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Addiction in the Recession - What are the Effects?

The recession is rough on everyone. From rural to inner city environments, the recession can disrupt everything about life.

Lost jobs, home foreclosures, poverty bound families and constant alerts from the media that things are only getting worse surround us every day.Uncertainty, disappointment and lack of trust can all influence how society, families and individuals cope with increased pressures. For those caught up in addiction, whether to drugs and/or alcohol, perhaps this increased sense of uncertainty and chaos is merely a heightened form of how they already experience the world around them.

A person in addiction becomes ultimately overwhelmed by life. Every argument, financial struggle and social agitation can seem like a catastrophe to those who's attention is completely distracted by their drug and alcohol use and the problems created by that usage. When this is added to the misery of recession, an individual who would have previously been able to hang on may no longer be able to do so – and may collapse (emotionally / behaviourally) under the pressure.

When this collapse occurs, drug and alcohol use will likely escalate. Problems become worse - partners leave, addicts get arrested and employers who used to tolerate lateness and non-production now can't afford to. This sets the stage for a huge plunge down the spiral of addiction that does not usually have an easy ending.

One ending may not be the worst. Crisis can be opportunity. When previously hidden or managed addiction problems come to the surface in crisis, then this is the opportunity to address them. Recession driven chaos can ultimately produce a new awareness of an ongoing addiction problem and make it real to the individual addicted that he/she simply can't manage life and therefore must seek help if they are to ever restore any kind of quality to their existence.

This makes it even more essential, that in times of recession, the services continue to be funded. Recession is a time when the most disadvantaged rely more heavily on the supports that society has put in place to help them. A reduction or removal of these supports and services at a time of recession is perhaps the final stressor that causes the most damage.

Exchange House National Travellers Service offers a range of Social Work, Family Support, and Addiction Counselling. We also hold AA meetings, one-to-one counselling, education and prevention, general health regarding addiction, referral to treatment centres and harm reduction information. If you need more information regarding these services you can contact Exchange house at (01) 872 1094.

Ronnie O'Donnell, Addiction Counsellor

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