Does your life look something like this: You are an overachiever, you have a good career, you are an involved parent and loving spouse who uses a little something at some point in the day to help keep you at top performance or because you think you deserve it. On the surface everything looks good, maybe even great; but if you take a step back to consider a different perspective, another side of the story may emerge. 

High Functioning/Executive Users

High functioning or executive substance users are those who have a problem with drugs or alcohol but seem to be living a productive life. High functioning users can be difficult to treat, because they are less likely to seek treatment since their stakes are high. Often, they feel their career is dependent on them and put off treatment for a variety of reasons such as; they have a license to protect, they have bills to pay, they have family or community obligations that can’t be put off, or they are afraid of the stigma associated with having a problem. There are many valid reasons a person may have for not seeking treatment. However, the good news is all of the hard work and determination that has brought you success in other areas in your life can be assets in your journey to recovery.

Quick Test

Here are 4 questions designed by Johns Hopkins University for you to ask yourself:

  1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your use?
  2. Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing you about your use?
  3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your use?
  4. Have you ever used first thin in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hang over?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it is possible you need to do some soul searching about your substance use. If you answered yes to two or more you are considered to be at significant risk of having a substance use disorder. 

What does this mean for you?

Depending on how you answered these questions you may want to think about your use. The reality is your use may be impacting areas of your life that you hadn’t considered before. You may feel like you are walking a tightrope and one misstep could lead to serious issues. For example, a DUI could cause you to lose your license, cost you a lot of time and money, send you to jail, or cause struggles with your work or family. 


The science behind addiction is the same regardless of who you are. A person with a substance use disorder has chemical reactions in the brain that leads the person to believe that the substance is as important, or more important, than any other basic need. The good news is substance abuse disorder is treatable. There are many different treatment options with some that are specifically designed for those who are high functioning users or professionals.

If you are a high functioning or executive individual struggling with your drug or alcohol use, I can help. I have the experience to help you develop a plan for recovery that is flexible, customizable and confidential.