Architecture is a field that typically conjures up images of creative brilliance and meticulousness. But for some architects, the combination of stress, and a wholly absorbing job can lead to a battle with substance abuse. In spite of their seemingly successful lives, many architects suffer from addiction due to the unique pressures of their chosen profession.
Addiction is commonly understood to be associated with activities and environments such as criminality, homelessness or poverty. With this in mind, it is notable that substance abuse is still a problem within the field of architecture. Despite the perception of the practice as creative yet lucrative, it has been associated with addictive behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse, as well as compulsive spending and gambling.
The causes of such behavior amongst architects can be complex. There are those famous for their creative genius, who are driven to succeed and continue to push the boundaries of design and functionality on a daily basis, but this is also something that can be a source of pressure. Architects work long hours, often in isolation, and the pressure of deadlines is unrelenting. Additionally, there is financial pressure, the challenge of managing a team, and the potential for problems with suppliers.
These factors all combine to create an environment where stress levels can be at a maximum and architects may be compelled to turn to substances. It is true that dealing with these pressures is a necessary part of any worker in a creative field, but when coupled with the obsessive nature of architecture, the temptation of using drugs or alcohol as means of coping can become too great to resist.
Addiction among architects is rarely spoken of, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed. An important first step is for the design community to acknowledge that addiction is a conscious or unconscious element in some of its members’ lives. Awareness of the signs that someone is struggling needs to be increased, and open discussion around the issue is vital in order to reduce stigma and foster a supportive atmosphere.
Many organizations exist to help those affected gain the support they need. The architecture community can support this, and promote understanding of how addiction can affect those in this field. With the right support network, it is possible for architects to overcome their addictions by utilizing the educational and therapeutic resources available.
Ultimately, the unique pressures of the profession can put architects at risk for addiction, and they should be aware that there is a risk, and that help is available. With support from networks, a safe environment, and the courage to seek help from professionals, architects can overcome addiction and continue to reach the high levels of creativity and success for which they are known.