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''My Dependency Was Getting Completely Out of Control. Then Everything Changed.''
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22 December 2017
If there's a common thread that ties working America together, it's stress.
With 65 percent of adults reporting work as a top stressor, according to the American Psychological Association, we're left asking, ''How do we deal?''
In the work environment, stressors range from feeling a lack of control to excessive workload, and they can cause a range of physical ailments, from headaches to heart disease. Without a clear tool for managing stress, employees and business owners alike are left to self-medicate, which can lead to another major problem: addiction. This is exactly what Jeremy Williams, a social media content creator, found.
Jeremy is no stranger to high-intensity jobs, but starting a successful business of his own, JMaverick Studios, came with unprecedented stress levels.
Jeremy says, '[F]or nearly a decade I habitually smoked marijuana. At my peak I was smoking more than a quarter ounce a week. I'd smoke in the morning, early afternoon, after lunch, before dinner, and again before bed. My dependency on pot was getting completely out of control.
''Everything changed, though, when I had major shoulder surgery last year. Lying in bed recovering from the operation made me realize that I was self-medicating with marijuana to fight stress and anxiety. Owning and operating a business was causing just as much angst as it was freedom from corporate America.''
Linking Addiction and Anxiety
Addiction and anxiety from workplace stress are often viewed as separate issues, but as Jeremy experienced, they have an important overlap. The self-medication model of addiction uses any addictive hobby as a way to cope with things like anxiety, depression, and related feelings. That relationship becomes significant when 59 percent of employees are reporting to be in a high-stress level category, according to the 2017 StressPulse survey.
As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports, 20 percent of people with an anxiety or mood disorder also have a substance use disorder, and vice versa. That's why coping is crucial, and alternative methods of managing stress could additionally impact substance dependence.
So what can we do about it?
A New Stress Management Tool
Jeremy says, ''Today marks the one-year anniversary that I tore up my medicinal [marijuana] card and threw away all of my paraphernalia. The Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) completely changed the way I manage stress and the unexpected events in life. It even stopped the stomach ulcers I was frequently getting from work-related stress. I noticed a lot of things were changing in my life with this new form of stress management, and it guided me on some of my most creative work.
''Since last year JMaverick Studios has grown nearly 50% in revenue, and we're already booked with clients through Q1 2018. Things are looking good now that I'm more aware of the ebbs and flows of life, and I owe a lot of that to the TM technique.''
TM and Stress Management
The Transcendental Meditation technique is not a treatment plan for addiction, but various studies have found it to have a positive impact on both stress and substance abuse.
How does that work?
According to Dr. Stuart Rothenberg, it's all in the brain. He says, ''TM practice has been shown to increase production of neurochemicals associated with happiness and fulfillment—including dopamine, serotonin, and gabaminobutyric acid (GABA). Increase in these neurotransmitters reduces autonomic arousal and anxiety—decreasing the need for drugs or alcohol.''
To break it down: addiction can result from self-medicating for anxiety, which can be caused by workplace stress. Luckily, TM has been shown to have a beneficial impact on both stress and addiction.
Some parts of the US may be even more susceptible to this cycle, as workplace stress can vary by city. The LA area, where JMaverick Studios is based, is one of those places. Los Angeles Transcendental Meditation teacher, Jim Meade says, ''People think Hollywood is a mecca. Well, it's a mecca where people are under tremendous pressure and have literally no job security. They come to us for relief from stress, and we keep finding that TM works.''
Copyright © 2017 Maharishi Foundation USA
See related articles:
∙ Profile: Transcendental Meditation, the 'missing piece of the recovery puzzle'
∙ National Summit: Exploring the science of Transcendental Meditation on trauma, stress, and the brain
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