How Can Work Stress Lead to a Substance Abuse Problem?

Substance abuse problems can arise for a variety of reasons. Some people feel tension in their personal relationships, and others are too frequently exposed to triggers. In still other situations, work stress can be the root cause of a substance abuse problem.

Work Stress and Substance Abuse

While issues with stress at work have been recognized over the years, not enough steps have been taken to fully resolve the problems. As a result, some people turn to self-medicating actions to cope with their stress. It’s possible for work stress to result in substance abuse for a variety of reasons:

  • Financial problems
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Harsh criticism
  • Anxiety about working
  • Community responses

Understanding the ways in which the stress of a job may lead to substance abuse can help in resolving these matters and recognizing the need for help.

Financial Problems

Many people feel as though they work hard on a daily basis but do not earn enough money to cover the cost of basic items. Some people see their relatives and friends achieve great financial success and cannot find a way to make enough money of their own. When people work long hours or difficult jobs, they typically expect to be fairly compensated for that labor. People who do not make adequate wages can begin to feel depressed by and stuck in their financial situations. Furthermore, these individuals may begin to question their worth as employees and turn to substances.

Lack of Work-life Balance

Some people work practically all day long in order to earn a living. Even when these employees go home, they still receive phone calls and emails from work. Individuals in these situations may feel as though they have no way to truly enjoy life. For example, some healthy ways to enjoy life outside of work involve going to the gym, socializing with friends and taking classes at the local community center. People who work practically all of the time cannot participate in these activities, which can lead them to turn to drugs and alcohol usage as outlets.

Harsh Criticism

There’s a major difference between providing useful feedback and critiques to help employees to improve and constantly offering only harsh criticism. Employees who are constantly criticized may feel as though they are entirely inadequate and lack the skills to properly perform any job. As a result, these individuals might use drugs and alcohol to soothe themselves.

Anxiety about Working

Employees can feel anxiety about working for many reasons. Some workers do not feel as though they are treated fairly on the job, and others may even be victims of bullying or harassment. Some people feel as though they are wasting their lives at jobs that do not offer much in terms of appreciation or financial compensation. Worries about commuting long distances or contracting diseases at work could also feed into anxiety. When people are feeling anxious on a regular basis, some of them will use drugs and alcohol as a way to relieve that distress.

Community Responses

In a negative work environment, employees might band together and participate in alcohol or drug usage. For example, a group of employees might feel as though they are not taken seriously at work or that their boss is always ignoring their suggestions. These employees might rebel and start using alcohol or drugs at work. While not everyone is going to become addicted from this usage, some individuals will.

Further, using alcohol and drugs on the job is typically a violation of workplace rules and regulations. People who engage in this behavior could find themselves losing their jobs, thereby continuing on a downward spiral. When people think of the sources of drug and alcohol addictions and abuse, they might not immediately consider the workplace. However, work environments can be seriously stressful in many ways.

This level of stress can lead to employees who engage in destructive behaviors with alcohol and drugs. If you are experiencing this situation, you have options for help which can lead to healthier ways of dealing with stress from work. Call 833-497-3812 to speak with a representative.