Figure 1-1: Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Substance and alcohol abuse affects every aspect of a person’s life. Addiction does not discriminate between areas of life, from personal relationships and family to the workplace. The workplace is one of the areas where the effects of excessive drug and alcohol use are most noticeable. The construction, entertainment, recreation, and food service sectors have the highest rates of substance use disorders at work, including alcohol use disorder.
Nearly 11 million full-time workers in the US have a substance use disorder, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Most of the time, these people jeopardize their careers and financial security, which results in more hardship, trauma, and stress for which they may continue to self-medicate; there is a strong correlation between these workers’ drug or alcohol issues and their professional lives. This is a never-ending cycle.
Alcohol and Drug use at Work
Figure 1-2: Drug & Alcohol abuse on the Job
The most commonly abused substance in Northern Ireland is alcohol and most of those who struggle with alcoholism work. However, changing how much and when employees drink can be intimidating. However, taking action before a problem arises can save time and is frequently more effective than responding to it before it becomes too severe to ignore.
The opioid epidemic, which is still present, and the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use in many states further complicates the problem of substance abuse at work. Even legally prescribed and over-the-counter medicines taken as directed may result in drowsiness or other potentially dangerous side effects, which may pose a safety risk. When substances are abused, the danger multiplies. As a result, employers should develop clear policies that address the risks of substance use on the job and communicate the company’s expectations regarding drug and alcohol use in the workplace.
Three to five percent of absences from work are thought to be related to alcohol, which is estimated to cost Northern Ireland’s businesses £2.38 million. It may also lead to poor performance and decreased productivity, absence and tardiness, safety issues, poor discipline or poor behavior, and adverse effects on customer relations and company reputation.
Employees who have to ‘carry’ colleagues whose work suffers due to their drinking may develop resentment. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol before or while performing safety-critical work increases the risk of an accident.
Problems in the workplace due to alcohol and drug abuse
Figure 2-1: Problems in the workplace due to alcohol & drug use
Aside from negatively impacting the lives of those addicted to drugs or alcohol, as well as their families and friends, substance abuse harms the US industry in several ways, including:
Safety: Substance abuse can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the workplace.
Productivity: Substance abuse can result in absenteeism, tardiness, decreased productivity, and poor quality of work, which can harm the organization’s bottom line.
Health: Substance abuse can cause various health problems, including liver damage, heart disease, respiratory problems, and mental health disorders, leading to increased healthcare costs and employee turnover.
Employee morale: Substance abuse can lead to conflicts among coworkers, reduced morale, and decreased job satisfaction, resulting in high turnover rates and difficulty recruiting new employees.
Legal and financial consequences: Substance abuse can result in legal issues for the organization, such as liability for accidents or injuries caused by an impaired employee and increased workers’ compensation costs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 388 of the 4,786 fatal work injuries in 2020 were caused by unintentional overdose from using non-medical drugs. Although there were overdose deaths at work in many different sectors, the three most frequent ones were construction, healthcare and social assistance, and transportation and warehousing.
Treatment for Workplace Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Figure 2-2: Treatment for Workplace Alcohol & Drug Abuse
When an employee struggles with drug abuse or addiction, employers must provide support and resources to receive treatment. Here are some options for workplace drug abuse and addiction treatment:
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs are employer-sponsored programs that provide confidential counselling and referral services for employees and their family members. These programs can offer assessment, short-term counselling, and referral to community resources for addiction treatment.
Health Insurance: Most employer-sponsored health insurance plans cover addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment, and behavioral therapy.
On-site treatment programs: Some employers may provide on-site addiction treatment programs, such as counselling and support groups, to employees to allow them to receive treatment while continuing to work.
Community resources: include outpatient treatment programs, support groups, and mental health clinics specializing in addiction treatment. Employers can inform employees about these services and make referrals on their behalf.
Workplace interventions: In some cases, a workplace intervention may be necessary to encourage an employee to seek addiction treatment. This involves a group of coworkers and supervisors approaching the employee to express their concerns and encourage them to seek help.
How to Support Employee abuse of Drugs and Alcohol at the Workplace?
Figure 3-1: Provide Support to Employees
When an employee struggles with drug abuse or addiction, it can be challenging and sensitive for employers. Here are some steps that employers can take to support employees with drug abuse and addiction:
Offer Support and Resources: Employers can offer resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), counselling, and treatment referrals to employees struggling with drug abuse or addiction. These resources can provide employees with the support they need to overcome addiction.
Create a supportive workplace culture: Employers can foster a supportive workplace culture by promoting a non-judgmental and compassionate approach towards employees struggling with addiction. This can include offering flexible work arrangements, such as reduced hours or remote work, to support employees during recovery.
Develop policies and procedures: Employers should have clear policies and procedures in place to address drug abuse in the workplace, including drug testing, consequences for drug abuse, and accommodation policies for employees who are in recovery.
Provide education and training: Employers can provide education and training on drug abuse and addiction, including signs and symptoms, how to support employees in recovery, and the resources available.
Be prepared for relapse: It is essential to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and that relapse is possible. Employers can provide ongoing support to employees in recovery and have a plan for handling a relapse.
Employers must foster a culture of acceptance at work that encourages workers to seek addiction treatment and offers them tools and assistance for recovery. By providing workplace drug abuse and addiction treatment, employers can help their employees receive the help they need to overcome addiction and maintain their job performance and productivity. Stay healthy and learn more about health-related continuing education, go to eetsonline.com.