How to Address Substance Abuse in The Workplace

When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, it is easy for those not battling with it or affected by it to view it as a problem “other” people deal with.

It is easy to point figures if you have not endured such a problem or seen someone in your social circles who has.

This makes it easy to associate alcohol and drug addiction with poor life decisions, unemployment, poverty, or homelessness.

Unfortunately, 70% of illegal drug users in America are employed. Such statistics point to the fact that drug and alcohol addiction is a societal challenge that must be confronted and subdued.

But is the American business sector taking the necessary steps regarding this?

Addiction In The Workplace

According to a study done by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), 70% of around 14.8 million illegal drug users in America are employed.

The increased rate of substance abuse in the workplace is not as shocking as the side effects of such a habit.

For instance, it is estimated that employees with a drinking problem are 2.7 times more likely to get injuries and fail to report to work than workers who do not drink too much.

Moreover, such risk drinkers make up around 35% of patients in finding themselves in emergency rooms due to occupational injuries.

But alcohol addiction is not as bad as drug addiction. Most drug addicts rarely have steady jobs.

According to NCADD, employees with more than three jobs over a period of five years are twice as likely to be past or current substance abusers compared to those who have had fewer than two jobs over the same period.

Do not think for once that your company may not have to deal with substance abuse and addiction.

The above information highlights the sorry state of affairs; millions of working Americans are battling with drug and alcohol addiction, and many of them are in white–collar positions and this is why business executive rehab is a service that’s offered more and more.

Recognizing Symptoms Of Addiction

Noticing that you have employees who are drug or alcohol addicts may be hard especially if you are not keen on knowing and identifying the signs and symptoms.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that bedevils every socio-economic industry and class irrespective of job titles.

Some of the signs and symptoms of addiction may be easy to spot, and other require a keener eye; however, it is possible to note any issue of substance use and addiction in the workers by checking for the following:

  • Poor Attendance

Some employees may report to work late or are consistently absent for even days at a time. Such problems may be a sign of something worth looking into.

  • Performance Slump

The constant absenteeism attendance can be coupled with a slump in the performance at work is yet another indicator of misplaced priorities about work and personal life.

However, this issue may also be attributed to other factors not related to drug abuse and addiction.

  • Erratic Behavior

It is not uncommon for people to be grappling and moods that are a bit off due to having a bad day.

But unexplained, erratic behavior at the workplace should be a reason for concern because it could be due to substance abuse and addiction. 

  • Friction With Coworkers

The success of any business is pegged on various things that include healthy relationships between the employees.

Drug and alcohol addicts find it hard to maintain healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with their peers at work.

Tips for Dealing With Employee Substance Abuse

Drug abuse and addiction is a sad state of affairs but personal and social level.

Most addicts are consistently making terrible life choices and decisions that hurt them and those around them, and such behavior is disheartening.

For employers, it is hard to stand by as the poor decisions or the employees who are into drug and alcohol abuse negatively impact the growth and success of their business.

Substance abuse and addiction by the employees can adversely affect your business making you deal with high job turnover, inconsistent hours, poor work performance, low productivity, excessive absences, and increased workers’ compensation claims.

As the business owner, you should take the appropriate measures to safeguard the growth and success of your company, and that includes investing in the health and productivity of your workers.

Put measures in place that help prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Below are some things you can implement in your company that can help in that regard:

⇒ Launch Programs

According to, businesses stand to benefit a lot when they plan, budget and implement drug testing and educational programs for their employees.

Such an investment can help companies to lower accidents in the workplace therein lowering the cost of insurance and workers’ compensation claims, reduce employee turnover, lower cases of theft among the staff members, and increase productivity.

⇒ Avoid Enabling

Sometimes, that act of goodwill may be what is enabling workers to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Avoiding doing such thing, and that includes lending money to employees battling with drug abuse, covering up for their mistakes, passing their work to others, or making excuses for them.

Such acts may seem small and done with good intentions, but they most likely will compound the problem than be of any help.

⇒ Offer Support

Most addicts tend to lead an isolated social life and thus end up lacking the necessary support they need from their friends and family.

In as much as you as the employer should lead by example and remain professional, but of that leadership is to offer guidance and support to employees that have drug abuse issues and encourage them to seek treatment.

Addiction: It Hurts More Than the Bottom Line

Your two primary responsibilities as the business owner — you should invest in the betterment of your employees and strive to increase your company’s profitability.

The two objectives may at times conflict, but they mostly should work together towards the same goal especially when it comes to some things such as addressing drug addiction.