High-Stress Careers and the Prevalence of Peer Pressure
No one is exempt from peer pressure, not top athletes, movie stars, or even executives in fast-paced, high-level companies. Executive peer pressure is often associated with the need to act successfully and show leadership, even when not in the office. Along with this comes the pressure to do what those before you did, and do what other high-level executives may be doing, including the use of alcohol, drugs, and other addictions to deal with the stress of high-pressure positions.
This pressure and need to resemble the crowd are especially prevalent in the hospitality and recreation industry. Although the fun and excitement of the hospitality and recreation industry may bring professionals around illicit drugs and alcohol, these professionals are not alone.
Doctors and health care workers often deal with the stress, emotions, and physical toll of their careers with the abuse of prescription medications or other substances. At the forefront of these professionals are the emergency room workers, psychiatrists, and anesthesiologists, some of the most revered professionals in the field.
Attorneys also exhibit some of the highest rates of addiction, particularly young attorneys facing extreme levels of stress. Drug and alcohol use prevails when stress overwhelms.
Although all these professionals may not abuse substances at higher rates than other professionals, they are not without worry. The pressure to withstand the effects of drugs and alcohol compound over time, and the pressure to uphold the traditions, reputation, and lifestyles of the field; these things may prevent professionals and executives from seeking help.
The Normalization of Recreational Heavy Drinking and Drug Use
It is no surprise that industries in which high-level, successful professionals are young, or were once young and successful, have extensive availability to illicit substances and are not afraid to use them. The immense peer pressure to treat stress with recreation is undeniable, including the pressure to use recreational drugs.
It is not uncommon for drinking, smoking, and drug use to be associated with successful corporate culture. Executives are often expected to drink and socialize with clients and peers, while those who do not participate may be judged, ostracized, and criticized. This also tends to snowball into a very unhealthy work/home life balance.
Taking the High-Level Persona Home
The persona of a high-level, competent, powerful person is hard to shake once you’ve left the office and come home to your family and loved ones. Unfortunately, the pressure of upholding this persona can make a person crack, leading to heavy substance abuse and the deterioration of “handling” the situation.
The pressure to use substances without their negative side effects comes along with the mentality of working hard and playing hard. Substance use is accepted to blow off steam after difficult and stressful days with long hours at the office.
It is critical to understand that no one is exempt from the eventual effects of substance abuse, no one can fight it forever. And no status is more important than life.
Stepping Away from the Crowd: Choose Your Health
When the pressure is too much, or you are just done with the day-afters and long nights, you can take your life back. Leading by example will often lead you to discover that others in your social circle were just waiting for someone to say no so that they could, as well. You do not have to sacrifice your family, or your life to be successful.
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