Mental Exhaustion: How Emotional Burnout Affects Substance Abuse

Mental Exhaustion: How Emotional Burnout Affects Substance Abuse

It’s pretty easy for all of us to recognize the year 2020 as one that mentally exhausted us. From social distancing and isolation to quarantining and even watching friends and family die from COVID-19, to say coping has been challenging is an understatement. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, you’re more vulnerable to seeking relief from emotional burnout in drugs or alcohol. Emotional burnout affects substance use numbers significantly, so it’s essential to watch out for signs to prevent addiction or relapse.

Mentally Exhausted: What Is Emotional Burnout?

Emotional burnout is where you feel worn out mentally. It could be because you’re stressed from a personal situation or stressed about work or school-related situation. You could feel overwhelmed with a strained family relationship, or you could have a highly stressful occupation that wears on you day after day.

Occupational stress is the most common type of emotional burnout that people experience, but the truth is that anyone can be at risk of emotional abuse. It’s common in those who are caregivers or those who lose a loved one. It’s also common in those going through significant life changes like divorce or moving. Even those suffering from chronic illness or financial pressure can also become emotionally burned out.

Emotional burnout can happen to anyone at any age, and it occurs when those stressors continue to tax you emotionally for an enduring period.

That prolonged stress and wear on your mental state of mind takes a toll and can leave you open to turning to substance use to cope.

What Are The Signs Of Mental Exhaustion?

If ever a time in history where people claimed mental exhaustion dominated their world, it might be this.

We’ve been dealing with confusion, chaos, and life-altering changes to how we work, interact, socialize, attend faith meetings, grocery shop, dine, and more. This change hasn’t just happened at a local level; the entire global community seems to keep coming up against an emotional drain on one’s mind and soul. Particularly for those in the medical societies, the demands on emotional and physical resources have been challenging.

But even if you’re not in the medical community—the pervasive difficulty you’ve faced has exposed you to a mental drain you’ve likely not experienced. That consistent exposure can easily lead you to emotional burnout and mental exhaustion.

Some of the symptoms of emotional burnout may include:

  • Overwhelming depression or feeling of despair
  • Withdrawal or detachment
  • Self-chosen isolation
  • Decreased pleasure or enthusiasm
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Lack of positivity
  • Lack of motivation / increased procrastination
  • Reduced ability to feel happy or pleasure
  • Lack of fulfillment of obligation
  • Emotional disengagement from life
  • Reliance on drugs, alcohol, or other substances to deal with things.

You must know how to recognize the signs of emotional burnout. Emotional burnout affects substance abuse and can leave you feeling even more hopeless and overwhelmed.

Coping: How Emotional Burnout Affects Substance Abuse

Research suggests that stress can leave you vulnerable to turning to drugs or alcohol for relief. [1] Additionally, research supports the idea that chronic stress can leave you vulnerable to increased needs for substances to cope or relapse should you be inactive in rehabilitation. [2]

And it’s easy to see why. Especially in the short-term, the use of drugs or alcohol affects your brain in the same places that are overstressed and looking for pleasure and reward. It’s not uncommon to turn to alcohol or drugs to give you a break from your mentally overwhelming day-to-day and to help numb the pain you may be experiencing. When you’re suffering from emotional exhaustion and burnout, you want to feel good—even if just for a few moments.

But it’s seeking relief in drugs or alcohol that can lead to even more significant problems than emotional burnout in the first place.

How To Deal With Emotional Burnout

If you’re dealing with emotional burnout, you’re likely not alone. But to deal with it healthily, you need to consider the following:

  • Recognize you’re suffering from mental exhaustion and emotional burnout. Just acknowledging that and that there are effects on your body and brain can be your first step. Knowing you’re overwhelmed helps you deal with it.
  • Consider very specifically what it is that is overwhelming you. Is it work? Family? Friends? Finances? Whatever it is, try and be very specific in what is causing you such repeated stress.
  • Take care of yourself, eat and hydrate well while getting enough sleep. Give yourself a little goal for which you can look forward. Be empowered in saying “No,” to things that are going to stress you more.
  • Develop solutions. You might think what you’re dealing with is unsolvable, but it’s okay to get help from friends and family. It’s also okay, and even recommended, to get professional help to give you counsel and advice on how to reduce your stress and stressors.

Relief: How Clear Life Recovery Can Help

Though it may be true that emotional burnout affects substance abuse, it’s also true that you don’t have to suffer or struggle alone. The experienced and compassionate staff at Clear Life Recovery is ready to help you shoulder the emotional weight that you’ve been carrying so that you can live a better life. We know mental exhaustion may be overwhelming, but we’re skilled in working with you individually to develop treatment plans for sober living. We pride ourselves in meeting you where you are and taking you to long-term, lifelong recovery with caring and considerate programs.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you can find strength and healing with Clear Life Recovery. Take the first step and contact us today.






About Benjamin Hogan

Over the years, Benjamin has held positions in many different areas of alcohol and drug addiction services all over the country. He made a name for himself as an interventionist and has held certification as a Certified National Drug and Alcohol Interventionist (CNDAI-II). Benjamin specializes in helping support families of people struggling with addiction by focusing on education and instilling healthy boundaries to ensure lasting changes. Addiction is a progressive disease, but using an evidence-based approach, an intervention, when done correctly, can help to increase the willingness of a loved one to seek sobriety faster.

"In my experience, by helping families make necessary changes, they not only get their lives back, but they also help change the mind of their loved one more quickly. In an intervention, family and other loved ones take a proactive approach, instead of waiting and being stuck between fear and (false) hope. I realized in my own recovery, that when my family changed, I had to change in response. That is where I found sobriety. This is why I believe in what I do!"