4

The High-Functioning Addict—Hiding in Plain Sight

By: Michael Plahn

The High-Functioning Addict is a term used to describe an individual who may appear to have a very productive, seemingly manageable, and in some cases an almost idyllic life…on the outside. However, it is as if he/she is living a secret dual-life. One of productivity, maybe even marked with high-achievement, while the other is a life of escape through alcohol, drugs, and/or other addictions (that the addict’s family may be oblivious). This person is able to succeed in their life well enough to where the effects of their addiction(s) has not impacted the life they project to others. This article is written about alcohol and other mind-altering drugs, but other addictions may apply.

According to an article by Kristen McGuiness: Are You a High-Functioning Addict? published on the Huffington Post website, The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported in a 2007 study, that claimed 19.5 percent of all alcoholics(nearly four million people) are of the “functional” subtype.

Every high-functioning addict whom I have ever met in Recovery admits to having excruciating dark times that other addicts also report. However, my experience, both personally and professionally, is that career success and wealth can delay or even prevent the initiation of the Recovery process. Career and personal successes, wealth, power and ego-inflation stemming from an impressive title or elite social circles can actually defer the emotional and spiritual pain that is typically involved with an addicted individual’s willingness to seek help. An addict’s type of career can even seemingly promote over-indulgence and make certain behavior (as long as it is not egregious) acceptable, if it is for the good of the firm.

Some high-functioning addicts have the means to take extraordinary measures to keep the pain away. This is exemplified by one Recovering addict, who asked to remain anonymous, who stated, “I knew an eight-figure guy who bought a new car every two months to get enough juice to keep the pain away; it actually worked for a while.”

Having a high-functioning person with elevated status (be it a celebrity or someone respected in a professional community) come forward about his/her struggles and subsequent Recovery is rare. Anonymity has been synonymous with most successful Recovery. Instead, we hear about the horror stories, PR nightmares, and tragedies of celebrities and professional athletes.

However, recently Chicagoans were privy to a very public admission of a struggle with addiction. A letter was posted on the WGN-TV website, written by evening news anchor Mark Suppelsa, where he admitted to having a problem with alcohol and was voluntarily entering Hazelden’s Center City, MN location for treatment. He returned a month later, as planned, and received overwhelming support from viewers, fans, colleagues, and management at WGN. The brief letter defined a very secretive high-functioning individual who was finally ready to seek help.

I am an Addiction Recovery Expert and someone who was once a high-functioning addict who understands that a high-achieving addict has tremendous responsibility. At LifeSkills Authorities, LLC. (“LSA”), I help families and self-referring individuals find appropriate help for addiction, depression, anxiety, and related issues. While it may be obvious to others and recommended by professionals to take an extended leave of absence, at LSA we look at each situation individually to find the most appropriate and realistic solution for the afflicted individual and those affected by their affliction to begin the Recovery process.

Without professional help and a well-designed and appropriate plan that is respected by the bright high-functioning person, the request to seek help usually stops abruptly. If you want a positive outcome and a plan that will help a high-functioning addict begin to recover, contact LSA now to learn about The LSA Pre-Treatment Solution and our other individualized approaches to solving our clients’ concerns.

LifeSkills Authorities, (LSA) helps individuals and families who suffer from the effects of addiction, depression, mood disorders, chronic pain and/or aging issues. LifeSkills Authorities is unmatched in its role as an objective advocate that creates a customized plan and blueprint for recovery.  This personalized solution ends the needless suffering and brings about healing and positive change for the afflicted individual, family, and loved ones.  LifeSkills Authorities is based in the Chicagoland area and serves clientele nationwide.

1

Secrets, Addiction, Mental Illness, and The Private Family

By:  Michael Plahn

“This is a family problem and should be dealt with in private” –A concerned person referring to a family member who is struggling with active addiction or untreated mental illness.

This can be a sentiment that I encounter when speaking with families who are struggling with addiction and/or untreated mental illness.  Some families are more protective of their privacy than others.  For some, allowing anyone into the family’s issues, even confidential professionals, can be a challenge.  So, when addiction and mental illness reach a crisis point, without the right counsel, a family can choose to ignore the issue or take other unfortunate paths (such as confronting the afflicted member without objective professional guidance) to protect their privacy.  This is why LSA’s extremely confidential, single point of contact Pre-Treatment Solution can be so appealing to families who are concerned with privacy.

I know recovering individuals who are comfortable telling anyone and everyone about their recovery (and previous addiction).  I have watched celebrities speak about how they have personally recovered or someone in their family has successfully overcome addiction.  Recently, I watched a very grateful Carol Burnett on Piers Morgan Tonight speak about her daughter’s recovery from addiction.  I have listened to highly educated lecturers in the’ helping professions’ outline the importance of eliminating secrets within the family as a necessity to creating a healthy family system.  I know colleagues who have a strong belief that if family secrets are not eliminated, there is virtually no chance of lasting recovery (the addict will suffer or die, and the family will disintegrate).

