How Addiction Ruins Careers


By Matt Gonzale

Addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life. The disease can fracture relationships, leading to isolation or depression. It can result in poor academic performance and disinterest in social activities.

Substance use disorders also can ruin careers. These disorders can reduce one’s motivation, creating problems at work that could lead to unemployment. Long bouts of unemployment can bring on financial strain, stress and heavier drug abuse.

How Addiction Affects Jobs

Alcoholism and drug dependence can change a person’s ability to do his or her job efficiently. The worker may have issues with concentration, attention or absenteeism. Addiction could lead to a loss of productivity, low morale, injury, theft or even fatality.

Additional work-related problems people with addiction face include:

  • Tardiness
  •  Sleeping on the job
  • Poor decision making
  • Communication issues with co-workers
  •  Substance abuse on the job

One study found workers with alcohol problems were 2.7 times more likely to have injury-related absences than workers without drinking problems, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Reports of workplace fatalities show that at least 11 percent of victims had been drinking, per the NCADD. One-fifth of workers and managers report that a co-worker’s drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

Drinking behaviors that affect work performance include drinking before work, during work and heavy drinking after work, which can result in hangovers during work the following day.

Alcohol addiction could lead to job loss and trouble finding work. People who are unemployed have trouble paying bills, which could give way to poverty or even homelessness. Alcoholism can affect any company, but it is particularly common in the food service, construction, mining and drilling, excavation, and installation, maintenance and repair industries.

Unemployment Leads to Substance Abuse

Addiction can have financial implications for a business, but consequences for the individual can be devastating.

Tina Simmonds talked to the Daily Mail Online about her battle with alcoholism. She began drinking to combat depression. She would drink every day. Tina said she was heartbroken when her 7-year-old daughter saw her sick from binge drinking and offered to take care of her.

“I tried to wait until the evening to start drinking, but sometimes it would be before lunch,” she told the Daily Mail Online.

Eventually, Tina lost her job to alcohol abuse. She would come into work hungover, covered in bruises after falling down while intoxicated. While unemployed, she spent most of her time drinking at home. Her ex-husband received custody of her child.

Tina enrolled in residential treatment and has not touched alcohol since. She sees her daughter four days a week and says their relationship is blossoming.

A report published on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis's website found that long bouts of unemployment can lead to drug or alcohol abuse. Unemployed individuals face financial hardships that lead to stress-induced drug use. The report also said that drug abuse can reduce a person’s employment prospects.

Furthermore, workers who reported having three or more jobs in the past five years are about twice as likely to have had past substance abuse problems than those who have had two or fewer jobs, according to the NCADD.

Help is available for those grappling with addiction. Rehab centers across the United States offer a continuum of care catered to each individual’s needs. People who have successfully completed treatment have gone on to live healthy lives while maintaining successful careers.

Author Bio: Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for He boasts several years of experience writing for a daily publication, multiple weekly journals, a quarterly magazine and various online platforms. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a Journalism concentration, from East Carolina University.


Shannon Egan

Shannon Egan is an author, international journalist, and advocate for addiction recovery. Despite training as a writer on humanitarian issues for the United Nations, Shannon prefers sharing her personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse hope in those still struggling and spread the message that recovery is possible.