Most working adults have witnessed addiction amongst our colleagues, and have no idea how to handle these types of situations.
- Approximately 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work have alcohol in their system.
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence found that 70 percent of Americans who use illegal drugs are employed.
- 24 percent of workers reported drinking during the workday within the past year.
- The NCADD reported that 35 percent of emergency room visits because of work-related injuries were made by at-risk drinkers.
- Alcohol and drug addictions cost employers an estimated $364 billion within any given year, according to the National Business Group on Health. These costs equal more than the combined costs of treating cancer and diabetes conditions.
So with all of these issues why is addiction in the workplace still such a big problem? Well it comes down to three separate dynamics in the workplace: the employee, the co-workers, and the employer.
The employee: The employee suffering from the addiction obviously wants to keep their job which is why they choose to use their substance at work instead of quitting. This employee is likely seeing the negative consequences from their addiction carrying over to not just their career but all parts of their life, however they don’t know how to quit and stop their downward spiral.
Maybe they want to discuss it with someone at work or ask for help, but they don’t because they are afraid of losing their job, getting into legal trouble, or what people will think of them.
The co-workers: Co-workers are often stuck in a predicament of whether to take action or not. If the employee in question has been acting strange some of his or her colleagues may have guessed that this person is abusing substances but they aren’t entirely sure that’s what the issue is so they don’t say anything out of respect for the person.
Co-workers also may not know how to start a conversation with their colleague even if they are sure of what is going on. Having a conversation about substance abuse can be very uncomfortable and could potentially ruin a work relationship, especially if the people involved don’t have that level of friendship.
The employer: The employer and the HR department have a difficult situation as well. This employee may be someone who has been with the company for years and has been a valuable asset throughout their time, making them someone you want to keep. The employer also doesn’t want to fire this person due to how much they invested in them such as training, responsibilities, important projects, etc.
If this is someone they want to keep, the company must address this person on their addiction and get them into an employee assistance program such as the Connection 2 Recovery W.A.S.A.P. WASAP provides confidential support services, on demand when you need it, at no charge to you or your employees.
We work with your employee health benefits and we are proud network partners of The Joint Commission, The EAP Association, and CARF International.
WASAP has been proven to assist worker productivity, and decrease absenteeism and accident rates in the workplace by offering the following services to your employees:
- Confidential drug and alcohol dependency assessment
- Dual diagnosis inpatient and outpatient
- Life coaching, life skills workshops
- Individually tailored treatment programs
- Continued care for sustained recovery
If you suspect that substance abuse may be present in your work environment but can’t be sure due to lack of seeing it first hand, there might be a few reasons why it could be hard to notice.
Reasons why workplace substance abuse is growing:
Employees with addictions have most likely planned out their day around their substance and know when they can use or drink without being noticed. A majority may do it at lunch or they may take little sips throughout the day. Prescription abuse such as painkillers or adderall are one of the easiest to hide as the employee can easily hide them in plain sight by disguising them as vitamins or supplements.
People who don’t work in offices have an even easier time at hiding their substances as there isn’t someone who they constantly have to watch for. In blue collar jobs such as construction work, alcohol consumption is just a part of the day for some men and in situations where there is heavy machinery and equipment being used, it can be more dangerous than ever.
But it isn’t just on the employees, another reason why companies tolerate their employees’ substance abuse is because of how difficult and expensive it can be to train new employees. Some employers know of what is going on in their company, but they don’t see it as a huge issue as long as they consider nothing major happening, but in reality they may be losing more productivity than they might have first thought.
Supervisors may also delay confronting their colleague about their addiction due to being friends with that person or having a comfortable work situation. Things can seem fine for a while, but that will only last so long and then as the addiction grows their diminishing performance at work will be more and more noticeable.
It is best to get this person or group of people help before it gets to that point. If this colleague is truly someone you want to keep than you have a benefit to getting them help through an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), financially it costs a lot more to train someone new for a job than to have a current employee get help and return to their job.
If you’re someone in your company looking to decrease substance abuse in your work environment, take a look at our Workplace Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program (W.A.S.A.P.) In effect, employers who choose WASAP have reduced the overall costs involved with running a business. If an alcohol or drug addiction problem gets to the point where an employee needs to take a leave of absence, contact us immediately. In most cases, an HR Supervisor will refer the struggling employee to our staff whenever a leave of absence is requested.
This allows our representatives a chance to properly assess the situation and draw up a treatment plan. Within 24 hours our team of certified Addiction Treatment Specialists will discreetly screen, intervene, and match your employee with the proper evidence-based treatment program based on their individual needs.