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Employees View Alcohol, Drug Use As Benefit Of Work-From-Home During Pandemic - May Bring Drug Habits Back To Workplace, Sierra Tucson Survey Shows

November 10, 2021 GMT

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A staggering one in five (21%) U.S. employees admit they’ve used alcohol, marijuana or other recreational drugs while employed remotely this year – a similar percentage admitted using alcohol during the workday. Of those who used, three out of four (73%) state that if their employer insists that they return to the office, they’ll miss the opportunity to use marijuana, alcohol and other recreational drugs during their workday.

And what about drugs and virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams? Twenty-two percent of employees surveyed said they had participated in a virtual work call while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or other recreational drugs!

Those are among the stunning findings of the new “Self-Medication Nation: The Numbing of America” survey, commissioned by Arizona-based mental health treatment center Sierra Tucson. Among the other conclusions of Sierra Tucson’s “Self-Medication Nation” Ipsos survey:


  • A fifth of employees surveyed (21%) by Sierra Tucson said they witnessed a colleague under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or other recreational drugs during a virtual meeting during the workday.
  • When asked why they preferred to work from home versus returning to work at their office, 14% said it’s because they can drink alcohol to relax during the workday and 11% said because they can use marijuana or other drugs to relax during their workday.
  • More than a quarter (28%) of all employees surveyed said that an added benefit of working from home was the opportunity to use alcohol and other recreational drugs during the workday while at home.

“Our survey makes clear that innumerable American workers have been self-medicating with alcohol, marijuana and other drugs to cope with the stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression caused by the pandemic,” says Dr. Jasleen Chhatwal, chief medical officer of Sierra Tucson.

“Incredibly, drug use is seen by many employees as an added benefit of working remotely,” adds Dr. Chhatwal. “And that makes us in the addiction treatment field wonder – how many of these employees will continue to use these substances as they return to the workplace or to hybrid schedules? In fact, we’re already seeing patients here at Sierra Tucson who were referred to us for treatment by employers – because they were affected by substances while at work, as well as at home. Bottom line: what starts during work-from-home may well continue as employees return to their workplaces. Employers that truly care about the health of their employees must be ready.”


Employees Turning to Drugs, Rather Than Therapy
More than half (58%) of people surveyed said they’d used alcohol and one in five (21%) used marijuana since the pandemic started. But strikingly, of those who used marijuana, 41% said they used marijuana to cope with stress, 38% to cope with anxiety, 20% to deal with loneliness, 31% with depression.

“What concerns our addiction clinicians is that barely 13% of those surveyed spoke with a therapist as a result of anxiety, depression or other mental health issues,” says Dr. Chhatwal. “Instead of coping with pandemic-sparked mental health issues through therapy, America’s employees are turning to drugs and alcohol. And without treatment and counseling, those people are bringing their use of recreational drugs while working at home, back to the office with them.”

Pandemic Inspires Heavy Drinking
Lastly, 38% of survey respondents who consumed alcohol said that during the pandemic their consumption of alcohol increased – but it’s the size of some of the increases that surprised Sierra Tucson. “Our survey found that of those 38% who increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic – 85% increased by 1 to 3 drinks a day,” says Dr. Chhatwal. “That means some Americans are potentially adding an additional 21 drinks a week to what they were already consuming. It’s vital that families, friends, co-workers and business managers are aware – and encourage their loved ones and friends to seek professional help as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues to impact the mental wellbeing of millions of Americans.”

For more information about the “Self-Medication Nation” survey results, visit: and watch Sierra Tucson’s chief medical officer Dr. Jasleen Chhatwal here:

Media Interviews Available: Interviews about the “Self-Medication Nation” survey are available with chief medical officer Dr. Jasleen Chhatwal and other clinicians. Please contact Elyse at 651-470-0063 or Paul, 612-366-5287.

About the Sierra Tucson “Self-Medication Nation” Survey: This project was fielded from July 29 through August 13, 2021 amongst a US nationally representative sample of 18 to 64 year olds. Ipsos utilized an online quantitative survey in the implementation of this research, recruiting 1,000 qualified respondents from a trusted network of online panels. As a standard best practice with online studies at Ipsos, the sample for this study was blended from multiple online panels. Respondents were invited to participate in the survey via an email sent from each sample partner.

About Sierra Tucson: Established in 1983 on a 160-acre campus, Sierra Tucson is an internationally renowned leader in the treatment of addictions, mental/behavioral disorders, and chronic pain. Dually accredited by The Joint Commission, Sierra Tucson’s integrated system of neuropsychiatric treatment and comprehensive medical and clinical care heals body, mind, and spirit. Evidence-based practices combine with integrative and experiential therapies to provide a full range of traditional and innovative treatment modalities. For more information, visit:

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SOURCE Sierra Tucson