Executives Fighting Drug Addiction


Executives in high powered jobs are people who know how to use stress positively. They harness the adrenaline released during their job to get things done and make on the spot decisions. Unfortunately, however, it can also lead to exhaustion, both mentally and physically. When this happens, what is known as a burnout happens. Anyone can experience a burnout, but it is most common in those who have controlling and perfectionist personalities, which is often found in those people who work high up in the levels of an organization. It is very important for organizations to be aware of this, as a burnout has a lot of negative consequences for the individual who is dealing with it and the company as a whole.

Symptoms of Executive Burnout

It is important for everybody to be aware of the signs and symptoms of burnout, so that they can seek help as soon as possible. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include:

  • Impatience and irritability, both at work and at home.
  • Low energy levels.
  • Drop in confidence and self-esteem.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Racing brain at night, leading to insomnia.
  • Over- or under-eating.
  • Physical symptoms such as a compromised immune system, indigestion and headaches.
  • Resorting to drugs or alcohol in order to cope.

It is the final point that is particularly important. More awareness is being raised about executives turning to drugs to self-medicate their problem. Some examples include Rob Ford, Toronto mayor, who has admitted to taking crack cocaine and Paul Flowers, Methodist minister and head of the United Kingdom’s Co-Operative Bank, who used crystal meth.


Self-medicating is a very common occurance amongst CEOs and executives. They use substances in order to remain alert, have greater performance and numb their feelings of distress. One of the reasons why high powered people are at particular risk of developing addictive behavior is not just because of high levels of stress, but also because it is in their very nature to seek thrills and excitement. A number of substances are commonly used by these people, including:

  • Cocaine – the effects of cocaine is that they increase energy and mental alertness, allowing them to have greater performance. However, cocaine is highly addictive, particularly when it is of good quality, which most executives are able to afford. The body quickly builds up a tolerance for the drug, which means greater quantities are needed in order to get the same results. Once someone becomes addicted, the effects of cocaine are actually the opposite of the desired results, including poor judgment, lower memory and decreased decision making abilities.
  • Alcohol – most executives use alcohol in evening time, helping them to unwind after their long day at work. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to become reliant on alcohol and many find they are no longer able to get through business or social situations without a little drink. Very quickly, therefore, executives find themselves turning to alcohol during lunch, meetings and more. Eventually, this leads to addiction.

These are the two most commonly used drugs, together with nicotine. However, more and more frequently, we are hearing of CEOs turning to other drugs, particularly opioids and amphetamines in order to cope with their daily lives. For executives fighting drug addiction, awareness must be raised about these issues in order to prevent significant problems in the lives of individuals and the functioning of businesses and organizations.

Getting Help

When speaking of drug addiction, most people think of users on the street, those who are at the lowest level the ladder of society. The reality is, however, that these people have the same addiction problem as CEOs and executives who have addictions too. At Creative Care, we have a great understanding of the fact that most addicts, regardless of their social standing, have underlying mental health conditions that need addressing as well. We also understand the importance of having individually tailored packages, rather than one size fits all solutions. We offer non-judgmental treatment that is designed to help you regain control of your life and return to your job and your community as a productive member of society who has a greater understanding of stress as well. This may even allow you to become better at what you do.

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