most people understand the risk of addiction and the threat that substance abuse can pose on peoples lives. However, there are dozens of misconceptions and myths about addiction. Many people think that addiction is only an issue for people in underserved communities, or in neighborhoods where drug use is problematic. 

Other people think that addiction only happens to young people who are uneducated, or who are mixed up with the wrong crowd.” Society has inaccurately labeled addicts as problematic individuals whose bad choices led them to abuse drugs or alcohol.

In reality, addiction doesnt discriminate between people of different social classes, education levels, ages, or genders. Certain people have a greater likelihood of addiction based on their background and environment, but that doesnt mean that wealthy or successful people dont struggle with addiction as well. 

This fact is clearly illustrated if you look at addiction in celebrities. Demi Lovato is just one public figure who has been very transparent about her struggle with addiction, bipolar disorder, and suicidal tendencies. Ben Affleck is another celebrity who recently opened up about returning to rehab after an alcoholism relapse. These individuals make millions of dollars each year and have extremely successful careers, yet they also battle addiction.   

What Causes Addiction?

Despite the stereotypes around addiction, we know that substance abuse is not only an issue that certain people deal with. Everyone from suburban adolescents to stay-at-home parents to CEOs to celebrities suffer from addiction. This is because substance abuse disorders are triggered by things that affect every human being.

So, what actually causes addiction? Well, genetics is one of the biggest factors. If your mother, father, sister, or grandparent struggled with drug or alcohol abuse, you are already predisposed to addiction. Studies of identical twins, fraternal twins, adopted siblings, and blood relative siblings have found that genetic makeup accounts for up to half of a persons risk for being addicted to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.

Mental health issues are another huge cause of addiction. In 2018, over 9 million American adults were diagnosed with a mental health and substance abuse disorder simultaneously, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The mental distress that people feel from anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders, and behavioral issues can cause them to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and numb their emotions.  

The Consequences of Denying Your Addiction

Being in denial about addiction is very common, especially among people who dont believe they fit the stereotypical criteria for an addict. For instance, if you have a high paying job, a great family, and a lush bank account, you might convince yourself that your addiction isnt really a problem because you live better than others. 

People who think this way are considered to be functioning addicts. They struggle to face the realities of their addiction because their drug and alcohol use doesnt severely impact their lifestyle. They can still go to work, pay their bills, and function at a high level, even though they are using harmful substances behind closed doors.

But heres the truth—theres no such thing as a functioning addict. Youre either an addict, or you’re not. Theres really no in-between. Just because your drug or alcohol use doesnt interfere with your everyday life doesnt mean it isnt a problem. In fact, anyone who is struggling with substance abuse is likely dealing with deep-rooted trauma or mental health issues that are being swept under the rug.

There are many consequences of denying your addiction. For one, it can prevent you from ever seeking professional treatment. Its a common misconception among self-proclaimed functioning addicts that they can manage their substance abuse on their own. Many people will say things like, I could stop if I wanted to,” to convince themselves that their addiction isnt real. The longer an addiction goes untreated, the harder it is to get sober. 

Its also important to point out that functioning addicts dont just “snap out” of their addiction. Despite what they think, an addict cant stop using whenever they want to. After a while, their body and brain get used to the chemicals in drugs and alcohol, and their system cant function normally without them. When someone tries to get sober on their own, it usually leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that cause them to start using again.

Getting Treatment for a Substance Abuse Disorder

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, accepting the problem is an important first step, which is the main principle of many 12-step programs. You must acknowledge the addiction in order to move forward with the healing process, and figure out what is causing your substance abuse in the first place.

Accepting your addiction is often easier said than done, which is why a private treatment and rehab facility can be beneficial. Luxury facilities like Defining Wellness prioritize client privacy and confidentiality so your identity will remain anonymous while you’re getting treatment. Our rehab center in Brandon, MS, even has a small private airport nearby for discrete arrivals and departures.

At Defining Wellness, we cater to high-profile individuals, including athletes and business professionals. Every client gets their own private room and is allowed to use their cell phone throughout the duration of their stay. Clients can exercise in our state-of-the-art fitness center, eat nutritious meals cooked by our gourmet chef, and get 24/7 medical care. 

Additionally, every client treatment program includes evidence-based therapy approaches and  cutting-edge technology, including Neurobiofeedback, A.I.-based cardio workouts, and PEMF. These modalities allow the brain to heal more effectively, which improves emotional regulation and facilitates the formation of new neural connections. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact us at (855) 790-9303 to learn more about our luxury rehab programs.