How Professionals Can Save Their Career During Recovery


The business world is stressful. Long hours, demands to meet deadlines, and a culture of cocktail-hour business dealings all contribute to an unhealthy climate conducive to addiction. To make things worse, professionals often feel trapped in their substance use disorders because of their career. They feel they have to network at the hotel bar, and that they cannot consider a treatment program because of the negative implications on their job. If these professionals are self-aware of their addictions, they may hold back in seeking recovery due to perceived stigmas. For these professionals and many others, there are programs that allow career and sobriety to thrive together.

First step: realize that not everyone uses substances in business

It is a mistake to think that drinking and drugs are so commonplace as to be required in business.  All sorts of people find success in business without capitulating to a destructive office culture. While there are some industries where a frat-boy mentality may thrive, this is becoming less common.  For every story of young ad executives living at watering holes in major cities, there are countless other more recent ones of successful entrepreneurs using sobriety to get ahead. Substance use affects performance. Sober people are better at waking up early and getting work done. Hangovers and missed days at work due to overindulgence make addicts miss deadlines and hand in sloppy work. If anything, those who abuse substances have to work harder to hide their addiction and their mistakes.

Help is everywhere - you just have to look

Once you overcome the belief that drinking or doing drugs is part of a job requirement, the next step is to find out where you can get help. Although inpatient treatment programs require stepping away from normal work schedules, there are many alternative treatments that are intended to work with your life without having to drastically alter your schedule. Recovery is not the same thing as abstinence from using drugs or alcohol. Recovery means recognizing and managing your addiction in the real world. That means making money, being a productive member of society, paying your bills and taking care of your family - all without using.


Meetings for 12-step programs are scheduled at various times, often in evenings. It’s quite easy to locate an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting location in cities all over the world on any day. Their meetings occur in churches, halls and old schools. Groups meet in vacation spots and downtown business centers during lunch.

Increasingly, technology is bringing recovery group meeting opportunities much closer to work and home. Several startup online support networks have popped up over the past decade, leveraging social media technology to find a path to recovery for busy professionals. Some of these online groups use features such as mobile apps to help those who may feel the urge to relapse or need to speak with someone such as a sponsor.

In addition to technology, there are luxurious outlets for recovery assistance for those executives who need the discipline of residential recovery treatment without negatively affecting their career. These centers are very expensive, but can provide an environment of understanding and acceptance for high-performance business executives. Some professionals may feel out of touch with younger people with substance abuse issues. For these people, being around other professionals who have similar addiction problems can help them shed the guilt that can hold back attempts at getting help.

Either through traditional recovery treatment, group meetings, social network-enabled online communities, or through luxury inpatient treatment, there are options for every professional to begin taking steps to manage their addictions. Success starts with realizing that substances do not define business culture. Addiction to success can be much more rewarding that any drink or drug.


Photo Credit: Pexels

Sarah Akiba