However, addiction can appear anywhere, and even the most well-respected employee can be swayed by the mind-altering effects of drug use. In fact, 75 percent of drug users are part of the workforce.
Today’s working class people need to make themselves aware of addiction in the workplace. Addiction can turn even the best worker into a toxic employee, so businesses need to deploy strategies to identify addiction in the workplace, understand why employees might turn to addiction, and develop constructive methods of handling workplace addiction.
The first step towards combating drug addiction in the workplace is awareness. Managers and employees should be able to recognize the signs of drug abuse in subordinates and coworkers. As we’ll see in a minute, this is not so that employees with a drug problem can be outed in a humiliating fashion. Instead, it is so that help can be gotten for that employee and they can be returned to a drug-free state.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs of drug abuse in someone that you know are:
These are some signs of a drug abuse problem that an employee might demonstrate. However, keep in mind that there are innocuous explanations for each one of these symptoms. It’s important to consider the employee’s situation carefully and approach them respectfully if you believe that there may be a problem with drugs. The presence of any one or even multiple of these signs is not justification to start a witch hunt for drug users in the office.
The stereotype of a drug user is someone who has trouble keeping a job, so many people may be surprised to learn that drug use can be a serious problem in the workplace. However, the reality of drug addiction is much more complicated, and even people who seem otherwise well-adjusted can develop a drug addiction. The National Institute of Drug Abuse identifies three factors that affect a person’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs:
Historically, many companies have adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards employees who use drugs. However, modern research is showing that it may be time to rethink the zero-tolerance policy. This outdated approach just encourages employees to hide their drug abuse problems — problems which often develop because of factors outside of their control, as we’ve seen. Under zero-tolerance policies, employees who abuse drugs will hide their addiction while their productivity in the workplace and their sense of fulfillment plummets.
Instead, companies should move towards identifying drug abuse in the office and treating it. This approach involves treating drug addiction as a mental health problem — one that can and should be treated. This will involve making employees more comfortable with the idea about coming forward with their drug problem, as they would with any other illness. After coming forward, the employee should be given access to treatment plans, which many insurance providers will cover today.
By investing in the health of employees, companies can create a workforce that is truly drug free, rather than one that merely pretends to be drug free. This workforce will be more productive and lead to a less toxic working environment.
By Devin Morrissey
Devin prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zig zag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.