Professionals and Addiction: The Realities of High-Functioning Substance Use

Did you know that addiction kills one person every four minutes? Did you know that less than 10% of those struggling with a substance use disorder will seek treatment?

How about that one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to drugs or alcohol? Yes, one in 10. That’s 23.5 million people….

So throw away your preconceived notions of who an addict is and who an addict isn’t. According to statistics, there’s a good chance someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder.

This is what we know: Addiction doesn’t discriminate. There is no accurate stereotype for a person struggling with addiction, and the stigma regarding this terminal disease is as damaging for those who do not identify as addicts as those who do.

As drug overdose deaths continue to rise, the more we need to openly discuss these issues and offer a safe place for those struggling. Instead, addiction continues to be a taboo subject and as a result, people are suffering in silence and without proper support.

High-Functioning Addiction

While the media chooses to depict addicts as rebellious teens, rockstars, and people on skid row, reality shows that many of those struggling with substance abuse are high-functioning.

Even in the presence of an undiagnosed and untreated mental health issue such as bipolar or generalized anxiety disorder, many high-functioning addicts are still able to maintain jobs, relationships, and lifestyles many would deem “normal”.

But, as we have learned, addiction is not a choice, it is a disease, and it has little to do with one’s ability to keep their life together.

In fact, some of the most “put together” demographics in our society have the highest rates of addiction. According to recent studies…

What is the Cause of High-Functioning Substance Abuse?

Just like any other disease with symptoms that become more severe over time, recreational drug and alcohol use can lead to a substance use disorder. What starts as a casual weekend activity can turn into a daily habit as a means of escaping stress or trauma.

Oftentimes, drinking plays a role in work culture. Whether it’s a group of co-workers going out to a bar after work or having a drink in the office at the end of the day, this feeling of normalcy (and even expectation) surrounding alcohol can become problematic and result in dependence.

Another common scenario that leads to high-functioning substance use is a routine prescription becoming an addiction. Unfortunately, many doctors do not discuss the risk of a prescribed pain medication resulting in dependence.

As opioids work to reduce pain signals in the body, they also have psychological effects such as euphoria and extreme relaxation. These alterations in brain chemistry can lead to the compulsive use of the drug despite knowing its adverse consequences. This is also the case with central nervous depressants such as Xanax and Valium when prescribed for anxiety relief and a sleep aid.

The stigma surrounding drug and alcohol substance use is especially damaging when dealing with professionals with addiction. In the (all too common) event that a person who seems to “have it all” is battling a substance use disorder, the negative messaging surrounding addiction may discourage them from seeking help.

However, the greatest issue is the recognition of the disease in the first place.

Because many of those living with high-functioning addiction do not fall under the typical categories we associate with addiction, they may be unable to recognize their dependence. This delay in treatment can result in the loss of their high-functioning lifestyle and put them in a position in which they can no longer deny their problem.

Unfortunately, many of these high-functioning cases require a major loss or a traumatic event (i.e., divorce, unemployment, overdose) to prompt the user to seek assistance.

Alo House Professionals Program

At Alo House Recovery Centers, we are proud to offer a special and unique luxury program for mature adults.

Our Professionals Program is private and confidential just as all of our programs are in accordance with HIPAA, and is targeted to those executive adults who feel that there is nowhere to go for help.

We are aware that seeking helping for substance use takes courage and a willingness to admit personal struggle. It is our goal to help those seeking treatment for addiction in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity, and if at all possible, their jobs.

In our Professionals Program, they will receive education about the effects of long term substance use, and how it can lead to their entire lives being taken over by addiction and all the damage that that entails.

Included in the Professionals Program, which is tailored to the specific individual, is group therapy with others going through similar challenges, skilled therapists capable of helping the professional client with career issues, relationships, and family healing.

Alo House also assists with stress reduction techniques for the high-functioning executive adult and how to balance recovery with parenting, marriage, relationships, and career.

Alo House uses the levels of care to guide us, and each professional adult client would be assessed for the appropriate level of care specific to their needs.

The levels of care look like this:

  • Detoxification is stabilization of symptoms associated with withdrawal from substances (“Drug free”)
  • Residential treatment level is where we start to assess co-occurring mental disorders and use psychiatric interventions tandem to psychotherapy (“Stable Brain Chemistry”)
  • Partial Hospitalization level is where we help improve one’s social functioning in terms of family, intimate relationships, and employment dynamics (“Good People”)
  • Intensive Outpatient level is where we help clients make changes to their living environment conducive to recovery from mental disorders and substance use (“Safe Home”)

At Alo House Recovery Centers, it is our goal to provide effective, tailored recovery services to all demographics affected by addiction, not just those most commonly depicted.

We want professional and executive adults to thrive and flourish in their lives and careers using our adaptive and compassionate care model of treatment.

Our ambition is to see our professional clients transition from their treatment stay into recovery and back into their lives.

alo house

We believe trust, meaningful connections, and kindness are the essentials to beginning a journey in recovery. We are dedicated to providing an honest, authentic, and genuine treatment environment that gives our clients a unique opportunity for healing.

Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.