All drug users are homeless and living on the street or locked away in prisons, right? Wrong! Alcohol and drug addiction affect a vast number of the population including all ethnic backgrounds, all social classes, all ages, and all genders. Many of the people who suffer with addiction also suffer from mental health disorders and use the substance as a form of self-medication. Others who may not have a mental health disorder may simply start abusing a substance to escape reality or to “relax,” and it can turn into addiction through continued use and needing more of the substance to feel the effects. According to Dr. David J. Linden, a neurosciences professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the same qualities we seek in leaders are often the same personality traits found in addicts. The psychological profile of a leader involves compulsive risk-taking, someone who has a high degree of novelty-seeking behavior. Dr. Linden proposes that this behavior is because of a genetic mutation in how the brain responds to dopamine. Their brains may release less dopamine during pleasurable stimulation than others, which means to feel the same level of effects they need to do riskier things, achieve “more success,” and maybe take a substance to help with the stimulation. Dr. Constance Scharff points out that both top executives and addicts usually experienced a stress or trauma early on in their childhoods that left some sort of basic need unmet and inspired a deep-seated drive to succeed. Often times those who have such a drive and such a need to succeed, if they do not reach certain goals within certain time limits they may feel as if they are failing themselves or others and can have a devastating effect.
The stress from high-level jobs such as lawyers and doctors can actually cause more health problems than just affecting your mental health and making you more susceptible to substance abuse. Stress can lead to a higher likelihood of smoking and obesity, which can lead to greater problems such as heart disease and heart attacks. There has been actual proof that that stress accelerates aging and can cause premature death. So how does a feeling cause so much damage? The fact is that it is more than a feeling. It is a physiological response to a perceived threat, that raises blood pressure and your pulse, constricts your blood vessels, and floods your bloodstream with hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. To relieve these symptoms and actually relax may cause some people to resort to substance abuse.
Your Job Can Affect Your Health
A lot of time people in top professions devote more of their time to their work. Physicians, bankers, lawyers, and business executives often endure 60 to 100 hour work weeks. In an effort to stay awake, get more work done, or just forget about their day they may turn to a substance for help. The Journal of Addiction Medicine published research that 20.6% of 12,825 attorneys who were a part of a 2016 study abused alcohol. Some research also shows that 10 to 12% of physicians will develop an alcohol or drug addiction during their career. According to our blog “Prescribing Millennials” today many people aren’t using illicit street drugs but instead, prescriptions are given by doctors for things such as anxiety, pain, depression, and even attention deficit disorders such as ADD or ADHD. Many high school and college students are prescribed the medication Adderall for ADHD or ADD, it is a central nervous system stimulant. It is often referred to as the study drug but another trend has emerged and that is that mothers are stealing these drugs off their children. Their child may be diagnosed and prescribed Adderall, then the mother takes the prescription. With the growing knowledge and popularity of this drug for offering energy, focus, and even weight loss, more and more people are trying it and getting addicted. Many students have graduated knowing the effects of this “study drug” and with the determination and need to find a good job may use it to benefit their careers. Many young bankers aren’t participating in drugs for the “party,” but so that they can work more and stay up longer.
High-stress jobs can also lead to or intensify mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mood and personality disorders. There have been many different ideologies explored in relation to successful CEOs and other leaders and mental health issues. Well-known people such as Estee Lauder, Henry Heinz, and Steve Jobs all had obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. While mental health doesn’t have to keep you from achieving great things such as these people did, there is a correlation between mental health and addiction. This correlation is referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. To learn more about co-occurring disorders please click here. When people are constantly putting themselves under pressure and facing the scrutiny of other leaders then they may feel an overwhelming anxiety that they feel can only be dulled with the abuse of alcohol. They may feel like they let someone down because a certain deal didn’t work out how they thought and want to just forget about the pain with prescription opioids or heroin. A lot of addiction begins as self-medicating for these sorts of afflictions without the realization that they are actually suffering from a mood or personality disorder. The treatment of addiction and the underlying cause is important to lessen the risk of relapse.
Employee Assistance Programs
Many more companies are starting to understand the importance of breaking down stigmas associated with mental health disorders and addiction. Certain fields such as for physicians, pilots, and other traveling fields have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help them find the right treatment without losing their jobs. Not all companies offer these yet, but most people are covered by their insurance for mental health and addiction. To find out more, or to have any questions answered, feel free to call one of our admission specialists who can help you understand more about treatment, your insurance coverage, and the best treatment plan for you. 1-888-986-7848.