Addiction Among Real Estate Agents: How Common Is It?

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Approximately one in 10 real estate agents experience substance abuse. The nature of the job requires an upbeat, engaging, and helpful attitude, and sometimes the pressure to perform can become overwhelming. Fortunately, there are options available for real estate agents seeking treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.

Signs Of Addiction In Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents assist clients with buying, selling, and renting real estate. Approximately 3 million people hold active real estate licenses in the U.S.

The majority of realtors work on commission. Without the certainty of making a sale, agents must still continue to support their clients and oftentimes manage their own marketing.

Many realtors work around the clock to land a sale. Faced with financial uncertainty, a highly competitive field, and the occasional tough client, realtors may turn to substances, which could lead to a substance use disorder (SUD).

Read more about careers with high rates of addiction

Substance Abuse Rates In The Realty Industry

About one in 10 real estate agents, or about 300,000 professionals, have an SUD. Realtors may use substances in an attempt to self-medicate, cope with job demands, or perform more efficiently at work.

About 8% of real estate agents abuse alcohol. Alcohol certainly plays a role in the real estate (and overall sales) industry.

Drug addiction is also a problem in real estate; nearly 11% of agents abuse drugs. Cocaine is among the most abused drugs, with some professionals relying on it to maintain an upbeat image.

Despite a growing awareness of the problem that opioid painkillers pose for the U.S., it’s unknown as to the rate of opioid abuse among real estate agents.

Type Of Drug Use Rate Of Addiction Trend
Alcohol Use 8% Consistent
Illicit Drug Use 10.9% Cocaine and marijuana are the most commonly abused

Signs Of Addiction In Real Estate Agents

When a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, there are typical telltale behavioral and/or physical signs. Some of these signs may be more obvious than others depending on the extent of use.

Common signs of a substance use disorder (SUD) include:

  • bloodshot or glossy eyes
  • pupils that are oversized or pinhole-sized
  • shakiness or tremors
  • slurring
  • sudden weight loss or gain
  • sporadic mood swings, e.g., paranoia, aggression, anxiety, irritability, etc.
  • decreased regard for personal appearance and/or hygiene
  • insomnia
  • isolation

There are also signs of substance abuse that may be more obvious in a professional setting.

Common signs of substance abuse among real estate agents include:

  • reduced work performance
  • impulsivity
  • poor memory recall
  • lack of motivation
  • impaired coordination
  • engaging in sneaky or secretive behaviors
  • canceling or forgetting to appear at client meetings
  • increased absences

Risk Factors For Addiction Among Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents work in a people-facing role. Much of an agent’s success lies in their ability to sell a property, and also to sell themselves to a client.

Clients expect their real estate agent to serve as a partner in the buying, selling, or renting process. As a partner, the agent is expected to be present, available, and enthusiastic.

However, there are many factors that can affect an agent’s ability to perform. For agents with substance abuse issues, these factors, whether alone or combined, may contribute to their use.

Pressure To Perform

Real estate agents have good and bad days, like anybody else. However, their front-facing role requires these professionals to put their best face forward.

The real estate industry is extremely competitive. Where one real estate agent flounders, another will prosper, and agents know this.

Real estate agents also must learn how to market themselves effectively, which includes utilizing social media. Agents are challenged to remain up to speed with the latest market trends.

While remaining upbeat and alert, realtors can also encounter difficult clients and must often manage unrealistic expectations. The pressure to perform can push some agents to use substances.

Drinking Culture

Real estate agents work in an environment where drinking is socially acceptable. Because of this, agents may be pushed to drink in situations that they otherwise wouldn’t.

Some real estate agents may feel more comfortable interacting with clients over drinks. Alcohol can serve as a way for these professionals to cope, and also for them to celebrate.

Agents may treat homebuyers or property managers to dinner and drinks after a big sale, or toast with new homeowners. Real estate brokers may treat agents to dinner to recognize quarterly sales.

Job Uncertainty

Most real estate agents work on a commission-only basis. This payment structure requires agents to put in effort without any real promise of landing a sale.

The real estate market has high and low periods, and busy and slow(er) seasons. Agents must adjust to the market changes, while simultaneously managing their own financial concerns.

Real estate agents must also deal with stress and rejection. It’s common for agents to experience everything from dead-end referrals to inspection problems, which can cause a deal to flop.

Addictive Nature Of Sales

Sales in itself is addictive. By trade, real estate and other sales positions naturally attract adrenaline-seekers who enjoy the highs and lows of acquiring a sale.

Making a sale is fueled by a similar process, i.e., dopamine release, as drug and alcohol abuse. For people with addictive personalities, working in a sales capacity may intensify an addiction.

Supporting Real Estate Agents With Addiction Issues

Real estate agents, like anyone else, are susceptible to substance abuse. However, real estate brokerages can put certain procedures in place to discourage use and support agents who need treatment.

Real estate businesses don’t typically require their agents to undergo drug testing. Although it’s not a legal requirement, it’s possible that drug testing can help to deter substance abuse.

Real estate agents typically earn a commission, which means that they are not recognized as full-time workers. As a result, not all of these professionals are provided health insurance through their employers.

To support employees who may be struggling with substance abuse, companies can provide a list of complementary resources and possible treatment options if needed.

Employers can consider adopting an employee-assistance plan to help workers with substance abuse or mental health issues, or other personal problems.

If none of the above-mentioned are feasible options, agents can research free or low-cost local detox centers and inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities, and see whether they qualify.

Substance Abuse Treatment Is Available

Experiencing substance abuse is difficult. Fortunately, help is only a phone call away. Contact to find the treatment center that’s best for you or your loved one.


Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


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Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

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Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


Levels of Care:

Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

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Spring Hill Recovery Center


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