Addiction and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life, including successful business professionals who seem to have their lives in order. Many of these individuals are informally known as “functioning addicts,” as they are usually able to continue working and maintain successful careers despite their problems with alcohol and drug addiction.
If you’re a professional in need of addiction treatment, please know that many treatment centers offer special programs for professionals designed to help you achieve long-term recovery without jeopardizing your career or reputation. While this is generally a norm for all patients regardless of their type of career, programs for professionals offer highly structured, customized treatment that can get you back on your feet as quickly as possible so you can continue to serve your community.
Here’s a closer look at addiction treatment for professionals and where you can find a drug and alcohol rehab center that offers a professionals’ program.
Why Do Professionals Suffer From Addiction?
Professionals are just as vulnerable to addiction as anyone else, as their careers are often highly demanding. Stress, long work hours, traveling, and important responsibilities can become overwhelming at times and increase the risk for substance misuse. Sometimes, you may feel as though it’s easier and less time-consuming to have a few drinks after a stressful day or take sleeping pills while traveling than it is to relieve stress using exercise or to find time for quality sleep.
Professionals such as firefighters, police officers, and enlisted military personnel are often regularly exposed to traumas that increase their risk for mental health disorders and substance misuse. For example, first responders who witness a violent event can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and rely on drugs and alcohol to help them avoid or forget the trauma instead of seeking professional treatment. Over time, chronic drug and alcohol misuse increases the risk for addiction.
According to Boston University, the ten most stressful careers are:
1. Enlisted military
3. Airline pilot
4. Police officer
5. Event coordinator
6. PR executive
7. Senior executive
9. Newspaper reporter
10. Taxi driver
It adds that the biggest sources of stress at any job are:
• Internal competition
• Physical demands
• Growth aspirations
• Hazards faced on the job
• Other lives at risk
• Environmental conditions
• Interacting with the public
Many individuals with these professions or who routinely deal with the above sources of stress will commonly indulge in eating, gambling, and drug and alcohol use.
What Is the Prevalence of Addiction Among Professionals?
Very few studies have evaluated the prevalence of substance use disorders among professionals across all industries, and many of them are outdated. However, some recent studies have focused on addiction among those with specific professions.
For instance, in a 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers evaluated the prevalence of mental health issues and substance use among nearly 13,000 American attorneys. They found that 20.6% of these individuals screened positive for hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking. They also learned that 28% had symptoms of depression, 19% had anxiety symptoms, and 23% had symptoms of stress—all of which are known risk factors for addiction.
Boston University also provides statistics on substance misuse among professionals, reporting that employees who work at least 48 hours a week have an 11% higher chance of engaging in risky drinking. It adds that between 2008 and 2012, an estimated 9.5% of American workers abused or were dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs. In 2016, 50% of companies in North America said rates of alcohol misuse were high among their employees.
How Is the Treatment Process Different for Professionals?
Addiction treatment programs for professionals are nearly the same as those for anyone else. Drug and alcohol detox, behavior therapies, and support group meetings are primary treatments that address physical dependency and the compulsive behaviors that often accompany addiction.
Quality rehab centers will usually develop customized treatment plans for each of their patients, regardless of whether or not they are business professionals. Like anyone else, you will receive therapies that focus on your unique situation and goals as they relate to recovery.
For example, if you’re a lawyer who started drinking to cope with stress, you may receive stress management training that teaches you how to cope without relying on alcohol. If you’re an emergency medical worker who started misusing opioids to cope with trauma and PTSD, you may receive trauma-focused therapy that helps you face and overcome the trauma driving your drug use.
If you’re a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, you may need to meet specific treatment requirements mandated by your local or state licensing board or advocacy agency. Many times, these requirements must be met before your physician or nursing license can be reinstated. In these situations, rehab centers may assign you one or more social workers who can help you meet and fulfill these important criteria.
What’s the Best Level of Care for Professionals?
Many addiction treatment facilities offer several levels of care to accommodate patients at every stage of recovery. Residential and inpatient programs offer the highest level of care, as you can live at the facility for the duration of your treatment program and have 24/7 access to medical care and support. Outpatient care offers a lower level of care if your goal is to continue going to work and live at home with your family while receiving treatment.
The best level of care for you is the one that can effectively address your addiction and/or behavioral health condition without increasing your risk of relapse. In the event you need residential or inpatient care but you want to continue working, many rehab centers will accommodate your desire to work by giving you access to a private conference room, the Internet, and a computer.
Your treatment team at the rehab facility will talk to you at length about the level of care that may benefit you the most. In many cases, you can transition to a lower level of care at any time based on your recovery progress.
Are There Special Support Groups for Professionals?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are some of the most common, widely known support groups used in addiction treatment settings. However, there are support groups available for nearly every behavioral condition and for people who may have preference to age, gender, and profession.
Some groups of people may be separated from others to facilitate increased healing and productivity during meetings and treatment sessions. For example, women who suffered physical assault at the hands of men usually respond better to recovery environments restricted only to females. Law enforcement officers may be separated from those with a criminal history, especially those who served time in prison.
Combining certain groups of people can be catastrophic and detrimental to treatment, which is why individual needs and situations are usually always taken into consideration. In conclusion, professionals have the option of attending support group meetings that align with their same situations or professions, as long as it benefits their recovery.
What Should Professionals Look for in an Addiction Treatment Center?
When searching for an alcohol and drug rehab center, look for state-licensed facilities that offer amenities, accommodations, and health care treatments that can help you experience a full, successful recovery. It helps to find a treatment center that offers everything you need under one roof, so you won’t have to transfer to another facility later on. The ideal recovery center should offer drug and alcohol detox, behavioral therapies, and services that cater to your needs as a professional.
Drug and alcohol detox is a critical and necessary addiction treatment. Detox is always the first stage of treatment and helps you overcome physical dependence on drugs and alcohol. This treatment usually lasts anywhere between a few and several days, based on the severity of your dependence. Your doctors may prescribe medications that can greatly reduce withdrawal symptoms, including drug cravings.
After completing detox, you can start receiving behavioral treatment services that address your addiction and the unique root causes behind it.
Make sure you find a treatment center with services that can help you accomplish specific recovery goals. For example, if you want to repair and strengthen the relationship between you and your spouse or family members, look for centers that offer couples therapy or family therapy. If you want to work remotely after going through detox, look for centers willing to provide you with access to phones, computers, the internet, and private work areas.
Addiction Treatment for Professionals at The Haven
If you are a professional ready to seek addiction treatment, The Haven is happy to develop a customized treatment plan to help you achieve long-term recovery. We offer drug and alcohol detox, residential treatment, and a wide range of therapies that can help you meet and fulfill your most important recovery goals.