Stress is caused by either an internal or external stimulus creating stress to the person either environmentally, physically, or emotionally.  Usually, stress is caused when the individual perceives that the situation is demanding, challenging, or threatening the individual.

Imagine getting a health diagnosis that threatens your ability to continue to work.  This situation puts demands on you to juggle doctors’ appointments, work schedule, family demands and potentially threatens your life.  This is stress; however, this stress can cause burnout if you do not have the natural supports needed to manage the demands that are on your life during this event.

The same is true with addiction.  The individual seeking treatment is facing a health diagnosis that threatens the individual’s ability to function during a stressful time.   Having a full-time job at the time that the individual decides to get help causes them to juggle treatment appointments, work schedules, family demands, and if the person returns to use can threaten the individual’s life.  In some cases, the individual needs to be hospitalized to complete detoxification from the substance safely.  Burn out in this situation is caused by trying to do all of this in secret out of fear that the individual will lose employment, family, and image in society.

Although outpatient or intensive outpatient is a possibility for some individuals, substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines require a medical detox to safely discontinue use of the substance.  Some substances may be safe to discontinue without medical monitoring but, it is also important to consider the symptoms of withdrawal that can be painful and lead to a high risk to return to use.  In that case being in a safe environment allows the individual to ride out the obsessive thought to use a substance to give them relief.

When the recovering individual continues to struggle with treatment episode after treatment episode this causes burnout, followed by hopelessness.  Have the correct amount of support is important.

Burnout is usually caused by multiple stacking up of stressful situations that are not delt with in a timely manner.  When we don’t address the stress in our lives and pretend it doesn’t exist it piles up and over time, we are not able to identify the specific issues causing burnout without assistance from others.

Each person must evaluate the pressures that demand too much of you physically and mentally. However, stressed people can still imagine that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better. Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. 

Symptoms of Burnout include:

Every day feels like a bad day.  You don’t want to get out of bed and face it but you have to do it anyway

Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of time and energy.

You feel exhausted all the time., Most of your days are spent on tasks you done enjoy or feel dull or overwhelming.

You don’t feel appreciated or you might feel like nothing you do makes a difference.

You might start getting a lot of headaches or muscle pain, or you find yourself getting sick a lot because your immunity is low.

Maybe you find yourself eating poorly or not at all.

Do you feel like a failure or have nagging feelings of self-doubt?

Maybe you feel detached and alone and have a loss of motivation

Maybe you are withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself from others, procrastinating or increasingly feeling angry and frustrated with yourself and others.

How to manage burnout or stress is still the same:

Recognize what is happening in your life.  Practice self-care daily so you are aware of specific changes that can increase stress and burnout.

Reverse the damage by seeking the support you need from family, friends, recovery support or people that understand your situation.

Resilience to stress is important in preventing burnout.  Having regular health check ups and mental health assistance.  Addressing your mental health is as important as addressing your physical health.  Practicing some spiritual practice that can create a sense of well-being can help you get through tough times in your life.

In recovery from addiction, it is important to have a strong foundation.  Take care of your physical health, address mental health by seeing a therapist regularly to address trauma flareups, participate in self care such as exercise, Yoga, Pilates, sports, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, reading recovery literature, spending time with recovering individuals, having fun in recovery, journal, call someone in recovery to release some pressure and stress share with another so you aren’t carrying the load by yourself, attend a meeting and many more resources that are available for you to practice self-care.