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Burnout, stress and addiction in the UK is now a major issue for 30-55 year olds

What is burnout?

Many executives thrive on stress and adrenaline in their professional lives. However, stress affects people in different ways, and for some, the strain causes mental and physical exhaustion – known as burnout. Executive professionals with perfectionist and controlling tendencies who work in stressful business environments are more likely to be affected by burnout.

What are the symptoms & effects of burnout?

  • Impatience and irritability at work;
  • Insomnia and ‘racing brain’ at night;
  • Lack of energy at work;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Depression or anxiety in the business environment;
  • Overeating or undereating;
  • Minor physical problems such as headaches, regular colds, indigestion;
  • Reliance on drugs or alcohol to get through the day.

Self-medication with alcohol or drugs

Some professionals who experience stress and burnout begin to self-medicate to help the symptoms. For example, they may use drugs such as cocaine to enhance their performance and alertness or alcohol at night to relax and sleep, or benzodiazepines to calm their anxiety.


Cocaine use is already popular yet still rising among professionals in financial centres such as the City of London. Cocaine is a stimulant that temporarily increases mental alertness and energy, but it is a highly addictive drug and increased amounts are needed to achieve the desired results.
Long term cocaine abuse leads to decreased concentration, decreased memory and affects judgement and decision-making abilities. “Many cocaine users are ‘functioning addicts’ for ten years or more. But excessive use of cocaine can lead to dysfunctional judgment, risky decision-making and reckless gambling with company assets.” – Peter McCann, Chairman of Castle Craig Hospital.


After work, alcohol is often used by professionals to unwind and relax with colleagues or during lunch meetings with clients. As a result, a person can become reliant on increasing amounts of alcohol to relax and help deal with social and business situations. This may lead to drinking during lunch or before meetings and eventually can lead to addiction.

Stress and addiction rehab

When stress leads to dependence on alcohol or drugs, senior management must find a suitable rehab treatment programme as soon as possible. Early detection and intensive rehab treatment will rescue the investment made in a highly trained and skilled employee and save companies money in the long run.