Is There a Link Between Unemployment and Relapse?

Recovery support services can mitigate risk

Researchers have long wondered about the connection between unemployment and relapse. For decades, they’ve studied the connection and determined that unemployment and relapse rates are related. However, there are several different factors to consider and one doesn’t always cause the other.

To help you understand a loved one’s or your personal risk for relapse, let’s dive into this topic and explore it further. If you’ve recently lost a job and you’re finding it more difficult to stay sober as a result, you’re not alone. The supportive staff at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes provides sober living homes and recovery support services, including employment assistance, for people in all stages of recovery.

Related post: Employment In Recovery: Job Resources for Recovering Addicts in Sober Living

How unemployment affects rates of substance abuse

Substance abuse has many different contributing factors, including poor peer relationships, family history of addiction, mental health issues, lack of family involvement, drug use early in life, and others. Not surprisingly, job loss can be another contributing factor.

Unemployment tends to have rippling effects. Therefore, it’s not surprising that job loss may cause a great deal of psychological distress. In turn, this could lead to substance abuse. On top of the psychological distress it causes, job loss can also lead to financial instability. And money problems are well-known to contribute to declining mental health, relationship problems, and sometimes even the loss of a safe and supportive home environment.1

Research studies also back these claims. Studies show that people who work more hours per week are less likely to abuse drugs. In contrast, drug and alcohol use and unemployment are strongly correlated among young adults, and episodes of heavy drinking are also associated with unemployment.2 

Further, the relationship between substance abuse and unemployment can go the other way around. For example, a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol might eventually start to prioritize their substance abuse over everything else, including work. Eventually, this behavior could lead to job loss. If they refuse to get help for their addiction, it will only get worse. Eventually, they may not be able to hold down a job anywhere, which can lead to other issues like homelessness.

Unemployment and relapse

Similarly, researchers have found there is a strong correlation between unemployment and relapse, too. However, the relationship between the two is multifaceted. For example, people who relapse may be more likely to lose their job. While people who lose their job, may be more likely to relapse, especially if they’re in recovery.

One study also found that the risk of relapse after treatment may be highest immediately after being terminated from a job. Regardless, someone who is constantly worried about losing their job will have an increased risk of relapse over time.

Why the connection?

Although the research indicates that the connection between unemployment and relapse is clear, the relationship is still very complex. Several different factors influence the likelihood of relapse due to unemployment, including:

  • Poor mental health: The emotional distress that accompanies job loss may contribute to poor mental health. This can make it harder to resist drug or alcohol use.
  • Psychological stress: Stress is one of the main contributing factors of relapse. Losing a job is very stressful, especially if you don’t have a backup plan or another job lined up. All the stress can easily lead to an unhealthy reliance on drugs or alcohol.
  • Financial instability: Unstable finances can be very difficult to cope with. This can cause a lot of anxiety, stress, and relationship problems among families and couples. All of it can contribute to an increased risk of relapse.
  • Long-term unemployment: The longer someone goes without finding employment, the more likely they may be to become depressed and anxious. They may even start relying on drugs or alcohol to cope.

While relapse is not always certain, without the right support, someone in recovery may have a difficult time avoiding drugs or alcohol while they’re struggling to deal with job loss or unemployment.

Employment assistance in recovery

Losing a job is very difficult. But having professional recovery support can help you prevent relapse and cope with major life changes. Many people in recovery may have recently lost a job due to their addiction, or they may have been unemployed for years. Often, this can make it difficult to get back into the workforce. Not to mention, it takes time to learn how to balance the increased responsibility of an independent sober lifestyle after completing an addiction treatment program.

At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, our Support Employment Volunteering (SEV) Program is designed to help people in early recovery as they adjust to their newfound sobriety. Our SEV Program helps decrease the likelihood of relapse and reduce common stressors associated with early recovery by providing thorough employment and job application assistance. Throughout the program, staff members work with each client one-on-one to:

  • Develop a resume
  • Identify potential job opportunities
  • Apply to jobs
  • Build interview skills

Our IOP program also helps sober living residents gain essential life skills that will help them find and maintain reliable employment. In doing so, it will decrease financial stress, provide accountability, and reduce the risk of relapse. 

Related post: The Importance of Recovery Support At a Sober Living Home

Get recovery support at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes

If you or a loved one needs help to sustain their sobriety during a difficult time, such as a job loss, the caring professionals at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes are here to help you. Our sober living Austin TX, Houston, TX, and Colorado Springs, CO provide safe and supportive living environments for sober men, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals. We also provide well-rounded personalized recovery programs, including our SEV Program, which helps clients find employment opportunities, apply for them, and sustain stable jobs.

To learn more about our sober living, IOP, and recovery support services, please call (512) 580-3131 or contact us online today.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955395917300877
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4601938/ 
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21466502/ 

Take Action Today

We Are Ready to Assist You

Call us now and begin healing at (51) 236-35914 or you can fill out form below and we will contact you shortly.

Or text us and we will call you right back.

What Makes Us Different

  • Why Choose Eudaimonia for Your Sober Living Experience?
  • Recovery-Focused Lifestyle
  • Individualized Care
  • Homes for Everyone
  • On-Site Support Staff
  • Family Support

Call Now ButtonRooms Available – Apply Now!