Behind The Scenes Of A High Functioning Addict

Carly BensonAddiction, Sobriety6 Comments

high functioning addict miracles are brewing

For the longest time in my active addiction and love affair with cocaine, I would always find a way to justify why I didn’t have a problem. I was suffering from a classic case of being a high functioning addict alcoholic. I was able to manage my life and my addictions in conjunction with each other for a very long time.

I paid my bills.

I went to work.

I went to the gym.

I handled my things around the house.

It helps me be better at ______.

It was just on the weekends (until it wasn’t).

It’s my only vice.

I can stop when I want to.

I’m fine.

I didn’t have a problem.

The only thing I was overlooking was that while I may have been able to continue on with a façade of a normal life, on the inside I was crippled with anxiety, depression and the farther along I went, the more control cocaine had over me.

I couldn’t manage to have a drink without doing it. I couldn’t go out with out it. It had become a built in go-to as soon as alcohol hit my lips. A habit had formed and not only that, but a major internal dialogue also came along with it to join the party that would shame and guilt me to feel like a loser every time I would come down from the high.

The problem with being a high functioning alcoholic or addict is that we think we have everything under control. We are often fooled into our habits for much longer by thinking a habit is not a habit because it’s not affecting us “like everyone else.”

We don’t fit the bill of the addicts we see on TV and in movies. We aren’t “junkies.” We aren’t stealing things. We are still handling our responsibilities in life, for the most part.

So we continue. We justify. We make excuses.

But at the end of the day, while we might not fit the awful and inaccurate stigma created around addicts, we are still not living up to our greatest potential by being the escape artists we become.

Escaping reality. Catching a buzz. Taking the edge off. Letting loose.

The real problem is found inside the habit itself. Once a habit has formed around something, whether we are high functioning or not, we’re still hooked on it nonetheless.

I think it’s so important that we start having conversations about addiction that shine a light on the fact that so many people are facing these monsters and aren’t doing anything about it because they deny the problem on the basis of a high functioning mentality.

I know this, because I am one and I did just that for years. I used every justification in the book to avoid the fact that a bad habit had formed in my life that was slowly but surely creeping up on me and making my lifestyle a hot mess.

I started hiding it. Hiding how much I was doing. Hiding how often I was doing it. Hiding that I had drugs on me because I didn’t want to share. Hiding my emotions. Hiding behind the fake mask of blow I had created that allowed me to be someone I was not and to not feel things I didn’t like. Hiding that I was full of anxiety. Hiding from my family and friends. Hiding from myself. Hiding from everything I did not want to face.

Hiding is a tell-tell sign that something isn’t right. Because when you’re being authentic, true to yourself and really doing life on a that kind of real level, there is nothing to hide.

I talk to a lot of people about their substance abuse issues. Many, many, many people are struggling with a high functioning mindset, which makes asking for or getting help harder and more confusing for most.

I shared this part of my story not to shame anyone or point fingers, but to be open about this epidemic inside of addiction. I’ll have eight years of sobriety from alcohol and cocaine this August and the only reason that’s happening is because I finally admitted I actually wasn’t functioning as well as I thought I was. I fessed up about my dirty little secret. I finally stood up to the monster inside my lifestyle that was underhandedly destroying important pieces of me.

If you are struggling with a bad habit, you are not alone. Everyone in this world faces a habit they can’t kick, whether it’s substance related or not – food, sex, gambling, lying, marijuana, cigarettes, sugar, negativity and the list goes on and on. We are all battling things that sadly want to keep us from becoming or being who we really are.

But you don’t have to stay stuck. You don’t have to keep hiding. You can break free and change anything in your life that you know is a thorn in your side.

The only way to do that is to step outside of the habit to see it for what it really is and to stop allowing yourself to justify it.

Once I admitted I had a problem, the miracle that had been brewing all along came forth. However, this was only because I came forth out of my high functioning addiction to gracefully accept it and meet it with open arms.

If this is rattling something inside you or resonating at your core, perhaps you may need to take a closer look at what you are justifying in your life.

Miracles happen every single day and I can tell you first hand that once you are ready to make changes, you’ll be given everything you need to do so.

If you want to dive deeper in to topics like these I’ve written more articles on Addiction, Recovery and Treatment. 

If you are looking for help with your sobriety and want to Work With Me, please reach out.

Miracles Are Brewing. Namaste.

  • Nancy Carr

    LOVE This, I can relate to it soo well! Thanks Carly!

  • Sarah

    Perfect timing for this article to land in my inbox, just a reminder to stay grounded and stand in my truth one day at a time. Thank you

  • Thanks Nancy! :)

  • Hi Sarah – I’m so happy this found you and resonated for you. Thanks for showing some love :)

  • I agree that it’s the admission that is so crucial. We in recovery come in from so many different places and we recover in so many different ways, but we all share that junction where we admit who we really are.
    I was also a high functioning addict. I related to so much in this post and I’m so glad you sponsored it on FB so that mysterious algorithm found me!
    I agree on something else too. Miracles are definitely brewing. I call mine the miracle of the mundane. The simple things in life i enjoy to the fullest because it beats the miseries of addiction. Anyway, great read. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hey Mark! Thanks so much for reading and dropping me a line. You are so right that in recovery we all share the bond of admission. Super happy the words found you and spoke to you. I LOVE your take on the miracles that are brewing in your life. Sobriety increases our appreciation for the simple bc we know what the chaos of addiction feels like. Congrats on your recovery and keep in touch! :)