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High-level executives are not immune to the powers of addiction. Addiction is related to the income level for several reasons, including environment and socio-economic pressures.  Often times, a high income enables someone to continue their drug use even after the point where other people would seek help to quit.  Lack of the financial resources needed to continue drug use is a common situation from which many people enter recovery.

The one common theme is simply that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Rich kids, executives, street kids, and middle American housewives are all effected by addiction in much the same way. It grabs a hold of you, and it won’t let go. There’s no avoiding it. So, is there a specific link between executives and addiction?

The link between executives and addiction has not been well documented until recently and the information we have on the subject is limited to a few studies. We outline those findings here and offer a rare perspective, some truth on the link between executives and addiction.

Why Executives Are Prone to Addiction

Certain factors influence the likelihood that an executive may succumb to addiction, or at the very least, be vulnerable to addiction.

  • High Stress

The link between executives and addiction is far stronger than we can possibly imagine. The fact is, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: High stress environments leave us more vulnerable to addition.1

High powered executives and high earners are more likely to experience stress. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Although higher status positions may provide resources that can improve health in the long-term, these resources might come at a cost. Those in high-status positions face high levels of stress at work.”2

A vicious cycle. Money may help you maintain your health which is deteriorating because of your job that provides your compensation.

  • Working Environments

Where you work will affect your addiction to some degree, if nothing else access to the drug and the peer pressure alone are enough for some executives to eventually turn into addicts. High ranking execs have access to cocaine, Adderall, and plenty of alcohol. Salesmen are expected to wine and dine prospects.

Research shows that most believe that management, investing, and information technology jobs are related to addiction more so than others. Or at the very least, those professions land in the top 10.3

  • Personality and Disposition

Science is finally proving what many high earning professionals already knew, that the same factors that make earners successful are the ones that make them vulnerable to addiction. 4

According to Constance Schraff, PhD, author of Ending Addiction for Good, “What makes someone achieve at that level – the top executives – is often a stress or trauma that happened early on. There’s something, usually an early experience, that fuels that kind of drive, and oftentimes it’s the same thing that drives addiction. The vast majority didn’t have some sort of basic needs met as children, so they’re driven very, very hard to succeed. But the pain that goes with that is also what they’re self-medicating for.”

This addiction is rooted deeper in you than you can imagine, and your traumas may have left you with a shortage of good coping skills.5

High Functioning but Still Addicted

Just because someone is able to maintain employment or keep up a false mirage of productive living does not mean they don’t have an addiction.  If someone is noticing signs of physical or psychological withdrawl, regardless of their station in life, it is time to get help. The stereotype that most addicts live in the streets or are poor is just wrong. The truth is that most addicts have a steady job and regular pay.6  



[1]: US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health – Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction

[2]: US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health – The Nature of Work and The Stress Of Higher Status

[3]: Ranker – 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

[4]: Forbes – Why The Brains Of High-Powered People May Be More Prone To Addiction

[5]: USA News – Understanding the Link Between Stressful Occupations and Addiction


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