Addiction in the Workplace
I didn’t think that I would be smoking crack in the bathroom at work, but that’s where it ended. I was an MBA, a professional – I was raised in a nice, loving suburban home. I was given everything I needed and more. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It shows up even when you’ve vowed to stay away from it.
by Lara Frazier
For most of my life, I was the good student and loving daughter. I made my parents proud with my accolades and accomplishments. I rarely got into trouble and I always said No to drugs, so how did I end up here? In the bathroom, with a crack pipe in my hand.
I think addiction weaves its way into our lives, slowly, and so often, we don’t realize how at risk we are for developing an addiction. My grandmother was an alcoholic. She drank way too much and she would pass out, fall down, and get angry. I don’t remember as much about her as I would like, because her drinking overshadowed her kindness. It was all I could see in her.
So I made vows. I would drink white wine over red wine. I would never drink too much. I would always slow down if my drinking seemed to be getting out of control. Looking back, I can see that my grandmother was self-medicating her internal pain with alcohol. Her life looked different than she imagined and she didn’t know how to handle it, without numbing.
This is how my addiction started. In my first professional position, I started taking prescription opioids at work. It was most often rare, but for a period of time, it would happen daily. I would recognize how the pill-popping was not in alignment with who I was or who I wanted to become, so I would quit and return to a normal, healthy state of mind.
But as situations worsened in my personal life, I would find myself self-medicating with booze, or with pills, or with a combination of both. I was unprepared for hardship. I didn’t know how to deal with an abusive fiancé, or change, or failure. Instead of feeling pain and handling it in a healthy way, I numbed out. I wasn’t addicted. I could stop when I wanted. I would go long periods of time without drinking or taking pills. I never saw it as an issue, until I couldn’t stop on my own. Finally, addiction had overtaken my life.
My professional career stumbled. I never told the truth about why I quit jobs or stopped showing up. The first time I got fired I could not believe it was happening. Even though I knew I wasn’t performing, I thought I could somehow return to who I used to be. The firing led to feelings of failure. The fear of not being able to perform at work made me unable to even want to work. If I couldn’t succeed, then why keep going?
So, I took jobs that were easier for me. I felt like I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. The negative self-talk would get louder and louder, until I could no longer hear my own inner voice. Eventually, I ended up in rehab, multiple times. I would get back on my feet and I would start a job and then slowly, I would return to behaviors that didn’t suit me. This would end up in relapse and I would find myself using drugs at work.
In one of my jobs, I was working for an advertising agency. I thought that Adderall and amphetamines would allow me to perform better. They did for a short time. But, then, as always, my addiction would get out of control. I feel so sad about the girl who had to smoke crack in the bathroom because she couldn’t keep her eyes open at a meeting. I feel sad that for a month of her life, she spent most of it, behind the wheel of a parked car, smoking meth. Who was she and how did she get there?
Addiction doesn’t discriminate. We never know who will get addicted and who won’t. I thought that I had done everything right. I never imagined my life turning into what it did. But, I also know that everything happens for a reason. Today, because of my addiction, I get to live in recovery. I share my story with the hopes that it will inspire others to change.
Lara Frazier is a truth-teller, a sobriety warrior and a writer. She is a FIERCE believer in the power of owning our stories and is a strong advocate for addiction recovery. Lara shares a story of healing: in sobriety, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Find more of Lara’s work on her website at www.larafrazier.com or follow her on Instagram @sillylara.