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The Executive’s Guide to Alcohol and Stress

Jun 15, 2021

One of the barriers to effectively responding to stress is recognizing the differences in types of stress. Stress brought on by a specific event usually affects the mind and body for a short period of time. Unlike this acute stress, chronic stress lasts longer and can feel unmanageable. Over time, the attempts to cope with it daily through alcohol also can become out of control. Today, let’s talk about alcohol and stress, or stress-related drinking, and what’s needed for an executive to begin recovery.

The inability to manage stress daily as an executive can lead some people to coping through drugs and alcohol. Use of substances regularly becomes a high risk for dependence, harm to professional relationships, and a possibility of doing damage to a single position or jeopardizing a whole career. Learning how to cope with stress with healthy, productive strategies can be a part of a treatment program designed specifically for an executive working in a demanding field.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

Is there a link between stress and addiction?

Stress exists in everyone’s life. The response to it becomes a big factor in how much we allow it to affect our lives. Healthy responses to it, such as exercise, help us manage it when it shows up. We can even anticipate stress returning at certain times. It might coincide with a big project at work or new demands at home.

The link between alcohol and stress, or addiction, begins to form when substances become the routine response. It can show up as several drinks after work every day to cope with stress or misusing prescription medications for the same reason. When it becomes habitual, the risk of developing a substance use disorder increases.

You can look at your own recent experiences and possibly find a pattern in when you did the most drinking, for example. If your highest level of alcohol consumption occurred when you felt the most stress, that’s a direct correlation. You can also look at how your routine or lifestyle changed during a stressful period. Not going to work out so you could drink with colleagues or drink more during dinner may also reveal some signs of the connection between stress and addiction for you.

Why Executives Experience Work-related Stress

Executives are in positions of power where all eyes are on you to deliver at the highest standards every day. Operating at a top level constantly is the expectation to keep security in the position and keep a company growing. That’s a lot of pressure to have to handle 24/7.

The added stress of being ultimately responsible for the success of the company or organization can feel like a tremendous burden at times. Holding others to your high level of commitment can be exhausting. They may not appear to be as invested or devoted as you are, and you may feel compelled to push others as hard as you push yourself to get the results you desire most.

Maintaining that optimum level of mental focus and physical energy on the job is demanding. You’re likely working long hours and bringing work home with you. It’s not the kind of role you can easily pause to enjoy personal or family time. So, you may end up without a sense of balance in your week as most of your energy is going into your professional life.

Addiction Recovery and Chronic Stress Treatments

Learning to manage stress can be a part of beginning recovery from substance use. It’s important to find a treatment program that offers help with both alcohol and stress management. If you’re not practicing strategies to respond to chronic stress in healthy ways, sobriety will likely be short-lived.

Managing chronic stress during treatment can include becoming aware of how stress affects your body. These triggers will alert you when it’s important to relax and breathe calmly. You may want to remove yourself from the stressful situation instead. This is a form of self-care where you restore your sense of peace in a different environment.

Like any strategy, practicing it over and over is the critical step to making it work for you. A treatment program allows you to learn the techniques to manage stress and replace drugs or alcohol with healthy ways to cope. Throughout a program, you’ll have opportunities to practice numerous strategies and prepare yourself for a return to your professional life.


Headwaters is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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