An increase in Substance abuse disorders is evident due to the economic recession and the lockdown in South Africa. When it comes to job losses, all industries are affected. The disease of addiction does not discriminate and we see it rearing its ugly head in all walks of life.

Job Loss, Depression, and Relapse – The Ties That Bind

There is a strong tie between job loss and depression. Feelings of overwhelming despair and sadness occur and many will turn to drinking or getting high to mask these uncomfortable feelings. Self-medicating is the fastest coping mechanism during a recession.

Bill W. Author of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous experienced this during the Great Depression:

Bill W was a successful stockbroker after the first World War. Then the Great Depression hit and due to his alcoholism, he lost everything. He wrote about the  spiritual malady:

For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self  -sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us, it is just like that.”

 Addiction Causes Job Losses

It is an obvious scenario when an employee is an addict and cannot maintain their job responsibilities. Addiction profoundly changes a person’s life and those around them. Addiction is a progressive disease and without professional medical help, an addict will lose everything.

Job Loss is a Link to Addiction

As we see, addiction is a cause of job losses. But there is the case of addiction after a job loss too. It is a dangerous place to be for many who already suffer from the disease of addiction and have been sober for many years. When an addict in recovery is suddenly unemployed, isolated and stressed, the risk of relapse increases.

 The Ban on Alcohol is Not Helping

The coronavirus lockdown is vital to flatten the virus curve. Government and health ministers have agreed that only essential products are to be sold and alcohol and tobacco are not on that list. This is all done in good faith but like all good intentions, there are consequences.

According to a news article by The Sunday Tribune, people are dying due to the ban on alcohol, counselors at de-addiction centres in Chennai stated:

 “Three people died after drinking paint varnish with water and two lost their lives after consuming aftershave lotion with water.”

 Addiction is a disease and family members and the community need to offer support to those suffering with substance abuse disorders during lockdowns and economic recessions. It is our duty as South Africans to address this issue and save the lives of those severely affected.

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