Often, executives are seen as “having it all together,” due to their career success and outward appearance of functionality. As such, they have a much higher risk than the general population of stress and burnout. High achievers tend to accumulate increasingly stressful obligations, personal and professional, and may attempt to cope with their workload by turning to drugs or alcohol.
For these professionals, receiving treatment for substance use isn’t as simple as packing up and checking in. They may be solely responsible for managing full teams of people, or may need to be available for high-level strategy and decision-making meetings. Typical drug and alcohol rehabilitation services don’t take these factors into account when designing their treatment plans. This is why Hope by the Sea worked with our clients and medical professionals to develop our Executive Treatment Program.
Stress and Substance Abuse
First, it’s important to understand the difference between normal and chronic stress. Normal stress consists of occasional, moderate stressors – such as test-taking anxiety or skydiving – and can even be thrilling or pleasant. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is prolonged and unpleasant. Ongoing exposure to these feelings can create feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and depression.
Studies show that chronic stress is a key risk factor in addiction – it’s associated with everything from the disease’s initiation and maintenance to eventual higher rates of relapse. Addiction is an example of an incredibly harmful coping mechanism many use to combat increasing levels of pressure in their day to day lives. The workplace is commonly cited as a major source of stress for men and women worldwide. Rigorous schedules, poor work/life balance, demanding positions, and office politics can all contribute to negative feelings and anxieties that lay the groundwork for a substance use disorder.
One of the key theories in the study of stress and substance abuse hinges on the concept of self-medication. In this model, an individual turns to drugs and alcohol in an effort to better cope with their challenging lifestyle, believing that these substances will relieve stress and tension and allow them to better perform at work. Unfortunately, we know that addiction is a progressive disease. As tolerances build and other obligations build up, it’s all too easy for high-achieving people to find themselves suddenly in the grip of alcohol or drugs.
If this sounds familiar to you, reach out today to break the cycle. Hope by the Sea’s Executive Treatment Program is designed with specifically this situation in mind, and can be further customized to address your unique concerns and personal history. Our well-appointed facilities and accredited teams will help you get your life back.