Joblessness & Addiction: Which Comes First?
Here’s a common brain teaser:
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
We all know you need a chicken to get an egg (let’s agree we are talking about chicken eggs). And we all know you need an egg to get a chicken. So if you can’t have a chicken without an egg, and you can’t have an egg without a chicken, but you definitely have both eggs and chickens…
Well, it begs the original question: Which came first?
It is a head-scratcher, to be sure.
Here’s another: Does joblessness lead to addiction or does addiction lead to joblessness?
The answer in this case is a little easier to suss out, because in this case the answer is:
How Joblessness Leads to Addiction
Being out of work can be an extremely stressful experience. Perhaps the most obvious area of stress is financial. Without steady work, it can be very difficult to make ends meet—especially if you have other people who are depending on your income.
But some of the stress of unemployment is not directly related to money. For many, joblessness causes any number of negative emotions—sadness, embarrassment, anger, purposelessness, and more. And the longer someone goes without work, the more difficult it can become to manage those emotions in healthy ways.
When the stress and negative emotions threaten to overwhelm a person who is struggling to find a job, it is possible they will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. Ultimately, of course, using drugs or drinking to excess will make things worse rather than better, but when you are experiencing a sense of desperation, it may seem like anything that can dull the negative emotions is worth trying.
How Addiction Leads to Joblessness
In the early days of developing a substance use disorder, a person may think they have everything under control. In fact, if they are taking the sort of drugs that are thought to improve focus or wakefulness, they may actually believe that their substance use is making them better at their job. But even if that were true in the short run, it almost certainly will not be true over the long run.
That’s because soon enough the drug or alcohol abuse will lead to physical and mental symptoms that make working increasingly difficult, if not impossible. In fact, it will likely become harder and harder just to make it into work—and once there, a person’s behavior and job performance are likely to be erratic at best.
Even if an employer is particularly understanding (and it should be noted that employees do have options if they are struggling with addiction and are honest with their employers about needing to get help), there will eventually come a point at which job performance becomes so poor that the only option is to let the employee go.
Two Problems, One Solution
For a person who is suffering from a substance use disorder, it makes very little difference whether joblessness has led to addiction or addiction has led to joblessness. In either case, the next—and absolutely essential—move is exactly the same.
It is time to get help at a fully accredited residential treatment center that offers medically supervised detoxification followed by a rehabilitation program built around both individual and group therapy. Getting that kind of help gives a person the best chance to regain and maintain their sobriety.
If you have read this far, there is a very good chance you have already guessed where we might recommend going for help.
At Wooded Glen, Our Job Is All About Overcoming Addiction
We started with a brain teaser about a chicken and an egg. But when it comes to getting help for a substance use disorder, there is no head scratching required.
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we have the expertise and experience necessary to create a personalized, evidence-based treatment program for every person we serve. We will listen to you, address your specific needs, and treat you with the respect you deserve.
In addition to providing strategies and resources for maintaining your sobriety, we can address any co-occurring mental health disorders. Some cases, a mental health disorder may have contributed to the development of a substance use disorder. In other cases, it may have been the other way around. But whether the mental health disorder played the part of the chicken or the egg, it is important to deal with it in treatment because good mental health and sustained sobriety go hand in hand.
The bottom line here is that we can help you get sober, which is the first step to getting back to work—and back to your life. We can say with confidence that sobriety must come first. Everything else follows from there.