Workplace drug addiction

Substance abuse in the workplace is very common and a very real problem and it can happen to anyone, regardless of your social status, financial background, education or gender. Being able to identify, acknowledge and immediately deal with the problem could mean the difference between life and death.

Who is a substance addict/dependent?
Knowing whether you or a colleague is dependent on substances is not always easy. Many people are ashamed of it and will deny it if confronted, or they may genuinely not know they are addicted or dependent. They may also not distinguish between normal use and abuse when it comes to alcohol or prescription drugs.

According to the American Council for Drug Education:
• Three out of four addicts and alcoholics are employed.
• They're five times more likely than other workers to cause accidents and industrial fatalities.
• They raise costs and reduce profits.
• They are also 10 times more likely to skip work.
• They are five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.
• They are 33% less productive.

So, how can you address the problem?
Employers and employees are encouraged to work together to establish comprehensive programmes around education, treatment and counseling. But first you need to identify the signs.

Look out for:
• Changes in time-keeping
• Lethargy or listlessness
• Increased aggression
• Depression and change in general appearance
• Changes in friends and conversation
• Impulsive decision-making
• Frequent hangovers
• Irresponsible drinking, such as before driving
• Excessive binge drinking

Once you have identified the symptoms, it is time to implement the proper steps. There are five standard components of a comprehensive workplace substance abuse programme, so speak to your HR manager or official and your EWP Practitioner to find out how you can access them:

• A written policy statement
• Supervisor training
• Employee education and awareness
• Employee assistance for providing help
• Drug and alcohol testing

Speaking to a trained counselor could be your first step towards recovery.
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