Why Substance Abuse Affects Employees and Employers
Addiction in the workplace affects both employers and employees. Employees that abuse drugs in the workplace are impairing their decision-making abilities, as well as limiting their physical capabilities. In a physically intensive job, this combination can be fatal.
10-20% of workers that die on the job test positive for alcohol and drug use. Unfortunately, studies show that physically demanding and dangerous jobs like construction and mining also show the highest rates for employee drug use.
For employers, addiction in the workplace creates an unhealthy atmosphere for other employees, as well as for others in management positions and clientele. In addition to employee drug use resulting in dangerous or deadly accidents, substance abusers can cause serious financial damage.
Identifying Substance Abuse in the Workplace
Employers or fellow employees can identify substance abuse in the workplace by monitoring workers for the following signs:
- They often struggle to be productive.
- They have an inconsistent resume or CV.
- They have very poor work performance.
- They often file for benefits and workers’ compensation claims.
- They frequently arrive late or call out of work altogether.
While the above signs don’t always point to addiction, in many cases, they are signifiers of a substance abuse problem.
Preventing Employee Substance Abuse
The most effective method for prevention of employee substance abuse is to have a strict workplace drug policy that issues frequent drug tests to prospective applicants and active employees. If anyone violates the policy, there must be guaranteed consequences.
In addition to conducting regular drug tests, employers should consider implementing educational programs to inform employees of the consequences of drug use, as well as ways to overcome addiction.
These educational programs combined with regular drug testing have been proven to have the following benefits:
- A decrease in the cost of insurance, as fewer employees will file for workers’ compensation
- Reduced employee turnover
- Reduced employee theft
- An increase in productivity
- An increase in morale
- A decrease in workplace accidents
When Treatment is an Option
As part of the program, employers should encourage all employees to seek treatment if they know they have an addiction, as well as if they have failed the drug test. Employees should be given the option to enter into a recovery program for inpatient rehab. These programs will ensure that the employees are provided with the medical care, counseling, and support to help them overcome their addiction.
Employees facing addiction that are considering entering treatment may be uncertain of how to approach their employer about the topic. However, in many cases, the employer’s healthcare policy may cover treatment for substance abuse or general medical leave.
Having a strategy for dealing with addiction is imperative to ensure the safety and success of both employees and employers. As you navigate the issues of substance abuse in the workplace, be sure to keep this guide in mind.