Inside the World of White-Collar Substance Abuse
White-collar substance abuse is nothing new. In 2011, roughly 12.9 million white-collar workers were using drugs. This number continues to increase with the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction does not care if you are a janitor, teacher, or lawyer.
However, it can still be a shock to hear about white-collar professionals and substance abuse. A white-collar worker is typically someone with an indoor job. They are often the jobs for people who don’t like to get their hands dirty. These jobs are different from blue-collar jobs, which consist of heavy lifting and manual labor.
There is often a lot of sarcastic teasing about white-collar workers having such a hard job. White-collar workers have the privilege of working inside an air-conditioned building and no dirt on their hands. These workers often enjoy these privileges with a more than comfortable salary.
If you are a white-collar worker under a lot of stress and facing addiction, let us help you navigate the path to a clean future. Call us at (623) 263-7371 to receive expert care today.
A Mountainous Workload
True to the spirit of the hard-working American, many business professionals take their work home with them. A survey found over 1 in 4 American’s do not have enough time to complete their work. Not to mention, at least 50% of American’s spend their free time working to keep up with goals and deadlines.
Many feel pressure to complete excess work so that they can keep up with work expectations.
Sadly, upper management may not notice these issues. Among the management that is aware, many do not desire to change things. Managers may treat the workload with an “it is what it is” attitude. Management expects employees to just deal with their workload despite the stress.
This means there is going to be no change and an increase in the rate of white-collar substance abuse.
Higher Pay, Higher Drug Abuse
Several reports note that abuse of alcohol, heroin, and opioids is high among lawyers.
When you step back and look at the stressors of their job, you will find that lawyers often work long hours. The workloads lawyers carry are immense. More so, there is a heavy-emphasis on status in the legal field.
Lawyers may concern themselves with how others perceive them. Are they too soft? Too aggressive? Do they dress well enough? Do they fit the right stereotype to ensure future business?
Over time, lawyers unknowingly train themselves to ignore emotions. Their job is to focus on the person they are defending—even if it goes against their beliefs.
Having a job that requires you to compromise your beliefs, and a career that demands that you defend a person who has done something you don’t approve of morally can plague your mental health. Since mental health intricately links with addiction, it is only natural that there are high rates of addiction in the legal field.
Life in the healthcare industry is ever-changing. Violence among healthcare professionals is increasing. More so, the field, in general, is unpredictable—as many have seen with the coronavirus pandemic.
The addiction rate among healthcare providers is an astounding 69%. Meanwhile, the addiction rate of the general population is around 10-12%. Adding to the intrigue, addiction among dentists is only around 10-15%—not disproportionate to the general population.
One of the biggest concerns for addiction among healthcare professionals is their ability to mask their addiction and their access to prescriptions. Since these professionals are well aware of the signs and symptoms of an addiction, they know what behaviors to mask when around colleagues.
Furthermore, these people often work long hours in high-stress situations. Everything they do revolves around life and death. Every day physicians make decisions that can result in harm. Moreover, they face death at a much higher rate than almost any other career. Doctors often get to know their patients as people. The patient is not just a face in the crowd. The doctors learn their stories. They crack jokes with them. Most importantly, they support them through hard times.
Death is an unpleasant fact of life. However, losing a patient you’ve known for years—investing countless hours in keeping them healthy—takes a toll on mental health. Addiction and white-collar professionals do not have a singular face, any professional may be at risk.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
52% of business professionals admit to crying at work.
47% say their job led to weight gain.
45% of business professionals say their job stresses them out.
13% skip their lunch break at least once a week.
26% work through lunch 2-3 times a week.
27% work through lunch every single day.
Over 50% do not take a lunch break regularly.
There is an obvious pattern as to why they face so much stress. Simply put, they are not taking their breaks.
It is important to give your brain a break in the middle of the day. The harder you make your brain work, the slower it will become. Your brain needs time to rest, even if it is only a 10-minute break. Let yourself check out of work mode so it can regenerate itself.
Furthermore, it is important to disconnect from your job when you go home. Not just because your family is complaining about you always working. You need to disconnect because a lack of free time and inadequate rest makes it much easier for the brain to overwhelm itself and for burnout to set in.
When burnout sets in, it takes longer for you to get back on track. Never mind that the stress that leads to burnout increases the risk of addiction in white-collar professionals.
Stress-Induced Substance Abuse
Studies show us how individuals facing stress become more likely to misuse substances, alcohol, or face a relapse.
Since blue-collar workers tend to have more natural built-in exercise with their job, they have an outlet for their stress. Exercising is a natural antidepressant because it can release endorphins.
One study involving opiate addicts shows us a correlation between elevated levels of stress and continued substance abuse.
The CDC tells us substance abuse of illicit drugs has risen by around 60% among those making more than $50,000 a year. This goes to show you, white-collar substance abuse is increasing.
Typical Substances Abused by White-Collar Professionals
The most common substances abused by white-collar workers include alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription pain killers.
Cocaine tends to be a popular substance because it is known to make the user feel wide awake and full of energy. Cocaine is often used as an aid to stay alert and awake at work. The drug is usually taken if the previous night was a late one spent catching up on the previous day’s work. While many believe cocaine is harmless, it can cause heart attacks. Additionally, using cocaine can cause other permanent organ damage.
Methamphetamines are another popular choice. Like cocaine, meth is a popular choice for the stimulation it creates. While it used to be a drug mostly used with blue-collar workers, there has been an increase of use with finance, management, and IT workers.
Prescription opioids have become more popular in recent years. Prescription painkiller misuse is a worldwide problem. More so, rules and regulations are getting tighter and tighter around painkillers. Many who have an addiction to these medications will end up resorting to more dangerous street drugs to feel the same relief.
Professional Care for Professionals
There are many treatment options available for those who are facing a problem with substance misuse or addiction. While there is no perfect treatment plan that will work for everyone, it is possible to find the right path for you.
While inpatient treatment options are available, many white-collar professionals may prefer an outpatient plan. Outpatient plans will not interfere with their work schedule. There is a fear of how they will appear and the future of their career if people find out they are an addict.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, it is possible to have an entire recovery plan in an outpatient setting.
Many people find participating in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program or a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program to be the most helpful. However, other people will find a reward-based system like Contingency Management Therapy to be the better option.
Nevertheless, many people find great comfort and success when they participate in a support group such as AA or NA. Finding a group of people who experience similar problems and can support you during rough times is invaluable.
It is important to keep in mind that sometimes, a combination of plans is actually the best way to go. Many times making a hybrid program for yourself is the most beneficial.
Be the Best You Can Be
The middle to upper working-class deals with a significant amount of stress, regardless of their industry. While many can cope and relieve the pressure on their own, others take a different path. They decide to use alcohol or drugs to cope with their stress overload.
It is important to recognize the signs of substance abuse and addiction, regardless of personal stereotypes about what an “addict” looks like. White-collar substance abuse is on the rise, and you are not alone. Getting help from evidence-based treatments, including detox and rehabilitation, can improve one’s work life and mental health. More so, treatment can improve one’s work-life balance and social relationships.
Even though many white-collar jobs focus on taking care of others, they often need help themselves. Do not struggle on your own, we are here to help. Let us help guide you to the right program. Call us at (623) 263-7371.