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Managers Are Stressed, and That Can Lead to Addiction

by Eva Benoit
Guest Blogger for Center for Brain

(Note: Neurofeedback is used around the country at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers as well as in mental health care clinics to assist addicts/alcoholics in stabilizing their moods, diminishing cravings and making better decisions. See link to studies below.)

If you look at any mid- to high-level manager or executive’s schedule, you’ll quickly see that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Between guiding less experienced employees, communicating across a broad spectrum of business leaders, and trying to make time for family and personal pursuits, there is very little time to just relax and breathe.

Coupled with having to make major decisions that potentially affect not only the business but employees, too, it’s no wonder that managers are stressed.

Business leaders work an average of 72 hours each week, according to the Harvard Business Review. That’s nearly twice the amount of time the average pay scale accounts for, and approximately 30 hours per week more than the average full-time employee. All of these work hours and responsibilities equate to stress, and lots of it – and chronic stress is one of the most well-known factors in drug and alcohol addiction. The National Institutes of Health also reports that stress increases the risk of relapse in those in addiction recovery.

What is addiction?

Contrary to popular perception, drug addiction is not always typified by homelessness, poverty, or lack of education. In fact, many people who suffer with a dependency issue, such as drug addiction or alcoholism, are perfectly functional and exhibit few external indications that there is a problem. Addiction is a complex disease that affects the mind and body, and is one of the few medical conditions that can have a significantly negative impact on a person’s relationships both at home and at work. But left untreated, an addiction of any sort can cause problems, especially for an executive who must maintain professionalism of the highest standards at all times.

Am I an addict?

This is a tough question, and one that requires unfiltered honesty to answer. You may not think you have a problem, and then one day realize you’re cranky and irritable and the only thing that’s changed is that you haven’t had a drink or exposed yourself to your drug of choice. Even if no one around you suspects that drugs or alcohol have started to take control of your life, you can ask yourself a few simple questions that can lead you on a path toward self-discovery and, ultimately, treatment. These include:

  • Do I often use drugs/drink alcohol alone?
  • Have I ever lied to obtain or access my drug of choice?
  • Do I avoid personal acquaintances when I’m using?
  • Have I delegated important tasks to others while I was using?
  • Does my drug or alcohol usage affect my sleep quality?
  • Have I experienced negative side effects and continue to use anyway?

Answering yes to any of these questions indicates that you have a potential issue. Narcotics Anonymous goes into greater detail on its self-evaluation here.

Other symptoms of drug addiction and/or alcoholism include health problems, such as tremors and seizures, weight loss, constipation, irritability, fatigue, and panic attacks. A great many of these side effects are made worse by chronic stress.

Treatment without attention

Drug addiction treatment does not need to come with an audience. As a busy professional, you may wish to stay as low key as possible while fighting this invisible enemy. Start by speaking with your doctor about local treatment options. There are many executive-style treatment centers that cater to individuals who can’t take time off from work. You may also consider outpatient therapy and lifestyle changes to manage symptoms of withdrawal and to mitigate stress while you’re in recovery. This may include starting an exercise program, changing your diet to include fewer processed foods (which can make you feel unwell), and getting more sleep. You may also need to cut down your work hours or simply commit to taking more time off.

No matter how effective you are, you will find that you can work with a clearer head once you’ve learned to overcome stress without drugs and alcohol. The time to ask for help is now – don’t wait until your addiction begins to interfere before intervening.

Eva Benoit is a life coach and author of The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health (Fall 2018)


Research studies on substance abuse and neurofeedback can be found at:

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