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The opioid crisis has affected every community in America. Opioids affect rural working class people, those in the inner city and suburbs, or even the wealthy and well-to-do professionals. While drug abuse in business has been highlighted in blockbuster films like the Wolf of Wall Street, the current reality is not far from it. According to addiction experts, substance use disorder is making a sobering impact on the financial industry.
This comes from not just an upscale partying lifestyle, but also from drugs used to manage performance and stress, along with physical pain. According to addiction experts, the financial industry itself is actively turning a blind eye to the issues concerning opioid abuse on Wall Street because money is still the priority, and stigma still gets in the way.
Opioids on Wall Street: White-Collar Confessions
As it stands there is no comprehensive research that takes a detailed look at opioid abuse in Wall Street among finance professionals. So we can’t exactly show the numbers to prove it’s prevalence. However, what we see consistently is a dramatic increase in addiction and overdose rates all over the nation in recent years.
Luckily, professionals from this demographic are beginning to speak out in hopes of progressive change.
One such individual is Trey Laird, a former Wall Street trader, who recently spoke to CNBC about his six-year opioid addiction. During the conversation Laird reiterates the critical understanding that substance use disorder can reach anyone, saying:
“Addiction pervades every single socioeconomic demographic that there is. Every industry, every race, men, women. It doesn’t care who you are,”
After getting clean himself, Laird went on to open a sober living community and says he hopes to specifically serve the Wall Street and white collar demographic.
According to Laird, there has been more talk about opioid addiction among people in higher socioeconomic brackets, but there is still much work that needs to be done. He acknowledges that increasing awareness is doing a great deal, but that the problem is also at an increase. Wall Street may finally be talking about it, but how many professionals will get the help they truly need?
Opioids on Wall Street: Stocks and Stigma
One of the biggest obstacles facing white-collar workers like those in Wall Street is the engrained stigma still attached to addiction. Even with all the shifts in our culture toward a better understanding of substance use and the compassion for those struggling, professionals still have this seemingly unbearable hurdle in front of them.
Truthfully, stigma is something that prevents most people from getting help. Professionals will often be too afraid of losing their jobs to admit they need help. Many in the world of Wall Street and finance may have no information on how to seek out treatment while adhering to their professional boards’ guidelines and business practices.
With white-collar workers, this may be an especially difficult thing because the idea of addiction is so often attached to stereotypes of the unemployable, the homeless, the unreliable and unstable that their high-earning careers might minimize the impact drugs have on their lives. Wall Street stockbrokers and traders might not see themselves as having a problem as long as they can function, which brings in the idea of the “functioning addict.”
Opioids on Wall Street: Function Addiction is Still Addiction
Many white-collar workers who struggle with drugs or alcohol may consider themselves a “functioning addict”, meaning they are less likely see their actions as a problem because they are able to maintain their professional or even personal lives. To make matters worse, frequently the people around someone who is professionally successful will not believe the addiction is real. They may admit that you’ve been careless or destructive in some respects, but will ultimately minimize it due to your financial stability.
As long as you’re making money and paying the bills how could you possibly be “that bad?”
Well, because “functioning addiction” is still an addiction.
Addiction isn’t about whether or not you are able to hold down a steady income. It does not depend on whether or not other people recognize that you have a problem or your competence with your profession. While addiction can and will have an impact on these things, it isn’t always as black and white as most people like to pretend.
Notice how earlier we said you may “maintain” other areas of your life? Well, we mean to say that you can get by for a while, but eventually, the effects of addiction will catch up with you. It could be in the form of serious health consequences or other devastating circumstances. It could take days, months or even years, but it will leave a mark.
Sadly, “functioning addicts” are also far less likely to get the help they desperately need.
Opioids on Wall Street: It Could Be You
While you might be able to keep your addiction secret, in the beginning, things will eventually get worse. Eventually, your addiction will become unmanageable.
If you think you might fit the “functioning addiction” criteria, look at the following questions and answer them honestly.
- Do you often think about using drugs or drinking?
- Do you find it hard to stop after you start drinking or using?
- Are you scheduling your time around drinking or using drugs?
- Have you tried to stop before, but found that you were unable to?
- Do you drink or use drugs first thing in the morning?
- Are you drinking or using drugs at work?
- Do you hide your drug use or drinking?
- Have you done something risky, like driven drunk?
- Do you worry about your drug use or drinking?
If you find you are answering “yes” more than “no” then you should seriously consider speaking with a medical or addiction professional about your drug use or drinking.
The opioid crisis is nothing to be ignored. Despite all that we think we have learned about addiction too many professionals don’t get the help they need. No one is exempt from the destruction of addiction. Opioids don’t care what street you work on, Wall Street or not, they can ruin your life all the same. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
It used to be that when people thought of someone struggling with addiction or alcoholism, they pictured a hobo with patchy clothes drunk under a bridge or blacked out in an alley somewhere. Now, after years of watching our stigmas be proven wrong over and over again, we thankfully have a more realistic image.
