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Substance abuse is a prevalent concern in the United States. A Surgeon General’s report in 2016 found that 27.1 million people in this country abused illicit drugs or used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in 2015 alone. During the same year, 66.7 people admitted to binge drinking within the past month. The cost associated with these numbers is staggering, with substance abuse taking its toll on a person’s personal and professional life, as well as on society as a whole.

Substance abuse disorders do not discriminate, hitting every age, ethnicity and socio-economic group. Even professionals that have patients that rely on them daily can fall into the trap of drug and alcohol misuse. The pressures of jobs in the legal and healthcare industries can wreak havoc on some individuals in high-profile positions like medicine, law and aviation. Extended working hours and significant time away from family and friends also contribute to a higher risk for substance dependency over time. The Center for Professional Recovery understands these risks and provides treatment tailored to the needs of professionals to ensure the highest odds of a successful recovery.

Categories of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse among professionals varies the same way it does with the general population. The Center for Professional Recovery addresses a wide range of substances, including the following:


Both prescription and street opioid abuse has hit epidemic proportions in the U.S. More than 115 individuals in this country die from opioid overdoses daily. The CDC estimates that prescription opioid abuse alone costs the U.S. $78.5 billion annually. Around 80 percent of individuals addicted to heroin first took prescription opioids.

Opioid abuse is common among medical professionals that have easier access to the prescription drugs than the general population. Addiction to these substances is frequent, even when an individual begins taking the medication under the direction of a physician. Anywhere from 21 to 29 percent of those that are prescribed opioids for treatment of chronic or acute pain end up abusing the drugs. For some, use of the prescription medication evolves into the use of street drugs like heroin, which can be cheaper and easier to obtain for those without direct access.


Alcohol-related deaths are the third most common cause of preventable death in the U.S. today, behind only tobacco use and inactivity combined with poor diet, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is linked to any number of health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. In addition, alcohol misuse is the culprit in numerous traffic accidents, comprising about 30 percent of all driving fatalities.

Alcohol is a common, legal substance used in the U.S. by adults of all social and professional groups. Professionals often find that the occasional drink to unwind after a busy day at work or for enjoyment at a social event may become more frequent over time. As alcohol use becomes abuse, the regular consumption of the substance can lead to impairment on the job, health difficulties and relationship problems.


Marijuana or cannabis is a common substance that is now legal for recreational use in many states across the country. The expanding legality and questionable use of the drug for medical reasons lead some users to believe the drug is safe and accepted in most social circles. Unfortunately, that could not be further from the truth. Like other substances that are commonly abused, cannabis can take its toll on a person’s profession, social life and physical health. Contrary to popular opinion, cannabis is also addictive, requiring some users to seek professional treatment to overcome the abuse.

The 2016 Surgeon General’s report calls marijuana “the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States,” with more than 22.2 million Americans admitting to using the drug within the past month. Professionals may turn to cannabis as a way to manage the stress of their positions, but over time they are likely to find the drug becomes much more of a problem than a solution.


Also known as “uppers,” stimulants can take the form of street drugs like cocaine or prescription medications like Adderall that are taken for nonmedical purposes. More than 1.5 million people used cocaine and crack during 2014, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that around 2.1 million Americans used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the past year, which includes stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin that are commonly prescribed to treat conditions like ADHD.

Professionals working long hours may turn to stimulants to help keep them alert. Easy access among medical professionals makes this practice particularly enticing. Repeated use can lead to addiction that requires professional treatment in most cases.


The most common hallucinogens abused today include LSD, MDMA (molly or ecstasy), psilocybin mushrooms and peyote. These mind-altering drugs have remained consistent in the prevalence of their use over recent years. In 2014, approximately 1.2 million people reported using the drugs within the past month, according to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey. Males tend to use these drugs more frequently than females.

For professionals, the “trip” that accompanies these drugs may appear to be a viable escape from the rigors of their daily schedules. While the drugs may not be considered as physically addictive as other types of substances, they can increase the risk of severe health problems like heart failure and vivid flashbacks. In addition, the psychological addiction may be more than some users can handle on their own, leading them into professional treatment to overcome their abuse.

Other Substances

While not as common as the substances listed above, there are other drugs professionals may find themselves dependent on over time. These drugs might include:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids (spice, synthetic marijuana, K2)
  • Cough and cold medications (DXM addiction)

We work with patients struggling with addiction to these substances as well, helping them achieve sobriety through detox and a comprehensive recovery program.

Addiction is a powerful force that can affect you personally and professionally. Don’t let substance dependency cause destruction in your life. Contact the Center for Professional Recovery today at 866.298.0056.

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