Could Unemployment Lead to Addiction?

Being unemployed is never easy. The stress of trying to find a job while figuring out how you’ll pay for food and rent can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a strong support group of friends or family to help you. But does the pressure build to the point where you may turn to drugs or alcohol for relief?

While each person’s coping methods are different, research has shown that there is a correlation between unemployment and addiction. The percentage of addicts who are unemployed is much higher than the percentage of addicts who are employed. Many people seek to escape from the stress associated with unemployment by finding some form of addiction — the most common being drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

Unemployment and Substances

Drug use has increased drastically in the unemployed within the past decade. The most noticeable increase has been with seniors who are unemployed. Research also shows that more young adults have used illegal substances, particularly if they are unemployed.

Addiction and unemployment are a bad combination. Once the addiction starts, it’s very hard to escape. You are depressed because you don’t have a job and are poor, so you turn to drugs. But it’s difficult to get a job when you have a drug addiction, so you remain unemployed. On and on the vicious circle goes.

The Never-ending Cycle

Why is it so hard to escape the cycle? Your productivity goes down when you have a drug addiction. When you’re physically or mentally absent from work, your chances of receiving a promotion go down substantially and your chances of getting fired go up.

While the most common addictions are substance-related, there are other addictions that you may see in the unemployed population. Internet addiction is becoming a rising problem, especially with the possibilities of social media and online gambling. Using the Internet can be a way to fill the normal working hours if you’re unemployed, especially if you’re using the pretense of searching for jobs on websites. The fact that most phones allow for Internet access does little to help with this particular addiction.

Addressing the Issue

Addicts need to recognize the issues so they can fix their problems. Recognizing the signs of an addiction is the first thing they need to do. A friend or family member may be the one to bring it to the addict’s attention.

Remaining active during your unemployment can keep you from starting bad habits that could lead to addictions. Exercising daily and keeping in touch with friends and family can help keep you from depression. Volunteering around your local community is a great way to stay active and get experience for your resume while you’re applying for jobs. Even doing something as simple as creating a schedule and setting weekly goals can make a difference. Keeping busy is the most important thing to do if you’re unemployed.

Unemployment does not necessarily lead to addiction. However, unemployed people are more likely to pick up addictions than employed people. Should you become unemployed, maintaining preventative measures by staying active can keep you from becoming part of the unemployment-addiction cycle.