It’s no secret that teachers have one of the more challenging jobs in this country. Not only are they put in charge of children and trusted with their safety by parents, but they are also responsible for providing an education to those same children. They do all this while being severely underpaid for what they do. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made more people realize just how valuable teachers are to our communities as a whole, they are still one of the most undervalued, underpaid, and underappreciated professions in this country.
With the poor wages, long hours, and lack of appreciation from both the community and sometimes even their own employers, it’s no wonder that the teaching profession as a whole is becoming one that is suffering more and more from addiction. Also, since educators in this country are predominantly women, it’s no wonder that this problem is affecting women more than it affects men.
Let’s take a deeper look at what exactly drives teachers to this path of addiction and the alcoholic teacher. You’ll also learn how teachers who are suffering can get the help they need without having it impact their ability to still do their jobs.
Why Are More and More Teachers Using Drugs?
As we touched on above, being a teacher is a largely thankless job. Even in this pandemic where more and more people are finally realizing the importance of teachers and everything they do, it’s still a stressful and largely thankless profession. Think about the things a teacher has to do and go through on a daily basis just in the classroom. They have to plan out their lessons for all their classes and teach those classes, oftentimes dealing with problematic students as well as students learning at different speeds. They also have to grade papers, tests, and assignments, and finally, they have to prepare to do it all again the next day.
Even when they leave the classroom, the stresses rarely go away. Due to their low salaries, many teachers have to get a second job so they can afford to live. Even if they don’t have a second job, many (if not all) teachers have to take their work home with them in the form of grading assignments, preparing for future lessons, or even answering emails and phone calls from upset parents who tend to blame the teacher when their child is struggling or misbehaving.
Add all this up, and it’s easy to see why a teacher might have a drink or two at the end of the day to relax and unwind. The issue develops when those one or two drinks turn into seven or eight, or when drugs and other substances are mixed in.
What Role Does Stress Play In All of This?
The stress and anxiety that goes along with teaching children, even in the most perfect of environments can cause even the most mentally strong person to crack over time.
Stress is not only the number one reason why teachers turn to drugs and alcohol, it’s also the number one reason why they leave the profession altogether. You might be sitting at your desk right now thinking “my job is way more stressful than a teacher’s” and you may be right, but it is important to consider exactly what a teacher goes through on a daily basis.
On top of being responsible for the care and well being of hundreds of students in a given day, they’re also responsible for teaching those same children all while being constantly scrutinized and evaluated by their employer. To make matters worse, many schools evaluate and judge their teachers based on how the students perform. This means that rarely is the fate of a teacher in their own hands; instead, it’s in the hands of a student who might have a learning disability, a home life that is not conducive to education, or just doesn’t feel like doing the work. Add in the fact that teachers are grossly underpaid. It’s no wonder that over half the teachers questioned in a 2014 poll said that their job had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
Does All This Stress and Anxiety Affect the Student?
The worst part of the fact that teachers are constantly stressed out and anxiety-ridden is it can affect the student just as much as the teacher. Studies have shown that students tend to show higher levels of stress and are just generally stressed out more when they have a teacher that is suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety themselves.
When a teacher is constantly stressed out and anxiety-ridden, their performance is going to suffer. When a teacher’s performance suffers that directly affects the students that they teach. As a result, they are less connected to the students and less satisfied with the work. This then rubs off on the students, which then results in the teacher getting even more stressed, and the cycle continues. This can present a problem since when in school, a teacher isn’t just a teacher to the children they teach. In many cases, they are also a mentor or a parent-like figure during the hours they are teaching.
Why Do Teachers Put So Much Pressure on Themselves?
Teachers are simultaneously underappreciated while also being held to a standard that for many is just simply unattainable. Humans are far from perfect, yet the expectation for teachers as a whole is to achieve perfection. This not only causes teachers to put so much pressure on themselves but many times also causes them to question themselves and constantly wonder if they are good enough. It also doesn’t help matters when a teacher has to take a call from an upset parent who either doesn’t know the whole story or thinks that their child can do no wrong, and that the teacher is the one at fault if there is an issue.
Constantly wondering if you are good at your job can take a significant toll on a person’s mental stability and well being which is just another reason why those in the teaching profession may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with all the stresses going on in their lives.
What Are Some Of the Signs of Teachers on Drugs?
Due to everything that goes along with being a teacher, it’s no wonder more and more teachers are battling addiction issues. They turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of self-medicating and trying to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that comes along with the job. Social drinking is also a big part of the teaching community.
As a way to blow off steam and vent about work, many times teachers will get together and go out for drinks at the end of the week. These activities are largely the same as in many other professions. However, when you consider the constant toll the job takes on their mental health and well-being, it can be a dangerous combination that can ultimately lead to addiction.
If you or someone you know is a teacher who may be struggling with an addiction or substance abuse issues, here are some signs and symptoms of addiction:
- Using and abusing drugs and alcohol throughout the day, even while at school
- Spending money on drugs and alcohol even if you can’t afford it
- Taking prescription drugs in ways other than directed
- Finding yourself continuing to drink more and more every day
- Changes in behavior and decision making as a result of the drugs and alcohol
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking or using drugs
How Can Teachers Get Addiction Treatment and Still Teach?
Many teachers who find themselves suffering from addiction or substance abuse worry that if they attempt to get treatment, they could lose their job during their stay. The good news is that there are several options available for teachers who are looking to get the help that they need.
Luckily for teachers, they have built-in time off in their jobs thanks to the school calendar, with summertime being the longest that they are off for. This makes summer the perfect time to enter a treatment facility and get the help you need. During this time, you can enter either an inpatient or outpatient program and complete your treatment before it’s time to return to school in the fall. This allows treatment to be done on your time and in a way in which nobody even has to know about it. From there, you can attend meetings and aftercare programs on your own time throughout the year when it fits into your schedule.
Are You an Alcoholic Teacher Who Is In Need of Help?
While teachers are responsible for taking care of so many people, sometimes they are the ones that need to be cared for. That’s why at New Directions For Women, we make it a priority to care for women of all walks of life and professions, including teachers. If you or someone you know is a teacher that is in need of addiction treatment, contact us today.