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The Impact of Remote Work on Addiction

Posted by Youssef
on 21 Mar 2022

In March 2020, the world suddenly came to a stop. Restaurants and bars shut. Non-essential contact was banned, and millions of people were told to work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic was about to change the way we work forever. For many, remote working has been a blessing. No more wasted hours on a long commute. More time to spend with family and pets. Less money spent on travel and childcare. But recent studies have shown that home working has also seriously and negatively impacted our health.

Remote working has contributed to a rise in mental health problems and substance use worldwide. In a recent survey exploring self-medication one quarter of respondents had participated in a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other recreational drugs. One in five admitted they’d miss using substances throughout the working day if they were forced to return to work and more than a quarter said being able to drink or take drugs was a perk of working from home (1).

At Delamere, we help people to overcome alcohol addiction and drug addiction at our state-of-the-art wellness retreat in Cheshire. We have supported many guests who have sadly been drawn towards alcohol and other recreational drugs due to the pressures of the pandemic and we are here to listen and guide you back to an addiction-free life. Here are some of the ways remote working is impacting addiction and how we can help.

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Alcohol addiction and working remotely

The number of deaths in England from diseases caused by drinking increased by 20% in 2020 compared with 2019 (2). Before remote working, it was much harder to hide alcohol addiction. People who already struggled with alcohol abuse suddenly had more opportunities to drink during the day and the lack of commute meant any worries over drink driving were taken away. Adding to this, those two hours that might have previously been spent travelling were now a chance to have a drink.

Another reason for the surge in alcohol dependence is the mental health effects of isolation, anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19. Many people feel cut off from normal life and turn to drink as a means of escape from uncertainty. Delamere has a team of experts who specialise in alcohol addiction, many of whom are in active recovery themselves. If you are becoming increasingly reliant on alcohol due to home working, we can help you to get back on track.

Remote working and substance abuse

The prevalence of drug addiction has risen sharply since the start of the pandemic with a particular emphasis on opioid addiction and related deaths. In the first few months of the pandemic the Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention reported a rapid increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, and a significant increase from psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine. Overdose deaths from cocaine also increased (3).

As our reliance on technology rocketed, access to drugs became easier than ever due to online sales and major drug markets booming on the dark web. While working from home, someone with a substance use disorder can easily hide unhealthy habits from their employer and the symptoms of drug addiction are harder to spot. Many people who are addicted to drugs have underlying health conditions that make them more likely to suffer worst symptoms from COVID-19 and this makes them extremely vulnerable to overdose.

Delamere specialises in all kinds of drug addiction, including addiction to prescription drugs and painkillers. If you find remote working is fuelling your addictive behaviour, it’s time to reach out for help. 

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The impact of COVID-19 on work addiction

According to a recent study, remote employment is causing workers to lose their sense of work/life balance. 45% of employees said they attend more meetings working from home than they do in the office and 40% admitted to feeling mentally exhausted from video calls (4). With the standard working hours blurred and the ability to be contacted 24/7, remote working is also paving the way for an increase in work addiction. Because of the lack of boundaries and redundant ‘clocking off’ time, people with an uncontrollable urge to work have no stop button. Remote working also leaves staff open to being overworked by their employer with no access to support.

If you or someone you know is suffering with work burnout, and this is going unnoticed due to working from home, there is help available. At Delamere, we treat people who are displaying symptoms of work addiction in our restorative retreat beside Delamere forest. Our holistic therapists use a variety of techniques, including somatic healing practices, to help guests overcome addictive behaviours.

Recovering from addiction and working remotely

It can be especially hard to remain abstinent if you are already in active recovery for alcohol addiction or drug addiction. Home can be a trigger for addictive behaviours whether it’s caused by family members, lack of mental space or increased access to food, the internet, gaming, drink or drugs. With no need to get dressed and face the world, it can be difficult to use your coping mechanisms to prevent relapse without help from your usual support network.

All guests leave Delamere wellness retreat with a 12-month future-proof plan to support them in the year after their residential rehab programme. No matter what your addiction, we can help you to identify your triggers and learn to manage your cravings, even if you find working from home an added struggle.

How can Delamere help with addiction?

Remote working plays a role in all kinds of addictive behaviours, from eating disorders to excessive gaming, and the impact of addiction can take its toll on everyone, especially family members. At Delamere, we take a holistic approach to treating  alcohol addiction, drug addiction and other addictions at our purpose-built retreat in Cheshire. We look at the individual as a whole, considering every aspect of their life and what the best recovery plan looks like for them.

Our guests stay in their own ensuite rooms and can choose from a range of residential rehab programmes that will help them take control of their addiction. Restorative therapies include one-to-one counselling, group therapy sessions and a range of somatic healing techniques, including equine therapy. We have a unique, three-step approach to recovery which focuses on stopping cravings, starting to heal from the cause of the addiction and growing your mindset to move beyond addiction.

With many firms choosing to adopt 100% home working or a hybrid model, remote working is something that is out of most people’s control. If this is contributing to your addiction, we can help you find the best way forward and move on with your life.

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1. https://www.sierratucson.com/selfmedicationnation

2. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alcohol-consumption-and-harm-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

3. Increase in fatal drug overdoses across the United States driven by synthetic opioids before and during COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dec 2020.

4. https://www.twingate.com/research/cybersecurity-in-the-age-of-coronavirus/

About the author: Youssef

Youssef’s understanding of addiction come from time spent working in the recovery mentor role and his own personal experience. Alongside work, he is completing a degree in psychology at the University of Manchester.

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