Outpatient Treatment for Professionals
In order to be effective, addiction treatments must be customized. Sometimes, the customization involves the physical or mental illnesses that accompany the addiction. People with depression, for example, might need specific medications to wipe the blues away so they’ll feel well enough to participate in care. There are times, however, when the customization needed revolves around the way the addicted person lives life. People who have successful careers, for example, might need therapies that are respectful of their obligations, and that allows them to maintain their ties with work. Outpatient programs geared for professionals could provide the right mix of services that could help people like this to leave addictions behind.
Understanding the Need
The stereotypical addicted person is homeless and hungry, living on the streets, far away from the help of friends and family. While it’s true that some people lose everything due to addiction and they do become homeless and desperate, many other people keep their jobs while they struggle with addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, many people worked while addicted in 2011, as 11.6 percent of people who used drugs worked part-time and 8 percent worked full-time.
Those who are working might not be in the early stages of their careers, either, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that drug use is increasing among people who are in their 50s. These are people who have been working for many years, and it’s likely that they have high-level jobs with a significant amount of responsibility attached.
It would be hard for people like this to enter inpatient addiction treatment programs, as they’d be asked to:
- Move into the facility
- Stay away from the office
- Break contact with clients
- Disclose why they’re leaving and when they’ll be back
It could be hard for people to even consider leaving their jobs behind, and it might be even more difficult for these people to disclose the nature of their addictions and their need for help. They might like to keep their addictions private and confidential, and they might like to maintain at least some contact with work. Outpatient treatment might allow them to do just that.
Why Work Helps
It might seem frivolous to even mention work in the context of addiction, as people who are struggling with a substance abuse issue are dealing with issues of life and death. Matters of paychecks and career paths seem to fade in importance when placed against this kind of serious backdrop. However, there are good reasons to maintain a focus on work in recovery from addiction.
Studies suggest that people who are working feel a greater sense of confidence and mental health, when compared to people who don’t have steady employment. For example, a study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that young people who were unemployed had poor mental health, as measured by the General Health Questionnaire. The same results might found in older adults as well. Even people with serious mental illnesses might benefit from working, according to a study in the Community Mental Health Journal.
Here, researchers found that people with mental illnesses who were working were happier and more satisfied with life when compared to others with mental illnesses who were only volunteering, not working. The authors suggest that the competitive nature of work and the desire for excellence can keep mental health scores high, even in people who aren’t traditionally pushed into work.
Studies like this suggest that work is linked to robust mental health, and it’s easy to see why it would be a good component in an addiction treatment program. Work allows people to feel successful and to feel needed, and work can keep people motivated to learn, improve and do more. In a treatment program for addiction, this could be the boost that helps people to really deal with their addictions.
Integrating Work With Therapy
In order to recover, people with addictions will need to:
- Understand how the addiction developed
- Develop techniques to combat cravings
- Build up the ability to control impulses
- Resist the powerful influence of drug-using friends
- Hone the desire to stay well
Much of this work takes place in therapy, and outpatient treatment for professionals provides a significant amount of therapy time. But the therapy provided might have a specialized tweak. Clients might be urged to discuss their work in their sessions, and they might be provided with time-management therapy, communication-building exercises and assertiveness therapy that can help them to handle the pressures of work without relying on abusive substances.
Programs for professionals might also hold meetings on weekends and in the evenings, allowing people to continue to work while they’re going through their treatment programs. Counselors might even provide information on the Americans with Disabilities Act provisions for addiction, ensuring that people don’t lose their jobs due to the addictions they face. This kind of care and attention can protect a person’s work life, even while the addiction is getting the attention and care required for long-term healing.
Not all treatment programs that provide addiction care cater to the specific needs of professionals. Some people find that they can succeed in general outpatient programs, as long as some of the participants are career people and the therapist is willing to discuss work alongside the addiction. There are some people who choose to look exclusively for professional programs, however, so they can ensure that the help they’ll receive will be just right for the problems they face. There’s no harm in shopping around like this and looking for the right fit. In fact, addiction treatment programs often encourage this kind of choosiness, as people who pay attention to their options and make informed choices tend to be more committed to their treatment programs, and more likely to succeed as a result.
Many Foundations Recovery Network programs are specifically designed to help people who have busy careers and a desire to blend addiction therapy with career needs. If you’d like to find out more or you need to start your own search for care, please call us.