Work addiction and substance abuse may be more closely connected than you think.

Work addiction is not merely a dedication to a person’s job; it’s a compulsive behavior that requires treatment just as much as any other mental health condition. The combination of work addiction and substance abuse is one that is seen often together.

In some cases, these conditions co-occur because the person’s obsession with perfection in their job has caused so much stress that they look to alcohol or drugs to cope. In other instances, people may rely on drugs to help them stay awake to work longer hours, improve their job performance or meet deadlines.

There some factors that put people at an increased risk for drug or alcohol problems, including:

  • Pressure at Work: Stressful office climates can feel hostile, leading the worker to seek stimulants to keep up with strict deadlines or unwind after a hard day.
  • Type of Job: Some careers are correlated with drug abuse. These jobs tend to be high pressure or increase a person’s proximity to available prescription drugs. Some high-pressure jobs in this category may include doctors, military personnel, lawyers or senior corporate executives.
  • Lack of Coping Skills: If an individual does not have the tools needed to deal with their stress, they are more likely to use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.

Statistics on Work Addiction and Substance Abuse

Issues involving work addiction and substance abuse are more common than many might think. According to a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, prescription drug misuse directly impacted 70 percent of employers in 2015 through tardy workers, high turnover rates, increased training costs and poor productivity.

Consequences of Drug Abuse at Work

The consequences of substance abuse on the job have a wide-reaching impact both on businesses and the people using drugs. While on the job, workers are expected to be alert. In some circumstances, completing tasks efficiently while under the influence can be difficult or even dangerous. These situations can lead to accidents, inefficiency and reduced productivity. The tardiness or absenteeism that occur while recovering from the effects of substance abuse can also be detrimental to the profit of businesses. Workplace substance abuse cost employers approximately $81 billion annually.

Treating Work Addiction and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders

Beginning treatment for work addiction and substance abuse can be challenging. However, it’s crucial to seek care from a facility that specializes in treating both co-occurring drug addictions and mental health disorders. If someone undergoes treatment for only one of two existing disorders, they risk letting one of their addictions go unaddressed.

Comprehensive work addiction and substance abuse treatment allow clients to develop healthier coping behaviors, explore interests that are not related to work and repair the damage that addictions have caused to personal and professional relationships. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often prescribed to help the patient identify triggers that may lead them to addictive behavior. Therapy can also be used to modify negative thinking and behavioral patterns associated with addiction.

If you are struggling with co-occurring work addiction and substance abuse issues, you are not alone. The Recovery Village can help. Individuals who have addictive symptoms can receive comprehensive treatment from one of many facilities located across the country. To learn more, call The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Krisi Herron, LCDC
Krisi Herron is an Adjunct Psychology Professor, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and a freelance writer who contributes to several mental health blogs. Read more

Valentic, S. “Workforce Drug Use on the Rise.” Environmental Health and Safety Today, May 17, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2019.

National Safety Council. “Prescription Drug Misuse Impacts More th[…] of U.S. Workplaces.” March 9, 2017. Accessed April 16, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.