Addiction runs rampant in workplace environments. It’s often an untold secret that many employees may know about one another. In fact, approximately 8% of working Americans struggle with alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder (AUD). These numbers don’t even include those who only binge drink or are heavy users.
“More than 70% of Americans struggling with alcohol or illicit drug use are employed. These individuals are known as functioning addicts, but they are a liability to the company and to themselves.”
Alcohol is not the only substance being abused. Other commonly abused drugs include cocaine, prescription opioids, and marijuana. Any one of these substances can affect an employee’s ability to work. Those who are under the influence may be less productive, and may also be a liability to the company and to themselves, especially if they work in a position that carries a high risk of injury to themselves or others.
This guide will look at what employers can do to detect, prevent, and treat addiction in the workplace.
Which Professions Are Most Prone to Addiction?
Many factors determine whether a certain profession may be more prone to drug abuse or alcohol abuse than others. Some professionals hesitate to get help for drug addiction or alcoholism because they’re afraid of the negative stigma that surrounds it. These individuals will usually suffer in silence. Some high-risk occupations for addiction include:
- Health care professionals. This includes nurses, doctors, and even pharmacists. These individuals have a high risk of drug abuse. In fact, recent studies show that 10% to 15% of medical professionals will abuse or misuse drugs at some point in time.
- Farming, forestry, and fishing professionals. The main reason why those working in these professions are likely to abuse drugs or alcohol is that they are usually in isolation for long periods of time. These individuals will often develop depression from loneliness. They may do drugs or drink to pass the time.
- Law enforcement officers. Police officers and other law enforcement personnel are constantly being exposed to high-stress or life-threatening situations. Some of these individuals may even develop PTSD as a result. While it may come as a surprise to some, approximately 25% of police officers may abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Restaurant workers. Those who work in the restaurant industry are constantly exposed to alcohol. It only seems natural that some of these individuals may drink a beer or take a shot after work. More often than not, one beer becomes two, which then becomes three to four. These individuals are more likely to develop drinking problems than any other occupations. Recent studies show that 80% of male restaurant workers and 64% of female restaurant workers abuse alcohol.
Can You Require Employees to Get Drug Tested?
If you suspect that an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol, you might have wondered whether you could request for them to get drug tested. Most state laws allow employers to request job applicants to submit to drug testing; however, the lines get a bit blurry when it comes to an employer’s right to drug test current employees.
There are no federal laws around that authorize drug testing of employees. The only exception is for those who work in the defense and transportation industries. With that said, there are state laws that actually limit the circumstances for when an employer may test for drugs. The laws will vary from state to state.
In most cases, state laws will only allow employers to drug test employees if the workers:
- Have a job that carries a high risk of injury to either themselves or others
- Are currently in a drug rehabilitation program
- Are suspected of using drugs by a manager or a supervisor with reasonable suspicions or even evidence
- Have been involved in an accident that point toward alcohol or drug use
In some states, companies can only test specific individuals. In other states, employees can only be drug tested if they receive written notice ahead of time. Most states require employers to show that there was a good reason to perform a drug test.
It’s important to note that employees can always refuse to take a workplace drug test. Unfortunately, these employees may be fired if they don’t, as most states have “at-will employees”.
How to Prevent Addiction in the Workplace
Addiction is costly in the workplace. Studies show that drug and alcohol abuse costs American businesses and organizations an average of $81 billion in lost profits every year. The losses are due to losses in productivity, absenteeism, a depreciation in the quality of work, high turnover rates, thefts, and more.
For example, employees struggling with alcoholism will often miss 34% more workdays than other workers. They may take up more sick days or may just fail to show up completely.
It would be in the best interest of employers to prevent addiction as much as possible. While this is difficult, it is not impossible. Here are several different ways that this can be done:
- Drug education classes. Many employers often drug education classes and training on the harms of addiction. Many people don’t realize that they’re addicted until it’s too late. Drug education classes may prevent many people from experimenting with drugs or binge drinking liquor. Some workplaces may even bring in expert speakers who talk about their experiences with drug or alcohol abuse.
- Consequences for non-compliance. It’s important that there are consequences for those who get caught abusing drugs or alcohol while on the job. Employers should consider what the consequences are, and make these consequences very clear to their employees.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs not only provide addiction treatment for employees, but they also provide counseling sessions and assistance to those who are struggling with mental health disorders and issues. Often, these issues can lead to addiction.
- Employee communication. It’s vital that employers talk to their employees. Employees should be well aware of the key messages and objectives behind a substance-free policy.
Addiction Treatment Plans for Employees
As mentioned above, the best way that employers can help employees who are addicted to a substance is to offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs offer short-term counseling and assistance. They may also offer peer support and recovery groups that promote long-term recovery.
There are also many alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers that offer addiction treatment programs for employees. These rehab facilities will work one-on-one with private health insurance companies and other federal or state-funded programs to make sure that employees get the help that they need.
There are many different types of addiction treatment programs. Depending on the severity of the addiction, some employees may benefit most from receiving inpatient addiction treatment. Others may be able to get away with outpatient care. The latter is usually most ideal for those who would like to continue to go to work. They will only need to travel to the addiction treatment center for several hours a day. There, they will receive a bunch of evidence-based treatment services that can help them fight addiction and get sober.
Let The Freedom Center Help!
The Freedom Center would like to help rid America of workplace addiction. We offer a wide range of substance abuse treatment plans and programs for employees and will work with both employees and employers to help those struggling with addiction achieve lifelong recovery.
We offer both Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs). Both programs are compatible with those who have work responsibilities. We will also customize each addiction treatment plan to the needs of each client. Rest assured that you’ll receive a high quality of care and absolute anonymity and privacy with us!
To learn more about our programs, give us a call at 888-291-4362. Or, you can contact us through our online form. We have specialists available 24 hours a day to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.