January 4, 2022 Addiction

Can a Job Lead to Addiction?

Between the stressors at home, amongst friends, society, and throughout the pandemic, it can all feel overwhelming. So what happens when your job adds to your daily stress and leads to abusing drugs or alcohol?

Currently, 73% of illegal substance users are employed either part-time or full-time. (Many even use them when they are on the clock.) Many people turn to drugs to suppress the stress of their jobs, leading to drug addiction, which can then lead to the ultimate destruction of your life and an early death without proper addiction treatment.

Here is everything you need to know about how a job can lead to addiction:

Defining Stress

Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from very demanding circumstances.” Does this sound familiar? For the majority of us, it sounds like the typical day at work.

Americans are working harder than ever—therefore, stress levels are as high as they have ever been. Statistics reveal that 25 million Americans work over 49 hours per week—with 11 million working almost 60 hours per week just to make ends meet.

Long hours, fatigue, and high-stress conditions contribute to overall unhappiness, and behavioral health issues may arise after exposure to these environments with people looking for any means to cope.

High risk jobs for addiction

High-Risk Jobs for Addiction

If stress often leads to coping with drugs and alcohol, we need to be watchful of the jobs that innately come with the highest amount of anxiety and tension:

  • Medical professionals
  • Lawyers
  • Foodservice workers
  • Managers
  • Manual laborers

Medical Professionals

Medical professionals experience grueling hours and harrowing situations. Easy access to medication can also pose a serious threat to health and have the risk of addiction. The medical profession is amongst the leading industries that struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. The high-stress atmosphere of an emergency room, for example, paves the way for seeking relief through substances.


Being a lawyer is a high-profile decision. Your work requires you to put in long hours and deal with many people in difficult circumstances. Many lawyers feel the immense pressure to win their client’s case—and it can be incredibly overwhelming. This can be stressful in addition to navigating the complex legal system and anticipating what things can go wrong in the case. Sometimes, lawyers turn to drugs and alcohol to calm their nerves and get through the day.

Food Service Workers

High stress, grueling hours, and no rest make for a food service workers’ career. Often, food service employees do not have time to eat, let alone take a break. With the holidays approaching, the stress increases tenfold. At the same time, bartenders are constantly surrounded by alcohol and have easy access to even more substances.

Manager Positions

Being a manager requires you to be in charge. This in itself can feel like too much at times. Having people look up to you for direction and inspiration puts pressure on and raises stress. Managerial positions are expected to know the answer to everything; therefore, when something goes wrong, it is up to you to fix it.

This can breed insecurities, self-loathing, and feelings of not being good enough. Turning to substances to get through it can feel like an easy option to take the edge off.

Manual Laborers

Industries that are manual labor can cause body aches and pains. Many workers turn to substances to alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, this can lead to addiction and the inability to stop taking substances.

Manual laborers also work demanding hours and have little room for breaks. They can also be away from their family and friends for extended periods of time, thus promoting laborers to look for something to ease the distress.

How Can Your Job Lead to Addiction?

Contrary to stereotypes, people struggling with addiction can hold down a job. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), over 70% of substance abusers are employed.

A high-profile or intense job can easily contribute to stress and anxiety in your life. If you calculate the hours you work, you spend more time at your job than anywhere else in your life. Therefore, if your job is stressful, it can spill over into the rest of your life.

When people feel immense bouts of pressure, it is only natural to look for ways to alleviate the stress. Many turn toward drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and other forms of addiction. Prescription medication is currently one of the most common forms of addiction.

Pressure to perform

The pressure to exceed goals and be the best person at your job can drive someone to abuse substances to cope with work-related stress or to perform better. The never-ending quest to impress your boss and receive that much-needed raise can be too much for some to handle. Many are left to feel worthless and not good enough for their current position.

Workplace hostility

Hostility in the workplace can be traumatizing, and trauma often leads to substance abuse problems. Anxiety and depression can result after enduring enough time in a hostile work environment as well. Workplace hostility is positively correlated to the deterioration of mental health. Forms of workplace hostility can include:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Toxic bosses
  • Inability to advance within the career
  • Discrimination
  • Poor or negative communication

How to Keep Your Job from Causing Addiction

If you are experiencing an overload of stress and are struggling to cope, seek out help. There are many options to consider when looking to combat a substance abuse addiction, including looking at your stress level and job. Here are several factors that come into play regarding the likelihood of addiction:

  • Genetics
  • Age of first substance use
  • Social atmosphere
  • Mental illnesses, and
  • Childhood and adult trauma

Cope with Challenges

Without learning proper ways to handle life’s pressures, you are more at risk of developing a substance abuse disorder. You can learn many other methods for coping with stress through a drug treatment or alcohol rehab center. There, you’ll learn about the role of mindfulness, meditation, exercise, and more highly effective, sustainable ways to manage tension and discomfort.

Strengthen Your Support System

A great way to combat stress from your job is to seek out a support system. This can consist of family, close friends, and trusted individuals in your life. You can even join a group therapy program with people who are enduring the same job situations and addiction struggles that you are experiencing. Treatment centers can give you access to these settings.

Develop Healthy Habits

Two people walking together.

Keeping yourself healthy is another great way to ensure the stress of your job does not lead you to addiction. We know many great ways to improve your health:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Going for walks
  • New exercise program
  • Eating healthier
  • Going to sleep earlier
  • Contacting a therapist

Therapy is a wonderful way to explore alternative methods to combat stress and daily life rather than turning to drug abuse. Many offer digital options for those who prefer it. Overall, it’s important to know that without other positive coping skills and habits, you’re at an increased risk for substance use disorder if you endure workplace stressors.