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What if I am a “High Functioning” Addict/Alcoholic?

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My life is not “unmanageable!”
Within the depths of active addiction, the alcoholic and addict have a truly substantial number of ways in which to hide their illness from the outside world. For instance, some whose alcoholism has taken them to where they must imbibe substantial amounts at all times choose to drink only Vodka, which is purportedly and anecdotally more difficult to smell on one’s breath than, say, Rum. Intravenous drug users will often choose to only inject their particular drug of choice into parts of their body that can easily be hidden with clothing so that their “track marks” aren’t readily apparent to others. These are a few examples of the addict or alcoholic hiding “in plain sight” so to speak.

However, many addicts and alcoholics actually have a much more cunning manner of shrouding their illness from suspicion and it involves leading lives so remarkable and typified by such achievement that their addiction seems to be completely insulated from reproach or the concern of others. We encounter individuals like this quite a bit Origins Recovery Centers, since our luxury facilities tend to often attract what we call the “executive” or “high functioning” addict. There exists both bad news and good news for just such an individual which we will delve into further below.

First, let us share with you the profile of just such an individual who came to us via Austin, Texas (this has been shared only with his permission and in a manner that respects and preserves his anonymity). This man was the founder and chief executive officer of a rather successful medical supply company. He seemed to have an exceptionally well-ordered and disciplined life. He would wake up around 6AM every morning, working out for an hour before work and he was always present in the office to work anywhere from a nine to twelve hour work day. On the weekend he was actively involved within his children’s activities and by all accounts he, ostensibly, was a wonderful husband and father. He enjoyed a high six-figure income and seemed to be living the American Dream to the fullest.

However, this gentleman would drink himself into utter oblivion every evening, without fail. This began early on in his career with a happy hour once or twice a week and it slowly progressed to where he was celebrating his own happy hour, alone, every evening and it would generally last for well over several hours in duration. At first, he was able to hide such behavior quite well, but his wife began to be concerned when he began to pass out in his recreational room on a regular basis, rather than in their mutual bedroom. He began to receive concern from his physician over his general health and he seemed to experience greater anxiety and agitation through the course of his day.

Fairly soon, this man began taking benzodiazapenes – like Zananx and Valium – prescribed by multiple doctors he was seeing, throughout the course of the day in order to calm his nerves. Moreover, the frequency with which he partook in “liquid lunches” in order to smooth things over also seemed to increase quite a bit as well. With time, everything got progressively worse as it always does when it comes to alcoholism and, without fail and fairly soon, the number of hours of sober breath this man drew on a daily basis could be counted on the hand of a person who was missing a few of their fingers. He came to us after being intervened upon by his family after it was revealed the man was suffering from both pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver as a result of this alcohol intake.

This gentleman and those like him often present some of the most substantial clinical challenges in treating their addiction since our program is one of admitting powerlessness and, by most accounts, people like this particular alcoholic have a lot of evidence to the contrary when discussing their powerlessness. This is the bad news mentioned above. While the sickness and clear “powerlessness” present within the life of an individual who has so much to lose yet continues to drink to such an excess is painfully obvious to many, the evidence of success in spite of alcoholism tends to be the focus of the alcoholic. Luckily, however, the counselors here at Origins Recovery Centers are vetted in dealing with the egos and objections present within just such individuals and we welcome this very sort of high functioning addict into our community, tackling this particular brand of addiction with exceptional zeal and tenacity.

The flip-side or the good news, rather, for just such individuals is that our experience with high functioning addicts and alcoholics is that when they do achieve and retain recovery what they were able to achieve while in the throes of active addiction – while probably substantial – generally pales in comparison to their level of performance and achievement once they have recovered. In other words, an addict or alcoholic who was able to perform highly while completely impaired by their disease will generally reap the most exceptional and wonderful benefits from sobriety in that these very high levels of performance not only continue, but in fact they are now able to actually be enjoyed; no longer does there exist the pain and emptiness of addiction so that now a high functioning individual can truly appreciate all they have achieved.

In the case of the individual mentioned above, it turned out that his entire career was in fact guided by his alcoholism. When get got honest and did some good step work, it came to bear that he not only had no real passion or interest in his present business, but that he actually had great disdain for it and he was really only maintaining it in order to keep up appearances so that he could continue to be an alcoholic. He ended up selling his business for a 7-figure sum and becoming involved in a prior passion he had that now affords him not only a financially comfortable living, but also one that makes him truly happy and fulfilled.

We have been fortunate enough to bear witness to a number of just such instances of the recovery of high functioning addicts and alcoholics. We have seen musicians go from highly talented yet unrealized in addiction, to exceptional and making a career of their gift in recovery. We have seen other business man like that gentleman above go from successful salesman to prosperous business owners. There is truly no limit to the level of happiness and success one can experience when they are fully and truly reovered, walking in the sunlight of the spirit.

Are you or someone you care about a high-functioning addict or alcoholic? If so, please call 1-844-U-GET-WELL to discuss the prospect of treatment or click the contact button below.