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Drug Addiction Treatment for Professionals

Drug and alcohol addiction has plagued US cities for decades. Most treatment centers focus on lower- and middle-income people from the areas hardest hit by drug infestation. 

What about white-collar professionals? Some people with prominent positions in finance, real estate, big tech and the automotive industry also struggle with drugs and alcohol.

Where does one find addiction treatment for professionals? What do these programs offer?

Why do Professionals Use Drugs and Alcohol?

To some, it would seem odd that white-collar professionals could ever fall prey to drug or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse is typically associated with dead-enders, habitual partiers and people in crime-ridden neighborhoods; not with lawyers, doctors and CEOs of multinational corporations.

Why would people who seem to have everything going for themselves — eight-figure incomes, lavish estates, luxury condominiums in multiple cities — risk it all on drug addiction? Some of the main reasons why professionals use drugs include:

  • Long hours – People with highly successful careers have often worked long hours (80-100-hour weeks) to get to their position. Executives often travel city-to-city on business meetings and spend half their nights in hotel rooms where they average only four hours of sleep. To stay energized, some resort to stimulant drugs like cocaine and speed.
  • Stress – Corporate life involves lots of obligations and stressful choices. To cope with all the stress — endless tasks, budgeting issues, cuts, public relations, market fluctuation, who to fire and hire — some people in high-powered positions use downer drugs like heroin and pot to relax, chill and put their minds off important stuff.
  • Recreation – Despite the archetype of the conservative, family-oriented business person, many people in prominent white-collar roles do engage in recreational drug abuse. In some cases, it’s the self-made gadfly “Libertarian” business owner who does things his way. In others, it’s the run-of-the-mill stockbroker or real estate agent who snorts coke at birthday parties.
  • Mental health issues – Drug abuse is often tied to co-occurring mental health issues that stem from life-altering experiences or childhood trauma. Widowed executives may resort to alcohol and/or downers to cope with grief.

Three is no clear profile for the drug-addicted professional. The reasons why corporate executives abuse drugs and alcohol vary. What separates professionals from other drug users is that people in white-collar positions often go to great lengths to hide their problems.

Why do Professionals Avoid Drug Treatment?

Many professionals fear for their brand image and what would happen if word got out that a top executive has a drug or drinking problem. Other professionals worry that a revelation of drug abuse would place them in career jeopardy. In their minds, entering a drug rehab program would open them to:

  • Shame – Drug addiction and alcoholism carry a stigma in society. To a lot of people, addiction runs counter to the notion of career success (outside the entertainment industry). Some professionals worry they’d be shamed or ostracized if they acknowledged a drug problem and entered treatment.
  • Termination – Some professionals fear they’d lose their job if word got out. In companies where drug tests are part of the hiring process, being outed as an addict could be grounds for termination. Not all professionals can set aside 30-90 days for residential treatment.
  • Loss of business – In some markets, customers might take their business elsewhere if they learn that a product or brand is headed by a drug or alcohol abuser. This is most often the case with brands led by a personality type, such as a food or beauty guru.
  • Legal consequences – Some professionals fear they might be fined or imprisoned for drug offenses. Others have already signed legal clauses stating that they won’t do drugs and alcohol.

Drug or alcohol addiction affects everyone, including business, legal and medical professionals. People who struggle with substance abuse should enter treatment programs with discreet staff who can manage addiction.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Signs

When people have alcohol or drug problems, it’s often easy to tell by their slurred speech, incoherence and lack of physical coordination. Professionals who need addiction treatment often show the following signs:

  • Problems at work – Professionals who slip into drug abuse will typically start sliding on the job. Whereas they used to be sharp with appointment times and due dates, they now miss meetings and do subpar work. A drug-addled executive may become withdrawn and hard to reach, even by phone.
  • Physical health issues – If a person loses or gains vast amounts of weight in a short period or develops facial lines, he/she could be engaged in drug abuse. A danger sign is jaundice (yellowing skin), a symptom of liver damage, often caused by alcoholism.
  • Declining appearance – When a person’s physical appearance, grooming and hygiene go into decline, he/she may be in a state of lethargy or carelessness due to drugs or alcohol.
  • Behavioral changes – If a once good-natured boss or co-worker becomes moody, temperamental or abusive, it could be a sign of drug use. Likewise, if the person goes from outgoing and responsible to passive and lazy, it could be due to drugs.
  • Financial issues – If a once fiscally responsible, career-oriented friend or relative is now charging up debt and asking to borrow money (despite being gainfully employed), he/she might be sinking untold sums of money into drugs.

Changes in behavior typically accompany substance use disorder. If someone you know has developed strange, disturbing habits that contract his/her image as a responsible professional, confront that person or speak with friends/relatives/colleagues about confronting the individual. If necessary, call local treatment centers and ask about their intervention programs.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Throughout the US, drug rehab centers offer addiction treatment programs for professionals. Program options range from inpatient rehab (30-90 days at a treatment center) to outpatient rehab (daytime visits to a treatment facility). The rehab treatment process works in this order:

  • Medical detox – When patients first enter treatment, they undergo medically supervised detox. Drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms typically peak on the second and third days of detox. Treatment center staff administer medication (often benzodiazepines) to help patients through withdrawal.
  • Residential inpatient treatment – Inpatient executive rehab programs last between one and three months, during which the patient stays at a lavish treatment estate. Treatment centers for professionals are usually located on cozy hillsides or ocean sides, where people retreat and recover. 
  • Outpatient programs – Drug treatment centers also offer outpatient program options. This covers the same ground as residential treatment: counseling, wellness activities, therapeutic exercises. The difference is that outpatients live at home and come to the center in the daytime for treatment. 
  • Aftercare – Most treatment centers offer continuing care for patients who need further guidance after completing the residential or outpatient programs.

In residential treatment programs, each patient gets his/her own room, gourmet meals and amenities. Some centers have separate men’s and women’s campuses. Outpatient rehab centers offer multiple meeting times that accommodate the schedules of busy professionals.

Behavioral and other Therapies for Professionals

Professional drug treatment programs also offer behavioral health counseling based on methods approved by the Mental Health Services Administration. Examples include:

  • Dual-diagnosis therapy – A method that isolates co-occurring disorders, often rooted in a patient’s childhood, that feed into his/her addictive habits. When the doctor and patient work together to fix the mental health issues at play, it’s easier to achieve long-term recovery.
  • Group therapy – Patients also meet in collective support groups to discuss their triumphs, fears, insights, milestones and struggles with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues. Group sessions are conducted by treatment center counselors and involve multiple patients, each bound by the shared goal of sobriety.
  • Family therapy – People who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction often grow estranged from family members. Today’s treatment centers help patients fix things in their personal lives that may be damaged due to drug use.

The modern rehab center will offer a long-term treatment plan. Each center has a treatment team that teaches coping skills and stress management techniques.

For Professionals Seeking Addiction Treatment

When it comes to drug treatment and mental health, professionals need programs that protect their anonymity. Across the US, addiction treatment programs operate on properties removed from big cities, the press and social media. Drug treatment centers are places to escape the vices of daily life and recover.

If you know a professional who struggles with alcohol or drug addiction, contact the nearby rehab centers and ask about the treatments offered at their facilities. One call to a treatment center could save that person’s life.

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