Employment and drug addiction is not a combination anyone wants to deal with in the workplace. No one wants to be on the receiving end of it, nor does anyone want to work while hungover. Yet, it happens more often than you would think.

While a greater percentage of the unemployed deal with drug addiction—17%, as opposed to the 9% of the employed populace—the numbers are still remotely high for the overall population. In fact, more than half of all addicts are employed.

Between smoking, alcohol, opioid addiction, and illegal substances, drugs are more accessible and in-demand than ever with the high stress of daily life; in fact, stress at the workplace is a common reason addicts turn to drugs for relief. Because of this, it is important for employers to know how to handle addicts and for addicts to know how to handle their job.

The Signs of Addiction

There are a number of behavioral and physical signals from co-workers that can point towards addiction. Repeated absence without advance notice can be a major red flag. An addict might also have repeated sick days without providing a doctor’s note and disappear for extended periods of time. Potential addicts may be involved in accidents, report injuries frequently, and forget appointments, meetings, deadlines, and attend work completely unprepared constantly.

Co-workers who are potential drug addicts might also start to form new habits. These include frequent bathroom trips, decrease in work quality, drowsiness, poor hygiene, and fighting with other employees. Their behavior might also become more aggressive and have more mood swings, poor memory, and judgment, an inability to focus, or may begin to isolate themselves.

It is important to note and point out these signs to co-workers when they come up. Nevertheless, approach these situations carefully as co-workers can struggle with denial. If you happen to be the addict in question, you must be open to taking advice and criticism seriously.

The Impact of Addiction on Work

Most people turn to drugs as an escape from stress, sometimes specifically work. It is a problem most addicts try to handle on their own and isolate themselves with. However, many may fail to realize and acknowledge just how much their addiction can affect and harm the workplace.

Addicts who take their addiction into the workplace slow down others with their lacking productivity, costing companies billions of dollars every year. Workers under the influence of strong drugs of some kind can also make the workplace dangerous. From erratic and unpredictable behavior to heightened aggression, risky mannerisms, and poor decision-making, employees on substances at an increased risk of being involved in accidents, injured, or even killed in a worst-case scenario.

When an addict begins to bring their problems, such as hangover, hostility, or drowsiness, it endangers business and other co-workers. A responsible employee knows not to let addiction get to a point that it hurts their work or fellow co-workers.

Handling and Preventing Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a tricky topic for both employees and employers, and oftentimes they may not feel prepared for it. Naturally, the easiest way to prevent these issues is for employees to avoid overusing drugs of any kind and finding healthier hobbies outside of work.

If an employee is already addicted, however, the situation becomes much trickier. It is crucial to know the laws and how substance abuse can risk your job. If you do become addicted, investigate your company’s insurance policy and whether or not it covers addiction treatment and therapy. If you seek this therapy before your addiction affects your workplace, you can avoid major punishment.

As an employer, the situation can be morally troublesome. Perhaps a certain employee has become an important asset or even a close friend, but you cannot excuse their behavior. Be willing to help an employee who seeks treatment, but keep records of mistakes, misbehavior, or any slacking on their behalf. You must be willing to take action—whether to encourage them to seek help or firing them under severe circumstances.

Work and employment are stressful, but finding a proper balance of work and life outside of it is key. It is an employee’s responsibility to account for their actions, and for employers to take action to protect their business.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact a local Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Recovery Program or our Long Term Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.


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