Burnout

and Addiction

Table of Contents

What is Burnout?

Stress and addiction can often occur together. Stress is known as a key risk factor in the development of an addiction and can cause a relapse. Stress can initiate addiction when someone uses substances to cope with the stress. Regularly occurring stress combined with drug use can escalate an addiction and cause prolonged drug use to cope with what they’re going through. Stress levels must be managed during recovery as it can be a cause of both relapse and treatment failure.

Burnout and Addiction

When someone is feeling burnt out and overwhelmed with their workload, it can cause them to turn to drug use. Studies have shown that severe burnout is connected with alcoholism and drug use. This can be a burnt-out attempt to get relief from anxiety and stress that is caused by being overworked or someone having too many things on their plate.
Using drugs or drinking alcohol can feel like a relief that takes the burdens away for someone feeling burnt. Being burnt out also feels like not having enough energy, which can lead to trying to self-medicate by using drugs that will give more energy and productivity, or drugs that relieve stress and anxiety. Self-medicating with substances like alcohol and other non-prescribed medications can lead to a dependence developing on the drugs and ultimately, addiction.

Creating Burnout

Enormous burdens can often cause burnout to occur. People in executive positions can feel enormous burdens to complete large goals or even feel they must promise great success. These types of burdens can lead to executive burnout and people in these positions feeling like they have nothing left to give. Repetitive or prolonged stress may also lead to burnout and addiction. Repetitive stress can occur in work, home, or even someone’s social life. When experiencing many overwhelming problems, it may seem like there is nowhere left to turn to.
If someone feels overwhelmed or like they have too much on their plate they may fall short of their expectations or goals. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy or guilt. It can feel like a huge burden to know that you fell short on something you intended to do, or like you’re letting yourself or others down.
Executive burnout and addiction may also be caused when the sacrifice they are making for their company is not acknowledged. It can make them feel like all the work and time they’re putting into the company is completely going unnoticed. Anyone putting a lot of effort into something without feeling like their work is being acknowledged can start to become burnt out and feel underappreciated.

How Burnout Leads to Relapse

Burnout and addiction can often go hand in hand. Being burnt can lead to a lack of motivation which could include the motivation to stay sober. If someone has experienced addiction in the past, they will be more prone to relapse if they feel burnt out by other things in their life, such as work.

How Stimulants Seem to Help with Burnout

Someone feeling burnt may begin to notice their lack of productivity, energy, and motivation. Stimulants such as Adderall or Cocaine can seem to give someone that extra energy or productivity they need.
Many college students, young professionals, and even those in executive positions may turn to a drug such as Adderall to help them study or be able to work longer. Self-medicating like this may initially feel like the drugs are helping. Executive burnout and addiction may be caused by an overwhelming amount of work and taking something like Adderall or Cocaine may seem like the energy boost they need to get through those long days.
However, using recreational drugs to self-medicate is dangerous, and doing this often will lead to addiction.

How Stimulants Actually Contribute to Burnout and Addiction

People may take stimulants to help with an overwhelming workload and they may even seem to be helping. However, taking stimulants regularly will actually contribute to burnout and addiction. Stimulants can cause increased anxiety and paranoia which can increase stress and make burnout even worse.
If an excessive amount of stimulants is taken over time, a dependence will form. That dependence will cause feelings of less energy as well as many other side effects. The main negative effect of dependence is feeling like life is being consumed with having to always find more drugs. All of this can lead to more burnout, leaving you feeling more drained, and ultimately completely overwhelmed about the situation.

Symptoms of Burnout

Chronic fatigue is one of the common signs of burnout. People who are feeling burnt often feel drained and like they’re lacking motivation. They may feel overwhelmed or burdened by their situation and not know what to do.

Anger

Someone feeling burnt may also experience anger. They may lash out or feel resentment towards others. This can be one of the signs of burnout, especially if they feel like their sacrifices aren’t being recognized or may feel people don’t understand what they’re going through.

Self-Criticism

Self-criticism is also common when someone is feeling burnt. When someone is overworked, they may fall short of many of their goals they were supposed to complete. This can lead to self-criticism of their work or the fact that they didn’t complete what they were supposed to. This negative attitude can lead to expressing a lot of negativity in regular day to day life. This can also lead to a lot of resentment towards the situation.

