Living the High Life: How Drugs Can Affect Your Career

how can drugs affect your career

Some people think drugs and alcohol make them better and enhance their lives. The fact is, drug addicts and alcoholics live a pretty low high life.

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Reaching the American dream and succeeding in life takes a measure of hard work and dedication that drugs simply cannot provide. There’s no well-laid career or life plan that an addiction won’t destroy.

You’ll likely never hear someone attribute their success in life to heavy drug use or drinking. The best way to make sure you limit your personal or professional life is to succumb to drug addiction.

How do Drugs Ruin Lives?

There really is no aspect of your life that drug abuse enhances. From your physical appearance to your mental state, drugs do a lot of damage.

Sound decision-making and responsible behavior do not coexist with a drug addiction. If you have built — or are trying to build — the life of your dreams, doing it sober will increase your chances of success.

Doing it high may result in:

  • Alienating loved ones. After yourself, the people closest to you are most affected by your drug addiction. Part of a healthy life includes getting along with your family and friends. Don’t let drugs and drinking put a wall between you and your loved ones.
  • Poor school performance. Whether you’re in high school or paying for an expensive education, drugs don’t make you any smarter. Don’t sacrifice your hard-earned educational goals just to get high.
  • Poor job performance. You spend a large chunk of your life around co-workers. They will notice the toll drugs take on you.
  • Poor health. After everything else has fallen apart around you, all you’ll have left is your health. The longer you use, the more tenuous your grasp becomes. Eventually, you will lose your good health as well.
  • Legal problems. Drug abuse inevitably leads to bad behavior. Your well-crafted career plans will shatter in the face of a felony conviction.
  • Financial problems. Drugs addicts spend most of their money on one thing: more drugs. They aren’t known for being excellent money managers.

drugs ruin your career

Drugs do not enhance your ability to perform or be a better person. In fact, they do the exact opposite. While you may think you’re having some harmless fun in the beginning, once an addiction takes hold, all bets are off.

The one thing that helps you achieve most of your goals is also detrimentally affected by drug addiction – your career. Don’t let a promising job outlook become clouded by drug addiction.

How Drugs Can Affect Your Career

For most, a career starts at the bottom. This is when you are learning the most about what you’ve chosen to do for the rest of your life. You’ll need to be at your physical and mental best to make a good impression and do the job well. That’s the only way to climb the corporate ladder.

Unfortunately, drug abuse easily robs you of your best. It becomes very difficult to perform at a high level when your real life becomes the high life.

Drug abuse affects your career in the following ways:

  • Absenteeism: It’s quite easy to sleep through an alarm when you’re passed out after getting high all night. Consistent absences or late arrivals will do you no favors in the boss’s eyes.
  • Performance: Unless your job is to be high for a living, being high won’t help you do your job. No matter your job function, impaired senses are less efficient at completing tasks.
  • Money: Chances are you’re working because you need the money. If you’re using drugs, you’re spending a huge chunk of it rounding out your supply. What if you don’t get raises or bonuses because you aren’t performing? What happens when you need more drugs as your addiction progresses?
  • Promotions: A manager looking to promote somebody can easily spot poor performance due to drug addiction. When the drug addiction isn’t obvious, the performance usually speaks for itself. In either case, you’ll be passed over for the next promotion.

Some careers require a level of attention to detail that might be a matter of life or death. For example, surgeons, paramedics and police officers carry lives in their hands. If your job involves dealing with the public, mistakes resulting from impairment due to your drug addiction could result in something you regret the rest of your life.

Everything you want to build in your life is based on your ability to get a good job and make money. From buying a house and getting married to taking vacations, you need money to reach your next life goal.

When performance is key, drugs only hinder. Drug abuse results from a desire to escape. You don’t want to get into the routine of escaping from your career because you’re a drug addict. However you look at it, drugs ruin your career, even in situations where partying is accepted.

A New Party Culture at Work

drugs ruin your career

As many companies move to a progressive style of leadership that appeals to the millennial generation, the work-play divide is becoming blurred. Benefits that would have been unthinkable years ago are now par for the course.

Companies such as Google and routinely host huge parties and allow employees to drink alcohol in the office. Others invite employees to develop bonds with their co-workers that transcend a typical professional relationship.

As employees get to know each other on a personal level, temptation may arise. However, there are several compelling reasons to avoid the work party circuit.

If you’re tempted to drink at work, engage in partying at a work function or do drugs with a co-worker, consider that:

  • You could be fired. Even if your company encourages a party lifestyle, that doesn’t mean they won’t take action if you do something offensive while you’re wasted.
  • You could lose upward mobility. Sure, you may not be fired right away, but some managers have a long memory. As you get passed up for one promotion after another, you may start to wonder what really happened at the work party.
  • Your reputation is at stake. The last thing you want is to blackout and make a complete fool of yourself in front of co-workers or members of management.

