Escape or activate? Pathways of work stress on substance use.
Research on the spillover effects of work stress on substance use have mainly focused on the concept of escapist substance. OBJECTIVE:Building on the concept of self-endangering work behavior, we expand this stress-theoretic view with a presenteeism path of work-induced substance use. Contrary to emotion-based disengaging coping strategies associated with escapist use, we argue that high job demands may also promote problem-focused engagement coping, where substances are used for activation.
A Structural Equation Model was used to analyze both assumed pathways of stress-induced substance use with survey data from a random sample of n = 411 employees.
We confirmed that high job demands are directly related to escapist substance use, but indirectly related to activating substance use, mediated by presenteeism behavior. Both types of substance use are reduced in organizations with high psychosocial safety climate, but increase with higher competitive climate. Social support is related to reduced activating substance use. Males show a stronger tendency for the escapist path, whereas the presenteeism path is more prevalent in women.
Work stress may not only induce substance use as a disengaging emotional coping strategy, but also as an active problem-focused coping strategy, where employees engage in substance use to continue their efforts necessary for work-related goal attainment. A psychosocial safety climate may provide opportunities for intervening on the “cause of causes” of substance use. Moreover, due to the higher prevalence for activating substance use in female workers, previous research may have underestimated women’s risks for work-induced substance use.