Futures Recovery Healthcare

The High-functioning Addict and the Telltale Signs



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There’s no doubt that most of us are facing more stressors today than in the months and years past. The COVID-19 pandemic, quarantining, a tremendous change in what is normal daily life, and unemployment rates which reached an all-time high of 14.7% in April 2020 have impacted us all. And while being unemployed creates enormous strain, there are also those occupations that go hand-in-hand with stress—often stressors that are simply inescapable in these lines of work. 

Many of these high-stress occupations have a high correlation of substance use disorder (SUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD). When any substance is used or abused either at work or outside of the workplace, lost productivity, morale, absenteeism, accidents and injuries, as well as illness all increase. Substance use and alcohol use disorders cost United States businesses billions of dollars each year. 

From showing up at work under the influence and hungover or feeling lousy from the night before and calling out sick to engaging in conflicts with supervisors and co-workers and getting injured on the job, AUD and SUD are growing problems across all industries There are some industries that have higher rates of both alcohol and substance use disorders. And then, there are specific occupations that are more closely associated with addiction. Futures Recovery Healthcare is committed to helping both men and women in any industry or occupation to find the path for recovery from addiction. Futures offers three different residential programs at its serene, healing campus in Palm Beach, Florida; the Core Program, the Orenda Program, and the Rise Program

Top Five Industries with the Highest Rates of AUD

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the highest rates of heavy alcohol use in Americans working full time between the ages of 18 and 64 were found in the mining and construction industries. Heavy alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion within just a few hours on five or more days within a 30 day period. 

Following closely behind the mining and construction industries are the hospitality and food services industry, then the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries, and in the fifth spot is the utility industry. 

When it comes to illicit drug use in full-time jobs, leading the way with the heaviest use is the hospitality and food services industries, followed by the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries, then management and information sectors. Illicit drug use includes marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type drugs used nonmedically.

And according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 70% of drug users work full time. And the numbers continue to grow. But in addition to these industries discussed, there are also specific occupations with high stress which can lead to AUDs and SUDs. 

And it’s no wonder. Dealing with anxiety and other stress-induced symptoms often lead to the use of alcohol and drugs to initially ‘take the edge off’. Then what was once a source of relief becomes a dependency from which even the smartest, strongest, and most capable are unable to overcome by sheer willpower alone.  

While some of these individuals will end up losing their jobs, families, and homes due to ongoing alcohol and drug issues there are also those who will continue to work—often even excel—despite their AUD or SUD.  For these high-functioning individuals, getting the help they need can sometimes be more difficult than the person who loses it all from addiction. From the outside, everything looks great to the onlooker, however, that is often the farthest from the truth. 

High-functioning Individuals with AUDs or SUDs

The stereotype of a person with an AUD or SUD is often misleading. From a homeless person on the streets to someone who bounces from job to job and house to house, many associate these types of cases with an alcohol or drug issue. 

When it comes to the high-functioning addict, the telltale signs of a problem can be very different. High-functioning individuals generally perform at such high levels that even when they are beginning to decline, unless someone knows them very well, they still appear to be functioning fine, even thriving. A nice house, prestigious job, expensive car, and beautiful family all hide what’s on the inside of many of these high-functioning addicts. 

And while on the outside things may look status quo, anyone—high-functioning or not—living in active addiction is experiencing the devastation of addiction too. If you think you or someone you love may be a high-functioning alcoholic or addict it’s important to understand what this may look like. There are certain signs to look for when trying to identify a high-functioning person with an addiction issue. 

Signs of an AUD or SUD in High-Functioning People

  • Engaging in drinking or casual drug use at all social gatherings
  • Using alcohol or a drug to celebrate or reward oneself. 
  • Canceling attendance at events where there is no alcohol
  • Consuming large quantities of alcohol in single sittings
  • Showing signs of ‘wear and tear’ in the mornings in the form of moodiness, headaches, etc. 
  • Making excuses for drinking, drug use, or not feeling well
  • Drinking or using a drug to cope or help them to relieve stress

Some of the most high-profile, prestigious occupations surprisingly have higher rates of high-functioning individuals with an AUD or SUD. Many are shocked to learn that these careers include: 

  • Entertainers
  • Healthcare professionals; physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians
  • Pharmacists
  • Lawyers
  • Financial advisors
  • Pilots

These occupations often come along with more stress than other occupations. Long hours, poor work-life balance, high stress, exposure to trauma, and more contribute to the higher rates of both AUDs and SUDs in these occupations. 

The Orenda Program at Futures successfully treats many individuals from these high-stress, high-profile occupations. With a sensitivity to allowing them to continue to attend to vital work responsibilities while in treatment, the Orenda program enables individuals in high-profile occupations to get treatment for an alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder while maintaining confidentiality and a presence at work. 

Oftentimes individuals in these occupations fear losing their careers if they go for alcohol or substance use treatment. That’s why it’s vital to find a program, like the Orenda program with the flexibility which enables individuals to heal from addiction while maintaining privacy and attending to essential job duties.

In addition, the program specifically designed to meet the unique needs of those individuals in public-persona and high-demand occupations, provides the most customized and intensive care available. Program components aim to help prepare these individuals to return to their often high-profile, high-stress lives armed with tools of sobriety. 

Futures understands that each person’s addiction and recovery needs are unique. Effectively treating both men and women with evidence-based compassionate, and individualized care, Futures is devoted to helping each person who reaches out for help to find it. If you or someone you love is living in active addiction contact Futures online or by phone at 866-804-2098


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(866) 351-7588
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