Working in a stressful environment has the potential to cause plenty of complications in an individual’s life. Sometimes people don’t even realize that they are or were in a toxic workspace until years later because their struggles were repressed or normalized for so long. Job-related stress can ultimately lead to life-long issues like problems in personal relationships, the development of mental health conditions, or even substance abuse and addiction.

In fact, there is a direct link between feeling stressed from work and abusing substances like illicit drugs, prescription medicines, or alcohol. Keep reading to find out how they’re connected.

The Impact of A Stressful Work Environment

Being in a stressful work environment puts a lot of pressure on an individual. In most cases, these types of jobs require employees to work long hours and meet impractical deadlines. But even if the management team has unrealistic expectations, employees are expected to meet these demands in order to keep their jobs. Toxic work environments can make workers feel like they have to impress members of management with non-stop work in order to be valuable to the company. This constant, overwhelming need to please can ultimately take a toll on an individual’s overall happiness, mental health, and well-being.

The Connection Between Substance Abuse & Work Stress

There are many ways that work-related stress and substance abuse could be related. Here are just a few potential links between feeling overwhelmed at work and misusing alcohol or drugs:

  1. Trying to meet deadlines. If someone feels pressured to meet a tight deadline, they may turn to stimulants like adderall or cocaine to keep them awake and focused all night.
  2. Unwinding after work. It’s natural to be in the mood for a beer after you come home from work, But if you’re particularly stressed from work, one drink may turn into more.
  3. Peer pressure on the job. Some jobs may encourage after-work happy hours or drinking on the job. Resisting and saying no can be hard, especially when stressed.
  4. Using substances to cope. Unfortunately, many people who are stressed from work feel like the only way they can continue going on this way is to use substances. They may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate if they struggle with mental health issues.

A person who is in a stressful work environment is also more likely to use substances at a higher dose than someone who is happy with their jobs. This could lead to dependence, addiction, financial issues, withdrawal, overdose, and many more consequences.

How to Prevent Stress-Induced Substance Abuse and Misuse

While there may not be a way to completely avoid stress, there are ways to minimize it that don’t involve using substances. Some safe ways to cope with stress include exercising, meditation, eating well, spending time with family and friends, reading, baking, taking walks, spending time outside, painting, and much more. Finding the right alternative coping mechanism for you can ensure that you turn to a healthy habit instead of substances in overwhelming times.

In some cases, it’s impossible to prevent stress at work because of the business or employer. If work-related stress is causing problems with your mental health or contributing to substance misuse, it may be time to move on from this position and find a job that’s better for you. After all, a career change may be exactly what you need to find happiness and motivation again.

Substance Abuse Treatment Options

If you are struggling with substance abuse but have job-related commitments, there are many treatment options available for individuals with busy schedules. Outpatient treatment, for example, allows patients to come into a treatment center or meeting space after work. Depending on the program, participants may also have the option of doing virtual sessions. Treatment will likely include a combination of one on one therapy, group or family therapy, support group meetings, certain medications, exercise routines, career searches, and more.

To learn more about how work-related stress may lead to substance abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of addiction treatment specialists for additional information. Give us a phone call at 267.719.8528.