The impact of substance abuse in the workplace is highly detrimental to the individual and the company, where the bottom line is a priority.
Employers are also faced with anxiety over the welfare of their staff, both those with substance use problems and those who work with them. 

Problems related to substance abuse include:

Inefficiency, lethargy, disinterest

Interpersonal issues

Poor decision-making

Distraction and inattention

Tardiness or sleeping at work

Theft or illegal activities

Poor staff morale

High staff turnover

Training expenses for new staff

Disciplinary hearings

Substance abuse is an increasing problem for U.S. employers.

Codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin are all also on the list. Naturally, these figures pose concerns for employers, from lowered productivity to employee health problems and possible liability issues due to incidents that occur when the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Identifying staff with substance use disorders provides an opportunity to suggest addiction treatment and offer support by guiding employees toward successful addiction recovery.


Admit to Using Substances at Work


Admit to Using Marijuana at Work


Admit to Consuming Alcohol at Work

Pinpointing causes

While no employer would want to consider that they might be a part of the problem, in some instances, the workplace could be a contributing factor in substance use. In offices where drinking or drug use is tolerated, early warning signs may easily be overlooked. Availability of alcohol in the office may seem acceptable to some, but even casual drinking can be instrumental in leading to alcoholism, particularly when there is no supervision. 

Some industries may put staff in contact with potentially addictive substances, which accounts for the increasing occurrences of healthcare professionals requiring addiction treatment. The combination of pressurized environments and access to addictive medications can be a problem. On the other end of the spectrum, jobs that are boring, lacking in human contact, or highly stressful can also lead employees toward addiction. These risks are further increased when staff are faced with sexual harassment, verbal or physical abuse, or poor treatment from colleagues or superiors.

Signs of substance abuse

Of course, not all addiction is work-related, but with 70% of people with an addiction holding down jobs, it is inevitable that these problems will manifest in the work environment. While some employees are easy to identify as substance users, others may be high functioning users who maintain regular careers despite their alcohol or drug addictionThere are some common tell-tale signs that an individual may be abusing drugs or alcohol, these include:

Poor Hygiene or Appearance

Mood Swings and Lack of Motivation

Problems with Relationships or Personal Life

Persistent Financial Problems

Absenteeism for Vague Ailments or Family Issues

Disregard for Commitments or Assignments

Poor Concentration or Memory Lapses

Preventative measures

Employers can manage substance use in the workplace through various preventative measures. Implementing company policy forbidding the use of drugs and alcohol at work is a useful preliminary step. However, it is also positive to promote a culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace, focusing on job satisfaction and proactive management of work-related stress. 

Providing education on drug addiction and alcoholism can empower employees to make healthy decisions or identify co-workers who may be in trouble. Encouraging open communication around drug or alcohol use may also allow staff to step forward if they believe they have a problem or suspect a colleague is in need of assistance. Furthermore, studies indicate that workplaces offering a supportive, drug-free environment are more likely to discourage a relapse for those recovering from addiction.Additional methods may include regular alcohol or drug testing, with companies conducting mandatory screening administered according to federal regulations for workplace drug testing programs. 

Protocols should be drafted around managing circumstances where positive test results arise, with employers needing to be cognizant of the sensitivities involved. Since the inception of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) around fifty years ago, an increasing number of companies have opted to implement these structures to manage such situations. As many as 77% of US companies now offer support to employees through an EAP.

How workplace programs can help

EAPs can play a vital role in assisting employees suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Short-term counseling or helping staff connect with suitable peer support or recovery groups can be beneficial. In extreme cases, EAP officers may assist in referring employees to inpatient rehab facilities, such as those offered by Psyclarity Health’s Clinical Stabilization Services. 

In many cases, people with addiction may be reluctant to attempt treatment for fear of losing their employment. Psyclarity Health’s Acute Treatment Services offer gender-specific programs designed to provide executives with access to work duties where possible, thereby minimizing interruption to professional responsibilities. By educating employees about their healthcare rights and advising them of their available options, EAPs may help overcome any reluctance, giving the employee access to the care that may ultimately lead them toward successful substance abuse treatment.

Help is available for
your employees

At Psyclarity Health, we form and develop professional relationships in the form of partnerships and assistance programs to support employers, unions, and other professional associations wanting to offer addiction treatment to their workforce, union members, and patients.
Learn more about our service partnerships and how we will work with you to combat the ravages of addiction in the workplace and beyond.

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