CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 19, 2014
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How to Combat Addiction Without Letting It Ruin Your Career

Addiction is a reality for many. The most common form of addiction is substance abuse, affecting millions worldwide. Individuals struggling from addiction experience impaired control over their actions. Many times, drug abuse continues due to the physical dependence that develops. 

If you or a loved one are addicted to a substance of any kind, you know how crippling it can be. Abusing drugs and alcohol not only affect your health and social life, they can damage a career in which you have worked so hard to build. Seeking treatment early is the best possible solution. We have come along way in terms of treatment. We are now offered more treatment options than ever. 

Many do not seek treatment due to their career, but you can recover without hindering your career. If you feel trapped and hopeless, it is time to break the cycle. Addiction no longer needs to control your life, it’s time that you take back your health, career, and overall way of life.

How Does Addiction Develop?

You may wonder how you got to this point. You may have had every advantage in life, yet you’re deteriorating under the control of drugs and alcohol. Drug addiction is not selective, it can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime. There’s a difference between recreational drug use and full-blown addiction. The following process explains how addiction develops:

  1. Pleasurable Effect: The brain registers pleasure the same way, regardless of the cause. Whether you’re experimenting with painkillers or your favourite meal, the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure seeking. There are several factors in terms of dopamine release; how fast will it be released? How intense will it be? How reliable is that pleasure source? For instance, heroin will create a more intense and reliant surge than a latte in the morning. Drugs tend to release anywhere from 2-10 times more dopamine than more natural substances. 
  2. Learning and Memory: It was once believed that pleasure was enough to create addictive behaviour. We now know that dopamine also plays a role in learning and memory. These two key elements play a role in the associated transition. Our desire to seek out the substance of choice begins to change. We transition from liking something, to experiencing addictive behaviours. Addiction actually comes from the latin words ’enslaved by’ or ’bound to.’ This is most certainly the case as one’s brain begins to adapt to drug seeking behaviour.
  3. Tolerance: After extended use and exposure, one begins to develop a tolerance. This is due to a reduction in dopamine release. Addicts need to take higher and higher doses in order to feel the original high they once experienced.
  4. Craving: Once an individual has exposed themselves, compulsion begin to take over after a certain amount of time. The result shifts; pleasure is no longer the driving force but wanting and ’craving.’ Our brains are incredibly complex, causing our memory to want and desire the substance of abuse. Normal motivation processes are no longer in effect at this point. Motivation shifts from pleasure to a strong desire. 
  5. Physical Dependence: A physical dependence is associated with withdrawal symptoms. You will need to take the substance of choice in order to feel normal. If the substance is not taken, withdrawal effects take hold. These can not only be highly uncomfortable, but painful and even life-threatening. Withdrawal effects vary from substance-to-substance. 

Taking Back Control of Your Life Without Hindering Your Career 

It can be tough to stay focused on work once an addiction develops. This is generally a key sign that addiction has become an issue in your life. Some of the other keys signs will be:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when trying to stop usage 
  • Seeking the substance from illegal sources
  • Obsessing over the substance of choice, wondering when you’ll have your next dose 
  • Continue taking substance although it is negatively affecting all aspects of your life; including your career 

As mentioned, there are more options than ever. In fact, England has now seen record numbers in terms of recovery. In the 2011-2012 year, nearly 30,000 addicts completed their treatment. This number has almost tripled in the past seven years. We are now able to access the treatment and care that one would expect. 

Your reputation in the career world can be shattered in an instant. You need to take all the possible measures in order to avoid your career deteriorating. Of course your health is a top priority as well, as drug and alcohol abuse create a whole list of negative health effects. In terms of one’s career, many actually avoid treatment because of fear. They’re fearful of what people will think and how their career will be affected. 

Although it is possible, kicking addiction on your own can be extremely painful and challenging. Detox centres for instance, taper individuals off drugs so that no withdrawal symptoms are experienced. They safely eliminate all toxins, while the individual feels little or no discomfort. Once the detoxification process is over, therapy and counselling are needed to address the underlying causes of addiction. 

If you are struggling with addiction, do not hinder your recovery process due to your career. Addiction will progressively get worse, and you may no longer have a career at all. Many addicts that enter treatment actually end up in a career position that is better suited to fit their specific talents and interests. Rehabilitation centres work closely with their clients, allowing them to seek their goals. These goals may include career choices, allowing your career to blossom. Before you can think about your next career step, you need to address your addiction. 

The following steps will allow you to safety and effectively recover, without the loss of your career:

  1. Admit That There’s a Problem: Before you can recover, you need to acknowledge the issue at hand. You need to say ’I’m an addict,’ or else you may downplay your substance abuse. If you recognise your addiction, you can then take the proper steps to ensure your sobriety. 
  2. Seek Help Within the Company: Believe it or not, many companies offer addiction services to their employees. If this is the case, take advantage of what they’re offering. It may provide you with that first push you need. It can also begin to create a support system which may possibly prove beneficial to your well being. Professionals are trained and experienced, they do not judge. Their main goal is to see you well. Take advantage of any services that are accessible right off the bat.
  3. Choose the Right Treatment and Facility: Everyone is unique, so treatment should fit your specific needs. Don’t be afraid to call a few detox or rehabilitation centres. You want to feel safe and comfortable when entering treatment. Some are drawn to faith-based treatment, while others are more comfortable under medically supervised treatment plans.
  4. Inpatient vs. Outpatient: Inpatient treatment means you stay within a facility under the supervision of professionals. Outpatient care means that individuals are able to return to their daily lives while accessing treatment options. For many, an outpatient treatment option is best in terms of their career. Each scenario is different, so one’s health, severity, medical history, and substance of choice all play a role. For those that can safely detox at home, doctor’s often provide small doses that can be administered throughout their workday. Patients will generally seek detoxification on a Thursday or Friday, allowing them to return back to work on Monday. Patients will then be tapered off their substance of choice, while they continue to develop their career. Outpatient care requires counselling and therapy, so these individuals tend to meet up with their psychologist or doctor at their local rehabilitation centre. 
  5. Web-Based Therapy: With technology advancements, patients are now able to seek therapy via webcam. They can discuss their concerns with their doctor face-to-face without having to travel. There are also group therapy options that allow each individual to hear others, without seeing their faces. The therapist will lead the conversation, and individuals can then share their concerns within a like-minded setting. This can create inspiration and drive, allowing individuals to reach and maintain long-term sobriety. 
  6. Build Your Support: A proper support system is highly beneficial. This will generally be friends and family, but support could come by anyone who has your best interest in mind. A sponsor for instance is common when battling addiction. The whole point of support is to keep you track, helping you in times of need. If you feel like using, call someone within your support system. They will speak to you about your choices and actions; making you think twice before compulsively acting on your desire to use substances. 

The key to successful treatment is persistence, hard-work, and the desire to live a more stable and healthy life. Once you recover from addiction, you will see the world in a whole new light. Many individuals begin treatment for underlying mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety disorders. This allows them to re-approach their career with a whole new level of confidence and excitement. 

Once you are well, you can work twice as hard building the career of your dreams. You will have more determination than ever, knowing that you succeeded on your road to recovery. Once you are an addict, addiction will always be a part of your life. It is hard work, but you will notice that it gets easier and easier as time progresses.

You can take control of your life and your promising career. Do not let substance abuse lead your future. Long-term sobriety is simply one phone call away. Get in touch with your local rehabilitation centre and ask questions. If you are seeking advice and answers, you are already taking steps towards a more productive future.

 

Photo Credit: Flickr

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