Alcoholism and the Economy: The Cause and Effect Relationship
Our nation’s poor economy is a sore subject for many people to talk about. After all, who wants to talk or think about falling victim to corporate downsizing and having to barely scrape by on unemployment benefit checks until you’re – by some miracle – gainfully employed once again. You would think that having less money with which to pay bills and no extra spending money that being unemployed would serve as the reason for someone to quit drinking alcohol or using drugs. Seems logical, doesn’t it?
Hold on there. Not so fast. A health economist by the name of Michael French of the University of Miami wrapped up a research project on the correlation between alcoholism and the economy, unemployment and alcohol consumption. In his research, French found that with the rise of unemployment, there is also a measurable rise in alcohol consumption, abuse, and instances of drunk driving.
Analysis in the study shows that heavy drinking and alcohol addiction tends to increase rather than decrease in an economic downturn. According to the research, alcohol abuse increased across the board without respect to sex and race. Since the data that was used came from 2001 through 2005 — before the economy really went south in 2019 and 2020 – imagine how much more severe the problem would be today than before the recession.
The study also found that people with a higher level of education are more likely to go on a drinking binge as a result of bad economic conditions. Such a finding makes sense because usually (not always) people with a higher education tend to make more money than people with less education. Therefore, the ones with a higher education and making more money stand to lose the most compared to people who do not make as much money and did not get as high of an education.
Why do people who are unemployed drink alcohol into excess?
For some, it’s out of complete boredom. They feel they don’t have much to do to pass the time when they’re not looking for a job. Time seems to go by more quickly for the person who drinks too much. That, of course, is a lie people who abuse alcohol tell themselves so they don’t have to wrestle with the overwhelming pressure of getting through the bad economy our nation is in.
When bad times strike in a person’s life, that person looks for an escape – even if it’s temporary. For some people, drinking alcohol to the point of becoming drunk is there a solution for blocking the psychological and emotional pain of losing a job and worrying about making ends meet. Those who choose to self medicate with booze set into motion a domino effect as the alcoholism progresses. Losing a job because of the bad economy may seem like a raging fire in a person’s life. But when that person adds alcohol to the situation, alcohol only adds fuel to the fire of job loss and continued unemployment.
What can start off as a few drinks a night to calm the nerves and slow down the mind in order to get sleep at night can ignite the urge to drink a higher volume of alcohol with each passing day, week, and month without finding a new job. The daily struggle to search for new employment can become suppressed or even extinguished by heavy drinking.
Before long, the negative effects of drinking too much catch up with the alcoholic. Sometimes it’s in the form of legal trouble with a DWI. If an alcoholic racks up enough DWIs and his driver’s license is suspended, that could have a major impact on his job search. He’ll either have to find a job close to home so he can walk, take a bus, or beg a friend or family member to drop him off and pick him up again from work.
With limited means of transportation and limited opportunities for securing new job, if the alcoholic has a family at home, anger, resentment, and despair will rear their ugly heads throughout the entire family. These negative feelings manifest themselves by physical and emotional abuse, which breeds mistrust and fear on the parts of both the alcoholic and those living with the alcoholic. Before long the alcoholic has estranged himself or herself from family and friends. Prior to turning to alcohol, the person may have had a marriage thriving on mutual love and respect in which divorce was something that happened to “other people.” However, the one hurt by their spouse’s alcohol abuse filed divorce papers and subsequently kicks the alcoholic out of the house. Another broken marriage is chalked up to alcohol abuse and addiction. If there are children caught in the crossfire of such a divorce, the possibility of alcoholic forfeiting custody is strong.
No job. No spouse. No kids. No place to live. No hope for surviving. Four out of the five losses are preventable. Think of what it would be like for someone who lost his or her job and turned to the bottle for relief, but…but…had a friend or a family member attempt to put a stop to their alcohol abuse.
Even though alcohol abuse and alcoholism can produce serious problems for everyone associated with the alcoholic, something can be done to try and prevent further harm. A formal intervention can help get the alcoholic to realize the amount of pain and suffering everyone around him experiences as a result of his alcoholism. The goal of an intervention is to get the alcoholic into some sort of treatment, whether it is inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or counseling.
If no one in your family is comfortable enough to spearhead the intervention process, give the toll-free number at the top of the page a call. One of our alcohol and drug intervention specialists will be able to guide you through the intervention process or come to the place of your choosing to lead the intervention.