Handling Substance Abuse In The Workplace

Drug abuse may be a significant issue not just for the user but also for their employer and, in some instances, their coworkers. In many cases, consumption in excess of alcohol and illegal substances exposes the user to the possibility of criminal prosecution and adverse health repercussions. You may violate the law if you knowingly permit drug-related actions in the workplace and fail to take action. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the consequences of drug abuse in the workplace on both and how it can jeopardize employees’ safety and the well-being of the organisation. Regardless of the type of drug, alcohol or other substance, employees must understand the risks of drug use. Substance abuse in the workplace can reduce productivity, lead to injuries, and even lead to deaths. Given the risks, employers are highly encouraged to implement substance abuse prevention protocols and discipline employees who abuse these substances. Currently, most employers have strict policies in place to reduce these risks and make sure every employee goes through a workplace drug test before he gets hired.


Opt For A Drug-free Workplace Policy

All organisations may benefit from an alcohol and drug policy that applies to all employees.

Such a policy should be included in your organisation’s general health and safety policy. In addition, such a policy must include a mandatory workplace drug test to ensure that the employee is clean before he joins and throughout the duration of his employment.

Be Aware Of The Warning Signs

Workers that have an addiction to drugs or alcohol are a huge liability for any workplace. A very common symptom of substance abuse is impaired judgment. People who use drugs or alcohol before work are more likely to fall asleep on the job and have difficulty paying attention. They are also more likely to suffer from injuries, which rob the business of productive time. And they are also more likely to jump from job to job, which is bad news for employers who must interview employees and screen them. In addition to this, people who abuse drugs or alcohol during work are more likely to commit crimes.

Listed below are some of the behavioural characteristics that drug abusers exhibit. These symptoms may not usually indicate a substance use disorder, but they may demand further evaluation. Supervisors and managers should be educated to recognise the following warning signs:

  • Absenteeism, especially unexplained absences or excessive usage of sick days.
  • Frequent absences from the workplace; lengthy, inexplicable absences; implausible justifications.
  • Unreliable appointment keeping and missed deadlines.
  • Intermittent periods of high and poor productivity in the workplace.
  • Increase in the workplace and non-workplace accidents.
  • Errors are caused by lack of attention, poor judgement, or faulty judgments.
  • Confusion or trouble focusing or memorising instructions and specifics.
  • Increases in the amount of work and time needed for routine activities.
  • Difficulties in interpersonal interactions with coworkers.
  • Failure to accept responsibility for mistakes or omissions.
  • Deterioration of one’s appearance and hygiene.
  • Personal and professional isolation.
  • Symptoms of the morning-after hangover.
  • Signs of physical impairment include fatigue, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, slurred speech, and shaky gait.

Dealing With The Issue

Employers must use caution when approaching an employee about suspected substance abuse or alcoholism. There may be valid explanations for the symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes caused by allergies or the absence of a good health condition.

It is common for a person to deny drug use; nevertheless, if there are valid explanations for the observed symptoms, a performance talk with the employee may allow the individual to disclose this knowledge. For example, the employee may be struggling with unpleasant family concerns or may have been newly diagnosed with a health condition and difficulty adapting to new meds and managing the situation. In certain situations, an employer may initiate negotiations about reasonable accommodations or leave choices. But if the suspicions persist then a workplace drug test could be used to confirm or eliminate them.

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