Top-down view of a businesswoman leaning on her work desk with her head in her hands.
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What are the toxic coping mechanisms used by burnt out employees?

30 Sep 2019

New research from Delphi examines the frequency at which US workers turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate work-related stress.

Things like flexibility and communication between teams are often cited as critical steps in achieving work-life balance. This may be important in light of new research from a US-based substance abuse treatment provider.

Delphi investigated the coping mechanisms of overworked employees, focusing on how frequently they turn to drugs or alcohol to help ease work-related stress.

The study, which surveyed 800 employees across the US, said that 66pc feel overworked, with most of them putting in more than four extra hours beyond their agreed schedule every week.

It reported that 72pc of employees go out when feeling overworked, with one in five going out and using drugs or alcohol at least once a week because of it.

And the further along the career ladder you get, the number of people leaning on drugs grows, according to the findings, with nearly half of senior-level and executive employees surveyed reporting recreational drug use. This was twice as high compared to their more junior colleagues.

Harder drugs are far more common among overworked employees. The study found that 24pc of them use depressants, with 22pc using stimulants and 21pc using opioids.

When it comes to drinking, 83pc of overworked employees said that they turn to alcohol to cope, and 62pc said that because of stress they are more likely to binge drink.

The study concluded that the motto “work hard, play hard” may be followed in an attempt to relieve stress or as a reward for hard work, but may not be the best way to achieve a work-life balance.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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