Addiction in the Workplace
With only a small percent of adults obtaining in-patient treatment for addictions, the vast majority of people with addictions are in the workplace. Some may be undiagnosed while others will be obtaining treatment outside of work. Virtually any kind of addiction may be present but typically, drug and alcohol are the key ones.
It is an important issue for those who are moving towards recovery and also for those who are struggling with their addiction and not currently undergoing treatment.
How Do Addictions Affect the Workplace?Addictions can affect the workplace in many different ways. They drastically reduce an employee’s ability to positively contribute to the success of a company. While there has been an increase in the use of stimulants for employees who feel pressure to meet deadlines, these are dangerous.
Short-term, an employee may feel they can stay awake longer to complete tasks but long-term, their cognitive abilities decline and their productivity is diminished as they suffer the physical and mental effects of the drug use.
Economic Effects of AddictionThe loss of productivity affects the company profits, product quality and also leads to more lost days of work and greater costs to healthcare. The entire economic fabric of a company can be compromised, depending on the number of employees dealing with addiction, their roles and the availability of help and treatment.
Human Costs of Workplace AddictionThe effects of addiction on a person’s life outside of work also affect their time at work. Emotional problems and a breakdown in the person’s family and personal life will all affect them in the workplace. The safety of the public can even be of concern, depending on the job function of the addicted person.
How to Identify Workplace AddictionMany of the ways to identify workplace addiction involve the key signs of a specific drug addiction. It is not always easy as some people are ‘functional’ addicts and may be relatively effective at hiding the signs of drug addiction.
Common signs include a change in their work attendance or how well they perform when they’re at work. A person’s personal appearance may begin to change as well. Moodiness, aggressiveness and overall changes in their attitude at work could represent an addiction. They may just generally show odd behaviours that are uncharacteristic of them as well.
Workplace Policies for AddictionOne of the key issues with addiction is that even though workplaces should offer well-defined guidelines for prevention and addressing addiction, not enough do so, which harms everyone in the workplace. If an employee suffers from a substance abuse problem, he or she needs support and access to treatment, plus post-treatment support to help them integrate back into the workplace.
Talking About Addiction in the WorkplaceOne of the most significant challenges is actually getting the person to talk about their addiction and openly acknowledge it. This is generally seen as one of the toughest barriers to get past in the workplace.
A lack of experience in identifying it from a human resources perspective compounds the problem. For this reason, better training needs to be in place to help people identify when there’s a problem and help that person get treatment. To properly address addiction in the workplace, everyone needs to be educated and take the initiative to help those who they think may be suffering from addiction.