Addiction is often stereotyped as a condition that only affects lower-class individuals. However, addiction can affect anyone. For instance, one population that is often overlooked regarding alcohol and drug addiction is working professionals. Working professionals face various unique stressors that increase their vulnerability to developing substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health disorders. Moreover, their professional positions often deter them from seeking the treatment they need to successfully recover. For this reason, it is imperative to shed light on the necessity of treatment as well as the flexible treatment options available for working professionals.
At 12 South Recovery, we offer flexible outpatient treatment programs including partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), and general outpatient programming for both addiction and mental health disorders. We work with a wide population of clients, including, but not limited to, young adults, students, LGBTQIA+ persons, and working professionals. Regardless of where an individual is at on their recovery journey, we are dedicated to furthering their healing.
The Prevalence of Substance Abuse Among Working Professionals
A working professional is any employee who works for a designated or otherwise specified professional activity. Understanding the need for effective addiction treatment for working professionals is central to motivating treatment entry and engagement for both individuals as well as their loved ones.
The National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) combined research data from the years 2008-2012, finding that:
[A]dults aged 18 to 64 who were unemployed were more likely than those in other employment groups to have had a past year substance use disorder. About three fifths of the U.S. population aged 18 to 64 (or 113.1 million persons) are full-time workers. As a result, most adults with substance use disorders are employed full time (55.1%).
Nearly a decade ago, 55% of all individuals with SUD were full-time working professionals. If this statistic isn’t alarming enough, consider the effects of the recent COVID-19 pandemic on both unemployed and working professionals. According to an article by Discoveries, “Since the onset of COVID-19, there has been a 23% increase in alcohol abuse and a 16% increase in drug abuse for people who had consumed those substances before the pandemic. Meanwhile, the pandemic put all individuals – even those who had not used alcohol and drugs prior – at a greater risk of developing SUD.
Increased Risks of Mental Health Distress Among Working Professionals
In addition to the effects of COVID-19, many factors have increased the prevalence of substance abuse, SUD, and mental health disorders among working professionals. Whether an individual is working the corporate nine-to-five job life or not, all working professionals face a variety of stressors that increases their risk of mental health problems. Here are just a few examples:
One of the most prominent factors that increase working professionals’ risk of substance abuse and mental health disorders is work-related stress. According to an article from Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, “Stress is a well-known risk factor in the development of addiction and in addiction relapse vulnerability.” Some unique factors that influence work stress include:
- Long hours
- Lack of autonomy
- Toxic workplace culture
- Demanding job roles
- Workplace bullying
- Poor communication
- Tight deadlines
- Insufficient pay
- Heavy workloads
- Hazardous work environments
- Difficult coworkers
As a result of work-related stress, working professionals may turn to alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to self-medicate their emotions. Some working professionals may do this on the job, while others may wait until they get home to engage in substance use. Regardless, using alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate can inform a compulsive, demanding cycle of substance abuse.
Not only are the seemingly pleasurable effects of substance use temporary, but they also mask the underlying problem of work-related stress. Moreover, such stress will begin to pile up, potentially triggering the development of a mental health disorder, while recurring substance use triggers the development of SUD. Working professionals who have already fallen into this cycle of self-medicating must recognize the inherent danger that their health and well-being are subject to. Moreover, it may only be a matter of time before an individual’s substance use begins to interfere with their work performance, potentially leading to unemployment in the future.
Managing Job-Related Stress With Treatment
In addition to self-medicating practices, some warning signs that may indicate the need for professional treatment for working professionals include:
- Sudden disinterest in work
- Experiencing a lack of motivation related to work
- Engaging in risk-taking behavior
- Neglecting important responsibilities
- Noticing a decline in workplace performance, relationships, or ability to function in daily life
Fear of shame, judgment, and job loss are all normal concerns when contemplating treatment engagement. Moreover, some may believe that there are no programs available to accommodate the demanding schedules of working professionals.
At 12 South Recovery, we understand the obstacles that may stand in the way of addiction treatment for working professionals. Fortunately, our outpatient programs offer the structure and flexibility that working professionals need to meet job demands and receive effective treatment in tandem. From individual and group therapy to holistic therapy to family programs, we are sure to have a treatment approach to fit your unique needs as a working professional.
Working professionals experience a number of unique vulnerabilities to substance use, addiction, and mental health disorders. For example, job-related stressors can increase working professionals’ risk of using alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate. Moreover, there are many barriers that may stand in the way of working professionals’ ability to participate in treatment. At 12 South Recovery, we offer several outpatient programs that are both structured and flexible. All of our programs are individualized to fit the unique needs and goals of every client. If you are a working professional seeking professional assistance with substance use or mental health distress, we can help. Give us a call today to learn more at (888) 830-8374.