A quick glance at the occupations in the United States that have the highest risk of alcoholism tells us a lot. It tells us that there are certain stresses in life that tend to push people closer to addictions. But it also tells us that stress is pretty much universal.
Anxiety – the manifestation of stress – is everywhere. Further, what causes stress to one person can be very different from what causes stress for someone else. One thing we know clearly is that stress comes from positive and negative experiences. A death in the family is stressful. So is a wedding.
Fame, money, a high IQ – none of these protect people from the plight of addiction. Doctors are frequently listed as extremely prone to becoming alcoholics. They live stressful working lives where their decisions can be a matter of life and death. They go to a lot of parties where alcohol is around. They work very close to tempting opioid medications. Money is usually not a problem. Put that all together and it turns out their high level of education is not much protection against addictions.
One modern category for the media to kick around is the occupation of being a celebrity. That’s not quite a job, but it sometimes looks that way to the general public. On the flip side, it often appears that the world’s most famous people are very addiction-prone, simply because their names are splashed loud and clear when they end up in a rehabilitation clinic, when they act up in public or when they end up in the morgue from an addiction-related incident.
However, if the media broadcast the news of every policeman who checked into rehabilitation, with titillating headlines every time, there would soon be a national cry of alarm over what is wrong in law enforcement these days.
High profile addiction cases remind us that money and fame do not protect us from the potential of addiction. They remind us how fragile life can be and how much havoc an addiction can wreck on one life. The amount of money spent on substance and then on damage control can be astounding. And underneath all the hype is one individual who is seeking peace – or perhaps postponing the day when they will have to grapple with their addiction.
In recent weeks, the actor Kit Harington checked into a rehabilitation clinic in Connecticut, according to the online tabloid Hollywood Life. The article about him tried to portray this in humanistic fashion by including the idea that he checked in to deal with “stress and alcohol,” taking care to not to define his problems as one-dimensional.
Personal problems are never one-dimensional It can be as difficult to grow up in a wealthy, even a mega-wealthy family as it is to grow up with a family struggling to get by. We are vulnerable as children, no matter what our environment might be. In addition, genetic markers make certain people more vulnerable than others. Genetics certainly doesn’t pay heed to the size of your bank account.
It is hard for most of us to imagine the pressures of fame, especially Hollywood fame, where a failure can take away so much so quickly. Furthermore, while all your success is broadcast around the globe, while you are portrayed as invincible, all your failures are also subjected to public ridicule.
It takes a certain type of personality to be a doctor, an actor, a law enforcement officer, a miner, or a construction worker. Each of these personality types has a positive and negative potential. Some include cultural norms that promote addictions. Doctors, for example, to go to a lot of parties, while construction workers who often socialize in bars. Celebrities, on the other hand, tend to drink or do drugs alone. They have enough money to hide their problems from the public for a while. You’ll find in recovery, however, it’s hiding from yourself that you really need to confront.