Our society has a lot of stereotypes about alcoholics and addicts. You might picture a homeless person or someone disheveled and late for work. But the truth is that addiction is much more nuanced than that — many people are functional in the day-to-day, but still feel like their life is dominated by drug or alcohol use. These people can benefits from treatment aimed at high-functioning individuals.
More and more, we’re learning that drug and alcohol abuse can touch anyone. Even the language around drug and alcohol abuse is changing. Rather than “addict” or “alcoholic,” we now talk about “people with substance use disorder.” Although the new language might feel awkward while you get use to it, it’s meant to highlight the fact that those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse are — first and foremost — people.
If you’re still keeping it together, shining at work and meeting your family obligations, it can be easy to convince yourself that you don’t need treatment. But if you’re looking into treatment, chance are you’ve already acknowledged to yourself that something’s not quite right about your relationship with drugs or alcohol. Learning more about the different ways substance use disorder can present can help you decide if treatment is right for you.
The High-Functioning Addict
Too often, people don’t seek treatment for substance use disorder until they’ve hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” But the truth is, it can take years for your life to fall apart entirely. Getting help before you lose everything is a smart choice.
High-functioning addicts are people who abuse drugs or alcohol, but manage to keep appearances together from the outside. Maybe you pop a pill before business meetings, or have a drink to get through mornings with the kids. Maybe only those closest to you know about your substance abuse, or maybe no one at all knows.
Even if your substance abuse is well-hidden, it’s still there. You know the truth. You’re so successful in other areas of your life, that it’s time to take control of this area as well, addressing substance abuse or misuse once and for all.
Do I Need Treatment?
If you find yourself wondering whether or not you need treatment, the answer is probably “yes.” As the old saying goes, the first step toward getting help is to admit that you have a problem, and by looking into treatment you’ve taken that step — even if only to yourself.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to back-track and convince yourself that you don’t need help. If you’re high-functioning you can point to everything that’s going well in your life — your career, your home, your family — as evidence that your drugs and alcohol abuse “isn’t that bad.”
Yet, getting help before things get worse can keep substance abuse from ruining your life. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease — it’s not going to get better on its own. If you’re using drugs or alcohol regularly, you’ll likely become physically dependent on them, which can make stopping dangerous. Getting professional help early on can minimize the impact of addiction on you and your loved ones.
What Does Treatment for High-Functioning Individuals Look Like?
Just like there are stereotypes about people with substance use disorder, there are stereotypes about treatment. You might be dreading sleeping in a shared space or confessing your troubles during group therapy sessions. But if you’re not comfortable with that, there are treatment options that can address your substance abuse in an environment that you’re used to.
Some high-functioning individuals opt for individualized treatment plans. Some one-on-one treatment plans allow you to keep working while also learning about sobriety with the help of a sober companion. If you’re not able to take time off work, this is a good option.
Other people need a break from their day-to-day lives to focus on recovery. Executive treatment plans can give you the lifestyle you’re accustomed to, while addressing your substance use disorder.
Addiction affects people from all walks of life, and most of those people find that taking the plunge into getting treatment is scary. Yet, living without the burden of substance use disorder can make your life even better, and getting professional help is the first step toward achieving that.