The Risks That Come with Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The Risks That Come with Substance Abuse in the Workplace | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s common for men and women to have a drink after work. The office staff might go to a local bar to unwind, especially after a long week. However, for those who slowly develop an addiction, the lines between working and playing may become blurred. The boundaries between when to drink and when not to drink might get fuzzy. For those who come to work drunk or high, the risks and costs can be significant. Drugs and alcohol can have a immense effect on how a workplace functions.

For instance, the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that almost 75% of illicit drug users were employed in the United States. The same study also found that 80% of binge drinkers were employed either full or part time. As you can imagine, anyone who comes to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol is going to experience a change in the way they perform. The following lists some of the negative effects that arise when one or more people in the workplace have a problem with drugs or alcohol:

  • Loss of productivity.
  • Increased rate of absences.
  • Possible termination of employment.
  • More fatalities or injuries.
  • Poor team morale.
  • Impaired work relationships.
  • Unwanted legal complications.
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making.

Each of these can affect the success of an organization. In the United States, those who abuse drugs and alcohol are 2.2 times more likely to request time off and 3.6 more likely to injure themselves or another person at work. Furthermore, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, illicit drug use cost the country $121 billion, 60% of which was due to lost workplace productivity. This number also reflected healthcare costs and legal fees that can arise with drug use while working.

Because of these significant costs on an organization, as well as the country at large, many companies are taking measures to ensure that drug use does not happen on their time. Organizations are taking some of the following steps to prevent drug use or drinking among their employees on company time:

  • Employee training.
  • Employee assistance counseling.
  • Drug testing.
  • Supervisor couching.
  • Policies against drinking or drug use while working.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction and you find yourself coming to work either high or drunk, you should know that many organizations have programs to assist their employees in getting sober. Organizations would rather help the employees they already have versus having to hire new people. New hire costs can be greater than the preventive and health costs of employees who experience an addiction.

If you’re struggling with an addiction and you work full or part-time, you might contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a 3rd party program that most larger organizations subscribe to. EAP offers free counseling and all sessions are 100% confidential, including from your employer. This may be a great beginning resource so that any drug or alcohol problem you may have does not interfere with your work performance.


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