A note from The Pony Group: This is a guest post about addiction, a topic we feel does not get discussed frequently, but can impact people of all levels, whether a founder, or an entry-level employee. We hope this post acts as a welcome resource for you, or someone you know.
Guest Post by Eva Benoit
Addiction affects people of all backgrounds and social statuses. Rich or poor, male or female, highly educated or not, addiction is a human problem. About 24 million people in the United States are struggling with addiction, and this number includes some of the most powerful leaders in business and government. For executives and professionals, the question often arises – can addiction recovery treatment fit into a busy lifestyle? Or, must addicted people sacrifice their careers in order to pursue recovery? The answers to these questions are found when we dig a little deeper into the sources of business executive addiction.
The business world is stressful
Executives live in a world of fast decisions, risk, long hours, travel and time away from family. Sometimes these high demand positions provide less control – even in those who are leaders. There can be a perceived need to blow off steam at the end of a stressful day on the job. Worse, some work cultures encourage activity such as frequent drinking. Socializing is an important component of success in several industries, such as sales, and leaders in all areas of business frequent conferences and thought leadership meetings. Most, if not all of these events feature cocktail receptions.
Drinking becomes problematic when it interferes with normal life – be it work or personal. Signs of alcohol problems are when drinking cannot be controlled, memory loss occurs, and accidents result as a result from drinking. Often, problem drinkers miss work due to hangovers. With business leaders, this may be overlooked and condoned as a part of the hard work late at night closing deals.
Besides the problems of excessive drinking, alcohol abuse can lead to other dependencies. Since heavy drinking is often a form of self-medicating for executives, when alcohol doesn’t quite do the trick, there is a high risk of moving to drugs such as painkillers. Painkiller abuse costs employers over $2.6 billion each year. The opioid crisis was born out of the need for comfort for a host of physical problems, some related to the pains that are common with executives.
Tips for addiction recovery
As insidious as addiction is, it is not insurmountable. While most experts agree that addiction cannot be cured, it can be managed. One of the first steps to managing addiction is to change your environment. When a present environment feeds an addiction, it also contains it, and makes evolving away from the problem behaviors near impossible. For business executives, this does not have to mean changing your job. A change of perspective on how to handle work stress often is enough.
Here are some ways to change your work environment:
- Resist alcohol-focused activities. Success does not hinge on getting the most drunk. Instead of networking at a bar, try the time-honored practice of using sports outings as ad-hoc conference rooms. Golfing, tennis, running, and cycling are activities that thrive with teamwork and camaraderie.
- Lower the stress. Incorporate mindfulness during work. Take some time to quietly reflect on your day without distraction. Much of the stress is self-imposed.
- Embrace a schedule. Time management lessens stress and makes projects move more smoothly. Leverage new technologies to more efficiently tackle goals, which will leave more free time for healthy recreation.
Find appropriate help
Treatment is widely available for those suffering with addiction. And, since sustainable recovery requires life changes, executives don’t have to seek out a 30-day treatment that will take them away from work. Rather, focus on outpatient treatments that encourage a healthy work-life balance. Your physician can recommend treatment programs that complement your work schedule.
And for those who can afford it, there are hybrid inpatient treatments geared especially for professionals. These programs can be tailored to a specific job – such as for doctors or lawyers – and can be successful as they place the addicted person with people from similar backgrounds. Making other people’s problems relatable is a key component to recovery success.
Through a healthy work environment, identifying problems, and seeking treatment that allows continued work, executives can managed their addictions. It may require a sharp change in work culture, but sobriety will ultimately improve executives’ lives and work.
About Eva Benoit:
About 6 years ago, Eva Benoit left her job as an office manager to pursue being a life, career, and overall wellness coach. She specializes in helping professionals with stress and anxiety, but welcomes working with people from all walks of life. She works with her clients to discover and explore avenues that will bring them balance, peace, and improved overall well-being that can last a lifetime. Her website is evabenoit.com and she is author of the upcoming book, The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health.
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