Is a Job a Valid Reason to Put Off Treatment?

Guy drinking at work

For an addict, there are seemingly countless reasons for putting off treatment. Some of them are mere excuses a person uses to protect their addiction, and others hold more validity. A person being away from their family and being worried about how their family will cope in their absence is a valid concern that needs to be addressed before a person goes to treatment. An addict who wants to wait to go to treatment until after the holidays is an excuse and not a valid concern. The holidays will come and go regardless of whether a person gets help with their addiction and he or she will be either better or worse depending on what decision they make. An addict with a good job that will be put in jeopardy if they seek treatment is a valid concern. Missing a job interview by going to treatment is an excuse because there is no job that is better off being started before getting clean. My point is that, through all the reasons an addict will give to not go to treatment, some are things that need to be addressed and others are simply excuses.

But is a valid concern the same as a valid reason? I would argue the answer is no, and I have yet to see a person in my experience be better off continuing to feed their addiction because of a “valid concern” rather than getting clean at all costs.

One of the most common concerns a person gives as a valid reason to not get clean is that they are a “functioning” addict with a good job and they couldn’t possibly take the time off to go to treatment without jeopardizing their career. The problem with this logic is that it isn’t logical. I have yet to meet a person who is better at what they do or achieves more while addicted to drugs than when they are clean. Any setback in a career by a person going to treatment and getting clean, and staying clean, will be offset by how much more a person is capable of when not addicted to drugs. The word “functioning” for an addict only implies things haven’t yet gotten to the point of total chaos and destruction. However, addiction doesn’t get better, it gets worse. That’s the very nature of addiction and, in turn, a person only becomes more capable and successful at whatever it is they are doing when their addiction has been handled.

Functioning addict

Addiction hits people from all walks of life and being addicted to drugs is in no way a recipe for sustainable success. Only by overcoming addiction can a person be free to pursue a life that can fulfill the untapped potential being hidden by drug abuse. Having experience living as an addict with a high-paying desk job, I know a little bit about this subject and using my job as a reason to continue living the way I was living. I also know what it’s like to feel my full potential for the first time and realize how much more capable I was than I ever gave myself credit for while I was an addict. For years I justified myself as a “functioning” addict and for years I went to work feeling miserable and I felt like I was in a prison. If I only knew then what I know now, that things would inevitably get bad by the time I went to treatment and that all of my good career jobs would be distant memories, maybe I wouldn’t have waited as long as I did to feel as good as I do now.

The one thing I do know for sure is that being clean and free from drug addiction is where I found my thirst for life and my drive to succeed again. I don’t go through the motions anymore or count the minutes of every day until I can leave work to go get high and I don’t go to work high and in constant fear somebody will discover my secret. My work today, both in the field I’m in and in terms of productivity, doesn’t resemble the work I used to do in any way. I wake up in the morning feeling free and excited to see what can be accomplished by the person I am today, and there is no job in the world that I might try to do while living as an addict that I would trade that for. If you or anybody you know is seeking help, please reach out.

Justin P.—Author and Narconon Suncoast Graduate


Drew Jambon

Drew has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 2 years. Having been an addict himself, he brings real-world experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Drew is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions.