Truth to Power: Recognizing Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Executives
So often when we think of addiction, we think of those in lower income brackets struggling to survive in already difficult environment and is made worse by substance abuse. If there is one thing we’re sure about regarding addiction, it’s that it affects victims of all economic classes and backgrounds. In fact, addiction is particularly prevalent among professionals in higher positions of authority within their organization. Executives have long been a high-target group for substance abuse and chemical dependency issues, due to a number of factors. The problem is so pervasive, that there now exists numerous specialized substance abuse treatment facilities to address the specialized needs of these patients.
What’s Causing Addiction in Executives?
Some of the immediate factors that drive addiction among executives include stress-related anxiety, mental illness and the inability to ask for help. There has been a significant uptick since the recent economic scare in 2008. These are accomplished, accomplished independent professionals, many of whom have achieved their success entirely on their own. They let shame and embarrassment preclude from stepping foot in a recovery meeting. This is why it’s important for friends, family and colleagues to keep an eye on them, and never be afraid to speak frankly about their concerns.
It’s common for subordinates who suspect their bosses of suffering from substance abuse to say nothing through fear of crossing boundaries and losing their jobs. While self-preservation is certainly understandable, we have to be prepared for the idea that our silence can make the problem worse.
What Can We Do?
Whether we suspect them of self-medicating with cocaine, taking too many prescription drugs, letting alcohol get in the way of their better judgment, nothing is lost be having a conversation. In the case in which we suspect substance abuse in our colleagues, and we truly feel as though we can’t talk to them face to face, we can reach out to one of closer loved ones or family members to alert them of the problem. This is a way to avoid direct confrontation while taking an active role in helping someone who truly needs it.
It’s normal to be intimidated by our bosses even under under ordinary circumstances. When there’s a potential drug or alcohol addiction problem at play, the situation can get exponentially worse. When faced with this situation, it’s important to remember two things: 1. Underneath the professional accomplishment and powerful status is a real human being that is likely in a great deal of pain. 2. We are entitled to a normal and productive work environment, and unaddressed substance abuse in our bosses creates a great potential for dysfunction.