Addiction among Working Americans

engineer with other workers

Not so long ago, addiction was thought to be limited to musicians or those living on the fringes of society or deep in urban slums. Americans are gradually waking up to the fact that addiction exists at every level of our current society. Individuals in every income bracket, every ethnic group, every educational level are struggling with addiction. Addiction has penetrated Manhattan penthouses, quiet suburban neighborhoods and peaceful rural landscapes.

The most recent survey of the American public on the use of drugs revealed that 27.1 million people aged 12 or older were current users of drugs. That’s how many have used an illicit drug or misused a prescription drug in the last 30 days. Some of these people manage to avoid addiction but for too many, their escape into drug abuse leads them into a compulsive world of drug-seeking and consumption that eventually ruins nearly every aspect of their lives.

How many Americans need addiction recovery to put their lives back on track? When you include those addicted to alcohol, the number is a staggering 21.7 million. The majority of these people are found in our country's workplaces—suffering higher levels of illness, accidents and Worker’s Compensation claims.

Why Drugs and Alcohol?

The actress Jamie Lee Curtis has long been public about why she became addicted to painkillers. In 2016, she wrote she was trying to “kill emotional and physical pain with pain killers.” Opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin don’t just dull physical aches—they numb one to anguish, fears and insecurities. Like millions of other Americans, she used these drugs while continuing her career.

Of course, there’s many other reasons for bringing drugs or alcohol into one’s life. Reasons like these:

  • A mom or dad trying to keep up with the demands of a stressful job and all the needs of family life may turn to marijuana or a few too many glasses of wine at the end of the night so they can leave all their worries behind.
  • A businessman seeking greater confidence or energy to keep up with the competition might turn to cocaine or another stimulant to give him a boost.
  • Alcohol eases the inhibitions of a young man or woman who is perhaps too shy or reserved to be comfortable in social situations.

It’s when a person returns to this solution over and over again that the solution can gradually become a bigger problem than their worries ever were. Both the body and the mind become accustomed to this chemical solution and begin to crave it strongly if it is withdrawn. Finally, we get to the point that more than twenty million Americans are putting substance use before their own well-being.

Executives and Employees in Rehab

officer workers at their computers

Does it seem like you don’t hear about recovering executives and employees as often as you hear about celebrities going to rehab? That’s only because the problems of business people are seldom headline news like the very public problems of addicted celebrities like Robert Downey, Jr.

In fact, workers and executives of all ages and income levels seek recovery in drug rehabs across the country. Every time a valuable employee or executive returns to their company healthy and skilled in making sober choices, everyone wins—the company, the employee, his (or her) family and his community.

There is no downside to recovery. It is a return of health and viability to our economy and our country, as well as to Americans themselves. We are dedicated to helping successful professionals, entertainers and their families return to the brightness and hope of positive, sober lives. Call us for help.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.