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Employees Turn to Dangerous Drugs to Manage Long Hours

Health & Wellness

Many of us have heard the stories about famous rockers who use cocaine to keep moving during their busy tour schedules. They turn to the drug for constant energy, so they can keep giving exciting performances to their demanding audiences.

What may appear less obviously, however, is the use of cocaine by employees in the business world. In some cases, employees use the drug the same way those famous rock stars do; to keep up with the increasing demands of clients, employers and even other employees.

An acquaintance of mine, who I will call Sue for the purposes of this article, works an average of 70 hours per week, including an extensive travel itinerary that takes her all around the country. Oftentimes, she finds herself exhausted by mid-week.

Her solution? A small dosage of cocaine. She does not always use the drug to keep herself awake during those long work hours either. Sometimes, Sue states, she uses the drug so that she has the energy to socialize with coworkers after a long day at the office. She uses it so that she can keep up with fellow employees, whatever the long term costs to her health may be.

Sue is not the only employee taking advantage of this drug either. In fact, according to a recent survey of 2,000 callers by Narcotics Anonymous, over 70% of cocaine users have full time employment, and 44% have supplied cocaine to their colleagues within the workplace.

The Orchid Recovery Center, which is an alcohol and drug treatment center for women suffering from addiction and trauma by providing cognitive behavioral therapy, group work and art therapy states that:

“Cocaine is a stimulant drug that immediately connects into the brain’s dopamine circuit. This so-called ‘addiction pathway’ causes the brain to release large amounts of pleasurable chemicals that make the addicted person feel happy, powerful and in control.”

Given the effects of increased energy and feelings of empowerment, however brief the effects might last, it is easy to see why some employees turn to the drug. However, over time this extremely addictive drug causes problems for both the employee and the employer.

“It can be difficult to recognize a cocaine addiction,” Dr. Etienne Olivier, Medical Director of Castle Craig in the Netherlands, one of Europe’s leading drug treatment centers, states. “Side effects, including fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and depression are not always recognized as a cocaine problem.”

A study by Goldstein et al determined that cocaine users experience decreased concentration and attention span. Cocaine users’ memories were also significantly worse than those of non-users. Lastly, the study found that cocaine affects the user’s decision-making ability.

So for some employees, like Sue, Cocaine may seem like a quick fix and provide a little burst of energy to keep her going. But over time, the effects cause more problems, for both Sue and her company, than benefits.

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