What You Should Know About Workplace Substance Abuse

workplace substance abuse

What You Should Know About Workplace Substance Abuse

The effects of drug and alcohol use in our nation’s workforce are a more significant issue than many people realize. According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 75 percent of individuals with addiction disorders continue to hold down a job, but the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on workplaces often flies under the radar, with the negative effects chalked up to other reasons. However, of the billions of dollars in substance abuse-related costs that add up in the U.S. annually, the largest portion is due to lost productivity.

The Consequences of Drug and Alcohol Use in the Workplace

While the impact of workplace substance use does not always seem evident, it can take a toll on an organization’s bottom line. Reasons for lost profits due to misuse of drugs and alcohol include higher rates of absenteeism, greater use of sick time and poor decision-making. For example, an employee who routinely shows up to work hung over may struggle to deliver an important presentation, or may skip that meeting altogether, putting your company at risk of losing major clients.

Jobs that are high-stress, physically demanding and provide easy access to alcohol or drugs tend to lead to higher rates of substance abuse disorders. Industries where the wages are lower than average or where the workers are more susceptible to developing mood disorders are also prone to addictive behavior. Some occupations with the highest rates of substance misuse include:

  • Health care
  • Legal
  • Hospitality and entertainment
  • Construction and mining

Beyond the bottom line of the organization and their employees’ health and well-being, workplace substance abuse can begin to permeate the company culture, lowering morale and decreasing motivation, engagement and trust.

What Can Employers Do?

Employers have many options at their disposal for preventing workplace substance abuse and creating a healthier work environment. The first step is to learn how to identify the physical, psychological and behavioral signs of substance misuse disorders. To this end, an educational workshop led by a mental health expert who specializes in addiction can be helpful. If you haven’t already done so, you should also establish clear policies on your company-wide expectations of a drug-free workplace, and the consequences of using drugs or alcohol on the job.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) can also be highly effective at helping workers who have personal or professional challenges, but unfortunately, many organizations have not implemented these programs. EAPs work to encourage and support addiction treatment and recovery through confidential assessments, short-term counseling and resource referrals.

Workplace Substance Abuse Interventions

For drug or alcohol abuse issues and co-occurring mental health disorders that have become severe enough to put your company at risk, a professionally led intervention can also be beneficial. Though you may picture interventions as being exclusively for family members, they are a tool anyone who is close to the addicted person can use to overcome objections and encourage them to seek treatment.

If you want to learn more about how an intervention can help your addicted colleague get help for their disease, contact our team today. We are nationally accredited and have been featured nationwide on CNN and A&E, among other media outlets.

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