High Achievers: What You Need to Know About Stress & Addiction


High Achievers: What You Need to Know About Stress & Addiction

It’s easy to think high achievers have a magic formula for success; that it’s a seamless process of setting goals, tackling problems and achieving results. These “Type-A personalities” are believed to have vision, imagination, drive and commitment—along with an irrational love for risk-taking. Dynamic high achievers are constantly overcoming challenges to reach the pinnacle of perfection. They live in a high-pressure environment of their own making—so they mustbe experts at handling stress! Right?

While high achievers appear to thrive in risky, sometimes-frenzied environments, many are quite vulnerable to stress, self-doubt—and self-medication. In fact, many of the traits that account for a leader’s drive to succeed may also lead him or her to misuse drugs and alcohol.

Attributes of High Achievers

People who rise above the crowd to achieve success and recognition share certain characteristics that include, but are not limited to:

  • Intelligence
  • Creativity & imagination
  • Drive to succeed
  • Unflagging work ethic
  • Willingness to challenge the status quo
  • Risk-taking compulsion

Type-A achievers seem to thrive on the rush of adrenaline that comes from facing the unknown, being deadline-driven and stretching their physical and intellectual abilities to the fullest. They may initially turn to substance use in an attempt to “let down” from constant performance demands, but some may develop a physiological addiction to the chemicals.  

Success, Stress & Substance Abuse: 5 Factors

Contrary to appearances, high achievers aren’t always the self-assured leaders they appear to be. Some researchers believe that successful, driven people share tendencies that give them an advantage in achieving their professional goals—but also leave them open to behaviors like drug and alcohol use.

  1. Childhood trauma or stress: A background of poverty, family instability, abandonment, neglect, abuse and other trauma may be the motivating force behind some high achievers’ focus on success. Their overwhelming drive to study hard, log extra work hours and pursue ambitious career goals could be an attempt to control their circumstances and avoid uncertainty. Some addiction specialists believe that such childhood trauma could be an underlying complication of addictive behavior in successful people.
  2. Results-driven upbringing: Someborn leaders are raised in families where achievement is a primary focus. Children from these environments often define their self-worth by their earned status at school or the office. As children, they don’t learn the value of play and self-expression, and as adults, they focus too much on work instead of forming relationships and developing hobbies. Turning to drugs and alcohol is one way to take the constant pressure off themselves.
  3. Hidden feelings of inadequacy & guilt: Manydriven individuals harbor hidden feelings of self-doubt and failure. Striving toward achievement can be an attempt to overcome an inner sense of being undeserving of success. These people sometimes turn to substance use to ease the pain of deeply hidden feelings.
  4. Limited socialization & intimacy:In an attempt to stay ahead of the crowd, many high achievers concentrate on their jobs at the expense of forming meaningful relationships. And since they often reach the peak of their professions, they may have fewer opportunities for real friendship and intimacy. This leaves a personal void that some leaders choose to fill with drugs, alcohol or other self-medication.
  5. Physiological difference in dopamine response: Some researchers believe high achievers have a muted response to dopamine in the brain. Such a reaction would drive the need to take risks and continuously strive for accomplishment. It would also make them seek out stimulation from substance use, which may be used to relax or reach a feeling of personal satisfaction.

Fear May Keep High Achievers From Getting Help

High achievers who develop the disease of addiction are often reluctant to seek help. Invested in employment success, these men and women fear disrupting their career trajectories. They may secretly doubt their ability to excel without the help of drugs or alcohol, or they may mistakenly believe they can control substance misuse on their own.

When these Type-A strivers will not open up about their out-of-control substance use and ask for help, concerned co-workers, friends and loved ones must enlist the aid of experts like Ken Seeley and his team of certified specialists at Intervention 911. A well-planned and orchestrated intervention by the Seeley team could save the career—and the life—of a high achiever waylaid by addiction.

Intervention: The Key to Recovery for High Achievers

Addiction to drugs or alcohol can happen to anyone, including the most gifted student or the most successful executive. Recovery is possible for everyone—but achieving it takes help. That help begins when you call Intervention 911 at 844.230.4911 to request intervention.

Ken Seeley and his team are credentialed experts who know how to break through the denials and defenses that keep highly successful and dynamic professionals and businessmen from confronting and overcoming their misuse of drugs and alcohol. Interventions by the Seeley team are individualized and carefully orchestrated to impact your loved one with reality while preserving dignity and setting the stage for healing. Intervention 911 services continue through the entire recovery process with client advocacy, recovery aid, life skills training, and sober living aftercare. Our services also include creating special accommodations to protect privacy and the needs of key employees and executives.

Call 844.320.4911 for a confidential drug intervention consultation or contact us with our convenient online form.

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