Opiate-based painkillers are often seen as a way to alleviate debilitating pain and get a patient’s life back on track. However, for some individuals, prescription painkillers become addictive, leading to an entirely new debilitation. One surprising subset of those who become addicted to prescription pain killers are executive-level professionals. While these individuals are often prescribed painkillers for the same reasons as the general population, the reasons that they stay addicted are very different. It’s proof that prestigious college degrees, a high social status and a successful professional life do not protect anyone from the perils of addition. Positive drug tests for opiates in the U.S. workforce have increased 20 percent since 2007, according to an annual report published by Quest Diagnostics. And, the number of executive workers who make up this number is rising too.
Causes of Opiate Addiction
The beginning of a painkiller addiction for high-power executives typically starts with something simple, like a sports injury or a muscle sprain. A physician prescribes painkillers to help these individuals return to their normal lives. At first, the prescription pain meds simply take away the muscle and joint pain. However, stressed-out executives soon find that they have other benefits, such as relieving the anxiety and stress that comes with their high-power jobs. They continue taking the medication long after the initial injury heals in an effort to buffer themselves from the intense pressure of work or relationship woes. It seems like a miracle cure; but in reality they become more and more dependent on painkillers to make it through even the most basic daily functions.
Ironically, in the initial stages of their addiction, these executive-level professionals are often at the top of their game. They no longer feel stress and fear, which frees them to make critical business decisions. In addition, these individuals have achieved high levels of financial success and can keep up with the cost of their addiction without having it impact their lives. However, the drug use progresses to an extreme point where damage occurs in all areas of their personal and professional lives. Those in positions of power often begin abusing their clients’ trust funds, missing important deadlines or court dates and becoming increasingly paranoid.
Reasons They Avoid Treatment
Even after these high-performing lawyers, physicians and executives realize that they have a problem they tend to avoid seeking help for their drug abuse. The reasons are similar to those of the general population, including shame, fear and sometimes denial. However, these emotions have very different root causes. They feel ashamed and scared to enter an executive rehab clinic due to professional, personal and confidentiality reasons. Some mistakenly believe that they can successfully conquer their addiction alone because they are used to achieving success in all other areas of their lives.
Executive Treatment Options
The reality is that these individuals are no more equipped to overcome their drug dependence than any other part of the population. The problem with drug addiction recovery isn’t just with having motivation, it is with becoming physically dependent. In fact, by the time that many executive-level drug abusers seek and receive medical treatment, they wish that they had sought help much sooner. Drug dependence is not a character weakness like previously thought by so many, but a chemical imbalance that occurs after long-term opiate consumption. Once this realization occurs for these individuals, they better understand the physical changes that have occurred in their bodies. As a result, they feel less ashamed and are able to identify and receive the appropriate treatment. Most drug dependency can be reversed in a short period of time and exclusive treatment facilities like the Waismann Method Treatment pride themselves on the confidentiality and outstanding care experiences by their patients.