Emotional Distress & Substance Abuse

Post courtesy of US HealthWorks

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Workplace woes


Recognize At-Risk Employees

When life takes an unexpected turn for the worse, individuals may increase the use of alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal drugs. This creates a genuine threat to safety in the workplace.

What causes this to occur?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), traumatic events often take place with little warning, creating turmoil for those affected. The feelings of sadness, grief, and anger caused by the event are often coped with by the use of drugs or alcohol.

Research studies have confirmed the link between substance abuse and emotional distress. For example, one such study found that smoking, alcohol consumption, and marijuana use increased among the residents of Manhattan, New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those who increased the usage of cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be at higher risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can you help?

By recognizing signs that an employee is experiencing life challenges, and subsequently providing access to resources which can help with recovery, adverse risks can be greatly reduced.

It’s important to know the warning signs of distress:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stomach aches or headaches
  • Feelings of anger
  • Extreme sadness
  • Constant worrying
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty connecting with others
  • Rejecting help from others

Should you suspect an employee is currently experiencing a traumatic life event, encourage them to seek help through agencies such as SAMHSA, that offers a confidential, 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline.

With proper care and treatment, it is possible for individuals to get back on their feet and resume living a quality life. Together, we can help them down this path.


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