Alcoholism is a big enough issue for many people, but it can become intolerable when a person is unemployed. In addition, going without a job can put nonalcoholics at risk of drinking too much. Even underemployment--taking on a low-paying job to make ends meet--may damage self-esteem enough to start someone drinking.
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According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), there is a correlation between rising unemployment and increases in alcohol abuse and violent crimes. Stress from recessions and high unemployment triggers a rise in homicides and suicides, and unemployed workers often turn to heavy drinking.
That Invalidated Feeling
People--especially men--are taught to work for a living. Western society demands this, and people are validated and defined by what they do. So a man without a job may feel invalidated, like he's less than a human being. Depression may set in, and drinking to excess can be a form of self-medication, or at least a way of drowning out feelings of inadequacy.
Being unemployed brings extra pressures into life. Even if the safety net of unemployment insurance is in place, meeting daily expenses becomes more difficult. Pressure may mount, and the unemployed person may use alcohol as a way to alleviate some of this pressure.
Work isn't just a way to make a living. For many, it's part of their social life. Many working people make friends with their co-workers, and losing a job cuts a person off from that on-the-job network and from those friendships. It's too easy to go into isolation when not working. This isolation, coupled with new pressures and feelings of inadequacy, create a devastating combination.
Nothing Better To Do
Sometimes, too much free time can be a dangerous thing. Without the discipline and structure of a daily job, a person may feel like there's not much else to do but drink. He may even rationalise that he doesn't have to get up early in the morning, giving him an excuse to go out drinking.
Help and Support
If you're unemployed, try to keep in touch with other jobless people who are able to withstand the pressure. This contact may be informal, or even in a self-help or support group. Being unemployed is also a good time to work on projects that may have been forgotten in the workaday world. This might be the right time to take some classes, learn some new skills, or even start a business.
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