Addiction in the workplace

Coping mechanisms for stressed employees

London is one of the most wonderful cities in the world. Fast, rich, beautiful, eclectic and a hive for those seeking good prospects. Working in London although competitive is well paid, lucrative and prestigious but with all of these positives come many negatives and addiction.
Stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, burn out and adrenal fatigue are rife behind the doors of our offices and meeting rooms. Employees are silently suffering because rent, costs and expectations are high and most people can not afford to be honest about their inability to be able to cope with the strain and the pressure that they are under. Pressure to work at the pace that is required of them yet also be sociable and network. The strain of covering all the costs of London life; from necessities like high rents and travel expenses to luxuries like eating out and having the right lifestyle in an age where our every move is captured on social media.

According to the World Health Organisation depression and anxiety in the workplace is costing companies US$1Trillion a year investing in employee but investing in treatment for their employees yield a fourfold return.

I have been working in rehabilitation centres for nearly 10 years and I have seen residents or addicts from all walks of life. Bankers from the city and media executives from the west end as well as the tabloid worthy Chelsea socialites. But what unites all these people? Is it lack of strength of character? Weakness? Susceptibility to addictive substances? There are many theories about why people become addicts and not very much scientific evidence to prove these theories either way. In my experience there is generally some kind of historical trauma. This can be at the hand of parents or family members, ex partners or random strangers. This triggers feelings of unworthiness lack of self esteem and confidence in general. Then on entering the workplace in London where expectations, competition and standards are high many of us are left suffering from Burn Out, anxiety, depression, Imposter Syndrome and lack of self esteem. Unfortunately the acceptable solution for many people is alcohol. We forgot about our troubles for a while, we relax, we socialise and none of it feels as bad as we thought it was. But hen very quickly a drink after work turns into two drinks and it goes from once a week to twice a week. One of my clients at the centre told me that she used to drink a bottle of vodka in her lunch hour to calm her nerves and give her the courage to go back to work.

According to HRReview it costs a company on average £5,433 to recruit a new member of staff

Many companies are starting to acknowledge how widespread mental health issues are in the workplace and are supportive when they are made aware that an employee is not coping. What has precipitated this change? There could be many factors that have precipitated this change. Maybe they value their employees more than they did in the past or they know how much the recruitment process will cost them. Or maybe companies are starting to feel an ethical responsibility towards their employees. It could also be that there is more awareness about mental health and less stigma as news coverage has highlighted celebrities that have also been suffering in silence.

Alcohol related illness and addiction is estimated to cost the NHS £3.5 billion per year- that’s 3.6% of its annual budget

Whatever the reason, I have seen the change in the number of companies with Wellness Budgets and even designated Wellness Rooms. More and more companies have yoga teachers or meditation sessions and even Wellness Weeks that include bonding exercises, pamper sessions and fun games to create a more positive and relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately many of these weeks culminate with lots of alcohol as a “celebration” and this is the culture that needs to change. As more and more people are becoming vegan and it has become common place to have vegan option it should also be more acceptable to for people to say no to alcohol when celebrating at work or socialising after work.
Alcohol is a drug like any other, it is just the acceptable drug of our society.

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