About one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. Out of those 23.5 million people, only 11 percent will get treatment. One of the primary reasons that such a low percentage of addicts get the help they need is that they (or their loved ones) don’t recognize the severity of their problem.
It’s also common for business professionals or executives who struggle with substance abuse to put off seeking help because they’re afraid of how it will affect their work life. If that’s you, know that there are ways to overcome addiction without destroying your career. Here are some tips for recognizing when you have a problem and how to conquer it.
Signs of a Problem
There are some signs to look for if you think you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Some of the most obvious ones are physical, such as bloodshot or glazed eyes, dilated pupils, or extreme changes in weight. Many drug users suffer from malnutrition, which can lead to a general look of emaciation. Also, observe behavioural changes: Are you having trouble focusing and thinking coherently? Have normally menial tasks become more difficult to accomplish? Are you more irritable, unpredictable, or depressed than you used to be?
One of the worst parts of substance abuse is how it can affect your relationships. Have your loved ones noticed you acting differently? When you have a problem, it often reveals itself to your family members and friends before it becomes clear to you. If someone who knows you well — and especially if it’s more than one person — approaches you with concern, it can be tempting to brush them off. But it could also be a sign that you do indeed have a problem.
Consequences of Not Getting Help
If you keep pushing off the need to get help, it can lead to devastating consequences, from DUIs, drug possession charges, and job loss to shattered relationships, overdose, and suicide. Then there are the long-term physiological consequences. If your drug or alcohol addiction persists for long enough, you can suffer catastrophic damage to your heart, kidneys, liver, and/or lungs. Persistent substance abuse also alters your brain chemistry over time and can cause brain damage, cognitive difficulties, and other severe mental health issues.
The Truth About Rehab
If you think you need help overcoming a problem, you definitely shouldn’t let any stigmas of rehab keep you from taking that first step to recovery. The truth is that you are more likely to keep your job if you enter rehab, and you may even get a better job after completing a good program. Also, keeping your job and continuing your climb up the corporate ladder can motivate you to stay clean after your program is complete. It’s a cycle that can work for you—save your life, even. Just make sure that you get going the right way in the cycle.
There are also professional-focused recovery centres all across the United States that are specifically tailored to addicts who need to maintain a work presence. This includes both inpatient and outpatient programs, and most of them include talk therapy, peer support groups, and/or individual counselling.
There’s no better time than now to take your first step to recovery. Look for the physical, behavioural, and relational signs that you may have a problem. Consider all the devastating consequences that addiction can bring to you and the people closest to you. Don’t let the stigmas of rehab hold you back. Finally, do some research on the various treatment centres that cater to business professionals and executives. Remember: the time to get better is now.
Written by: Eva Benoit
Eva Benoit left her job as an office manager to pursue being a life, career, and overall wellness coach. She specializes in helping professionals with stress and anxiety, but welcomes working with people from all walks of life. She works with her clients to discover and explore avenues that will bring them balance, peace, and improved overall well-being that can last a lifetime. Her website is evabenoit.com and she is author of the upcoming book, The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health.