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Addiction and Substance Abuse in a Post COVID Era: Navigating Stormy Employment Waters

The global pandemic known as COVID-19 affected each and every person, from either developing the illness, being affected by someone else having the illness, national or local mandates, forced closure of businesses, and a severe crash the in economy. The pandemic also caused a massive increase in mental health issues including substance abuse and addiction issues. For reference, the World Health Organization states that rates of anxiety and depression increased 25% during the first year of the pandemic.

On the other hand, one study found that one third of Americans reported increasing their alcohol use and nearly 29% of drug users reported increasing their drug use since the start of the pandemic. An even worse statistic found that rates of drug overdose increased nearly 30% after the first year of the pandemic. These are alarming numbers yet with the devastation caused by the pandemic, it is not much of a surprise. Here will discuss:

  • Addiction and substance abuse in a post COVID era
  • Effects of addiction in the workplace
  • Tips to get help for an addiction
  • How Golden Road Recovery can help

What About Addiction and Substance Abuse in a Post COVID Era?

With the numbers of mental health issues including substance abuse disorder skyrocketing since the pandemic, struggling individuals have also reported having problems with employment. When someone is battling an addiction, it can make daily tasks far more difficult. For instance, one study found that 20% of those who had increased their drug use during the pandemic also reported missing work at least one day a week due to their substance abuse or addiction.

On another note, for those who were laid off or collecting unemployment, getting back to work while battling a substance use disorder was even harder. However, substance use disorder (SUD) can be considered a disability since it affects the mental impairment of an individual that limits one or more major life activity, aka employment. This does not mean that anyone with a substance use disorder can qualify for disability though. If the drug of choice is illegal, which most are, then the person using cannot qualify as having a disability.

Alcohol is a trickier one, however, because it is legal all throughout the United States and commonly used. Alcoholism is considered a disability, and if the person is able to properly do their job at work, they may do so. When they start to miss work, show up late, or are not doing the basic needs of the job, it is up to the employer to figure out the next move. Termination may occur if the alcohol use is causing major issues at the workplace, but recovery resources should always be provided.

What Happens if it Exceeds?

Substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder can quickly become problematic at a workplace. When someone is addicted to or dependent on a drug or alcohol, they are at high risk for dangerous and reckless behavior. If an employer finds that duties of the job are not being met by the employee due to their substance use, assuming the drug of choice is legal, the employer may provide certain accommodations to the employee to ensure they are getting support for their recovery. In this case, the employer must grant the employee time to attend rehab, therapy, or community-based meetings such as AA or NA, and the employer is able to receive proper documentations stating that the individual attends the required classes or sessions.

If, however, the employee is continuously not providing to their workplace as agreed upon due to their substance use, and the substance is illegal, termination is allowed.

Tips to Get Help 

If someone is struggling with a substance use disorder which is preventing them from using their full potential and doing all required tasks within the workplace, they should speak with their employer. More than likely, the employer will listen and provide resources and support for the employee to recover. If speaking with the employer is not a possibility, then speak with someone else that can be trusted. There are several options for addiction recovery.

Rehab can be offered both as live-in and live-out (inpatient and outpatient) and is the best first step in treating your addiction. It provides a sober environment with others in addiction recovery, to understand the addiction and learn the skills needed to prevent a relapse and essentially learn to live a drug- free life.

Therapy is another great way to learn and understand the root of your addiction, learn to identify and manage triggers, and learn coping skills for when cravings occur. Many therapists are professionally trained in substance use disorder and addiction and can provide you the support you may need.

Community-based groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are another option for getting help with your addiction. These programs are free to attend on a walk-in basis and use the 12-step program to help you accept and understand your addiction, make amends with yourself by forgiving those you may have wronged, and uses a faith-based approach to help you maintain sobriety.

How Golden Road Recovery Can Help 

The pandemic was a life-changing surprise to all of us, and it is no wonder so many of us resorted to using drugs and alcohol to cope. But with the world living in a state of recovery now, with the pandemic at an end, you too can start your journey to recovery. Golden Road Recovery is in inpatient rehab center located in Chatsworth, California and it is only a phone call away.

If you are someone battling the demons of addiction and wanting to change your behavior from using drugs and alcohol to learning new, healthy ways of living, Golden Road Recovery is here for you. Call (877) 372-0536 today to learn more about the programs offered and open a new chapter for yourself of sober living.

Citations:

World Health Organization. COVID-19 Pandemic Triggers 25% Increase in Prevalence of

Anxiety and Depression Worldwide.”

https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide#:~:text=Wake%2Dup%20call%20to%20all,mental%20health%20services%20and%20support&text=In%20the%20first%20year%20of,Health%20Organization%20(WHO)%20today. Retrieved 2, March 2022.

Foley. “Addiction and Substance Abuse in a post COVID Era”

https://www.foley.com/en/insights/publications/2022/08/addiction-substance-abuse-post-covid-era#:~:text=A%20May%202021%20study%20found,use%20during%20the%20same%20period. Retrieved 15, August 2022

Senate RPC. “Substance Use Has Risen During COVID-19 Pandemic”

https://www.rpc.senate.gov/policy-papers/substance-use-has-risen-during-covid-19-pandemic Retrieved 15, March 2022

Alcoholics Anonymous. “The 12 Steps.” https://www.aa.org/the-twelve-steps

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