Addiction and Mental Health – Support from the EIC

Addiction has risen by a staggering 217% within the electrical industry with cocaine the main drug of choice, but alcohol consumption also up 38%. Unfortunately, individuals with a substance abuse issue are also more likely to have experience of mental illness.

EIC provides ongoing support for those in the industry with mental health disorders. With our workers 34% more likely to be diagnosed with a complex mental illness and 2.7% more likely to complete suicide, mental illness is widespread in our industry.

Ranging from anxiety and eating disorders to personality disorders and schizophrenia, people affected by mental illness often turn to substances to self-medicate, using alcohol and drugs to escape anxiety. This often ends up making symptoms worse instead. While substance abuse doesn’t cause mental health disorders, it’s certainly a factor in the development of a number of disorders, often acting as a trigger for people predisposed.

This was the case with Dave, coming from a family that had a history of depression and psychosis. His parents worked long hours, often leaving him at home for extended periods of time and, as a teenager, he’d invite friends to the house to smoke marijuana. By the time he was 16, Dave was smoking marijuana every day. Although addiction or mental illness can happen at any time, drug use or the first signs of mental illness often start in adolescence.

Around this time, Dave started an apprenticeship and was the youngest worker on site. He started going out with the team on Thursday and Friday nights and his drug habit increased progressively until he was using MDMA and ecstasy every weekend.

With his increased drug use, Dave’s moods got progressively worse. His sleep deteriorated, making it harder to get out of bed every morning as he needed more drugs to reach the highs previously experienced. His college work starting to slip, and he was increasingly late for work.

Following an incident at work, Dave found himself undergoing a performance management review. To ease his anxiety, he smoked marijuana and took multiple ecstasy tablets. As a result, he started to hallucinate, become aggressive and was increasingly unfocused.

His erratic behaviour was noted by superiors and the EIC arranged a psychiatric assessment. Diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, Dave was hospitalised for three months giving him the opportunity to get the support he needed and complete a detox programme. He was assigned a therapy team and was able to stabilise his addictive behaviour, regain his mental health, and eventually return to work.

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