Forget the Myth: Professionals CAN Struggle with Addiction

Many people believe that professionals or business executives are immune to substance abuse. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Having a higher education, an executive title, and money doesn’t make you less vulnerable to addiction. In fact, it’s easy to see how the pressure that comes with maintaining a professional career could make you more prone to substance abuse.

If this is you, you may be good at hiding your problem and afraid that seeking treatment will destroy your career. However, getting help now will actually lower the chances of that happening. Here are some tips for getting on the right track.

Identify Your Problem

The first step in overcoming your addiction is recognizing you have a problem. Having a high-powered occupation could make you more likely to live in denial, because — in the back of your mind — you know all you have to lose. But you’ll never get better unless you accept your addiction and confront it head-on. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Mood swings
  • Money problems
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • Difficulty performing menial tasks at work
  • Noticeable change in weight

Another indicator that you have a problem is if your family or friends see it. Oftentimes, they will notice it before you do. If your spouse, partner, friend, or coworker approaches you with concern, try not to blow them off. If it’s gotten to the point where they feel they have to confront you, it’s probably time to address the issue.

Get Help

The consequences of not getting help for addiction far outweigh any temporary pleasure or relief a substance can provide. Simply put, you could lose everything: your job, family, marriage, friendships, financial status, other business opportunities — the list goes on. Also, the physical and mental abuse you’re putting yourself through can take its toll quicker than you might think. Short-term effects include anything from sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and stroke to psychosis, overdose, and death. Over time, drugs and alcohol will deteriorate your body and mind. This can lead to heart, lung, or liver disease; cancer; mental illness; and so on.

Fortunately, there are treatment programs specifically for professionals and business executives. Such programs are designed to help you continue performing professional duties—whether you’re doing outpatient treatment or staying at a recovery center. In other words, you can get help to beat your addiction without losing your job. Executive programs can also help you to restore your career and reputation as you return to professional practice. When it comes down to it, even if you needed to leave work for some time to go to rehab, it could ultimately save your career—and life, for that matter.

Win in your environment

Another critical part of addiction recovery will be your environment. Part of the mission for many executive treatment programs is to equip you to deal with triggers in the workplace. Studies have shown that stress at work is a leading cause of substance abuse. Also, it’s common for employees to go out for drinks after work, as they feel it helps them destress and build relationships with their coworkers. But when done too often, that can be a slippery slope to dependency or addiction. In recovery, your first priority must be your recovery. That could mean saying no to going out with your coworkers or skipping certain company events where you know there will be drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, you may not be able to avoid being around substances, and there are ways to win in those situations as well.

Having a high-powered position doesn’t shield you from the perils of addiction. The stress and pressure that come with a professional career can lead to coping with drugs or alcohol. The most important thing to remember is that getting help now can save your career and life from being destroyed. If you realize that you have a problem, accept it. Don’t waste another moment self-medicating. Reach out to a professional so you can start to renew your life.

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Eva Beniot, Life Coach and Author of “The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health”.