Money and power are often linked with health and prestige. It’s assumed that professionals who have achieved some level of success just have less to worry about, when compared with the average person, and they might not develop addictions or substance abuse problems as a result. It’s assumed that their high status in their communities will protect them from any kind of lasting harm.
Unfortunately, executives can develop addictions, and they can also develop mental health problems as a result of their substance abuse habits. For example, the New York Lawyer Assistance Program suggests that lawyers have substance abuse rates that are twice as high as the rates seen in the general public. While lawyers might very well have more money and power than average people, they also seem to have the same substance abuse issues that plague their peers who aren’t in the legal field.
Thankfully, there are treatment programs that have been specifically designed for professionals. With the help of these specialized programs, any type of person can overcome Dual Diagnosis issues.
Drug Use Among Professionals
Often, people abuse substances in a mistaken attempt to ameliorate symptoms caused by mental illness. That’s responsible, in part, for the very high Dual Diagnosis rates seen in addiction treatment facilities all around the world. Professionals might fall prey to this same temptation, leaning on drugs to soothe mental distress, and they may be more likely to self-medicate due to time constraints. High-powered executives and well-trained medical clinicians just don’t have open time available for therapy appointments, and they may resist the side effects that come with some types of mental health medications.
Using drugs just seems like an expedient and efficient way for them to boost their mood without stepping away from their careers.
In addition, some professionals have jobs that put them in contact with potentially addictive drugs on a daily basis. For example, a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that doctors abused prescription medications at rates similar to those seen in the general public, but doctors had the ability to write their own prescriptions and filch pills from their practices. They didn’t need to doctor shop or buy from dealers, as their addictive drugs were available almost all of the time.
Similarly, dental experts interviewed for an article on addiction in their trade reported a link between propofol abuse and a dental license. This anesthetic medication is widely used in dental practices, and as a result, it’s easy for dentists to get. But it can also be remarkably addictive, and dentists may find it hard to break the habit because the substance is always around them, always ready to get to work.
There are some types of professionals who might seem less likely to start an addiction, simply because they don’t work with addictive substances. People in this class include:
- Stock market traders
- Advertising executives
- Account managers
- Sales staff
However, people like this might be required to conduct a lot of work over meals. They might need to take clients out for lunches or dinners, or they might be expected to close deals over drinks. This puts these workers in close contact with alcohol on a regular basis, and according to an analysis in the Wall Street Journal, many companies are providing free alcohol to their up-and-coming executives in order to spur collaboration and company loyalty. This could make addictions even more likely in people who work in high-pressure jobs, as the link between alcohol and success at work becomes ever more clear.
The Help that Professionals Need
Substance abuse problems like this can be remarkably deadly for professionals. Doctors who abuse drugs, for example, might harm or even kill their patients, and they might lose their license to practice medicine. Lawyers who get drunk before cases might lose them, and they might lose their license to practice law if intense fraud is found. Even business execs could lose their jobs if they do something embarrassing in front of a client. These are the sorts of prompts that could keep a professional in treatment, and that might ensure that the person gets well.
Often, professionals need the same kind of therapeutic interventions used to treat addicts of all classes, including:
- Addiction education
- Support group work
- Medication management
But professionals might also need intense privacy. Their work lives may hang in the balance as they heal, and while they might be motivated to work hard, they may not want their progress blasted from the mountaintops. The programs they use must guarantee their privacy.
Time constraints can also be an issue for some professionals. They may not be able to step away from their daily lives in order to get help for an addiction, and they may find the idea of enrolling in inpatient care unreasonable as a result. Outpatient care might be a better option, as professionals may be able to keep working while they heal. But some professionals may find that they’re too tempted to relapse in the early part of recovery, when they’re surrounded by drugs at work. Professionals like this might benefit from executive rehab programs conducted on an inpatient basis. These professionals might even just tell their colleagues they’re going on vacation, when they’re really going to executive rehab programs in order to get better.
If you’d like to hear more about either inpatient or outpatient programs for professionals, please contact us. Our admissions coordinators can help you to discover Foundations Recovery Network treatment programs that can help.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton