Professionals face particular challenges when they are struggling from addiction disorders. Most people wouldn’t picture a professional when they think of an addict. Addicts, they assume, don’t get high-pressure jobs. But the truth is that many professionals suffer from addiction disorders and it shouldn’t be that surprising if they reach for Recovery.
Why do professionals suffer with addiction?
As a professional, you work in a high-pressure environment, possibly support a partner or family, and almost certainly struggle with work/life balance. Even if you’re lucky enough to work “only” a 40 hour work week, there is still very little time left for self-care. Most professionals don’t stop working when they get home, either. Easy access to emails and resources makes it all too tempting to get something done when it’s weighing on your mind.
For these reasons and more, professionals struggle with a sense of identity outside of work, and seek out methods of immediately turning off. Substances can provide the relief they’re looking for, and quickly become a necessary part of a professional’s day.
What are the particular obstacles to recovery as a professional?
But everyone who is suffering from a substance use disorder is bound to struggle. What makes a professional different?
We’re not comparing struggles here. Rather, professionals have particular concerns to take into consideration.
Anonymity and discretion in Recovery
While most addicts are ashamed of their addiction, and society still regards the disease with a sense of stigma, the stakes for professionals are particularly high. In the professional world, you don’t need to be a celebrity in order to have a reputation. It is everyone’s job to know everyone else – this makes doing business with other companies more seamless, and can provide you with an “in” to other workplaces if you decide to leave your current job.
The thing is, people in the corporate world are also very quick to make judgments. This can be a very effective trait for a businessperson who needs to make important decisions on a day-to-day basis. However, it can lead one to forget that every human is very complex and that second chances exist for a reason.
It is all too easy for professionals to write off other professionals when they find out about their problem with addiction, even though many successful people have struggled with addiction and made it through recovery.
All of this is why anonymity is so crucial to professionals who are seeking recovery. Even if you’re not ashamed of your problem – and you shouldn’t be – there are those who might use it against you.
For some professionals, a major issue in getting treatment is that their industry has unnecessarily harsh and unfair regulations, along with cutthroat regulators implementing them. This is true for pilots, who face a catch-22 when dealing with any mental health issue. Pilots asking for help can end up being grounded for six months.
Pilots therefore need to work with recovery centers that are attuned to their particular needs. These recovery centers need to be able to offer a path back for pilots who will be grounded when they admit their problem.
Everyone suffering from addiction feels some level of shame. For professionals, it is often a very deep, cutting shame. Many professionals have their identities tied up in their competence. Any mistake is seen as a personal fault, regardless of context. Addiction in this light seems like a severe indictment of their character.
Professionals need to work on this shame in recovery, learning to disentangle their identity from their career. Ultimately, they are going to feel incredibly vulnerable and will be particularly hard on themselves. By better understanding who they actually want to be, they can approach their addiction as an illness rather than a personal lacking.
Reentering the workplace
Leaving recovery for the “real world” is always difficult. For professionals who are going straight back to work, it can be particularly frightening. From the moment they leave, they will have to perform under high pressure. There will be no settling in period.
On the contrary, the work that professionals do in recovery needs to focus on redefining how they are going to manage their work/life balance. They will learn to reframe the way they perceive work. For example, they will stop seeing more hours spent at the office as a good thing. They will begin to see how they live their home life as essential to their wellness. And they will continue working on disentangling their identity from their career.
Furthermore, before leaving recovery, they will have to prepare to face people who may now think of them differently. They will need to learn to disconnect their image of themselves from the narrow-minded views of others.
Many professionals are also going to have a hard time with maintenance after leaving recovery. This is because they may spend many hours at lunch meetings or professional events, where everyone else will be drinking and even offering them drinks. In some contexts, the same will be true of drugs like cocaine.
Before leaving recovery, professionals will have to work out how they are going to manage these occasions. They will learn to determine which events they absolutely have to be at, and which ones they can afford to miss. They will learn techniques to deflect pressure from others, and to beat their own temptations.
Certain professionals, such as doctors and dentists, have easy access to prescription drugs, and need to learn how to set strong personal boundaries before reentering that context.
There are inevitably those who have lost their jobs as a direct or indirect consequence of their substance use. In recovery, they will have to prepare to live life outside of the bounds they’ve known for so long. They will have to prepare to use money differently. They will have to prepare to reenter the job market.
This can ultimately be a good thing, as it forces one to disentangle their identity from their career. However, it is a particularly difficult challenge and they will need a lot of support and attention.
Finding the right recovery center
A good recovery center focused at helping professionals needs to be capable of catering to all of these particular struggles. They should have staff who are especially aware of what professionals go through, and it can be helpful if they themselves have worked in high-pressure professional environments.
Center for professional Recovery at Seasons in Malibu does exactly that, combining a strong understanding of the ins-and-outs of your career with their own experience.
They provide the care you need to recover as a professional, along with strong aftercare support. Recovery needs to continue into your everyday life, as you learn to settle into a healthier, more balanced, substance-free environment.
Contact the Center for Professional Recovery at Seasons in Malibu now to kickstart your recovery journey.