Always remember that when it comes to your job, how much you drank at that one party that one time will not get you a raise. Hard work, dedication and leadership are the factors that will get you to the top. Don’t jeopardize your career just to fit in with your company’s in-crowd.

How to Say “No”

Although we should always be striving to avoid situations in which drugs or alcohol are presented to us, we do live in the real world, so it will happen. The key is to be prepared for it.

There are two distinct types of pressure you may feel when you’re in a tempting social situation:

  • Direct: Direct social pressure is defined by someone offering you a drink or drug.
  • Indirect: Indirect social pressure is defined by your own internal temptation to drink or use because you are around others who are doing so.


First, take a moment to ponder situations where you might feel pressure — whether direct or indirect — to drink or use. Once you’ve isolated those situations, come up with some effective resistance strategies.

Finding the right words to decline can actually be quite simple. You don’t need a huge repertoire of responses to get your point across.

If a person is asking you to drink or use, consider the following simple replies:

  • “No, thank you.”
  • “No thanks, I don’t want to.”
  • “No thanks, I’m driving.”
  • “I’m really not in the mood right now.”
  • “You know, I’m trying to (cut back/not drink/not use) because I want to (get healthier/follow doctor’s orders/lose weight/detoxify my body).

Believe it or not, it is possible to politely decline without being “un-cool.” Although some people may not say it openly, having the willpower to decline in the face of peer pressure will often win you admiration.

These are the do’s and don’ts to saying “no”:

  • Don’t hesitate to say no. The longer you whiffle-waffle, the more you’re likely to conjure up a senseless justification or give them time to make a second offer.
  • Do make eye contact. If you can’t even meet a person’s eye when declining, they may think you aren’t serious or just need a little more prodding. Look them directly in the eye to show them you mean business.
  • Don’t ramble on. Be clear and concise in politely declining. Rambling on robs your statement of clarity and will cause your audience’s eyes to glaze over before they try to make a second offer.
  • Do smile. You don’t want to make it seem like declining their offer is the worst thing in the world. Let them see that you are absolutely okay with not drinking or using by not looking despondent when you say “no.”

drugs ruin careers

But what about those situations where a simple “no” doesn’t work? There’s nothing wrong with asking others for support. Also be sure to have an escape route or excuse planned in case the going gets tough.

In the end, although it can be hard, asking others to refrain from pressuring you may be the most effective way to keep from drinking or using in a social situation. No matter how you decline, build on what has worked to get yourself ready for when it happens again.

The Sober Way to the Top

Once you’ve realized that drugs are only bad for your career, focus on how sobriety will enhance it. You are at the top of your game when you are thinking with a clear mind.

Whether your job is intensely physical or behind a desk, performance is enhanced when there are no distractions. The most powerful executives of some of the largest companies got there by executing decisions that required laser focus and dedication.

Being sober at work gives you:

  • Greater stamina: Get through projects faster and with more energy. Impress the bosses by showing them you have what it takes to power through with your work.
  • Greater accuracy: A clear mind is less apt to make mistakes or forget something crucial. There are few things more impressive to the higher-ups than being efficient and accurate.
  • Better interpersonal skills: It is hard to have quality interactions with people when you are high. The best way to build relationships is to do it when you’re sober.
  • Better time management: A sharp mind is an essential tool for successfully juggling multiple tasks at a time. Sobriety helps you keep things in order as you go about your daily routine.

Always remember you’re at your best when you are sober. The best way to make sure you succeed in your career and life is to be sober as you work toward your goals. Don’t succumb to internal or external pressures to use and drink. Set yourself up, not for a high life, but for a successful and fulfilling life.

The Case for a Sober Life

No matter where you are in your life, there is no better time than now to build upon your success. There are more reasons to be excited about your potential than we can list, but here are just a few:

  • You want to be healthy: Living a good life, being successful and achieving your dreams can’t be done if your health is in the pits. Sobriety begets health and health begets wealth.
  • You want to build good relationships: How you interact with others in your life has a direct relation to your personal and professional success. The best way to make sure you are acting yourself is to be clear of mind and sober when you interact with friends or family.
  • You want to succeed at work: The more you succeed at work, the more money you will make. It will be easier to provide for yourself and your family when you are doing well at work and getting promoted.
  • You want to be financially secure: Whether you want to buy a home, new car or go on a dream vacation, you’ll need money to do it. Living a sober life allows you the clarity of mind to be an effective manager of your finances.
  • You want to realize your dreams: No matter what we are doing in our lives, we all have dreams. The best way to make sure you reach your dreams is to not get distracted with drugs.

drug free career

Although the case for a sober life is easily articulated through the lens of your career or surroundings, the heart of the matter lies in how you feel. Being sober is about feeling good about life by finding worthwhile things to build upon and maintaining a measure of happiness and well-being.

If you or a loved one needs a compassionate reminder of why the sober life is the good life, we can help. Our goal is to help our clients reach their goals and find success and fulfillment in sobriety. Contact 12 Keys today for a confidential consultation with one of our empathetic, trained professionals.

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