Many people think they know what a drug addict looks like. They think about someone who is emaciated, unable to keep a job, and possibly living on the street. This portrayal was never completely accurate, and it is even less so today.

There is no “typical” image of an addict. They can be of any gender, age, ethnicity, and income bracket. You may be surprised at someone you know who is secretly struggling with addiction. That’s because they are a high-functioning drug addict. They hide their addiction from the people closest to them and work hard to make their life appear normal.

High-functioning addicts keep their jobs and continue to take part in family and community activities. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t need help. According to the National Institutes of Health,  nearly 20 percent of alcoholics are highly functional and well-educated with good incomes.

Addiction eventually takes a physical and mental toll. As time passes, they will become less able to keep up the façade. If you want to help a loved one recover from drug addiction before it’s too late, you need to know the signs of high-functioning addiction.

Signs You Have a High-Functioning Drug Addict in Your Life

Most high-functioning addicts do everything possible to keep up appearances in spite of their addiction. In the early stages, they may succeed in keeping everyone in the dark. However, as their addiction worsens, they will begin to suffer the consequences. Some signs include:

  • Using more than intended. The individual never stops after taking just one pill even though they may say they intend to. This will happen almost every time they use the drug. Not being able to control usage is a sign of addiction.
  • Justifying their use. Someone who is abusing drugs will come up with excuses for why they use. They may say they’re not addicted but everyone in their profession uses pills. They may also argue that they work hard, and drug use is merely a reward or that it helps them relieve stress.
  • Surrounding themselves with others who use. People who are addicted to drugs are more comfortable around individuals who use in a similar way. Your loved one may eventually gravitate more towards other drug users. They may be reluctant to attend events that don’t include drugs.
  • Being ill in the morning. High-functioning addicts often wake up with headaches, lethargy, and nausea. They may also appear foggy. These could be signs of withdrawal or hangovers. However, the individual may say they have trouble sleeping or they’re stressed out. If someone appears ill often, it could be a sign of a drug problem.
  • No longer being interested in their passion. A person dealing with drug addiction will use all their energy to keep their job and maintain their most important relationships. This won’t leave time or energy for hobbies. Also, the individual may simply not care about these things anymore.

How to Help Your Loved One When You Suspect Drug Addiction

Naturally, you’ll want what’s best for your spouse, relative, or friend. However, it is important to know that you can’t force them to get help. They have to decide on their own that they want to address their addiction and live a healthier life.

It’s best not to try to convince them while they’re in the middle of using or when they’re experiencing withdrawal. You may find them more receptive when they’re expressing remorse for negative behavior. It’s best to reach out to a professional with experience in treating addicts. They can guide you on the most appropriate way to approach your loved one if you suspect they are a high-functioning drug addict.

Addicts need lots of support during recovery and you should be prepared for almost any outcome. You will need to remain patient throughout the journey. Addicts experience a wide range of emotions including anger, fear, depression, and anxiety. Many relapse after appearing to be doing well. This is all part of the process, as hard as it may be to accept.

Reach Out to Asheville Recovery Center to Get the Help and Advice You Need

If your loved one appears to be a high-functioning drug addict, you can get help. At Asheville Recovery Center, we can help you both during this difficult time. We know the impact drug addiction has on individuals and their families and we offer comprehensive treatment.

Each person is different. That’s why our team takes an individual approach to each person who comes through our doors. We treat them with dignity and compassion, and we believe that recovery is always possible. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you and your loved one.

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