Although the image of people struggling with addiction rarely includes white-collar professionals in executive positions, the truth is that addiction is widespread among white-collar professionals. Within high-paying professions lies high stress and high demand for production, leading these professionals down a path that includes drug and alcohol abuse as a way to cope.
Addiction affects people at all socioeconomic levels and white-collar professionals and executives are no exception. Rather than dismiss these issues or look past them as uncommon, it is crucial that those affected by addiction find help and understanding both professionally and from loved ones. When addiction takes control of one’s life, it does not matter how far there is to fall, the eventual fall is inevitable and disastrous. Seeking help for drug and alcohol abuse may seem dangerous when high-level careers may be at stake, reputations to uphold, and families to support, but the alternative is far worse.
Common White-Collar Substance Abuse Issues
The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among white-collar professionals includes addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs, with death tolls from these substances ever-growing.
According to American Addiction Centers, 9% of management professionals, 9% of real estate agents, and 4% of healthcare professionals have issues with alcohol, with an astonishing 21% of lawyers struggling with alcohol abuse, revealing the legal field as the highest in substance use.
Prescription drug abuse is no less prevalent, with opioid abuse and overdose numbers ever growing and the accessibility to these drugs even higher for those with money to spend. These drugs are commonly abused by white-collar professionals, both recreationally and as a form of stress relief and sleep aid.
Although prescription drugs and alcohol are most prevalent in white-collar addiction, illicit drug abuse is on the rise, including cocaine, heroin, and other illegal substances. With availability and access both in a recreational atmosphere and as a self-medicating tool. Illicit drug use has increased by approximately 60% over the past several decades, with a significant rise in heroin and related opioid derivatives.
What Leads Many Business Professionals to Substance Abuse and Addiction
There are several influencing factors in the rise of addiction among executives and business professionals, and each factor depends upon the personal struggles of each individual. Some of the prevailing substance use contributors include:
- High-stress levels: Many white-collar professions are high-stress, fast-paced, and have little room for rest. With pressure to perform at a high level, a potential for limited access to stress relief or escape from the pace of the industry, or high-risk demands like those of doctors, surgeons, and lawyers, the white-collar world can easily push a person to self-medicate their stress.
- Easy access to substances: High-level professions afford professionals easy access to drugs and alcohol, whether in social settings or at the workplace, like that of healthcare professionals. Many high-pressure jobs allow professionals to rub elbows with the “right people” who can write prescriptions on demand or put professionals in touch with illicit drug sellers. It is also not uncommon for lawyers, executives, and other high-level professionals to run in social circles that include drug use in their recreational activities regularly.
- Professional culture: It is no surprise that high-stress professions go hand-in-hand with a culture that lends itself to a stress-relief level beyond a quiet night at home. From Wall Street workers binge drinking and partying at the close of the day to high-level executives celebrating wins on private yachts with a bountiful supply of drugs and alcohol. Money affords many professionals the substances that result in addiction and work within a culture that encourages indulgence.
In What Business Professions Is Addiction Most Common?
As we briefly noted previously, the legal field is the most prominent with regard to drug and alcohol addiction, with high levels of depression reported among lawyers. Fighting the effects of long working hours and difficult court cases, lawyers are at high risk for drug and substance abuse as a means of escape. With a reported more than 45% of attorneys experiencing depression during their career, it is no surprise that these professionals seek out any means of respite from their feelings possible.
Although many legal professionals turn to alcohol to ease their stress, the rise of depression diagnosis comes with a rise in prescription drug abuse, as doctors fight to help and prescriptions are easily abused. Many also mix alcohol with their prescription drugs, posing increased addiction and risk of death.
Getting Help: Discreet Addiction Treatment for Professionals
For discrete, private, and respectful help fighting alcohol and drug addiction in New York, specialists at Fifth Avenue Psychiatry are available. Our addiction recovery professionals offer personalized, professional help with the utmost discretion and experience in treating white-collar professionals from a variety of fields.
Our Manhattan outpatient rehab for professionals offers addiction treatment for white-collar professionals and executives. Fifth Avenue Psychiatry’s addiction treatment team is led by Dr. Glazer, a New York Magazine Top Addiction Psychiatrist.