Business professionals dealing with a substance use disorder (SUD) are more common than one might think. However, very few of them allow it to come to the fore. Career-focused professionals typically have the intelligence and critical thinking skills to hide their addiction from family members and co-workers. For them, hiding the addiction is top priority compared to other substance abusers since their reputation, title, public image, and relationships are at stake compared to those who are not addicted.
It’s often common that executives remain in denial of their addiction much longer than others because some are able to maintain a stable career while being deep into their addiction. Rationalization from substance-dependent professionals can be like “I work hard, and I deserve it,” “I need something to cope with the stress,” or “how could I be so successful if I have an addiction?” to questions about their substance abuse. On the other hand, there are several others who though subconsciously realize that they are addicted, refuse to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.
Something similar happened with Mike Lawson, a lawyer by profession. For him, the addiction began with a shoulder injury and a prescribed painkiller.
The story of every dependent professional
After four years as a successful attorney at an accredited law firm, Lawson started his own practice in 1993 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1999, he tore his rotator cuff while working out and lifting weights. He was prescribed the painkiller Percocet following his surgery. However, he continued to take the tablets even after his shoulder injury had long healed.
“You think for some reason, because it’s prescribed, that somehow it just can’t be the same type of drug or have the same effect,” Lawson said. “I always thought, ‘at least I’m not hooked on crack’, like that makes a difference.”
It wasn’t long until his license to practice law was revoked because of misconduct related to his addiction to prescription painkillers. In between years of escalating dependence on prescription drugs, recreational drug abuse that encompassed a $1,000 a day habit and the demise of his career, the only thing that saved Lawson was incarceration. He pled guilty to the felony of obtaining controlled substances for fraudulent means and served 10 months in federal prison.
On his first night there, Lawson said he enjoyed the best sleep he’d gotten in a long time. “What I had come to understand was that I was so far along, I just could not quit on my own, so it was consequences that got me sober.”
Common behavior patterns in those addicted
In other cases involving addiction among professionals, some colleagues who themselves are dependent befriend another addicted professional even after knowing about their problem. By normalizing substance abuse, these individuals become co-dependents and enablers, each encouraging and supporting the other. People dependent on substances usually develop skills of manipulation; cover up financial problems; and are deceitful about withdrawing funds from any and all accounts to fund their addiction.
When drugs are unavailable, they often become irritable and begin blaming other people for imagined shortcomings to divert attention from the real problem. With so much to lose, they go to great lengths to hide their excessive drug use. They may hide empty bottles or drug paraphernalia or drive to different areas to buy substances. People who abuse prescription medications are known to doctor shop, that is visit multiple doctors in different locations, to avoid suspicion.
Helping someone you know
Addiction is a scourge and harms not only the one in its grip but also the affected individual’s friends, families, and colleagues. As an addiction rewires the brain circuits, it is difficult to break free from it without professional help. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to opioids or any other substance, it is imperative that professional help is sought at the earliest.
Invictus Health Group, a network of detox treatment centers and substance abuse treatment rehabs, can help you connect with the best addiction treatment programs suited to your requirements with just a few simple questions. For more information about our network detox treatment rehabs, call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak with a member of our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.