Signs of Addiction in Quiet Strugglers

Signs of Addiction

We’ve all known at least one person who has struggled with alcohol or substance addiction, and we think we have a good idea of what that looks like. There are some well known signs of addiction that we tend to look for if we’re concerned about a person. If we know someone who uses alcohol or substances and have one or more of the following, it may be cause for concern, and perhaps intervention, if possible. 

Changes in Personality

  • a lack of interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important
  • neglecting relationships or reacting negatively to those closest to them
  • missing important obligations like work
  • risk taking tendencies, especially to get drugs or continue certain behaviors
  • ignoring the negative consequences of their actions
  • distinct change in sleeping patterns that result in chronic fatigue
  • increased secrecy, like lying about the amount of substance used or time spent

We tend to picture the uncle at the holidays who gets wasted and fights with everyone. The cousin who is a hot mess every weekend. The co-worker who disappears every so often for 3 months to go to residential rehab, even though they say it was a “spa”.

The Quietly Struggling

But there’s another level of struggle with alcohol and substances: the Quietly Struggling. This could look like: 

  • Parents who feel overwhelmed with having to juggle their professional and home life
  • Executives who have an ever-increasing pressure to perform more, better, faster at work and don’t know how they will keep up
  • Recent retirees who know they are fortunate but suddenly don’t know what to do with their life and feel overwhelmed at having to start over
  • New parents who are trying to figure out who they are as individuals, a couple, and as parents and don’t have the support they need
  • Any individual who feels like they have a “good life” but also feels anxiety, stress, or overwhelm from all or part of it and doesn’t feel like they can reach out for help

These are people who may hold prestigious positions in their company or community, who have a great family and appear to have it all. They are probably admired by their coworkers and neighbors. They may wonder if they are alone in feeling the weight of so much pressure, when everyone else around them seems to manage their own so well. They may even feel guilty for feeling burnt out and justify their inability to slow down or let things go because of the validation they get from the people around them that they are doing the right thing. But the Quietly Struggling are not handling the stress, the anxiety, or the feeling of overwhelm that seems to come with what they do in life. They are using alcohol and substances such as Xanax, marijuana, and pain relievers to cope. 

Socially Acceptable

It seems to make sense to turn to substances when you need them. Our society condones and even encourages this type of behavior: “Mommy’s little helper” is printed on wine glasses and Xanax and marijuana are known as a quick fix for the chronically overworked. They don’t call it “Happy Hour” for nothing! But for some, Happy Hour feels like a lifeline that they desperately to survive need rather than an occasional night out. For the Quietly Struggling, making it through the day so you can uncork and relax are a constant goal. Initially, it feels like self care. “Just one glass” and “I deserve this” are things we say to ourselves to justify our actions. But the more we lean on the alcohol or the substances to help us turn down the volume on our anxiety and temporarily take a break from the stressors, the more we need it to feel okay. 

We call this the Quietly Struggling because typically it can take quite a long time of this routine before it causes big, splashy, undeniable problems in our lives, but the struggle is still very real. The struggle to make it through difficult situations without wine. The struggle to deal with life as it is, without an “aid” to make it more palatable. The struggle to hide how much we need those aids, and to deal with the headaches, weight gain, cravings, and general decline in health because of too much use. 

We also know that the Quietly Struggling can easily tip over into full blown addiction crisis. A bad review at work, a lost job, a family struggle, or even huge things like a global pandemic can take someone who just drinks “a little” to a daily drinker, someone who uses substances “occasionally” to a person struggling with a full blown addiction. 

We know this group of people may not feel they need the full residential treatment just yet, and they’re probably right. That’s why we offer a full array of outpatient services: full day treatment, half day treatment, a few times a week, and even simple Education Only groups for the most flexibility. 

Are you one of the Quietly Struggling? Do you drink or use substances to manage your stress, anxiety, or burnout on an occasional or regular basis? Call us today to see if one of our services is the right fit for you: 800.556.2966