No one will deny that starting and running a business is stressful, especially during periods when things don’t seem to be going well. Owners feel extreme pressure to make the business work, not just for the sake of their own financial well-being but for all their employees as well.
Drug use and employment has been a hot topic in the U.S. for decades, but much less is known about business owners’ drug use. This is mostly because, unlike employees, they never have to take drug tests as a requirement for the job. However, the rise in drug rehabilitation programs for executives suggests it’s an issue that’s more common than many people realize.
When a business owner turns to drug use, the effects can be felt throughout the company. The owner thinks that it’s helping them cope with stress and handle the demands better, when in fact it’s usually one more problem the company has to overcome.
Drug Use Doesn’t Have to Be on the Job to Affect Work
Even if you do drugs at night or on the weekend, it can impair your judgment on the job. For example, cocaine stays in the system up to three days. While alcohol stays in a person’s system for only an hour per ounce consumed, a hangover will certainly impede productivity the next day.
Business owners trick themselves into thinking that after-hours drug use doesn’t affect their business. But the reality is owning a business is often a 24/7 job. Anything that is affecting your judgment and putting your life at risk can ultimately affect the business.
According to Risk & Insurance, substance abuse runs rampant throughout all industries and even among the well-employed. You can see some quick data point on this from the slide below.
Drug Use Amplifies Insecurities, Stressors and Addictive Behavior
Drug use and stress are a very bad combination. Psychological stressors can actually make neuropsychiatric disorders like addiction much worse. A person who is predisposed to having an addictive personality may not ever have a dependency problem until persistent stress becomes an issue.
If addictive behavior begins, there is a very good chance it is going to impact the business owner’s work. Addiction is characterized by actions that affect a person’s daily activities, including their job. They begin to lose focus, drop the ball and fail to follow through. Employees who have an addiction problem can be replaced, but when it’s the boss that’s battling an addiction the fix isn’t so easy.
The drugs and alcohol won’t solve the stress. They only add to it. Once the business owner is sober again, they are likely to feel regret, shame or anger at themselves for giving in. When chronic stress triggers addiction, it’s crucial to treat the stressors first. Not doing so will make long-lasting recovery extremely difficult if not impossible.
Business Owners Think They Have It Under Control
Many business owners that turn to drugs or alcohol as a stress reliever think they have it under control. Again, they think that if they aren’t doing drugs on the job then it’s not an issue for the business.
This is important, because one of the main stressors for business owners is feeling like they lack control. The drug use creates a problematic cycle: feeling out of control at work, using drugs to control the stress, losing even more control because the real problems aren’t being addressed.
In addition to thinking they have everything under control, another unexpected disaster that is potentially brewing behind the scenes is their reputation. It’s very hard to keep drug abuse issues hidden from others, and once people start talking, it can turn into a PR and reputation disaster for both the individual and the business they represent. Should this type of attention start leaking to the internet and ranking in the search results, it could quickly turn into a lot more than just an ‘individual issue’.
SEOBrand’s reputation management division highlights the many effects of negative content appearing online and ranking in the search results. Whether it be through content ranking for individuals names, brand names or even content being spread through social media, it’s important to realize how quickly something like drug abuse and legal complications can quickly provide you with a negative first impression online. An even bigger headache arises wjhen you try to start removing this negative content.
It’s an Expense That Can Get Out of Control
One thing that business owners definitely can’t control is the cost of their addiction. Drugs and alcohol are expensive commodities whether you buy them legally or not. If addiction occurs, the expense can get out of control very quickly, which can have a direct effect on the business.
Another way that drug and alcohol use can significantly impact the business is if the owner gets charged with a DUI or drug possession. The legal costs alone could be too much for a business owner to bear if the company is barely getting by. If the owner ends up going to jail then there’s almost no chance the business will survive unless there’s a partner that can take on full responsibility. Even then the damage to the company’s reputation may be irreparable.
If the stress of running a business has become overwhelming to the point that you are using drugs and alcohol to cope, then intervention is needed. The sooner the problems are addressed, the more likely it is that your business will pull through.