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The backstory: Does your pre-COVID morning routine look different to now? Maybe you used to hit the alarm clock, pop a Nespresso capsule, hit the gym and then commute to work. From there, meetings, colleagues, bosses, emails and then home you go … five days a week.
Now, to be fair, yours may look like that now, but the reality is this is no longer the case for millions around the world who have some form of hybrid or remote work option. In fact, we’ve probably all heard at least one friend tell a story about how they rolled out of bed and sat in on a Zoom call in their PJs or accidentally had their camera on when they dialed in, still horizontal.
The development: Now, PJ Zoom parties with your unassuming boss are mild compared to what has recently come out. Surveys and data are showing that, well, too much free time and not enough human interaction and supervision isn’t always such a good thing. Specifically, in the US, a country leading the remote work trend, daytime drinking and drug use has also increased with the increased flexibility.
Now, it’s important to note that not everyone is taking drugs and alcohol for fun during working hours. Experts have said that some developed the habit to cope with work while access to treatment was disrupted because of COVID and haven’t yet been able to kick the habit. This month, a US state study showed that the number of substance use disorders has increased over 20% since pre-COVID times to 27 million among 25 to 54-year-olds.
This is backed by a 2021 survey by drug rehab firm Sierra Tucson, which wrote that around 20% of workers in the States said they had worked remotely on recreational drugs and that they’d also been on them during virtual meetings. “Yeah, maybe my eyes are red, but no one can see that on Zoom,” explained a US-based executive called Ray. Now many of these people are pushing back against the return to office because they know they’re not in the same shape as pre-COVID times.
“They are dragging their feet because they know they’re not in the same shape that they were in prior to the pandemic, and they’re trying to get a handle on their substance misuse. That’s a very real phenomenon right now,” explained substance counselor Patrick Krill, a former lawyer who co-wrote a national study of lawyers and substance misuse.
“I had gotten so used to smoking pot all the time with work. [Now,] the rule is that after 6pm, I can have whatever pot edibles I want, with the goal of eventually stopping altogether. For me, it’s about creating boundaries so I can’t impulsively go get stoned in the middle of the day,” explained Ray.