High-Functioning Addicts Difficult to Spot in Workplace

Many recovered addicts will openly admit that one of the most difficult parts of recovery was admitting that they had a problem in the first place. For an individual who has never experienced tolerance, dependence, and addiction, this may seem like a simple matter of denial. It’s true that some addicts will reach a point where they are very well aware that their drug use is adversely affecting their life and they may yet deny this point to others, but it is not true that all drug addicts are simply suffering from denial if they cannot admit that they have a problem. What’s actually occurring is often a bit more complicated.

Drug consumption affects an individual’s ability to experience normal sensations, which is why it occurs in the first place. From the individual who drinks a six-pack of beer in order to relax after a stressful day in the office to the individual who shoots up heroin to escape intense physical pain, the primary goal to escape from undesirable sensations and stimulate desirable sensations is essentially the same for most drug users. What the individual cannot perceive, however, is the extremely subtle changes caused in their body’s “normal” after each instance of drug use. They do not recognize that once they come down from a drug’s high, they come down to a “normal” that is slightly lower than it was before their latest drug use. This means that their next high is not quite as high as it was before, which the individual may chalk up to tolerance and handle by taking even more drugs. Still, their body’s “normal” continues to depress, until even their highest drug high fails to boost them to the state that was once truly normal for them. Over time, the subtle changes add up, and the individual’s life is clearly quite different from before their drug use began. However, the individual has walked through these small changes over a long period of time and therefore cannot clearly see them.

Addiction in the Workplace

An individual does not have to use drugs in the workplace in order to be affected by addiction in the workplace. The problem is that since they cannot clearly see the changes that have been caused by their drug use and since they are still able to perform their basic work duties, it is not always clear to them or others around them that they are addicted. They may believe that a drug addict is an individual who is homeless and jobless, living on the street in tattered clothing and completely unable to function. Since they clearly don’t have these problems, they easily write off the idea that they are a drug addict at all, and may even justify their drug use–how it helps them, how they “know” others are also taking drugs, how they can stop any time they want, etc. These are high-functioning addicts. Unfortunately, they are not actually able to perform their basic work duties as well as it may appear they can.

While it is understandable that one is not likely to look closely for signs of addiction in those individuals who appear to be functioning well at work, there are some very basic points to keep in mind, as they may indicate the individual does have a drug problem and needs help:

⦁ They may make excuses for unacceptable drug behaviors. Without necessarily admitting that they themselves participate in drug use, the individual may justify drug use as normal or acceptable in their casual conversations with others. If this occurs, it usually occurs more than once as the individual is truly trying to justify their own behavior, even to themselves.

⦁ They can’t control their drug consumption. Even high-functioning addicts are prone to compulsive drug use regardless of the consequences. This means that at a work function where some alcohol consumption is considered acceptable, the individual may not be able to have just one drink, but will keep drinking the entire time.

⦁ Drug use is part of their socializing. It can be difficult for even a high-functioning addict to socialize without at least some drug use, like alcohol consumption, so they will often associate with others who likewise enjoy some drug use.

⦁ They have really difficult mornings. It’s true that some individuals claim not to be morning persons, but it’s also true that this could mean the individual is suffering from hangovers or withdrawals.

⦁ Loss of interest in formerly enjoyed activities. When individuals suddenly drop their favorite hobbies or change their recreational activities, it may be because they are focusing more of their time and effort on obtaining and using drugs, or recovering from the effects of drugs.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, even if they seem to be functioning well at work, it is important to get them help. Narconon Freedom Center is a Michigan drug rehab devoted to helping individuals address the very root causes of their drug use, resolve the many effects caused by their drug use, and learn the vital life skills necessary to get back on their feet and remain a highly productive, happy and healthy member of society.

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