Sometimes people discover a friend, family member or neighbor is an alcoholic. Or regularly snorts cocaine. And they're astonished. After all, he's the CEO of a prosperous company with loads of responsibility. How could he possibly function if he's an addict? And she's always on top of her four kids' active schedules, never missing a soccer practice, swim meet or flute lesson. Surely she can't really be an alcoholic. Maybe she just has a few glasses of wine at night to unwind.
Stable careers and family lives have nothing to do with addiction. Many a well-regarded and successful physician, for example, is addicted to prescription drugs without anyone knowing. A University of Florida study showed that while doctors abuse alcohol and drugs at the same rate as the rest of us, they abuse prescription drugs at a much higher rate [source: Physician Health Program]. And generally an addict's work only begins to suffer in the later stages of the disease, when he shifts from being a functioning addict to a nonfunctioning one [source: Melemis]. And that stable home life? Family members often cover for impaired loved ones, creating sunny public façades while privately undergoing much stress. Addiction can certainly cause people to lose their jobs or result in divorce, but that's certainly not always the case.