How The Workplace Affects Substance Abuse Recovery

Substance misuse in the workplace is often viewed as taboo. However, it’s far more common than we’d like to think. According to the National Survey of Drug Use & Health, about 70% of all adults with an alcohol or illicit drug disorder are employed. People with substance abuse disorders work across all industries nationwide.
Unfortunately, substance misuse is more prevalent in some workplaces than others. According to an article on Recovered, around “19% of construction workers, 15.6% of service workers, and about 13% of those in transportation, maintenance, sales, entertainment” suffer from some form of drug addiction. In addition, substance misuse is more common in companies with predominantly male leadership than those with predominantly female leadership.
Sadly, some companies – particularly those in white-collar industries – encourage drug use and drug use in their culture. These occupations glorify substance misuse as a networking tool and a means to secure lucrative contracts for their employers. However, they do so without properly acknowledging addiction’s real perils.
Helping your workers who struggle with substance use disorders plays a huge role in the workplace and it contributes to major improvements in job-related performance. Employee drug and alcohol misuse costs companies billions of dollars due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, injuries, and legal fees.

Company Policies

There’s too much at stake for companies to be taking addiction lightly. Too many companies worldwide don’t have substance misuse policies. Considering the prevalence of substance misuse in the workplace today, not having one of these policies is highly negligent. We recommend that employers provide their workers with a written, drug-free workplace policy that their employees can access easily.
Crafting a policy is one thing, but implementing it requires talented, experienced supervisors and a work culture that prioritizes accountability. Usually, employees’ distrust of workplace addiction programs is a huge hurdle. Many workers fear the stigma attached to their conditions and their employer’s retaliation. So, to preserve workplace safety, we encourage employers to build trust between themselves and their workforce when it comes to addressing substance misuse.
Your company may choose to exercise a no-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol or drug dependences, however, this may worsen employee distrust and kill your chances at transparency from your workers when a substance misuse issue arises. Giving employees time off to seek treatment and a return-to-work agreement is a huge reassurance to your staff. It helps them feel valued and does wonders for their trust in your company.
With substance misuse issues, you want to act preemptively. A failed drug test or a workplace accident shouldn’t happen if you’ve been noticing the signs. While there are no exhaustive lists of symptoms to look out for, there are a few classic signs that you should look out for:
– Progressive deterioration in personal hygiene
– Increasing professional & personal isolation
– A sudden spike in disorganization & inattention
– Frequent, unexplained disappearances from the workplace
– Increased requests for sick & vacation leave
– Problems with interpersonal relationships
– Vacillation between periods of high & low productivity

Confronting Employees

Confronting an employee about an alleged drug dependence is an extremely touchy subject. We recommend letting a reasonable amount of time pass beforehand. This way, you’ll have seen a recurring pattern of behavior to substantiate your assumption. It’s wise to approach the employee in question in the most non-confrontational way possible. You also want to eliminate all doubt first. For instance, an employee having red eyes might be due to seasonal allergies or a lack of sleep because they’re grieving a personal loss of theirs.
It takes a skilled supervisor to inquire about an employee’s condition, assess the situation, and broach the topic of having a non-threatening performance discussion. The supervisor should let the employee know that they can explain their situation and that the company will offer the resources necessary to help them overcome any substance misuse issues they’re battling.

Workplace Environment

The workplace environment greatly impacts its employees’ roads to substance misuse recovery. With clear guidelines and policies in place, a company can clearly communicate its expectations of its employees. It can also communicate the resources at its disposal if they ever feel they do need help. In a study of the economic impact of substance abuse treatment, we found significant improvement in job-related performance, such as:
– 91% decrease in absenteeism
– 88% decrease in problems with supervisors
– 93% decrease in mistakes in work
– 97% decrease in on-the-job injuries
– Increased morale
– Reduced employee theft
– Increased productivity

At Welwynn, we provide discreet care to high-level professionals and their families. The fight against addiction and substance misuse is an issue across all industries. Get in touch with us today to get the help you and your loved ones deserve.

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