Ways to Overcome Employment Barriers If You Struggle with Substance Abuse

Sometimes life takes us in a direction we don’t want to go. If you’re looking to overcome the barrier of substance abuse – which can be anything from alcohol to illegal drugs – this section is for you.

The information here could also help you to help someone you know who is faced with problems to do with drugs and alcohol.

Why might a person take drugs?

  • They want to fit in with a group
  • They want to try something new and form their own opinion on it
  • They want a way to cope with difficult past or present experiences

If you’ve been offered drugs, know people who use them, or use them yourself and want to stop, it’s a good idea to know how they can affect your mental health and where to go for help and advice.

 

Are all drugs illegal?

Some substances like alcohol and tobacco are legal, but they are still addictive subtances. Taken in excess they can act as a barrier to your health, wellbeing and life situation to the point where you may feel you need advice and help. If you’re under 18, it’s against the law to try to buy alcohol, or to drink it in licensed premises like restaurants, pubs and bars.

Many other substances that are addictive (and/or change your state of mind) are illegal. This means that taking them could lead to a criminal conviction which could end up affecting things in your future, like getting the job you want.

If you’ve been offered drugs, know people who use them, or use them yourself and want to stop, it’s a good idea to know how they can affect your mental health and where to go for help and advice.

 

Reflection: How can drugs and alcohol affect your mental health?

Increasingly difficult feelings and negative emotions

Some people use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with emotional pain. However, it can make bad emotions feels even worse.

Feeling bad emotions more frequently could make things harder on your mental health.

Who’s in control? You or the drug?

At first you might feel in control of your choices and actions. If you start to become addicted, you might feel like things have switched and the drug is controlling you.

Getting addicted – what are the signs?

  • Hiding or downplaying your use
  • Using it in private
  • Getting withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take it
  • Making it a main focus in your life to get more of it.

These aren’t the only signs of addiction but they may help as a guide.

Can substance abuse give you a mental health condition?

Addiction is often linked with mental health problems. There are strong links between cannabis use and paranoia and psychosis developing over time. Alcohol is classed as a depressant. Although people might use it to get stimulated and lift their mood, its medical effect is to depress the central nervous system. Hangovers can bring on anxiety and increase stress.

Some drugs and substances can affect your sleep patterns, which could in turn affect both your physical and mental health.

Can substance abuse make an existing mental health condition worse?

If you have a medical health condition that affects your judgment, you might be more likely to take risks and/or take drugs. It’s important to know how different drugs can affect your body and any medication you are taking.

Young Minds offer this medication and mental health resouce. However, it is not medical advice and it is always advised to speak to your doctor.

 

Addiction treatment for young people

If you want help to get over addiction and stay that way, the NHS and many other organisations can offer you help.

A GP can discuss the situation with you and help you get treatment. You may find it helps to write down what you want to talk about in advance – it can help you feel more confident.

If you’re not comfortable talking to a GP, you can contact your local addiction treatment service yourself.

You can also call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600 to help you talk through all your options, or visit the Frank website.

This NHS resource has lots of useful advice on getting help.

Help with addiction – NHS Talk to Frank Young Minds support

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For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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