Some people don’t realise that people in high status, well-paid jobs can experience serious drug and alcohol use problems. In fact, being in such positions can be a disadvantage, in that you don’t realise the full extent of the problem. Here is an example from Dr. David McCartney, Founder of Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP).
When he finished medical school, David wanted to make a difference and work where the greatest problems were evident. He joined an inner-city GP practice. The job was extremely stressing as the need (medical and social) was so overwhelming.
In retrospect, David felt he was naive and had not learnt to create distinct boundaries. He started to go to work earlier and earlier to be able to deal with all that needed doing in the practice. With the benefit of hindsight, he can now see he was not equipped to deal with all the tragedy he saw.
David felt sympathetic towards people with drug and alcohol problems, but was out of his depth in dealing with these problems. He had received only one relevant lecture in the whole of his medical degree—on alcohol-induced liver disease.
David started to drink more and more to alleviate his increasing anxiety. He eventually realised that his drinking levels were not that different to the people who were coming to see him for their alcohol problems. However, he rationalised that he could not have a problem as he came to work in a suit… and he was a doctor!