A Sobering Reality: The Dangers of Substance Abuse in the Workplace
workplace

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Did you know that 47 % of workplace accidents result in serious injury? And, 40 % of those accidents, end in fatalities through being under the influence while at work? These are some alcohol abuse in the workplace statistics.

Have you ever arrived for work with a hangover? How did you feel and perform throughout that day? Employees under the influence, are less productive. They stay home-sick more often, make more mistakes, and are most likely to get injured at work. That is a massive problem for businesses and coworkers.

As a result of social media, it is known that society has problems with alcohol and drug abuse. What men do not fully understand is how it affects the workplace.

Substance abuse in the workplace does not only affect only some professions it affects all! Studies show, however, that the profession with the highest rate of alcoholism is in construction, mining, and entertainment industries.

This article will cover the problems and dangers of substance abuse in the workplace and possible solutions.

Productivity Issues

Productivity is the main affected area of a worker who is under the influence. When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your mind and senses slow down, and you behave like a sloth.

Time is money, as they say in the classics! If you do not function at your average speed, you are making the business lose time. These production delays can be very costly. Across the world, this amounts to billions of dollars lost in a year.

Attendance at work is another area affected by substance abuse. Drinking on the job or taking drugs goes hand in hand with absenteeism or tardiness. Talk to a manager if you notice that another coworker is taking too many breaks or is absent from work a lot. That will give the manager a heads up, and he can address the problem before anything serious happens.

Even if that coworker is not taking drugs or drinking, it may be that someone close is. It is often the immediate family of abusers who bear the brunt of abuse issues. You may be able to help them. In this situation, many people are embarrassed about the situation they find themselves in and cannot bring themselves to speak to management.

Employers should educate themselves and their managers to handle these types of situations. Managers should give a sense of trust and comfort to either an employee who uses alcohol or drugs or anyone close to them.

Safety Issues 

Safety at work falls alongside productivity when it comes to substance abuse. If drugs and alcohol usage can cause personal safety concerns, it will be the same in the workplace.

Safety is one of the most critical issues across all industries. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes safety seriously.

Heavy penalties can be meted out to businesses, should you as a substance abuser cause accidents in the workplace. When drinking at work, or taking drugs, you will not see the error in your actions and always feel you are doing the right thing. You will tend to work slower and make small mistakes that could lead to bigger ones.

What if you consume alcohol at work and are part of a work chain gang, and you make a mistake? No matter how small, it will have a ripple effect, and you could cause an accident down the line.

Fatalities in the workplace tend to increase with employees involved in substance abuse. Studies for drug use in the workplace statistics show that accidents relating to deaths at work found that 10 to 20%  tested positive for drug use.

Impact on Financial Costs

Damages incurred by the effects of drug and alcohol abuse-related incidents in the workplace can be excessive. Apart from production delay costs and safety costs, there can be replacement costs; additionally, insurance costs, legal fees, penalties, and fines. You can imagine the financial impact one accident alone can have on a business.

  • Most businesses take out insurance to protect them from eventual accident damages. That is well and good but, most times, the insurance payout will not cover all the damages incurred.Employers will be liable to pay the outstanding out of their own pockets. So, employers may find themselves stuck with the expense for repairs and replacements out of their own pockets.
  • Employees under the influence are in an altered state and often cannot correctly operate equipment, thus damaging it. That will result in repairs and can be an expensive exercise.
  • Penalties and Fines. As previously mentioned, OSHA and others have rules and regulations for workplace safety. If an accident happens and reported to these agencies, the business will receive a hefty fine.The behaviour and actions under the influence of an employee can often result in the company’s receipt of penalties and fines. Repeated violations can leave a business high and dry with increased penalties and fines.
  • Legal Fees. Sometimes, when an accident occurs, mainly if it involves serious injuries or a fatality, an investigation is opened. Most times, those involved will look for financial compensation.In this respect, a lawsuit may be filed against the responsible party. The legal fees mount up and can be significantly expensive.

Legal Issues from Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Employees having a substance abuse background cannot be discriminated against. They are protected under the law as long as they are not taking drugs at the time.

Some of the legal issues that substance abuse brings to employers include legal infringements, fees for safety regulations, and lawsuits from victims of workplace-related accidents. There can also be legal issues in the workplace that may also arise, based on criminal infringements by substance abuse employees, such as:

  • To sustain their addiction, many users take to stealing from their coworkers or employers. They sell these items for cash to pay for alcohol or drugs.
  • Underage Access. Teenagers and young adults are the largest groups of substance users. Employees who are under age and work for businesses where alcohol exists will have easy access to it. That can be a problem if they are susceptible to substance abuse.
  • Possession, manufacture, and selling of illegal substances. Many addicts do not stop at just using. To sustain their addiction, they may possess, manufacture, and even sell illicit drugs in the workplace.

In some cases, authorities have found drugs at work, where addicts have stored them for future use or sale. If drugs found in the workplace are shown to be yours, and you are shown to be either keeping, manufacturing, or even dealing drugs, your employer can be charged as an accessory and penalised.

Prevention of Workplace Substance Abuse

Many substance abuse issues will improve significantly when companies get proactive and help through educational alcohol and drug programs. Companies should not ignore these problems but rather take them in hand, and assist employees by pointing out the dangers of substance abuse in the workplace.

By offering help and managing alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace, these companies show faith in their people and promoting trust in their employees. It will pay off in the long run by improving your bottom line.

That being said, it is not just about the bottom line, but caring for employees personally and offering help when needed makes for a better workplace atmosphere.

It is a good idea for employers to implement a drink and drugs policy at work.

Take Action Stop Substance Abuse In the Workplace

Every day, millions of people worldwide struggle to survive! With today’s burdens and peer pressures, it follows that they will use alcohol and drugs to help them relax and unwind.

Unfortunately, some people do not know when to stop and will bring their addiction to the workplace. Substance abuse is illegal. We have gone through the risks and dangers above caused by substance abuse in the workplace.

Employers need to be more vigilant and aware, prevent any risks to their business, and help their employees. After all, employees are the heart of the company. By looking after them, you are looking after yourself.

Is alcohol or drug addiction affecting you or someone you know? Is it destroying your life at work and or, at home? Are you interested in careers dealing with illegal drugs? Now is the time to act.

We will give you a personalised alcohol rehab program to help you on your journey to a long term recovery. Don’t let addiction take a grip of your life, kick the habit! Contact us now for free advice.

Author 'John

John

Trained in addictionology in the Johnson Model, and specializing in substance abuse for individual and couple counselling. John's personal experience has given him a wealth of insights, which he integrates into practice. His extensive training has allowed him to gain expertise in individual and group counselling, concurrent disorders, case management, executing treatment plans and relapse prevention. He started this free helpline as a result of a life change and to help others get sober and live a life free from drugs and alcohol. John covers a variety of topics relating to addiction and recovery in his articles.

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