Who is Affected by Addiction and Substance Abuse?

substance abuse addiction high functioning peopleAddicts and substance abusers are thought of as lesser than the average person; undisciplined, out of control and impulsive. In North American society, we place a stigma on addiction and substance abuse, and stereotype those who are afflicted with these conditions. These are outdated, ignorant views of addicts and substance abusers that need to be put to an end.

The truth about this kind of person is that they are your neighbors, coworkers, peers, friends and family. The number of people who experience addiction or substance abuse at some point in their lives is close to twenty-percent. Equally important to understand is that addicts and substance abusers cannot be spotted by looking for the seemingly unstable personalities in your life. They are frequently CEOs, executives, physicians, attorneys and other high profile professions. Addicts and substance abusers are typically very high-functioning people who are capable of great accomplishments, but when they get sucked in by addiction or substance abuse, they can struggle the hardest with overcoming it.

The reason that high-functioning people and addicts or substance abusers are often one in the same is because both are a pursuit of a similar state of mind. A high-profile person is one with incredible talent and responsibility. Their high functioning brains are capable of going distances that the average person cannot match. Obviously, one of these pursuits is sustainable and the other is not. This type of personality finds purpose and euphoria in taking on extremes – extreme challenges or extreme pleasures. This means that both pursuits – for example, an executive position and a mind altering drug – will give the individual the same pleasurable feeling. Dopamine is the brain chemical that humans create when they discover something pleasurable. Recent studies indicate that addicts and substance abusers are less capable of creating dopamine than the average person, which explains why they go to further extremes in order to achieve it. But even though the dopamine creation is equal between healthy extremes and unhealthy extremes, the rest of a person’s life is not equal. Where as taking on an extreme career or hobby can be rewarding and health, abusing or being addicted to a substance or behavior is harmful, sometimes even lethal, and must be put to a stop.