TGI Monday? Drug-dependent outpatients report lower stress and more happiness at work than elsewhere

David H. Epstein, Kenzie L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the general population, experience-sampling studies show that work is the aspect of daily life most associated with momentary unhappiness and a desire to be elsewhere. We assessed whether this holds true for urban outpatients in treatment for heroin and cocaine dependence. In a 25-week natural-history study, 79 employed methadone-maintained misusers of heroin and cocaine carried electronic diaries on which mood and behavior were assessed up to five times per day. Being at work was associated with lower stress, greater happiness, and lower drug craving. Work accounted for 14% of the variance in stress, 30% of the variance in happiness, and 50% of the variance in cocaine craving. Participants with skilled jobs reported more positive and less negative mood states (and lower cocaine craving) at all times compared to participants with semi/unskilled jobs, although the latter reported greater mood improvement at work. In all participants, mood improvements occurred specifically in the presence of coworkers (not other companions). Our seemingly unusual findings might be specific to substance-disorder patients (for whom work may be a respite from drug-using companions), but might also hold for other urban dwellers of similar socioeconomic backgrounds (for whom work may be a respite from environmental stressors).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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