Mood Swings

All of this can result in hair-trigger emotions or many mood swings. Someone who is burnt out may not feel like they can control their emotions, may lash out for no reason, and may make many emotional or irrational decisions.

Who Gets Burnout?

Managers and Executives

Manager and executive burnout can be common. Work burnout and addiction can happen in any position and high-stress management positions are no exception. Many people see executives as highly successful people who must have it all together to have gotten to where they are. However, executive burnout can happen easily when expectations are too high.
Executive burnout may also be caused by overpromising. Executive burnout can lead to the use of stimulants to complete the large workload. Overall, manager and executive burnout are something people don’t always think about, but these are positions that can be very prone to work burnout.

People in Competitive Jobs

People in highly competitive jobs such as athletes, people in the entertainment industry, and tech employees can all be very prone to getting work burnout and addiction. This extra competition leads to large workloads and more stress.

Students

Many people don’t think about students getting burned out, but even school can be stressful for many students. Things like expectations of getting good grades, peer pressure, and students being involved in many school activities can be overwhelming, leading to burnout and addiction.

Teachers

Teacher burnout and addiction can be caused by having to manage many students, putting together presentations and assignments each day, and expectations from managers or educational requirements for students among other daily pressures.

Caregivers

Caregiver burnout and addiction can happen often as these can be very stressful positions. Caregiver burnout can happen with doctors, nurses, and moms, or other family members caring for another.

Doctors

Doctor burnout and addiction can happen often as doctors have many expectations. Doctor burnout can be very troublesome as they are caring for and helping patients with medical issues every day.

Nurses

Nurse burnout and addiction can also occur. Nurses have many expectations and will often have many patients and many things they must do throughout the day. Nursing is a very tough career and nurse burnout must be managed as it can become overwhelming quickly.

Moms

Mom burnout and addiction can also occur at times. Mom burnout is often caused by a mother having many things on her plate and maybe feeling like she has nobody to help out. Raising a child is tough and moms have many expectations they must also manage throughout the day.

Stages of Burnout

Frustration

The first stage of being burnt out is often frustration. Someone may feel overwhelmed or overburdened with many expectations and become frustrated with their situation.

Anger

The next stage is anger. Someone in this stage may unexpectedly lash out or feel resentment towards others for not understanding what they’re going through.

Apathy

This stage revolves around a lack of interest, motivation, or concern. When someone gets to this stage, they may be showing many of the signs of being burnt out.

Burnout

There are many signs of burnout that you would see at this stage. Some symptoms include disinterest, lack of motivation, mood swings, frustration, and anger.

Withdrawal

The withdrawal stage occurs when someone begins to withdraw from their normal day to day activities. They will be experiencing many of the signs of burnout, may turn to drug use to try to self-medicate, and friends and family might see this and become concerned.

Self-Knowledge

The self-knowledge stage is when someone begins to become aware of the burnout and the symptoms they are experiencing. They may look for help such as therapy to try to stop being burnt out.

Recovery

The recovery stage is when someone begins to overcome their burnout symptoms and may begin to fully return to their everyday activities. Their well-being and lifestyle will improve, but they will want to be aware of the signs of being burnt so they can prevent it from re-occurring.

Treating Burnout and Addiction

Stress Reduction

An important part of managing burnout is reducing stress. Doing things like rewarding activities after work can help you practice detachment from those responsibilities and decompress. Living a healthy lifestyle by doing things like eating healthy and exercising can be very beneficial for stress reduction. And lastly, work burnout can be common, so creating strong boundaries between work and personal life can also be beneficial to reduce stress and make responsibilities easier to manage.

Therapy

While reducing stress is the first step, attending therapy or talking to a medical professional may be a good idea to help create a recovery plan. Therapy may provide insights in how you became burnt and how to avoid feeling burnt in the future.

Treating Burnout and Addiction

If someone is experiencing both burnout and addiction, treating both will be necessary to improve their mental health and well-being. Burnout and addiction can often go hand in hand, so getting the necessary therapy and rehab for both will be important. If you are experiencing both burnout and addiction, checking into a treatment center or rehabilitation facility may be a good option. A treatment center will provide therapy, detox services, and help you improve behavioral patterns to avoid burnout and addiction in the future.

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