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Workplace Drug Addiction

Addiction Stereotypes Are Misleading

When drug addiction is discussed, most people will tend to have a certain image in their mind. The common stereotype of an “addict” is someone who is a bit of a loser, and is to be found at the bottom rungs of society. This image of addiction can actually be very misleading because the vast majority of those who develop this type of problem will not fit in with this stereotype. This not only means that people who have problems with alcohol or drugs go undetected, but that those people can use the fact that they do not fit in with the stereotype as proof that they do not have a problem.

Addiction in the Workplace

There vast majority of substance abusers have jobs and careers. A sizeable majority of these people will be underperforming because of their addiction, but they can manage to stay under the boss’s radar for years and get away with it. Substance abusers can become highly skilled at hiding their problems, and they may be able to stay within the borders of what they can get away with. There will be other people dealing with addiction who are less able to fly below the radar, but they will be able to survive in the world of work by regularly changing jobs. Most work places will have members of the team who are dealing with addiction, and in some professions, it may be rife.

High Functioning Drug Addiction

The substance abuser who is most able to adapt to the workplace is the high functioning addict. This person can be a high achiever, and be considered a real gem by their employers and colleagues. This individual may have all the trappings of success, and they may always seem to be climbing in their careers. Unlike the stereotypical substance abuser, this person may have a beautiful house and family, and be considered a respectable member of the community.

Despite the outward trappings of success, the high functioning substance abuser may be at more at risk of their addiction than their stereotypical counterpart. There are a number of reasons for why this might be the case including:

  • There will be less pressure on the individual to stop their addictive behaviour because they appear to be doing so well. Family and friends may even believe that it is unfair of them to complain because this person deserves to let their hair down.
  • This individual can have a huge sense of entitlement when it comes to substance abuse. They may believe in the motto – work hard, play hard. It can be very difficult to convince the person that they need to stop the behaviour.
  • The person can use the fact that they do not fit in with the stereotype as proof that they do not have a problem. Their reasoning is likely to convince at least some family and friends.
  • High functioning substance abusers can feel that they have more to lose by admitting to their problems. They may worry that it would harm their career or reputation. This means that even when the person becomes willing to admit their problem, they will still feel reluctant to getting help.
  • They may work in a profession where heavy drinking or drug use is almost expected. This can be particularly true in those professions where entertaining clients is an important part of the job description.
  • This person will not have the same financial handicaps as the stereotypical substance abuser. The fact that they can afford to feed their habit means that they will be able to consume more and consequently do more damage to their body and mind.
  • The reason for why many people will agree to eventually get help for their addiction is that their life begins to fall apart. This can take longer to occur in the case of the high functioning substance abuser, and the worry is that by the time it does happen the individual may have already caused a great deal of damage to their health and mental well being.

Workplaces that Encourage Addictive Behaviour

There are some work environments where substance abuse is considered almost normal. The members of the team may be expected to socialise with one another and with clients, and this socialisation will usually involve alcohol or drugs. It is probably no wonder that so many substance abusers are found in these professions. It can be difficult for people once they become sober to continue working in such an environment, and in many cases, the only solution will be for the person to change their career.

How to Overcome Addiction Problems in the Workplace

If alcohol or drugs are getting in the way of you doing your job, this is a sign that you are dealing with a drug problem. If you have not yet become physically or psychologically addicted to these substances, it may be possible for you to regain control. The problem is, though, that by the time that most people realise that these substances are interfering with their job they are already well on the way to addiction. In such a situation, the only real solution is permanent abstinence and addiction treatment will usually be necessary to help the person achieve this.

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