Substance abuse among professionals is far more common than many people think. Often the idea of drug addiction or alcohol abuse involves mental images of someone who has lost control, probably homeless or without a job, but this is false. Many professionals have a substance abuse problem that needs to be treated, however they may hesitate to admit that they need help out of fear that they could end up losing everything that they have worked so hard for. Drug addiction and alcohol abuse among professionals is frequently very well hidden, and you may never expect that substance abuse among professionals could go undetected for long periods of time but this can happen. That attorney who is handling your case, the physician who is treating you, and even the pilot who is in control of the flight you are on could have a substance abuse problem that no one is aware of.
It is possible for substance abuse among professionals to go undetected for a number of reasons. Many times professionals do not have to undergo screening which would indicate a drug addiction or alcohol abuse problem. Many doctors and lawyers have their own practice and they are in charge, with no one looking over their shoulder unless a complaint is filed against them. Alcohol and some drugs leave the system fairly quickly so even routine screenings for pilots may not show a positive result if the drugs or alcohol was used a day or two ago. It is important to remember that professionals are humans too, prone to the same weaknesses as the rest of the population.