Professionals with drug and alcohol problems

Drug & alcohol problems at work

Real life stories

The Executive Rehab Guide is published by Castle Craig Hospital. The following real life stories and information videos come from former patients and staff members of Castle Craig.

Chris, owner of a successful construction company and a former patient at Castle Craig:

“I made a career in business, where the consumption of alcohol is part of the culture. It is presumed that being a good partner means spending a lot of time with the alcohol in front of you, and that good business is not done at the office, but at a bar or night club.

But there, things were trying to be hidden, drinking during working hours was prohibited, not accepted; on the other hand, it was normal that you could drink after 5pm.

My body started functioning on the basis that I could start drinking after 5pm. I knew that at 5pm I will receive my first dose of alcohol, my first beer.  By morning I would be in a fragile state and then I would get better, then worse again. And so it went on for years.

There were some very difficult times when I had to prepare for meetings - but without alcohol.  I knew that my opposite numbers would know if I was drunk, from the colour of my skin and look on my face, and that would put me in a position of weakness.  But without alcohol my nerves would be shot and I wouldn’t function properly. What to do?

In situations which were critical for my business I tried to not drink in the days before the meeting. I looked better but my brain was not functioning properly. I could not concentrate.

When I made the biggest transaction of my life - when I gave up a 35% stake in my construction business - I realised that it would be a huge mistake not to drink as I simply could not function without alcohol.  

So I couldn't function in business without alcohol."


Entrepreneurship after Addiction

 

Louise C. runs a successful family business in Scotland that employs 90 people. She has won two SMART Awards (DTI), the John Logie Baird Award for innovation and has been interviewed by TV stations and universities for her entrepreneurial flair.

But she very nearly lost all of this -- and her life -- due to her chronic alcoholism. Louise thanks her family for getting her into treatment.

In residential rehab she realised that the disease of alcoholism "was going to kill me". After many weeks of therapy she was able to face up to herself, overcome her fears and learn to be "happy in my skin and happy to be myself."

"Nothing frightens me anymore" says Louise, who is back running her business and is willing to talk openly about her addiction.

 

Addiction in the Work Place

 

This short video gives an insight into why professionals "self medicate" when dealing with stressful situations at work.
Paul Kirsten is a successful sportsman and entrepreneur from South Africa. In this video he describes why he used cocaine and alcohol to deal with the pressures of work, and suggests this practice is widespread and usually covered up and denied.

Paul was fortunate in that he recognised his addiction, got treatment and is now able to deal with the pressures of work without drugs or alcohol.
He also qualified in addiction treatment and now works at Castle Craig Hospital, in Scotland, as a therapist.

 

A tribute to the family

 

Louise C believes "the best thing to do with alcoholics is to gang up on them. Give them no option but to try treatment and to face up to their addiction....Once you face up to it you are half way there."
She tells the story of how it took her husband, father and brother to get her in a car and drive her to a rehab clinic: "it took three men to drop me at the door of Castle Craig. The car doors were locked because they knew I would jump out, even on the motorway."

Now that Louise is running her own business again, and employing 90 people in Scotland, she can laugh about these memories. But for years she was in denial, even though she was destroying her life, her family and her business.

"There's always going to be the fight: denial. But once you get past that and accept that you are an alcoholic, you give in and you are free to understand your illness and get better."

Louise spent 6 weeks in residential rehab treatment at Castle Craig Hospital. She says the family need that time too: "Six weeks is about right for the family to mend a little, before this alcoholic comes back into the bosom of the family."

She stresses the importance of family, friends and colleagues in the crucial period of recovery -- after the intensive period in rehab: "to survive after Castle Craig you do need support. You do need understanding emotionally from the people around you."

 

Advice for Company Doctors and Managers

 

In this short video Paul Kirsten, an addiction therapist at Castle Craig Hospital, offers some advice to employers and company doctors:

  • Dealing with the shame, guilt and depression of an addict is beyond the experience of most people (professional help is needed)
  • The aim should be to "guide" them into rehab
  • Why residential rehab is better than out patient (once a week) treatment
  • Six weeks is a very short period when compared to the many years most addicts spend dependent on their drug of choice.