The Illusion of a Well Maintained Addiction

Some people are able to hold a full time job, a relationship, and family responsibilities while they maintain a regular drinking or drug use habit. Although they might see symptoms of their addiction, mostly it’s a well maintained, meaning that it’s may not be getting in the way of work or home life. In fact, it’s common among people who are successful in their careers to believe that they’ve got their addiction under control.

When Denial Accompanies Addiction

However, even the most well maintained addiction is an illusion. An addiction, no matter how it’s cloaked, is an illness, and in time, it can have some serious effects on one’s life. Furthermore, successful people may be less likely to seek help for their addiction because of a higher level of denial. Putting the physical harm of addiction aside, the denial alone can be harmful. When an individual is in the throes of addiction, he or she may strongly feel the need to hide it. In many ways, hiding an addiction includes hiding it from oneself, which is the denial that accompanies this illness.

Denial can be furthered exacerbated by the stigma of addiction. Stigma can play a role for someone who is experiencing difficulties of their addiction but who doesn’t want to say anything about it for fear of being judged. And those who are successful might stay even further away from getting treatment because they may fear they have too much to lose by admitting that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

In fact, a well maintained addiction can increase one’s level of denial. If someone believes that they have their addiction under control, it will appear to them that there is nothing wrong, and this too will keep them away from treatment. Frequently, denial is one’s response to the idea that there might be a problem, and they refuse to believe that they have anything wrong with them. As a result, they might minimize their symptoms and avoid any indications that point to having a problem

Dangers of High Functioning Addict

The dangers of a well maintained addiction and a high functioning addict might be more severe for the following reasons:

  • A well functioning adult who is maintaining an addiction is more unlikely to stop their addiction, fearing they have too much to lose.
  • Someone who is successful and who is maintaining an addiction may never face the problem of running out of money to pay for their habit; whereas someone who is not working or who has little money might seek treatment sooner due to financial concerns.
  • Someone who has a successful career, home life, and meaning in other areas of their life might be less willing to seek help, despite problems that drinking or drug use might be causing. For this reason, a well maintained addiction might only keep someone in their addiction longer, suffering more physical and psychological damage.

If you are maintaining an addiction and you know that you are doing your best to manage the associated difficulties, it might be time to think about getting help. Although you might have a well maintained addiction, in the end it might only cause more damage.


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