What do you do when your career blends so closely with your addiction? For about two years, I was the special assistant to a very powerful and influential man, to whom nobody ever said no, including me. When I first got this job, I was thrilled. I was making a lot of money, doing interesting work, and had tons of perks. It seemed ludicrous to think that my career choice would lead to a stint in executive drug detox. My boss was very young for someone in his position. He made his money early and decided to start his own business. We were only two years apart in age, so outside of the office, we were basically at the same point in our respective lives. In retrospect I think this led to a bit more familiarity than normal, and I now know how dangerous this could be.
He was always “Go, Go, Go!” One minute we’d be on a plane to Atlanta, the next I’d be booking rooms in Singapore. It was a whirlwind lifestyle, and I wonder how he’d kept it up with such ease and poise–one day I discovered how. About a year into our professional relationship, he’d gotten comfortable enough with me going to his house and packing a suitcase for him in case he had to be somewhere in a hurry. The first few times I went to his house, there was no incident. I’d gotten to know where everything was, and was in and out. One day I was getting a bag ready for a trip to Los Angeles and found a baggie of cocaine in his tie drawer-I guess he forgot he had it in there. I was shocked and unsure of what to do. I knew I couldn’t be a part of anything illegal, so I grabbed the baggie intent on confronting him and giving him my resignation. I started to care about him, so I also wanted to see if I could get him into some sort of executive drug detox program.
When I got to his apartment, I immediately confronted him with what I’d found. His reaction shocked me: “Oh excellent, thanks for bringing this!” I was now more confused than I was just two seconds prior, and demanded an explanation. He played it off like it was no big deal, and explained that he sometimes did it just for a pick-me-up on long flights and meetings. Nothing about him said “coke addict–he was an enormously successful financier with everything going for him, so I was actually gullible enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’d let my admiration for him and the fear of losing my job blind me to the dangers of this situation. My refusal to accept the reality of the situation would one day in the future cause me to the need the help of a executive drug detox.
While we were waiting for the car service to take us to the airport, he further rationalized his behavior by claiming that practically everybody in the industry did coke or some other kind of drug(s). He didn’t think it was a big deal because he took it once every two months, and wasn’t addicted. I actually started to believe this was normal. I mean he was young, in generally good health, and deserved an escape. He was so convincing that I actually started to second-guess myself for not doing it every now and again. All he had to do was offer me some…and he did. The flight across country seemed to last about two minutes. We’d finished the bag over the course of our trip and I was starting to see what he was talking about. This was the beginning of a slippery slope that would last about four months.
I started doing cocaine in social situations, and would partake whenever my boss offered. After a while our relationship started to get physical, and I was in an incredibly tight spot. He hadn’t forced himself on me, but we were together all the time, were practically the same age, and now both fueled by cocaine. When I started to crave coke more and more, I knew I had to do something. Seriously misjudging the scope of our relationship, I suggested that we both enter executive drug detox together. He said the he didn’t have a problem, and if I thought I needed help, it was my business. I was heartbroken and scared. It seemed like I was losing a friend, a potential romantic partner, and a job all because of one stupid choice. I realized right then and there that things were irrevocably damaged between us, and told him I was quitting. He let me go without the slightest bit of resistance-that part really hurt.
After researching some executive drug detox options, I shook off the last two years of my life and hopped on a plane to begin a program. I realized on the flight that practically every part of me was tied to my boss. I made a promise to myself that that would never happen again, and emerged from detox program with renewed energy and focus. I hadn’t been abusing cocaine for that long, so withdrawal wasn’t that horrible. There were still some very uncomfortable symptoms but the staff at my program helped me through them.
When I went to look for other jobs, I was a little nervous that my boss would ruin any opportunities that would come my way. Then I realized that he had more to lose from telling the truth than I did. Almost immediately I landed a Junior VP position at a bank, where I’ve been for almost two years. I still find myself amazed at how close I was to forgetting everything I ever knew about substance abuse and what drugs could do to a person’s health and ambition. Thankfully I was able to regain my senses before it was too late. I haven’t seen my boss since giving him my resignation. Despite everything that happened, I hope that he is doing OK wherever he is today. I also hope he finally came to the same acceptance that I did, that we both needed to get executive drug detox help, and hopefully he is no longer addicted to coke anymore either.