People in professional occupations are expected to account for high levels of performance, accountability and responsibility. The psychological, philosophical, emotional and physical strain of these positions separates them from other occupations. Physicians and medical professionals, attorneys, pilots, and others usually maintain a license, accreditation or certification to practice within their field. They often own a business or occupy executive positions in their company’s leadership team.
Physicians work notoriously long hours. In fact, American Residents spend up to 80 hours per week in a hospital, and often take shifts of up to 28 hours at a time. Even beyond that, they frequently assume the responsibility of their patients’ lives. Lawyers’ workloads aren’t much lighter, and they too bear the weight of their clients’ futures. And the list goes on.
Using Substances to Cope
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that drug and alcohol abuse among healthcare professionals is a common coping method for the strain of expectations and job-related stress. The relationship between stress and substance abuse is well documented. The higher the stress level, the larger the temptation to self-medicate and relieve the resultant emotional burden. Maladaptive coping mechanisms like substance abuse are easy to minimize, and many professionals are inclined to believe that they can continue to function in daily life normally despite a growing (or fully fledged) substance use disorder.
The fundamental issue? The professional doesn’t recognize the problem, and so doesn’t seek adequate help for it. The potential for disaster is obvious.
If you work in a stressful or demanding environment, consider alternative methods to reduce stress outside of substance use. Taking regular breaks is often a vital self-directed intervention, especially if your workday exceeds 10 hours. Studies actually suggest that taking breaks improves performance, rather than decreases it. Additionally, you could implement a meditation practice at some point in the day.
The Forbes Coaches Council recommends embracing gratitude on a daily basis. Practice gratitude every day, every morning, before the first email. Come up with at least three or four examples of something you’re grateful for, then take a breath before launching out into the rigors of the day.
Exercise is another important tool. Exercise in any form functions as a stress reliever. Thoughtful activity boosts endorphins and improves the effectiveness of your immune system. A lot of companies actually offer yoga programs for employees in support of their mental health.
Many of these methods are also important coping skills used in recovery from addiction and substance abuse disorders – reducing stress reduces relapse. Plain and simple.
Integrated Addiction Treatment for Professionals
The inpatient addiction recovery program at Bradford Recovery Center is a comprehensive Pennsylvania drug rehab center with services developed for individuals from all backgrounds and professions. We specialize in detoxification and rehabilitation by providing a coordinated integrative approach. The program comprises substance abuse, mental health and trauma-informed interventions to offer individuals the most effective individualized treatment regiment
Participating in treatment with professional peers allows patients to share openly and non-judgmentally in an environment of receptivity. We work with each patient to identify their triggers and underlying stressors, and to foster self-awareness in progress toward true actualization.