You’re a high-flying business person. You might be closing a deal nationally or internationally, or leading your company through the economic uncertainty of the pandemic. You’re successful by any measure of the word, but you might also know the way that you use drugs or alcohol has become unhealthy.
Our society has stereotypes about addiction — that you must be down and out to be an addict. But the truth is many addicts are high-functioning, going about their day-to-day responsibilities. Some are even executives and leaders who others look up to.
Being an executive can complicate the process of getting treatment. You might feel like you can’t compromise your career by taking time off, or tarnish the reputation of your company by admitting that you have a problem. But the truth is, treatment is critical for anyone with substance use disorder, even if you’re keeping appearances together — for now. Without treatment, you risk even bigger consequences to your reputation and career.
Addressing the Stigma of Seeking Treatment
If you’re constantly being held up as an example of success, it can be embarrassing to admit that you have a problem. The stigma around getting treatment for substance use disorder runs deep, and it starts internally.
Rather than berate yourself about seeking treatment, change your internal narrative. Successful business people get diseases like cancer or diabetes just the same as everyone else. That’s true of invisible diseases as well. Substance use disorder is a disease just like any other, and nothing to be ashamed of.
In recent years, society has become much more accepting of the fact that addiction touches people from all walks of life. It’s up to you what you decide to share about your substance use disorder with your peers and colleagues, but if you do you will likely find support.
Set Boundaries Around Your Treatment
Even if you are well-known, you have the right to seek treatment in private. There’s no obligation to explain yourself to your colleagues or employees. The decision to get help is a medical one, and thus it’s private. You may want to get treatment and later open up about it, or you might decide that this is entirely private. Talking with trusted mentors and family members can help you make the decision that’s right for you.
Utilize Available Leave
Taking time off work is a big barrier to treatment for executives. It’s true that your team needs your leadership, but the fact is that in the longterm you are going to be a better, more effective leader if you get the help you need today.
Just like your colleagues , you have access to leave. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to address medical conditions, including addiction. In addition, many companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs). You can have a confidential conversation with HR about how an EAP program can help you access treatment and possibly get partial payment for the time you are out of work.
If you are truly unable to take time off of work, some treatment centers have programs specifically designed for executives, that will allow you to be involved with work throughout your treatment.
Choose a Reputable Treatment Center
As an executive, you have unique challenges that you’ll face in recovery and in getting sober. A treatment facility that is experienced working with executives is especially effective for people who have an established career. These programs will treat you with the discretion and respect that you are used to.
In addition, treatment centers that are used to working with executives provide a certain amount of physical comfort. You’ll be able to stay in a private room and enjoy dinners prepared just for you. There’s no need to compromise your lifestyle in order to get treatment, and a center that is experienced working with executives will make you feel at home. That way, you’ll be able to focus on your recovery and get back to your career stronger than ever.