Stress is something that everyone faces on a regular basis in their life. Despite the negative connotations that come with stress, sometimes it is a good thing or can have a positive effect on a person. Stress is a great motivator that helps give people the push to achieve things and keeps you alert in times when you may need it. Stress becomes an issue when it turns into a continual problem, and you are unable to better control the feeling.

This chronic stress can lead to burnout.

Stress and burnout can cause people to turn to alcohol or drugs and possibly escalate to full-blown addiction.

Recognising the signs of burnout and understanding the links to drug or alcohol addiction may help you stop the slide towards severe substance abuse. Even if you have reached the point, it is important to know that help is available – offered by organisations like us at Addiction Advocates.


What is Burnout?

Though they are tightly woven together, stress and burnout are different things. Whereas stress causes a person to usually react more to external pressures, burnout is on the other side of the spectrum. Even though a person suffering from burnout feels overwhelmed, they tend to react outwardly or “freak out” at the constant stress they are feeling. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and emotional exhaustion that will persist if left untreated and could lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

There can be any number of causes for burnout but the most common one is work. With the increased workload that people put themselves under and the feeling of life speeding up, burnout is a more modern phenomenon. In society today, more emphasis is put on achieving in the workplace and comparing your progress to other’s – resulting in people burning themselves out to “succeed”. Those in senior management positions often suffer from burnout – enough that it is called executive burnout.

Burnout can affect your life immensely.  It is important to recognise the signs of burnout and make a change before it can do real damage and possibly lead you to addiction.


Symptoms of Burnout

While there are many ways a person can display that they are suffering from burnout as every person is different – there are common psychological and physical symptoms to look out for. These symptoms will arise throughout the stages of burnout.


Chronic Fatigue

A person suffering from burnout will feel constantly drained and lack the motivation to do anything. This overwhelmed feeling they are having likely freezes them from acting and shutting down – rather than acting out.


Negative or Cynical Attitude to Life

Burnout can stem from feeling unappreciated. People suffering from burnout will start reacting negatively to all things and believing whatever they do is pointless. This is also a sign of depression and recognising that loss of hope is important. People feeling negative towards life may feel as if it is not worth living anymore.


Increased Irritability

Feeling frustration and anger are major stages of burnout. If you are suffering from burnout, you may find yourself lashing out at those closest to you for no reason or resenting them.


Change in Eating Habits

You may start to eat more or not at all if suffering from burnout. People often turn to food for comfort and allowing this type of addictive behaviour could lead to something more serious like substance abuse. If you start eating very little or nothing at all it means you are not taking care of yourself – a sign of mental health issues.


Regular Colds, Headaches and Other Physical Problems

Stress burnout can manifest physically. If you are drained and have no energy, your body is more susceptible to those niggling illnesses that everyone experiences from time to time. The constant feeling of having colds or headaches will keep you feeling low and stuck in a cycle of exhaustion.


Burnout and Addiction

So how does burnout link to addiction?

Well, people that are experiencing burnout feels as if they have lost control. To take back some control and banish those feelings of stress, many turn to substances. Cocaine is a common addiction when suffering from burnout for those in senior management positions. To ward off the exhaustion, cocaine abuse keeps a person doing their job far beyond their natural capacity to do so. Those this will work for a time, the crash that comes with cocaine and other stimulants will lead a person to feel more exhausted, increase their anxiety and make the burnout worse.

Eventually, abuse will lead to addiction that makes the drug the top priority. Becoming consumed by drugs will mean that other parts of life fall to the wayside, increasing the feeling of being overwhelmed and feeling more drained. This creates a vicious cycle.

Those looking to wind down and take a break often turn to alcohol. Self-medicating with alcohol will also turn bad quickly. Alcohol is a depressant and the escape it offers is only temporary. Soon you will need more alcohol to feel relaxed and could slip into addiction, deepening the depression you may be feeling and negatively impacting your life.


Managing Burnout

If the stress burnout and substance abuse you are experiencing feel manageable, they can be managed without professional help. Alongside cutting down on substance intake you can make behavioural changes to manage your burnout and improve your life and mental wellbeing.

Eating well and exercising, creating a regular sleeping pattern, and slowing down are all simple things to improve your quality of living. There is nothing wrong with letting yourself be in the present and appreciating your achievements and the life you are living.

If you learn to take care of and be more forgiving of yourself, you will be able to better cope with external pressures.


Treatment for Stress Burnout and Addiction

If your addiction and stress burnout is severe enough, the only option may be professional health. Admitting you need addiction treatment is not an admission of failure, but a huge step to turning your life around. Addiction Advocates provides the intensive treatment that you need to lead a life free of addiction and stress burnout.

At Addiction Advocates you will go through a drug or alcohol detox to help with withdrawal. This will help deal with the physical side of addiction and set you on a healthier platform to begin therapy. Talking therapies such as group therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and stress management are key aspects of your treatment with us.

Coming in with both stress burnout and addiction means you will have access to dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment is carefully managed, making sure that your treatment of one issue doesn’t adversely affect the other and vice versa.

Stress is a major factor in relapse. To try and prevent relapse you will have access to our aftercare programme that acts as a helpful roadmap for your recovery journey after treatment.


Get Help Today

Whilst stress can be a mild condition, easily traversed, allowing it to lead to long term burnout and possible is a very real possibility. Knowing that burnout can lead to addiction and how to recognise the signs of stress is a major step to avoiding the worst-case scenario. If you do need help, then reaching out to Addiction Advocates is free and we can quickly have you in a treatment programme at a drug or alcohol rehab.

Don’t let stress burnout and addiction rule your life. You can reach one of our team today by ringing 0800 012 6088 or text ‘HELP’ to 83222. If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone you can email to take your first step towards recovery.