Professionals and Addiction
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Acknowledging and Treating Addiction: A Guide for Business Professionals

Rand Holyoak   | 


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

People in professional positions of power may be at a greater risk of addiction than the general public. According to Forbes, substance abuse is a common occurrence in high-powered achievers. This may be because of a combination of high job stress and neurological reward-seeking tendencies that are present in highly driven professionals. Knowing when it’s time to seek help and finding the proper treatment program will help you stop your addiction before it derails your success.

Signs That You May Need Help

Normal substance use, such as the occasional drink after work or taking medication as prescribed, will not present a danger to your health. Knowing the signs that normal behaviors are turning into an addiction will help you stop it before it gets out of hand.

Your Addiction is Interrupting Your Normal Life

One major indication that it’s time to get help is if you are using substances to deal with problems or just to feel normal. Addiction often makes other activities seem less enjoyable than they once were, like exercising, spending time with friends and family, or pursuing your hobbies. Relationships often suffer because addiction causes people to become distant or lash out unexpectedly. If you’re receiving complaints from close people in your life, including coworkers, then it may be time to seek help. Going out of your way to hide your substance use from others or having other people constantly cover for you are also signs that addiction has gone too far.

You Are Experiencing Physical Symptoms of Addiction

Physical symptoms of addiction may include memory loss, irritability, mood swings, headaches, insomnia and a change to your appearance that may accompany a deterioration in hygiene. You’ll know you’re addicted if you experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the substance begin to wear off. If you continue your substance use despite all of these negative consequences, it’s time to get help. This is especially true if quitting sounds scary or provokes discomfort. Psychology Today explains that addicted people often feel anxious at just the thought of stopping the addictive behavior.

Finding Specialized and Discrete Addiction Recovery Services

Seeking addiction help can be a delicate process for professionals because of stigma and the possible negative effects that it will have on their career. One executive told The New York Times that he made up a story for his absence when he was in treatment for alcoholism. Many executives don’t use their company’s employee assistance programs to get help because they don’t want to impact the company’s reputation or appear weak.

Many addiction recovery centers are geared toward professionals who need to maintain a work presence and keep their treatment discrete. These facilities are employed by therapists who know how to deal with your delicate situation and coach you through addiction recovery while holding onto your job. Recovery centers will differ according to their specific treatment approaches and costs, so it’s best to find one that fits with your beliefs and specific requirements.

Outpatient and Inpatient Centers for Professionals

Both outpatient and residential addiction treatment programs are effective options for professionals. Outpatient facilities may be more desirable for executives because they allow for more freedom. You can continue your work commitments and attend programs during the evenings and on weekends. This may also give you more privacy and anonymity since you won’t have to explain a long-term absence to coworkers. The downside to outpatient programs is that they don’t isolate you from negative influences like residential programs do.

Residential addiction centers typically house patients for at least 28 days and up to many months. These programs are a good option for people who have failed to complete an outpatient program or gone through it and relapsed. Residential programs are often more intense and provide structured environments that remove you from negative influences that may be promoting your substance abuse.

Facing addiction as a professional can feel hopeless and humiliating. However, it’s important to remember that there is nothing shameful about asking for help. Thanks to specialized addiction recovery facilities, executives can find personalized addiction help that meets their needs as a successful professional.