The Dangers Of Substance Abuse In The Workplace

Substance abuse in the workplace can be devastating for both employees and employers. Not only do addicted employees affect the overall productivity level of the organization, but they can also put their coworkers at risk for injuries and fatalities. The first step in addressing workplace substance abuse is educating employees on how to spot and help people struggling with addiction. By providing recovery resources to their employees, employers can improve their bottom line and make their workplace safer.

Dealing With Substance Abuse In The Workplace

Alcohol is the most often misused drug, and many of those with drinking problems are employed. When it comes to addressing when and how much workers drink the situation gets complicated as it may be intimidating, most of the time people try to hide their addiction or deny it. However, preventing issues before they emerge may save time and money in the long run and even the reputation of an organisation, and therefore it is important to address the problem before it becomes unmanageable. One way to do that is to use the workplace drug test which can help highlight addicts among candidates during the hiring process and have a drug-free workplace program to ensure that employees do not engage in illegal substance consumption. Let’s look at the consequences of substance abuse in the workplace and the ways to anticipate and mitigate them.

The Consequences Of Substance Abuse In The Workplace

Increased Expenses

 Let’s begin with the expenses associated with drug misuse. Three to five times more likely to apply for workers’ compensation are employees with an addiction problem. In addition, employee drug addiction might triple the healthcare expenses, starting from a simple workplace drug test to rehabilitation costs.

Depress Morale

Substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs may drastically alter a person’s behaviour which as a consequence could affect the workplace morale. 

For instance, an addict can become sluggish, lazy, defensive, irritable and sometimes hard to manage. In addition, they may experience stress due to financial difficulties, complain about problems at home, or blame colleagues and bosses for their faults and weaknesses. Sometimes, substance addicts disregard their hygiene and appearance, and they may display withdrawal or hangover symptoms.

As a single rotten apple may taint a whole bunch, a single employee can affect the mood of the entire company. Colleagues may dislike the drug abuser’s lack of productivity, mainly if they are often late or absent, causing stress and irritation as co-workers attempt to cover for them and take over their tasks. 

Decrease In Productivity

As we have mentioned above and it shouldn’t be a surprise that drug addiction lowers job productivity. Substance abuse often results in poor attention, lack of focus, carelessness, and impaired judgement. Substance misuse may reduce productivity by one-third and increase absenteeism by 2.5 times. In addition, employees who like to consume excessive amounts of alcohol are 2.7 times more likely than other workers to miss work due to injury.

Employees who misuse alcohol or drugs before or during work are more likely to fall asleep in the workplace; they may lack focus and have difficulty concentrating. Moreover, individuals who misuse drugs or alcohol often change jobs. As a result, employers will lose more time recruiting, hiring and training new staff, which is obviously a huge inconvenience and an extra cost.

More Accidents, Injuries And Deaths

Substance abusers are more prone to suffer and cause workplace injuries, accidents, and even deaths due to poor judgement, a lack of attention, and several other adverse effects. 

Substance addiction is the third most encountered cause of workplace violence, and workers who misuse substances are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged in workplace accidents. In addition, substance misuse may be fatal, especially in industries where hazardous equipment is used or when the job performed takes place in a dangerous location.

Final Words

Employees who suspect their coworkers of using substances must report them to their supervisor, and they should be encouraged to do so. This could be a human resources representative, manager, or security team member. You should not feel like you’re risking your coworker’s job by doing so, as this may cause further damage to your company’s reputation. Besides, employees who conceal their addiction are often more dangerous to their employers and coworkers over the long run. Substance abuse in the workplace is a common occurrence which has detrimental effects on employee productivity and should not be tolerated.