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Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Substance abuse in the workplace can take shape in many forms.

The phrase “functional alcoholic” or “functional drug addict” is thrown around in today’s society. This notion of “high functioning” while intoxicated does not mean that the individual is healthy. Simply because a person is able to function and reach professional success while abusing drugs or alcohol does not preclude them from the possibility of causing serious damage to oneself or others in the workplace.

It is interesting to note that close to seventy percent of active drug and alcohol abusers are employed and are actively working in their workplace. According to a survey taken by the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development, one third of all employees are aware of drugs being illegally sold in their workplace. Another statistic that has recently been uncovered is that between ten and twenty percent of individuals who die at work, test positive for drugs or alcohol in their systems at their time of death. Furthermore, it has been noted that roughly sixteen percent of individuals who wind up in the emergency room for both major and minor injuries have alcohol in their system. If a person struggles with substance abuse or addiction, that struggle does not simply go away during one’s workday hours. Assuming the individual is able to maintain employment while struggling with a substance abuse problem, there is a high probability that he or she will abuse drugs or alcohol in his or her workplace.

Abusing a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, can be dangerous on many levels.

Furthermore, depending on the type of employment an individual who struggles with substance abuse is working in, the danger of substance abuse can be life-threatening to the addict or others in the workplace. Abusing drugs impairs one’s ability to make clear minded choices. The possibility for workplace accidents skyrockets when an individual is working while inebriated. If a person abuses drugs, for example, while working as contractor, he or she could make one inaccurate measurement or make an improper installation that could result in serious injury or even death.

It is not uncommon for people with substance abuse issues to attempt to hide his or her problem from his or her coworkers and employers.

Some general signs people can be on the lookout for when it comes to the possible concern of a coworker abusing drugs or alcohol while at the workplace are as follows: he or she does not arrive punctually to work, he or she calls out frequently or often leaves early, witnessing poor work performance from the individual, theft, exhibiting extreme mood swings, has glassy eyes, appears constantly tired, displays improper or poor hygiene habits…etc.

There are many steps employers are currently taking to help support individuals in avoiding substance abuse issues within the workplace. Some of them include educational tools such as: making pamphlets and written material about substance abuse readily available, showing videos that pertain directly to substance abuse in the workplace, and even holding a drug awareness day. These steps may sound trivial, but keeping people in the know and aware that this is a common issue can actually help reduce the problem.

People who struggle with substance abuse or addiction may be averse to taking time off of work to get treatment.

There are, however, various options that can be extremely beneficial and prove successful for a person in need of help. One possibility is for a person in need to seek an outpatient substance abuse treatment program. This will offer an individual a treatment plan that can work around his or her employment commitments. Finding substance abuse and addiction support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can be an additional option for a person during any stage of his or her substance abuse treatment plan. Some employers will even offer time paid or unpaid time off to allow an individual to attend a substance abuse treatment program.

Substance abuse is a serious condition and should be addressed as such. If a person goes as far as abusing drugs or alcohol in the workplace, he or she is in need of substance abuse help. There are many resources available for a person who is in need of assistance. Please do not delay in looking for and receiving help when it comes to substance abuse. If left untreated, substance abuse can be harmful to not only the individual abusing the substance, but also to those surrounding the individual.

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