Most people think of drug addicts or alcoholics as unkempt, unemployed and unpredictable. But the truth is that a large number of people struggling with substance abuse are contributing members of society — over 70 percent have a steady job and are employed either full or part-time, in industries that range from hospitality to health care. While we don’t often associate addiction with trained professionals and business leaders, those who work long hours in a demanding field are at a higher risk of developing a serious drug or alcohol problem.
Some people can hide their addiction and maintain a busy, productive lifestyle for a while, but eventually, their destructive habits catch up to them. As addiction develops, it interferes with one’s health, priorities and decision making, until the need to use becomes incompatible with a successful career or professional life. If you’re a high-functioning addict and consider yourself an exception to this rule — think again. There’s a reason you never hear anyone attribute their success to heavy drug or alcohol use. Addiction only holds you back.
Let’s take a closer look at the stifling effects of drug or alcohol abuse and the benefits of seeking recovery for professionals, business leaders and other high-functioning individuals.
A high-functioning addict is someone who can manage their daily life and all the responsibilities that come with it despite being dependent on drugs or alcohol — at least for a while. High-functioning addicts are employed, able to make their car or mortgage payments, care for their families and generally keep it together while hiding an active addiction from others. They represent a diverse demographic that often includes executives, doctors, lawyers and other working professionals, but they all have one thing in common: a chemical dependency that will jeopardize everything they’ve worked for in life.
While high-functioning addicts are able to conceal their addiction to a certain degree, they can’t keep everyone fooled for long. Eventually, colleagues and clients will start to notice little things that point to a drug or alcohol problem, such as coming into work high or hungover, calling in sick too often, decreased productivity and frequent trips to the bathroom to use while on the clock. As you can imagine, employers frown on this behavior, as it hinders performance and decreases the quality of one’s work.
The amount of time a high-functioning addict can maintain their addiction varies greatly with each individual. Factors such as drug of choice, length of addiction and how well they’ve perfected their “game” all factor into the equation. Whether or not they’re surrounded by enablers also plays a big role. Enablers are the people that allow a high-functioning addict to continue using drugs or alcohol without any serious consequences. This includes friends or family members who make excuses for an addict’s behavior, employers who look past addiction because it profits the company to do so, and loved ones who are in denial and ignore or minimize the problem, failing to establish accountability.
While key parts of a high-functioning addict’s life will eventually begin to spiral out of control, it gets harder for them to admit they need help the longer they’re able to maintain a double life.
How Addiction Affects Your Career
When beginning a new career, most people work their way up from the bottom as they learn the ropes and settle into a routine. During this time, it’s important to stay sharp and make a good impression. The same is true when starting a new business or building a clientele — establishing trust and rapport is important no matter what field you’re in. Addiction can put a wrench in these plans and make it difficult to perform at your very best, limiting your potential. Other ways that drugs or alcohol affect your career include:
- Missing deadlines — Addiction can negatively affect your productivity and make it harder to meet deadlines, manage your schedule and prioritize properly.
Increased Absenteeism — After a night of drinking or drugging, it’s easier to sleep through your alarm. The need to “get well” can also put you behind schedule in the morning and make you late. Then there’s calling in sick to nurse a hangover. Needless to say, being consistently late or absent from work doesn’t do you any favors.
- Poor performance — No matter what your job function is, being drunk or high won’t help. Job performance, management skills and client relations all suffer as a result of an addiction. Impaired senses at work can also be dangerous, especially for doctors, surgeons, police officers and other fields where split-second decisions can be a matter of life or death.
- Financial & legal risks — For employers and business leaders struggling with addiction, drug or alcohol use can be risky for themselves and their company. Financial and legal troubles are never far when substance abuse is involved, and the fallout can trickle down to impact employees as well.
- Sabotage your reputation — Missing deadlines, frequent absences and poor job performance can all negatively affect your reputation. A bad reputation is hard to repair, and this can spell disaster for your future career success, for both employees and business leaders who depend on establishing trust with clients and consumers.
These things may not destroy your career immediately, but the consequences will add up over time. And since so much in life is dependent on being employed and making enough money to support yourself, letting a drug or alcohol problem jeopardize your professional standing can have some far-reaching effects. Getting sober can help you repair some of the damage and get back on track in your career while improving other aspects of your life as well.
Treatment Options for Professionals
Professionals face a tremendous amount of pressure in the workplace, so it’s easy to see how some might turn to drugs and alcohol to keep up or cope with the stress. But for those with high-profile careers and a busy lifestyle, getting help might seem out of the question. Taking time off from work to enter rehab can feel daunting, and many people fear that they’ll lose everything if their colleagues find out they’re hiding a substance abuse problem.
Thankfully, treatment options for professionals and high-functioning addicts have evolved significantly over the years. While residential care is often considered the gold standard in addiction recovery, now clients can begin the healing process without committing to a lengthy inpatient stay. At Choice House, we offer an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for professionals and high-functioning addicts that delivers the same quality of care you would expect to find in residential treatment.
Our IOP for professionals allows clients to live at home and continue working while in recovery. This offers comfort, privacy and flexibility so clients can get sober without sacrificing their career or reputation. We don’t need to tell you that sobriety can have a big impact on your personal and professional life. Some of the benefits of recovery include:
- Feeling healthier and happier — Eliminating drugs or alcohol from your life can help you live a longer, healthier life. And when you feel better both mentally and physically, the sky’s the limit.
- Improved personal and professional relationships — How you interact with others can have a direct impact on your personal and professional success. With drugs and alcohol out of the way, it’s easier to build trust and be honest with others. Plus, more of your personality will shine through in your daily interactions.
- Increased financial security — Addiction is expensive. Maintaining a habit costs money, and all that unnecessary spending makes it almost impossible to save for a home, car or dream vacation. Living a sober life helps you become more financially responsible and secure.
- More success in your career — When you’re clean and sober, you’ll experience more success at work. Drugs and alcohol decrease your productivity and creativity, but a clear mind will help you reach your career goals and realize your full potential.
A sober lifestyle can take some getting used to, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Don’t just take our word for it — begin your own recovery journey at Choice House and find out what you’re capable of without drugs or alcohol holding you back. We provide a safe space for men to find connection, hope and healing in the Rocky Mountains, with specialized programs tailored to their unique needs. Our IOP for professionals is designed to accommodate a busy lifestyle while still providing the structure and support of a high-quality treatment program. To learn more, give us a call at 303-578-4975.