These days it is not all the uncommon to imagine that people struggling with substance use disorders do actually have jobs. In fact, most people who struggle with addiction are middle-age, middle-class Americans who have careers or trades. What is called the ‘functioning addict’ often flies under the radar, paying the bills and taking care of their responsibilities, although maybe not as well as they imagine.
So with such a high percentage of the working population struggling with substance use disorder, how should employers be addressing addiction in the workplace? Here are 7 suggestions for the employer who might have to deal with addiction in the workplace.
1. Have a policy and enforce it
The first way for employers to address addiction in the workplace should be a given; have a policy in place for drugs and alcohol.
By establishing the workplace policies and expectations related to drugs and alcohol, having them in writing and explaining them clearly to your staff. You have already set a boundary. As an employer it is up to you to let your staff know what your expectations are and what you will and won’t tolerate.
Then, once the policy is in place, follow through with it. You are able to address substance use as a whole by implementing policies on drugs and alcohol and then committing to those guidelines.
2. Avoid enabling
By establishing a drug and alcohol policy an employer is already setting up the groundwork to help them avoid enabling. Those policies will hold not just your employees accountable, but also they will hold you accountable.
Employers, managers and supervisors should avoid enabling addiction in the workplace with actions like:
- Lending money to an addicted employee
- Covering up for the employee
- Giving the employee’s work to others
- Trying to counsel the employee without a professional
Families and loved ones are always warned about the risks of enabling someone struggling with addiction, the same goes for their bosses. If you have an employee who is struggling do not make excuses for them. It doesn’t serve the company, and it definitely doesn’t serve their best interests either.
3. Schedule a meeting
When an employer is concerned about an employee who may be struggling with drugs or alcohol try not to address it over a phone call or an email. Take a more hands-on approach, it is just good leadership. Schedule a face-to-face meeting.
Supervisors should review signs of abuse with an Employee Assistance Program (EPA) counselor before meeting with the employee.
An employer or supervisor should notify the individual of a place and time to have a meeting for discussing the employee’s performance. The supervisor should plan to hold the meeting in a private setting, so not to spread someone’s personal business around the workplace.
4. Keep it professional
It is very important that when addressing the individual you do your best to be professional without making the conversation too personal. Instead, the employer or supervisor should keep the focus of the meeting on the employee’s job performance. Make it clear that if they do not correct their performance issues they may face discipline or termination.
Even if you have a good relationship, setting boundaries is important when dealing with a work-related issue concerning drugs or alcohol. It is best to not directly address the substance abuse in question, unless they have been obviously impaired on the clock.
Then suggest the employee to the EAP. While an employee cannot be forced to use EAP services, you can strongly encourage them to take those steps.
5. Expect Resistance
Denial is a common reaction for someone confronted with their substance abuse. Remember their resistance isn’t just about their addiction in the workplace; they may still be dealing with that denial within themselves. Accepting that drugs or alcohol are a serious problem is not an easy admission to make for most people.
If the employee is denying their addiction in the workplace and refusing to seek or accept help from EAP, be ready for it. Whoever supervises this employee should continue to document any and all issues with that individual. If necessary, be prepared to follow through with disciplinary action. Stay consistent. It may help them realize how their substance use is impacting their work before it is too late.
If an employee has been intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at work an employer may consider holding an intervention with colleagues, coworkers or other people close to the individual. While this may not always be appropriate, it is still an option.
Most of us are familiar with the concept. With an intervention all people involved confront the addicted employee about their drug or alcohol use, but not to punish or scrutinize. Remember the purpose of an intervention is to encourage them to seek professional help.
If choosing to stage an intervention, remember there are trained professionals who should lead a work-based intervention. An employer or supervisor should not lead the intervention.
For more information on how to stage a work-based intervention contact an EAP counselor.
7. Offer support
Now just because we have suggested being a professional doesn’t mean we are suggesting not being compassionate. You may have a close relationship with a lot of your staff. As a supervisor you may have cultivated a teamwork culture that is result driven and supportive, so support your team members.
One of the best things an employer can do to help employees with substance abuse problems is to offer comprehensive health plans that cover all stages of treatment for substance use disorders. Some of the best healthcare plans for your employees will cover:
- Educating employees on the dangers of abusing alcohol and drugs
- Addiction treatment
If you want the people on your team to get help when they need it, also be willing to show your support when they reach out for it.
Of course if the employee is displaying erratic or disruptive behavior, or intoxicated in the workplace, than an employer will want to contact EAP services to alert them of the situation. After this, depending on the context you may send an employee home or place them on leave or suspension. Whatever you do, document every incident and subsequent action. Some may require drug testing. Make sure to adhere to your own policies.
At the end of the day, the employer should be motivated by the chance to help an employee struggling with addiction in the workplace to get the help they need to get better. If you want your team to be as healthy and productive as possible than you should be willing to support them in any way you can. Be sure to stay accountable and committed to your staff. They make it all possible.
Addiction does not care about your job title. Plenty of professionals experience serious substance use disorder, everyone from an intern to a CEO. Palm Healthcare offers assistance to employers and their employees when it comes to initiating the treatment process. Our addiction specialists and case managers are just one part of a compassionated staff thoroughly trained to navigate the process so that professionals seeking help can do so effectively. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398