The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Work can be a great thing and it’s a freeing feeling to know that we don’t have to remain stuck in a profession we are unhappy with. That’s one of the great things about this website- that the what-ifs, the nitty-gritty, and the if I-were-you confessions are shared in a way that can help everyone, regardless of what phase we find ourselves as we pursue our professions of choice.
But when we think about how our professions should fit who we are and what our lives look like, there always needs to be a balanced approach to work and life—or in this case, a balance between the profession and the person. Otherwise, things eventually come crashing down. Here are some ways that an imbalance can quickly turn into an addiction crisis, and why we should stay proactive in our balancing act of life.
The easiest way to know whether we are suffering from work-life imbalance is to evaluate our lives and see if there is a breakdown somewhere. Work-life balance has become quite a buzzword recently, but here I simply mean our pursuit of balance between things like spending and sleep, travel and toil, the family, and the firm. We should ask whether the high performance of our profession is causing us to maintain a double-life, especially one that causes a breakdown between work and home.
Or maybe we might look at something as basic as our sleep schedule. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most vital parts of our work-life balance because we can’t hope to function well in our professions or our personal lives otherwise. These simple hiding places of imbalance are important to spot early on—but they are unmistakable eventually.
This brings addiction into the picture. But what exactly is addiction in this sense? Addiction is any substance (legal or illegal) we start using as a way to find relief from our imbalance. This could be anything from alcohol to cope with our dissatisfactions or using benzos as a way to get a good night’s sleep. These are common places people turn to in an attempt to get a handle on things, but they can soon become common addictions.
According to one study, when people become addicted to legal or illegal substances, there is a traceable development of chronic stress present in the user. This means that these substances not only fail to solve our problems- they eventually make them worse. Take for example alcohol addiction: It goes without saying that alcohol intoxication has a negative effect on work performance and a diminished output of productivity that lasts for days even after we are sober. But the more stressful work or home life is, the more we will gravitate towards something that brings us temporary relief—even if the larger effects are damaging.
Alcohol abuse also includes psychological disorders, often leading to violence towards others and oneself, depression, and an overall decrease in cognitive ability. These high levels of stress are not only experienced by those who become dependent on alcohol but everyone in the family and the firm. Alcohol abuse brings on widespread health deterioration. The more obvious health deterioration includes the compromise of vital organs in the body, such as the liver and pancreas, contributing to various forms of cancer.
Or we can take the example of benzos as a sleep aid. The more we use it, the greater the dependency we develop. This results in building a tolerance to the initial dosage of benzodiazepines and making it less effective over time. This causes a diminishing return of sleep over the long run, along with all the negative effects on our work and home life due to this addiction. Or we might even consider the perfect storm of mixing benzos with alcohol. Both substances depress the central nervous system, and when they are mixed together, it can cause serious health problems and increase the risk of a potentially fatal overdose.
We want to succeed in our profession. There is a sense of pride in being able to answer the question “What do you do?” with an enthusiastic description of our job details. And when that profession seems to be threatened by the dynamics of life, we’re faced with a decision of how to cope with it. Turning to substance abuse in the name of getting more sleep or finding a way to unwind after the demands of our professions seems harmful at first, but these quickly become cravings, and then dependency patterns that end up destroying the very things we were trying to protect in the first place.
If you want to excel in your profession and at home, it is imperative that you start looking for places that things might be out of balance. And if you find yourself in a situation of addiction, it is imperative to surround yourself with a support system and get the help you need, before things come crashing down.
This article was written by Kevin Morris from the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, a dedicated family of facilities committed to offering individualized treatment for all levels of addiction working to treat it at its core to provide those that are struggling with the tools to start a journey of long-lasting recovery.
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