Personally, I think that stories of recovery are needed and give the suffering some much needed hope.  I agree that secrecy (over the long-term and used as a defense mechanism) can be a huge impediment to positive change.  However, I appreciate and understand the very real need many families have, to be reassured that they are working with competent professionals who respect the confidentiality and privacy of their clients.  More directly put, these people do not want their family business ending up as public fodder.

Many times, what a concerned caller is trying to articulate is that they do not know where to begin or how many of these ‘confidential professionals’ (some of whom belong to the same social clubs and can be seen at the same community activities) may be involved in helping the family member in trouble .  What about the family that has celebrity status, a very prominent name, or a professional who does not want his or her career destroyed by ‘loose-lips.’  In cases like these, if the concerned family member(s) knew of a single point of contact who could be the family’s confidential advocate, with their best interest in mind, to navigate the entire process, they very well may seek help.  I have personally experienced very cautious and private individuals gratefully embrace LSA’s Pre-Treatment Solution as they were told how it worked.

The LSA Pre-Treatment Solution guides and assists families and businesses through the entire process of helping an afflicted family member or colleague.  It truly is a total solution…especially for the family or business concerned about privacy.  This program enables a family or business to have a single source of contact (the LSA Specialist), guide and assist the concerned family member, in a calm confident manner.

Immediately following formal engagement, the LSA Specialist follows a systematic process to help formulate a comprehensive picture and answer the questions needed to properly assist the family.  As discussed in a previous two-part LSA Blog feature, determining the appropriate level of treatment and potential facilities to execute the necessary treatment and therapies is a major undertaking (not recommended for a family member to tackle without objective professional help).  This responsibility would not fall directly on the shoulders of the concerned family member (a point where many individuals find themselves giving up), as the LSA Specialist is now their personal objective advocate who will assist and guide them to find realistic solutions to the numerous questions surrounding this topic.

This same LSA Specialist organizes and facilitates an open compassionate approach to intervening on the afflicted person and has all the logistical questions answered before the Family Meeting/Intervention takes place.  Amazingly, even the most defiant addicted/afflicted person willingly says yes and accepts help (mainly because the systematic process used was open, dignified, and offered options to the afflicted person, not coercion or demands).  The LSA Specialist moves into action again (ie., liaising with the treatment facility selected by the afflicted person and making sure they are expecting us, contacting the travel agent to let them know which flight we need booked, confirming the destination with the driver of a car already waiting outside, and then the very same LSA representative accompanying your loved-one on the entire journey).

"You Are Not Alone"

Your loved-one won’t be heading out to the treatment facility alone or asked to go with you or another family member.  LSA’s personalized accompaniment has proven to be such a significant part of our process that we insist on accompanying the afflicted person.  The trip to the treatment facility can be a frightening experience for most, as well as a time to build barriers to change and healing (usually without realizing it).  This is a key reason why LSA travels with them, from the Family Meeting/Intervention until they reach the intake room at the treatment facility.

If I am the LSA Specialist, this is one of the most profound aspects of the process for me.  It is real.  There are tears and laughter as I am bonding with them, breaking down walls, building up hope, telling them what it was like for me when I was in their position, and what they may encounter in the next few days and weeks.  This process instills hope, builds trust, and prepares them for a positive beginning to treatment.

Let’s say our destination is a Residential Treatment facility out of state, such as Promises, Casa Palmera, or Caron Renaissance.  Then, we will typically have plenty of travel time together (if the Family Meeting/Intervention is in Ohio or Minnesota).  However, even if the treatment facility selected is in-state and does not require a flight (ie., Rosecrance for someone residing in the Northern suburbs of Chicago), LSA hires a car service, allowing our focus to be on the client.  Remember, we are not just making sure your afflicted loved-one arrives, instead we are using techniques in a very casual manner to assist in making their entrance to treatment as positive an experience as possible.

The LSA representative will be present at the treatment facility’s intake meeting (with the patient’s permission) and even stays in town an additional day to check in with your loved-one the following day, to make sure things are still going well.  So, for those of you reading this who have unfortunately had a family member enter treatment multiple times, you already know how different this approach is than what you and your family have experienced.  This is truly a comprehensive solution…and the beginning of long-term recovery.

For the family who is concerned about privacy and confidentiality, I sincerely get it.  I hope you can clearly see that the LSA philosophy of helping our clients and their family members/colleagues have been filtered through this lens.  Realistically, there are still stigmas and judgment surrounding addiction and mental health issues.  And, for families that travel in certain circles, or may be in the spotlight, confidentiality and privacy is a legitimate concern.  Each family, like the individual, must find a path that works for them.  Different families will embrace recovery at different levels.  This is why it can be crucial to have a trusted adviser and personal advocate such as LifeSkills Authorities, who is adept at confidentially working with you and your family.  Don’t delay any longer, contact us now.

Copyright © 2017 — LifeSkills Authorities Blog

Contents on LifeSkillsAuthorities.com including any images, text, external links, graphics or any other material posted on this website is intended solely for informational purposes. The information contained herein is written by non-medical professionals and not a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of any disease or disability. Please seek advice from a qualified medical professional with any questions that you may have regarding your physical or mental health condition(s). If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or any other medical emergency, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room immediately. The thoughts and views expressed here are not necessarily those of LifeSkills Authorities, its owners, employees, or management.