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What Makes Expats At Higher Risk Of Substance Abuse?

expats at higher risk of substance abuse

Nowadays, many people choose to go expat for better job prospects. This is not at all surprising since many countries might offer a better quality of living than your home country. But regardless of all the benefits, there are also some downsides. All the changes that come with relocating abroad can cause a lot of stress and frustration. And at times, this can feel overwhelming.

Unfortunately, in cases like these, substance abuse becomes very appealing. Therefore, if you don’t want to fall into the addiction trap, you should be aware of the triggers. So, here’s what makes expats at higher risk of substance abuse.

No. 1 Job-related stress is what makes expats at higher risk of substance abuse

Let’s face it, job-related stress often leads to substance abuse, even when you work in your home country. But as an expat, you are under even more pressure. On the one hand, the job itself can be more demanding. You might have more responsibilities and be required to work longer hours. On the other hand, you put a lot of pressure on yourself as well because you consider that failure is not an option.

All these things increase your stress levels. Therefore, you need to find ways to relieve some of that stress. But instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, you must find some healthy solutions. For example, you can try exercising, reading, or finding a new hobby. These activities can help you relax and get your mind off work. However, if you’re still struggling to avoid substance abuse, the addiction recovery experts from Archstone Behavioral Health advise you to go to therapy.

No. 2 It’s hard to cope with loneliness

Loneliness is often what makes expats at higher risk of substance abuse. When you move to a different country, you leave everything behind. You’re suddenly all alone in an unfamiliar environment. Of course, you can keep in touch with family and friends via the internet, but it’s not the same. This is when you realize how important in-person interactions are.

So, you should think of ways to manage a lonely Christmas or birthday that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. You can start by socializing with your work colleagues and neighbors. Ask them to show you around the place. Then, work up the nerve to go out on your own and meet new people. Just try to avoid isolating yourself because this will increase the risk of substance abuse.

No. 3 Your partner presents a high risk as well

If you have a partner, they’ll probably want to accompany you abroad. But be advised that they face even greater risks of addiction. At least you have a job that gives you purpose and keeps you focused. But if your partner has to struggle to find a job. In the meantime, they’ll be financially dependent on you. This in itself can be a trigger for substance abuse.

Apart from the professional aspect, nine in ten expats feel isolated. Don’t forget that you’re not the only one leaving your family and friends. Your partner has to deal with this as well. Yes, you have each other to rely on, which makes it a bit easier, but that’s often not enough.

No. 4 Even your teenager is at high risk of substance abuse

Addiction doesn’t discriminate by age. Everyone is at risk of substance abuse, given the right circumstances. But if you’re relocating abroad with a teenager, the risk is even higher. The main reason for this is that teenagers are very impressionable and naïve. They’ll do whatever it takes to fit in, particularly when they are already seen as outsiders by their peers.

Furthermore, as expats, they are more like to become targets of bullying. So, keep a very close eye on them. If you notice something is not right and they refuse to talk to you about it, seek professional help.

No. 5 It can be hard to get passed the culture shock

Regardless of your age or background, you’ll experience culture shock when moving abroad. The main reason for this is that no two countries are the same. Even if you speak the same language, which is a great asset, you still have to adapt to many other things. Everything from food, beliefs, customs, lifestyle, and weather can differ from your home country. This can easily cause homesickness, anxiety, and even depression. This, in turn, increases the risk of substance abuse.

No. 6 The availability of various substances can make it hard to resist

Alcohol is available in the majority of countries; therefore, it poses a significant risk. Furthermore, there are places around the world where drinking alcohol is part of the business culture. In this case, it will be part of your job to attend various social events where alcohol is involved. And this can easily lead to addiction.

At the same time, some countries have very liberal drug policies. One such example is the Netherlands, where the use of soft drugs is legally accepted. As a result, they are available everywhere, which makes it hard to resist the temptation. Moreover, there are also countries where drugs are prohibited, but they are still easily accessible.

Don’t hesitate to seek help

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to prevent substance abuse, you don’t always succeed. However, once you acknowledge that you have a problem, you should seek help immediately. Otherwise, the addiction will worsen, and it will be more challenging to overcome it. Look for alcohol or opioid addiction treatment in FL or abroad. The right help is available; you just have to want to get better.

Final thoughts

Relocating abroad can be very exciting, but it also comes with many challenges. You have to adapt to a completely different environment. You are under a lot of professional pressure. And you’ll probably feel homesick and maybe even depressed. All of this is what makes expats at higher risk of substance abuse. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to find healthy ways to cope with all the changes and seek professional help if needed.