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What to do about Drug Use in the Work Place

If you see an employee in your workplace high or drunk while on the job, you must take action. Action can mean reporting the incident to Human Resources, your boss or other management. This is important because if an accident occurs and you knew about the substance abuse, you may become involved in an unpleasant set of circumstances.

Statistics (All statistics come from the American Council for Drug Addiction, Facts for Employers) suggest that 23 million Americans use marijuana at least four times weekly, 18 million abuse alcohol, 6 million use cocaine regularly and 2 million use heroin. More than 70% of those substance abusers have jobs.

Substance abusers can become workplace issues. The abuse can involve heavy drinking, misuse of prescription drugs, casual consumption of tranquilizers and other activities. Substance abusers can increase accident risks, lower productivity and raise insurance costs for everyone. In fact, even if they do not indulge on the job, compared to workers who do not abuse drugs, abusers are:

* 3.6 times more likely to become involved in job related accidents
* 10 times more likely to miss work
* 5 times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim

Substance abusers can be difficult to identify but there are some signs:

* Frequent, unexplained absences
* Erratic work patterns
* Physical exhaustion, slurred speech, poor hygiene
* Involvement in accidents on as well as off of the job

Workplace Program

Many workplaces develop a comprehensive drug-free workplace program. For you as an employee, this can be the company policy that helps you deal with the issue of a co-worker who you become aware of as a substance abuser. A program like this is the best way to prevent, detect and deal with substance abusers in the workplace.

One element of the program might be a written policy that is supported by top management and communicated to all of the employees. The policy should be crystal clear about what is expected of employees regarding policy violations. A component could be drug education that focuses on the dangers of drug and alcohol use and where treatment and counseling can be found. Also, often, managers, line supervisors HR staff and others are trained on how to identify and deal with substance abusers. A drug testing program, designed to prevent the hiring of those who ingest illegal drugs is also part of a workplace drug policy. Finally, an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) might be able to help the abuser get assistance.

Anonymous reporting options include reporting to HR or the appropriate management staff. They are obligated to act and remain confidential about any specifics regarding substance abuse of an employee. In fact, if you’re concerned that the employee might lose his/her job because of substance abuse, that fear might actually motivate them to receive treatment.

If you are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, call the experienced, empathetic counselors at Recovery First now. It could mean your job and a loss of livelihood if you do not.

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