I successfully work with clients in the areas of alcohol reduction, cocaine addiction and other lifestyle issues. Often the compulsion to indulge and to adopt harmful lifestyle patterns has ‘crept up’ on my clients. Increasingly I am noting the presentation of successful, driven and typically wealthy business clients in my clinics and the problem is in most instances….. Cocaine. Most have arrived at a moment where they or a partner, friend, or business acquaintance have a noted a problem. When a problem is recognised, or poses a threat to a relationship and/or their business that person then seeks help.

Cocaine is readily available. I note the pressure of high intensity business and the demands that people are under and the relationship between this and the ‘escape’ that it offers. Cocaine is an extremely addictive stimulant that creates a euphoric state and increased energy. The ‘high’ tends to be short lived so a binge pattern often develops and as the brain adapts more is needed to achieve the ‘high’s. Basically the reward and pleasure receptors in the brain become desensitised to elevated levels of dopamine Cocaine prompts. Complicate the issue with alcohol and the mix is a potent one where the Cocaine leads to longer nights, binge drinking, and all the attendant risks involved.

The impact upon the business man or woman can be debilitating. Reward and pleasure diminishes. Long nights, excess alcohol and exhaustion kick in. Clients have reported excess in weekend ‘partying’ followed by days of depression, poor performance and a lack of motivation with the obvious consequences for theirs or your business. Meanwhile the compulsion grows and priorities become ‘the line’, the financial demand grows, and the longer term physical impact grows with the threat of longer term incapacity. Heart attack, stroke, nasal septal perforation, inflamed respiratory disease and on and on and on. There are psychologically damaging effects and both short term and long term impacts.

Many businesses in my view adopt an Ostrich approach while individuals engage in denial. Its rife, it’s out there and its ‘client demographic’ is not exclusively the hoody on the street, of the flash lad in the night club. It’s here in business at all levels.

So what to do. Well awareness and a grasp of the potential consequences either for yourself directly, or for your colleagues, employees and ultimately your business is a good start. Be alert to changes in performance. Be alert to emerging patters such as poor performance and absences following a weekend. Be alert to low mood and seemingly ‘flat’ presentations and conversely the out of character episodes of anxiety, stress, agitation. Be prepared to ask and offer help.

Help comes in the form of counselling and strategies like CBT/Mind Management which help the individual understand why and where the problem started and initially to truly acknowledge it is a problem. Once this is recognized preparedness for addressing both the physical and psychological dependency is encouraged. This is not going to be easy but it can be done by engaging both professional support and that from those around the individual as a detox period will see the need to navigate through challenging times: depression; exhaustion; discomfort; hunger; vivid dreams; slowed movement and other symptoms may present.

The particular therapeutic approach will depend on the individual and therapist. Be sure to engage help which tailors the programme to the individual rather than a one size fits all. In my work I offer CBT/Mind Management strategies, Reward based approaches, Counselling, and Clinical Hypnotherapy. Clients will benefit in variable ways from each approach so a history and formulation before commencing are critical elements. A preparedness to refer on and signpost is also a good indicator of ethical and professional standards in those an individual or business may approach.

Russell Hoyles

Cocaine and the Business Community