Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone. Those struggling with addiction aren’t the only ones affected as their behavior impacts their families, friends, and even their coworkers. Having an employee who is struggling with addiction can have an adverse effect on the workplace and managers, supervisors and employers need to know how to address substance abuse in the workplace.

Problems Brought By Workplace Substance Abuse

Say you’re an employer and one of your employees has an alcohol or drug abuse issue. You may want to brush it aside, hoping that they straighten it out on their own. However, this is unlikely to happen, especially if they have been getting away with it for a long time.

If you think that this isn’t a serious issue, consider what impact such employees can have on the workplace. This includes:

  • Reporting late to work or sleeping on the job.
  • Failure to fulfill their responsibilities at work.
  • Poor decision-making.
  • Their preoccupation with getting and using substances often interferes with their attention and concentration.
  • Exposing their coworkers to hazardous situations, especially if working in a high-risk environment e.g. steel factories or the transport industry.
  • It can lead to low morale in the workplace.

Whichever way you look at it, there’s no denying that substance abuse in the workplace affects the bottom line. Eventually, it costs the company money in the following ways:

  • Higher absenteeism rates.
  • Reduction in employee productivity and performance.
  • Higher expenses for workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
  • More workers’ compensation and disability claims.
  • Safety and other risks for employers.

To avoid incurring further costs and making a bad situation worse, employers should deal with the problem as soon as it’s noticed. The earlier you respond to it, the better you can protect your company and employees from those who endanger your workplace and profits through substance abuse.

Dealing With Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Once you’ve realized there’s a problem, the next step should be figuring out how to deal with it. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Ascertain that there’s actually a problem.

The longer you put off confronting an employee with a substance abuse problem the worse things can become. On the other hand, you don’t want to accuse an innocent employee of an addiction they don’t have. There’s cause for concern if you notice the employee:

  • Keeps taking sick leave.
  • Is involved in more workplace accidents lately.
  • Seems to have changed personality-wise.
  • Has reduced their productivity, is always late or more careless.
  • Has been disciplined more than once due to their behavior.

Once you have the evidence you need, it’s time to confront the individual. Before doing so, involve HR and the company’s legal department to see what insight they might have.

2. Raise substance abuse awareness in the workplace.

Discovering that some of your staff members are battling substance abuse presents a great opportunity to raise awareness of the problem on a larger scale. This is also the right time to roll out addiction education programs and resources to your employees. It’s also the best time to come up with a Substance Abuse Policy. If one already exists, this is the time to sensitize your staff on what it entails.

A workplace Substance Abuse Policy should set out a company’s position on substance abuse in the workplace. Many companies adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward substance abuse. Additionally, it outlines the consequences of using drugs and alcohol in the workplace and what action will be taken if employees violate this policy. The policy should also outline what kind of help, if any, is offered to employees struggling with substance abuse.

Finally, the policy should make clear the company’s position on drug tests and if testing is to be done, how often it will be carried out, and what happens should an employee’s results come back positive.

3. Establish an Employee Assistance Program

Another great step to take is to set up an Employee Assistance Program in your company. This sends a message that you recognize that your employees are human and they can have problems in their lives and you’re willing to help them.

Outline what kind of assistance you’re willing to give employees who come forward about their addiction. This could be anything from short-term counseling or therapy to referrals to an addiction treatment center. Also, make it clear how you’ll deal with relapse cases as well as the follow-up process once an employee goes into rehab. It’s also a good idea to decide if you’ll provide any assistance to the employee’s family once the individual goes into rehab. For instance, will you support them should they decide to take part in a Family Therapy Program?

4. Train Managers and Supervisors

Company managers and supervisors are in direct contact with staff so they can easily detect when problems arise. Training them to recognize early signs of substance abuse in employees can end up saving the company a lot of money in the long run.

As part of their training, ensure that supervisors understand the company’s substance abuse policy. They should also be trained to recognize the symptoms of alcohol and drug dependence among staff members. Finally, train them on what to do if they suspect an employee has a substance abuse problem, what approach they should take as well as what help and support they can offer.

Working with Addiction Treatment Specialists

As a leading drug rehab center in Indiana, we at Evolve Indy have years of experience helping various companies draft their substance abuse policies. We also work with different companies to organize seminars to raise their employees’ awareness of substance abuse and addiction as well as the treatment options available.

Additionally, we have different addiction treatment programs designed to help individuals overcome addiction including our Partial Hospitalization Program or the Intensive Outpatient Program. Others like our Outpatient Program are flexible enough to accommodate the employee’s work schedule.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help address substance abuse in the workplace.

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