Home > Blog > GENERATION SICKNOTE: Why the PM’s reaction to ‘Sicknote culture’ could lead to a rise in addictions

GENERATION SICKNOTE: Why the PM’s reaction to ‘Sicknote culture’ could lead to a rise in addictions

Posted by Martin Preston
on 17 Apr 2024

This month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced measures to clamp down on ‘sick note culture’ which he says is increasingly becoming a burden on the economy.

Almost 11 million fit notes were issued in England last year, with 94% of those signed being “not fit for work”, according to recent NHS data.

The Prime Minister’s words could worsen the situation further for what is a real and awful experience for millions of Brits.

Stress has long been recognised as a risk factor for developing substance misuse problems, and in recovery, stress is often a risk factor for relapse.

Whilst time limited and situational stress can be motivational and productive, chronic stress is well recognised as having a negative impact on health and wellbeing. 

It is becoming widely recognised that many high functioning, successful, and financially astute professionals and business people are more likely to develop a substance misuse problem. 

Previously hidden to a degree under the misnomer of the ‘high functioning alcoholic’ or ‘addict’, many people who would have previously sought help from their GP or health professional to address the associated mental health problems that come hand-in-hand with addiction, will again have to mask this issue. 

This could result in worsening the situation for people already struggling with an addiction, or lead many people to turn to substance misuse as an alternative to taking time off work.

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To avoid negative repercussions, we need more openness within workplace culture for employers to recognise and support issues of addiction to the same extent as physical health problems. 

Addiction can compound stress and reduce the ability of an individual to cope with pressure in all areas of life, which can worsen the reliance on substances. This can lead to a vicious circle that is difficult to escape without professional help. 

Working to remove stigma in the workplace will allow for the person affected to seek help and build healthier habits to cope with chronic stress. 

The majority of people suffering from addiction have reported recent or chronic stress upon seeking help. 

At Delamere, we’ve found that all of our guests have trauma, grief, stress or shame to work through on their journey to recovery. 

Five ways to help someone who may be affected by chronic stress:

  1. Encourage them to assess how to implement healthier coping strategies, such as exercise, diet, increasing time spent outside and quality of sleep. 
  2. Implementing mindfulness courses within the workplace to introduce techniques to the whole team. This could include meditation, yoga, cold water swimming, running and more. Creating an inclusive environment for the team to learn together can remove stigma around chronic stress.
  3. Support those struggling in developing more meaningful and open relationships with family and friends, and suggest a support group. 
  4. Encourage work/life boundaries in the workplace. For someone struggling with addiction caused by chronic stress, balance will be hard to implement but it is crucial for a healthy life. Excessive work hours can lead to low self esteem and strained relationships with family and friends. Reminding those affected that professional and material success does not always equate happiness and fulfilment is crucial.
  5. Ensure that the senior team has humility and respect for those who are vulnerable and struggling with both chronic stress and addiction. No one is immune to vulnerability, so remember to encourage an ethos in which  everyone is treated with respect. 
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Summary
Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
Article Name
Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
Description
Delamere’s holistic therapists discuss Valium addiction and its impact with advice on how to get help.
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Delamere Health Ltd
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About the author: Martin Preston

Martin created Delamere in order to provide exemplary care in first class facilities. Find out more about Martin on our team page.



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