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High Rollers: How Addiction Treatment Should Differ for Executives

High-profile executives are very concerned about doing something that will disrupt their life as they know it, and very concerned about confidentiality. Walking into a public AA meeting is too difficult a place for them to start.” ~ Dr. Arnold Washington, Addiction Psychologist Business executives and other high-powered professionals often face challenges that are unique to their position – there’s always another client, another deadline, another project. Stress and pressure are a way of life. But what happens when the pressure gets to be too much? What happens when the pressure to constantly succeed becomes overwhelming and, in response, the professional turns to alcohol or drugs as a way to alleviate that stress?

Substance Abuse among Professionals – Lawyers, Doctors, and Executives

Top-level professionals often feel the need to be constantly “in control”. People depend on them to deliver. But the constant grind of always having to be “on” can have serious consequences to their mental and physical health.

  • 1 in 3 American lawyers has a drinking problem, according to an article in the New York Times.
  • Part of it has to be the demanding lifestyle – 28% of attorneys struggle with depression, while  19% suffer from anxiety.
  • A 2012 article in the Journal of American Medicine showed a similar problem with alcohol among US surgeons –
    • 25.6% of female surgeons either abuse or are dependent upon alcohol
    • 13.9% of their male counterparts also have a problem – this is more than double the rate for the United States as a whole.
  • A 2012 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that people whose job title was in some way related to “Management of companies and enterprises” had rates of substance abuse that were considerably higher than the national average –
    • Past-Month Heavy Alcohol Use – 9.9%
    • Past-Month Illicit Drug Use – 12.1%
    • Past-Year Substance Abuse Disorder – 11.4%

When a person’s alcohol, illicit drug, or prescription medication use has gone beyond their ability to control it in is making their life unmanageable, it is time for professional help. Only by working with trained addiction recovery specialists can a person struggling with substance abuse regain the balance, productivity, and control they have in other areas of their life.

Why Substance Abuse Recovery Has To Be Different for Executives

Busy executives have different treatment needs than most people. Their return to health and sobriety ALWAYS has to come first, of course, but they often have professional responsibilities that cannot simply be set aside for some indeterminate length of time. The addiction recovery facilities understand those special needs of the addicted or alcoholic professional and have the flexibility to craft an individualized treatment plan that recognizes those needs. It IS possible to get better WITHOUT totally neglecting one’s professional and corporate obligations. The primary goal of the best drug and alcohol rehab facilities that offer specialized programs for executives is to help their professional patients return to work as soon as possible, provided those patients don’t pose a danger to themselves or to the public. Some programs will even allow professional clients to work – on a limited basis – while they are in treatment – taking phone calls, reading reports, giving instruction to subordinates, etc.

What Should You Look for in an Executive Addiction Recovery Program?

The best executive drug and alcohol rehab programs will have several offerings in common –

  • Flexibility – The ability to offer customized treatment plans to the individual
  • Comprehensive services – All of the client’s needs should be met – physical, emotional, spiritual, psychiatric, nutrition, medical, and pharmacological
  • Integrated services – Most needed services should be offered “in-house”, with the various providers – medical doctors, counselors, addiction specialists, nutritionists, etc. – communicating cooperatively under the auspices of a shared treatment philosophy
  • Holistic offerings – Because clients are more than their addiction, the program should be focused on “total wellness”, incorporating both modern and traditional therapies
  • Upscale amenities –When a hard-charging, Alpha-personality professional is in treatment for an addictive disorder, the last thing they should be worried about is their comfort. Premium recovery centers will have large, comfortable accommodations designed to foster a feeling of healing, peace, and relaxation.
  • Privacy – An executive substance abuse recovery facility should be separate from the everyday world, creating a safe, serene, therapeutic environment where the outside world cannot enter uninvited. For high-profile executives, privacy also means protecting their identity and position in the outside other clients.
  • Connections – The best executive addiction recovery programs will be well-versed in coordinating with the appropriate outside entities – state licensing boards, position-specific advocacy groups, professional unions, etc. to make sure you are meeting any preset requirements, thus protecting both your personal and professional interests.
  • Continuing aftercare – 30 days of treatment is not enough time to learn EVERYTHING you need to know help you effectively manage your addictive disorder, but it IS enough time to give you the basic knowledge and tools you need to start crafting your own newly-sober life.

By offering aftercare support services following “graduation” from residential treatment, the rehab facility will be able to help you stay on the right path so you can achieve successful, along with lasting recovery. You’ll be able to put in the practice the thing you learned in residential treatment, but still, have support when you need it.

Asking for Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness

Some professionals find it difficult to turn their care over to others. But what must be understood is that addiction is a disease – and by its very nature, it is greater than your ability to control it. Addiction doesn’t care if you are the owner of a company, a CEO, a lawyer, a doctor, or an investment banker. You can’t reason with addiction, it can’t be negotiated with, bought off, or intimidated. It can’t even be cured. But what you can do is learn to manage how the disease continues to manifest in your life. With the help of trained and experienced addiction professionals, you can learn how to control your own actions and return to the life that you have worked so hard to achieve.