Are High Achievers More Likely to be Addicts?

Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

Addictive personalities are typically defined by the pursuit of pleasure, stimulation, and relief from discomfort. Do we often overlook the fact that high achievers are more likely to have addictive personalities?


Are High Achievers More Likely to be Addicts?


Addiction affects people from all walks of life, but certain professions seem more prone to the disease. In fact, some researchers have made ties between high-achieving occupations and addiction. The reasoning behind this phenomenon is that people with a natural high tolerance for achievement and challenge are more likely to be drawn to risk-taking, even when it comes to drugs or alcohol.


People that have high-achieving jobs tend to be more likely to be addicted to drugs (sometimes legal). One of the reasons that they are more likely to be addicted to drugs is because they have a high stress level, and these people often turn to drugs for relaxation purposes.


According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, people who have high-achieving jobs were found to be more likely to develop substance abuse addictions. The study also found that people with high-achieving jobs are more likely to drink and smoke cigarettes, which could explain why they’re also more likely to develop other addictions.


How to tell if you have a high-achiever problem


  • You have to force yourself to rest, even though you feel like working.
  • You feel like you’re always behind and never get to a point where you’re satisfied with your current situation.
  • You have trouble relaxing or sitting still.
  • You feel like you can’t say no to anything (even if it’s not a good idea).
  • You have an exaggerated sense of time urgency.


Lastly, if you find yourself stuck in a cycle of never-ending busyness and stressed out by the feeling that it always has to be this way, then you might have a high-achiever problem. If you find yourself constantly comparing your accomplishments with other people, then you might have a high-achiever problem.

The two types of addiction: Misuse and Addiction


When it comes to addiction, there are two different types: misuse and addiction. Misuse is when you use something in a way that’s not intended. Addiction is when you can’t function without it. There is a big difference between these but oftentimes, the addiction starts with misuse. This in turn leads to addiction, not being able to function without the substance.


Some people even have a hard time differentiating between the two because the misuse can be similar to addiction, but it doesn’t have to be. In some cases, misuse becomes an addiction. Let’s take an example of alcohol. Alcohol is used as a social beverage so people use it as a way to relax and unwind. However, for some, it becomes a different story.


Alcohol has an effect on a chemical property called GABA (gamma-Amino butyric acid) which is the brain’s natural chemical that reduces anxiety and stress. So when people drink, the GABA level increases and it helps the brain to relax. However, when a person drinks more than their designed limit, then the GABA level goes beyond the limit and the person experiences intoxication.


What Are The Effects Of Chronic Misuse?


In the case of alcohol, the problem lies in that it can cause a great deal of harm to the body. This is especially true when the misuse of alcohol use becomes abusive. For example, it doesn’t take long for the liver to start to fail if you abuse alcohol or someone who is misusing it could suffer from alcohol poisoning, which is also called delirium tremens (DT”s). DT’s occur in people who suffer a rapid detoxification from alcohol, among other symptoms that can include seizures or death.


In the case of marijuana, the problems begin when you constantly use marijuana for a long time. The first issue is that it can cause depression and anxiety, which is usually a temporary situation. However, this depression and anxiety can become more pronounced as a person continues to use the drug.


In the case of opioids such as OxyContin, chronic abuse can mean an opioid use disorder that is also sometimes called opioid addiction. OxyContin is a prescription medication that can be used to treat moderate to severe pain, but because of its potential for misuse and abuse, it can also lead to serious opioid use disorder. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or abuse problems, the best thing to do is to get professional help.

How do you know if you are a high achieving addict?


If you are asking yourself this question, then you probably aren’t an addict. If you’re wondering whether or not you’re an addict, it probably means that you’re not addicted to something. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t form an addiction, but for most people it takes a fair amount of time and exposure before addiction takes root. But, there are some people who have a genetic predisposition to addiction, and it can hit them very quickly.


Addiction can be hard to identify because it can take on so many forms. Here are just a few of the most common:


  1. You use drugs or alcohol in situations when it’s physically hazardous
  2. You have serious family, social, educational, occupational, or legal problems because of your drug use
  3. You continue to use drugs despite a persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problem caused or exacerbated by your use
  4. You have tolerance (needing larger amounts of a drug to feel the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms.
  5. You spend a lot of time using or thinking about using, preparing for using, or using drugs.
  6. You use drugs or alcohol, in spite of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem caused or exacerbated by using.
  7. You use alone.


Conclusion: Problems With Addiction


People with a high-achiever problem don’t go through life feeling like they need help. Instead, they find ways to help themselves and others. The first step to kicking a habit is realizing that you have a problem in the first place. If you find that you can’t quit something, no matter how hard you try, then you might be an addict.


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