The presentation discusses the relationship between stress, addiction, and relapse in the context of information security. The speaker shares her experience with alcohol use disorder while maintaining a career in information security and provides advice on how people and companies can be inclusive and supportive for those living a clean and/or sober life.
- Alcohol use disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
- There isn't one single cause for alcohol use disorder, but many risk factors come into play, including genetics, development in utero, medical conditions, home and work environment, family, and peer relationships.
- Stress and addiction have a relationship, and extended periods of high stress contribute to an increased likelihood of relapse.
- Companies can be inclusive and supportive of those living a clean and/or sober life by extending employee wellness programs to include real functional mental wellness, setting aside unused conference rooms for Friends of Bill W meetings, offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at events, attending mental health first aid training, and checking in with team members to ensure they are not under prolonged or continuous high-stress periods.
The speaker shares that even after 17 years in information security compliance and trust and safety, she is more afraid of disclosing that she's a recovering alcoholic than disclosing any product vulnerability, security incident, or that she's a queer woman in security due to the possible impact on her career. She found that conversations came to a screeching halt when somebody asked her why she wasn't drinking and she told them she was in recovery. To reduce the stigma of alcohol use disorder, we need to accept it for what it is and move on instead of minimizing it.