Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Employment and Substance Abuse
In its most basic form, a person’s employment status can be defined as either employed or unemployed. These categories can then be split up into other smaller groups, mostly dependent on how an individual receives their income. For example, they could be working full-time for an employer, working as a contractor for several clients, or simply receiving social security or a pension.
Numerous studies have been done to determine if there is a link between employment status and substance abuse. When looking at the results, we can see that alcohol and drug use, and an individual’s employment situation can both directly and indirectly affect each other.
When looking at the trends between whether a person works or not and whether they are heavy drinkers, the results seem to be mixed. One study found that women receiving welfare were more likely to abuse alcohol than any other employment groups. Among these other categories, the tendency to drink alcohol did not significantly vary, with the sole exception of retired men who seemed to drink less.
Another study, aimed solely at males aged 18 to 29, focused on how employment status, marital status and age all correlated to the likelihood of alcoholism. The results showed that the group most likely to indulge in heavy drinking were single and in the labor force.
An individual’s employment status also seems to affect the causality of heavy drinking and depression. One study found that those who are unemployed and depressed will find their alcohol consumption considerably affected. This trend is reversed when looking at those who are employed, so that the amount of alcohol consumed then affects the severity of the depressive symptoms instead.
Research has been carried out to determine how a person’s lifestyle habits affect their chances of being employed. One study determined that a recovering alcoholic experienced no direct effects when it came to their employment tendencies. There were however, several indirect effects through marriage, fertility, education and health. These reduced the overall likelihood of an individual being currently employed. The most notable decrease was in females who had abused or been dependant on alcohol within the 12 month period prior to the study. As for current alcoholics, the study found that there were both direct and indirect effects, which lowered the chances of an addict being employed. These reductions were small for males and more significant for females.
Another study looked at job interviews held in restaurants, and determined that the choice of drink affected a candidate’s chances of succeeding in getting the job. Overall, employers viewed people who drank alcohol as less employable than those who did not. This applied even if the individual was only a social drinker.
The statistics show that those without work are more likely to use drugs than those with jobs. Even though there are more drug users in the employed category, the ratio of users to non-users is lower. In 2009, 8% of fulltime employees and 17% of the unemployed took drugs.
Some factors have been suggested as to why employment has an effect on drug use. The first is that those with jobs have less free-time during the day in which to do drugs. There is also the possibility that taking drugs may then lead to involuntary job loss if that individual’s habits are discovered. For all of these good points though, having a job can also lead to sustained drug use, without proper home supervision. This is because an increase in income will then provide the user with additional means to pay for their addiction.
Taking drugs can also affect an individual’s employment status. One study found that a drug user was less likely to take up a white collar position and more likely to work part-time. This means that the activity of taking drugs directly affects the types of jobs that an individual considers, as well as whether they are employable or not. A second study agreed with these findings and showed that chronic drug use led to fewer employment opportunities for both genders as well as a decreased chance of entering the labor force for males.
Some studies have suggested that full-time work can actually be used as a treatment for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. This is because the decreased free-time and the increased responsibility can actually lead to a more positive frame of mind in the client. A job can also promote self worth, lowering the chances of depression as well as destructive behavior.
The above studies also show us that the employment status of an individual should also determine how they are treated. Those without a full-time job will require more attention in order to boost their self esteem and turn them towards more wholesome habits. This is because they have more time to indulge in heavy drinking or drug use than those with jobs. Being unemployed can also mean that there are fewer people around to provide support and guidance during the treatment process, and this should be taken into account as well.
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