How Workplace Stress Might be Linked to Substance Abuse

Sober Workplace

Substance abuse causes a variety of problems in an abuser’s life, including negatively affecting relationships, work, and health. However, what many people might not realize is how pre-existing problems in an individual’s life may lead to substance abuse, causing a whole spiral of additional difficulties. While stress is a normal part of every person’s life, some people experience a heightened level of stress that they are not able to  handle on their own. In these cases, some people turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to achieve an amount of relief.

How Stress Affects the Body

About 25% of Americans report experiencing high levels of stress. Stress is a complex emotion that can have many different causes. The physiological responses of stress include a release of hormones that help the body in a “fight-or-flight” situation, preparing the body to move quickly to either physically fight off a threat or flee to safety. When the body is under stress, the heart beats much faster than normal, and the lung’s airways open wider while the individual begins to breathe more quickly. Stress contributes to high blood pressure, and over time chronic stress can lead to more serious psychological conditions like anxiety and depression.

Substance Abuse as a Reaction to Stress

People deal with stress in many different ways. Some techniques, like meditation and exercise, are positive ways to reduce stress. However, some turn to more negative reactions, such as overeating or even abusing drugs and alcohol in the attempt to deal with stress. Several studies have shown a link between substance abuse and chronic stress. Prolonged stress can alter parts of the brain that deal with impulse control and higher-level thinking. In today’s world of high-pressure jobs and economic ups and downs, people are experiencing high levels of stress in the workplace in increasing numbers. Employees with anxiety disorders are about twice as likely than other employees to abuse substances. Employees who have problems with substance abuse tend to cause more problems and risk in the workplace. They are less productive, cost the company more in healthcare, and are more likely to be involved in workplace injuries and accidents.

Promote a Healthier Workplace

Implementing drug testing and workplace wellness programs into your business plan are two effective ways to reduce substance abuse in the workplace and to promote a healthier and happier workforce. Locate your nearest ARCpoint Labs today for more information about how we can help.

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