Waking up hungover and calling in sick. Going to work bleary-eyed and struggling through the day. Riding a frantic, energetic buzz and hoping no one will notice. Taking more to make it through the day.
If any of these things sound familiar, you are most likely a working addict. You’re not alone. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than half of addicts (55.1%) are employed full-time. Others work part-time. But keeping that job, or building your career, may depend on getting clean.
Some people may have the idea, often perpetuated by the entertainment industry, that addicts are homeless and jobless. While that image may be true for some struggling with substance use disorders, the addiction rate among professionals is also very high. SAMHSA collects data across industries, for statistics of addiction, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, and abuse of prescription drugs. Based on that data, the industries with the highest addiction rates include:
- Accommodations and food services
- The arts and entertainment industry
- Service professions
- Real estate (including rental and leasing)
Alcohol abuse and illicit drug use is also high in such professions as dentistry, finance, and the legal profession.
Impact of Addiction on the Workplace
Obviously, if an airline pilot shows up to work intoxicated and passes out in the cockpit drunk, he puts everyone at risk (true story). What is less obvious is the impact of addiction on other workplaces. Particularly once someone has been doing a job for a long time, such as mining or construction work, it can seem like you could do the job “in your sleep.” In actuality, impairment from the use of drugs or alcohol costs, big time, including:
- Missing work – Increased absences, in addition to impaired performance when you are there.
- Stress – The stress of wondering if others will find out, if you might lose your job, if you’ve forgotten something–all that stress adds up. You do have certain workplace rights, for addiction and recovery, but the wrong kind of slip-up and you’ll quickly be out of work.
- Promotion – If your addiction is suspected or if “something seems off” about you, your addiction can cost you the opportunities for advancement.
- Finances – Addiction of any kind is costly, which puts added pressure to obtain and keep employment on the addict.
- Safety – Millions of emergency room visits each year are related to workplace injuries as a result of intoxication or drug use. When you use, you put yourself and others at direct risk.
Save Your Career
Sure, addiction recovery can save your life, but it can also save your career. In addition to the direct benefits of recovery from alcohol or substance abuse, the skills learned in recovery can benefit your future potential in relationships and the workplace.
Data from workplaces continues to emerge that says what businesses really want from employees has much more to do with soft skills than technical skills. If you can hold a hammer or code a computer you have the technical-knowhow, but those skills can be taught. What is harder to teach are skills such as communication, problem solving, cooperation and so on.
However, in addiction recovery, you learn exactly those types of skills. Through group and individual therapy you learn to use communication to solve problems. You learn self-control, how to contribute to a group, and how to make genuine improvements in your life or the lives of others.
Don’t be a workplace addiction statistic, make your own path and create your own future by entering recovery and saving your career.