Treating Addiction Without Losing Your Career

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The corporate world is rife with stressors. From managing and navigating business development in a volatile marketplace to finding new clients, many executives face significant pressure to perform well. That pressure can lead them to seek relief with drugs or alcohol.

For some professionals, addiction becomes a balancing act that requires living two lives, and as the addiction deepens, the focus turns to securing access to the drugs or alcohol — at the expense of everything else.

Sadly, there’s still a strong stigma attached to recovering from a substance abuse disorder (SUD), and when a high-powered CEO finds himself unable to cope and recognizes that help is needed, the challenge of getting treatment can clash with the need to maintain a career while receiving treatment.

A study published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences notes that there is “accumulating evidence from preclinical, clinical, and population studies that highly stressful situations and chronic stress increase addiction vulnerability; that is, both risk of developing addiction and risk of relapse.” Workplace stress is the main influencer on executive drug use in the U.S. today.

Stressors That Lead To Addiction

Because of the significant responsibility that upper-level management carries, stress and anxiety often accompany the highs of a job well done. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and those in high-pressure fields often face challenges that include:

  • Delivering what they’ve promised to their clients and keeping those clients happy.
  • Sourcing new clients and managing multimillion-dollar budgets.
  • Balancing key performance indicators with business goals while strategizing business growth plans.
  • Building and maintaining high-performing teams while creating positive work environments.
  • Juggling a multitude of demands from clients, personnel, and other key stakeholders.
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance that facilitates upward progression in the company without neglecting family, friends, and other pursuits outside work.

These entrepreneurs share ways that they manage stress and anxiety so that it doesn’t lead to risky, unhealthy behaviors that could lead to addiction.

Maintain a Career and Get Help for an Addiction

One of the biggest reasons executives and other professionals hesitate to seek help for SUD is that they fear retribution from their companies that could negatively impact their careers. Since the opioid crisis has become a nationwide problem, there are more centers that have opened up to provide treatment to upper-level professionals seeking to address their drug and alcohol addictions.

These centers provide discreet environments that facilitate their clients’ needs to continue working while also recovering from SUD. Some programs have been geared to cater to specific professions, including finance and law. These facilities aren’t an inexpensive proposition and can cost someone up to $80,000 or more a month, depending on location.

Addiction Warning Signs

Untreated use of drugs or alcohol can lead to addiction and serious medical problems. Whether you’re worried about a friend, family member, or your own use, these warning signs indicate it’s time to seek help.

Indicators of possible alcohol abuse include drinking alone, in secret; depending on alcohol as a crutch: to cheer up, unwind, sleep, manage problems, or feel normal; suffering from memory loss or blackouts; and getting recurring headaches, anxiety, nausea, or insomnia when abstaining from drinking

Indicators of possible drug addiction include a family history; mental health issues; relationship problems; loss of control or an increase in risky behavior; a decline in involvement with family, friends, work, and activities that usually give pleasure; significantly diminished care about hygiene or physical appearance; and an inability to stop using, even when you recognize the problem.

Don’t Ignore an Addiction

The best leaders think outside the box, are driven — and, in fact, wired — to succeed, often at all costs. Their dedication borders on obsession, and while these qualities are admirable in the C-level professional crowd, the traits can also predispose these individuals to addiction.

While it’s terrifying to think about losing ground in a career in which you’ve worked so hard to succeed, addiction is more likely to derail your plans if left untreated. You aren’t alone or unique — experts believe that the brains of high-powered people may be prone to addiction. If you’ve acknowledged that you have a problem, help is available.

Eva Benoit

Life Coach and Author of The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health (Fall 2018)