Executives sometimes use substances to increase their productivity, manage stress, or escape the pressures at work and home. Addiction treatment that speaks to the needs of an executive is available.
Outcomes for executives in drug rehab improve dramatically when addiction treatment takes priority.
Ultimately, the treatment that will be the most effective has less to do with what you do for a living and more to do with your dedication to consistently seek recovery.
Which Drugs Are Most Commonly Abused by Executives?
It depends. Some executives use cocaine, crystal meth, or prescription drugs like Adderall to give them a boost and the perceived ability to accomplish more in less time. With the pressures of work always driving them forward and the need to continually outdo themselves and others, many execs feel that using uppers to boost energy and mood and decrease the perceived need for sleep and food is necessary.
Other executives take the opposite approach. As they are naturally driven, Type A personalities, they abuse painkillers, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or heroin to wind down, disconnect from their responsibilities, and slow down. Pills, alcohol, and other substances can feel like the quickest way to go from full speed to stop, and many executives feel they do not know how to shut off without drinking or getting high.
Still, other execs find themselves on a roller coaster of substance abuse. They may use stimulants to get going in the morning and then take depressants to get to sleep at night. On occasion, they may binge on one or the other, spending days awake when they need to complete a project followed by crashing for days afterward.
Are Executives in Certain Industries More Likely To Develop an Addiction?
The Industries That See the Highest Rates of Substance Abuse and Addiction:
- Come with high stress or heavy pressure to produce a specific result
- Provide easy access to substances of abuse
- Require long shifts
For example, lawyers and white-collar executives feel pressure to continually outdo their competitors, deliver on tight deadlines, and perform miracles with little to no support or resources. Many seek out drugs that they believe will increase their ability to do the job and/or help them escape.
In other cases, police officers and firefighters who face life-threatening stressors every day may turn to alcohol and other substances to escape. Similarly, construction workers, oil and coal industry employees, and others with high-risk jobs may do the same.
Medical professionals, including nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, face many of the same stresses and pressure that first responders and executives experience, but they also have immediate access to addictive drugs.
What Factors Contribute to Drug Abuse?
Initial use of substances is primarily driven by stress and a lack of healthy coping mechanisms to manage that stress. For many, it is fueled by the pressure to perform at work, feeling as if they are always behind, dealing with high turnover rate among coworkers and supervisors, shifting to address changes in the industry or new regulations, and managing the ups and downs of sales or contracts as the economic climate ebbs and flows.
Though in charge and held responsible for changes that happen at work in terms of results, executives are not able to control changes in the marketplace or with other people that negatively impact the bottom line.
The stress of remaining on high alert at all times to respond swiftly can be overwhelming.
Lots of stress at work often turns into high levels of stress at home. Relationships suffer when one or both people are preoccupied, on edge, or often working late and on weekends. When drug use becomes a part of the picture, those difficulties will worsen. The pressure of an unbalanced family life can increase the cravings for drugs and alcohol.
Is Specialized Addiction Treatment for Executives Available?
Yes. Some programs will work directly with you to create a treatment plan that speaks specifically to your circumstances and needs. If one of the issues stopping you from getting treatment is the responsibility you bear at work, it can be helpful to take the time and explore your options.
It is important to note that a large part of healing from drug addiction has more to do with creating perspective shifts and new behavior patterns that support a new life in recovery. This can mean making some changes in what your workday looks like or the trajectory of your career currently.
It doesn’t necessarily mean a huge overhaul or walking away from everything you’ve been working toward, but it does mean keeping an open mind and allocating enough hours every day to treatment.
What Does Daily Treatment Look Like?
Depending on your unique situation, your experience in addiction recovery will look different compared to other people.
For example, if you choose an inpatient drug rehab, your day-to-day schedule will be focused entirely on the rehabilitation process, working through co-occurring mental health or medical issues and stabilizing without the use of substances of any kind. Initially, usually for the first two weeks, there is a “blackout” period in which you will avoid communication with anyone at home or work to focus on medical detox and stabilization.
After this period, you will begin to reintegrate work and family as appropriate, with a focus on a therapeutic process that allows for healthy changes in your interactions and experience on all fronts.
Factors That Affect Success in Recovery
No simple algorithm will determine which therapies are effective in the treatment of substance abuse among executives and which programs are a waste of time and money.
If There Were a Formula To Establish a Formal Success Rate Overall Among Executives, Factors That Would Be Included in the Calculation Would Include:
- The amount of time and energy invested in the program
- The level of education of staff
- The ratio of staff members to clients
- The types of mental health, medical, and holistic treatments provided and the level of expertise of providers
- Your motivation and drive to stay sober throughout the process of treatment and beyond
In general, the longer the treatment program, the more likely you are to find long-term sobriety. The more educated the staff and the lower the staff-to-client ratio, the more effective treatment will be. The wider the range of evidence-based, experiential treatment options, the more likely it is that you will find the combination of treatments that speak specifically to your needs in recovery.
Ultimately, however, the program may offer the perfect environment for healing with all the tools you need to recover, but if you don’t show up, take part, and put in the effort, it will be ineffective.
It is important to note that choosing not to enter a drug rehab program when you are suffering from an addiction disorder almost guarantees a continued loss and increased negative consequences. Treatment may not be a quick or guaranteed process, but it provides the possibility for a new life without addiction.
Studies support the successful nature of treatment. For example, one study found that the risk of fraud among medical professionals living with an active addiction disorder was 10 percent higher compared to peers with no substance abuse issues.
However, that same study found that there was no increased risk of fraud among doctors and other medical professionals who had been treated for a past substance use disorder.
This demonstrates that treatment was able to repair some of the damage done during addiction. Even if relapse occurred, a return to active addiction did not.
How Does Insurance Factor In?
Insurance may play a significant role in your ability to get the treatment you need to heal. If you have a strong insurance plan and/or your company is invested in executive health and wellness, you should have the support you need to get intensive and comprehensive treatment.
If you are unsure what the specifics are, do not be afraid to reach out and ask. Human resources departments are usually well aware that it costs far more to find and train a new high-level executive than to help a high-performer get the treatment they need to get back on track at work.
Additionally, ignoring an addiction in the top tiers of an organization can mean huge losses in revenue and productivity that far outweigh the expense of treatment.
What To Look For in an Executive Treatment Center
Though it is important to take medications to assist with detox if recommended, avoid any program that sells detox medication as a comprehensive treatment for addiction. For example, methadone or buprenorphine may help people who are addicted to opioids begin to taper off their dose without experiencing overwhelming withdrawal symptoms, but this is not enough.
Therapeutic treatment and long-term aftercare and support are both critical pieces for the creation of a strong foundation in recovery.
In all cases, safety is paramount. Expedited detox programs, fractured treatment plans created by an odd collection of specialists who do not confer with each other to ensure cohesion, or rehab programs that come with over-the-top guarantees do not prioritize the safety that is required to make addiction treatment the positive experience it should be.