Drug and alcohol use in the workplace can have adverse effects on productivity and safety. Not only can it impair performance of the employee under the influence, but it can also impact the safety of the individual and those working nearby.
It’s also costly to businesses.
The impact of drug use varies based on the type of drug. Drugs affect the neurotransmitters in the brain by interfering with the messages being sent throughout the body. Many drugs are addictive, which makes it more difficult for employees to simply abstain or quit using them.
Alcohol use is known to impair judgment, coordination and reaction time. If the employee is a man and consistently drinks five or more drinks on a single occasion, or if the employee is a woman and consistently drinks four or more drinks on a single occasion, they may have alcoholism.
It’s important to keep in mind that substance use in the workplace doesn’t solely impact the individual, but the co-workers and company as well. Substance use can put a strain on employee morale in the office. It can also decrease the financial well-being of the company and impact the reputation and public image of the business.
While on the job, watch out for some of these signs:
- Increased instances of arriving late or missing work shifts
- Drop in productivity or quality of work
- Increase in number of mishaps both in and out of the office
- Rise in medical claims
- Mood swings and overreactions
- Poor decision-making
- Financial difficulties
- Avoidance of co-workers or supervisors
- Deteriorating physical appearance
Companies can help protect their workers by implementing policies to limit their access to controlled substances. Employers can require written acknowledgement of their substance policy upon hiring. They can also reserve the right to search any areas on company property for alcohol or drugs — and require employees to partake in drug and alcohol screenings.
The decision to seek help rests on the employee, but companies can minimize the risk by making employees aware of the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug use in the office.
HOW DO EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES SUFFER?
Using drugs impairs decision-making abilities and physically impairs people. This is a deadly concoction when on the job. In fact, 10-20% of American workers who die at work have a positive result when tested for drugs or alcohol. A study by OSHA states that the most dangerous occupations, such as mining and construction, also have the highest rates of drug use by their employees.
Employers suffer from hiring substance abusers in many ways. Not only do they run the risk of having deadly or dangerous accidents occur, but substance abusers also cost employers money and hurt them financially.
Substance abusers may:
- Have poor work performance.
- Frequently call out of or arrive late to the workplace.
- Frequently change workplaces.
- Struggle with productivity.
- File for workers’ compensation claims and benefits.
Prevention of such problems occurs by implementing an effective workplace drug program that deals with drug testing before hiring, drug testing during employment and consequences for violating the rules.
HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM
An effective workplace drug program establishes a list of procedures to follow with regard to illegal drug use, such as:
- How to handle infractions of the policy.
This should be an informative list that is detailed in nature. Rules and expectations should be thoroughly explained within the text. The ideal program both enforces a clear policy and acts as an outlet for those who may have a problem and would like to seek help. The term “illegal drugs” should be precisely defined in the text.
A quality employee assistance program (EAP) should be made available to those who feel they may have a problem as well as those who feel they’re developing a problem. A quality assistance program will offer services such as counselling to deal with substance abuse problems.
These programs are put into action by familiarizing supervisors with the procedures. Be sure that all supervising staff members are knowledgeable of the drug code that is to be enforced. All supervisors should be comfortable with the material and able to answer questions pertaining to it. Supervisors should also know the signs and symptoms of drug abuse.
After the supervising staff members are comfortable with the material, it is their task to begin educating other staff members. All staff members should understand the program and understand what drug rules exist and any details about drug testing and drug assistance that is available to them.
Educational programs that could be beneficial to employees include:
- Drug awareness day.
- Written material about substances and substance abuse.
- Videos pertaining to drug use in the workplace.
Credited to: American Addiction Center