Although there is plenty of help and support for alcoholics from all walks of life, there are still many individuals who might delay or avoid treatment because they worry about the stigma of addiction. This is especially the case for people in high profile careers or professional jobs that require them to maintain a certain image or reputation.
Even though alcoholism is more common for people in high-stress careers like doctors, lawyers, and pilots these professionals are actually less likely to seek treatment for fear that they might be stigmatized or even lose their job. Occupational stress is a strong risk factor in developing an issue with alcohol dependence and the most stressful jobs can make people more susceptible to alcoholism.
Professionals may worry about the stigma of addiction but without treatment they could jeopardize their career even further if they continue their abuse.
Professional Jobs and Alcohol Abuse
In many cases, professionals who are dealing with an alcohol addiction are actually high-functioning alcoholics. They can maintain their work life and handle their careers while hiding their alcohol problem from the people around them.
Because they can function so well while drinking frequently they may be in denial that they have a problem for years. They might begin to rely on alcohol to handle the stress of their work environment or cope with any dissatisfaction that they have with their job.
Some jobs have higher levels of stress and dissatisfaction than others making them more likely candidates to develop a problem with addiction. One study in the UK found that doctors have more problems with addiction than the general population.
A doctor is less likely to seek help for their addiction for fear of the stigma and how it might impact their career and reputation as a professional.
The Stigma of Addiction
Alcoholism, although it is one of the most common types of addiction, is still frowned upon by society. People suffering from addiction, especially those in professional jobs may feel a sense of shame and guilt worrying that their alcohol problem will seem like a sign of moral weakness.
Addiction can cause people to lose their sense of dignity and respect as they feel a sense of embarrassment knowing that they have no control over their behavior. The stigma that still exists with addiction is that this loss of self-control is a character flaw or weakness that is the fault of the individual.
Professionals worried about the stigma of abuse need to realize that the reality of alcoholism is that it is a disease that can be effectively managed with treatment. It is possible to recover from an alcohol problem and it is not necessarily an individual's moral weakness that causes them to drink.
There are many factors outside of a person's control that can lead to alcoholism such as genetic predisposition, mental health problems and their own stressful career.
Even though professionals dealing with an alcohol problem may be able to function fairly well in their lives there can still be some signs that indicate their substance abuse. If someone in the workplace seems to have difficulty concentrating and is becoming less productive than usual, seems tired often, makes more mistakes, is absent often due to sickness, or seems to have a lot of morning hangover symptoms then they may be hiding a problem with alcohol.
If you think you or someone in your workplace is an alcoholic then it is important to get treatment for the disease. Overcoming the stigma associated with alcoholism and getting help can prevent the problem from becoming a serious threat to a person's health and life.