Are High-Powered People More Prone to Addiction?

When we think of the stereotypical drug addict, we have a tendency to think “low-income, cooking meth in his Indiana basement” before we think “high-powered CEO in San Jose, California with a penchant for cocaine.” But recent studies show people who are more successful and have a higher IQ are equally — if not more — likely to develop a drug or alcohol addiction than their less-educated, blue-collar counterparts.

Why might CEOs and company presidents be more inclined to partake in the illicit substances, and spend their vacation time in luxurious San Jose-area drug rehab centers later? According to a 2013 study from the John Hopkins’ School of Medicine, the traits that make for a good CEO — dedication, drive for success, risk-taking, obsession — are precisely the traits that also make a good addict.

Lead author of the study David Linden, PhD, finds the brains of drug and alcohol addicts and type-A industry leaders have one main thing in common: a genetic predisposition that puts a damper on the dopamine system, the brain’s reward system that mainly uses the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Anything that inhibits the reward pathway, whether it is a mutated enzyme, receptor or transporter, will require the person to seek out higher amounts of stimulation to achieve the same result. And it’s precisely this behavior that Linden & associates found when comparing drug addicts and highly successful people.

Another factor that may lead CEOs from the East Coast to San Jose toward drug abuse is the inherent stress of the job. Fast-paced, high-stress environments can make the idea of winding down with your illicit substance of choice even more enticing. These people tend to be high-functioning addicts, but that doesn’t necessary keep them out of rehab centers.

While successful, intelligent people tend to lean toward the illicit substances, they are actually less likely to opt for treatment at drug rehab centers. This poses a problem both for the addicts and the companies they run — no matter how well they function, an addiction can cause them to crash at any time.

For CEOs and Presidents in San Jose and elsewhere, a comprehensive, tailored approach to drug rehab may be just what they need to kick the habit. At Miramar Recovery Centers, you can finally kick the habit — and do so in both comfort and style.


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