Substance Abuse Affects the Workplace and Working Environment

People who use drugs and who are addicted to alcohol create serious troubles for well-being, health and efficient work of these people who are around them. As it was reported by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration mostly people who are involved in food service and constructing business are in the group of risk.

Their study provides some figures as well which says that there are about 16.4 million of addicted and 15 million drinkers who have full-time job (M Galvin, 2007). It’s important to note that every day they cause serious danger to their own health and effective work as well as to their co-workers. As a Director of National Drug Control Policy John Walters noticed addicted employees are less responsible, can easily miss important meeting, they have more problems at their workplace and they are more intent to harming themselves and people around them.

Annually productivity losses connected with addicted workers reach the estimation of about $100 billion according to The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (Negura, 2008). This is just figures and even not mentioning that this money could be used for other purposes it’s important to remember that this statistic does not include the rate of pain and suffering that these people cause and that is impossible to calculate. There are many factors contributing to the fact that employees start drinking and being familiar with them an employer can prevent or at least to make losses less costly. It was found out that the level of addicted people and drinkers vary in different occupations. In a year 2010 alcohol and drugs abuse mostly affected people that work in a food service, services industry, construction workers and those who are connected with transportation. It was also announced that these people who are addicted normally miss their work rather often and change their work place more often comparing to usual workers. At least once or twice a month they are absent at work because of different reasons and they get ill or injured more often on contrary to people who are not drug and drinking abused. Almost a half of workers who abuse with drugs or alcohol stated that they would hardly work at the place where employer uses casual testing for drugs (Bennett, 1999).

It’s also obvious that any business is under the risk when they have people operating with serious and dangerous mechanisms like meat slicers, backhoes, hoisting crane or working on high heights being under drugs or alcohol.

As it was already mentioned the level of alcohol and drug problems are different in different spheres of occupation but it does not characterize any social part, occupation or industry. There are some factors which encourage workers for drinking.

One of these factors is the workplace culture which can encourage workers for drinking and drug using while other condemns such actions. It was found out that in companies where male-workers dominate they are more inclined to problems connected with alcohol because men drink more often to make their co-operation and friendship stronger while in companies with have relatively similar amount of male and female employees such tendency among woman and man is comparatively reduced.

The work itself being too physically or emotionally hard, stressful or boring contribute to people desire to start drinking or using drugs. It’s also an important factor when workers can get easy access to alcohol and drugs during the working day. A lot of employees of different companies and occupation reported on the possibility to bring alcohol to their workplace, to use it during the work process or in time of lunch break.

The other factor which should be taken into account is the controlling process at the workplace. If an employee feels supervision he will avoid drinking or using drugs at the work place and appearing at work being “hangover”.

The last but not the least factor is the alcohol policies that a company conducts. Managers and supervisors are mostly concentrated on motivating people for work and for results and they have poor knowledge of the company’s alcohol policy. If a company does not conduct any specific anti-alcohol policies then workers have nothing to be afraid and in some way this stimulates them for drinking (Cook, 2002).

A person should be viewed from different sides to identify his inclination to abuse with alcohol or drugs, There are some of them to indicate that a person uses the alcohol being at the workplace. First of all it’s important to pay attention to employee’s appearance. If the company has a dress-code and an employee comes dressed in improper way it might be the first sign. It’s also easy to notice the smell of alcohol from this person, his eyes might be bloodshot and his whole body can have unpleasant smell in general. An employer should be also attentive when his employee used appearing at the workplace in the same suit day by day.

Personnel behavior should also warn an employer. When people use alcohol or drugs very often they have specific behavior. It’s a normal for them to speak in a strange manner, to slur, to have bad sight, to avoid the eyes contact and to have problems with listening attentively. Having problems with alcohol or drugs it’s also typical for such people to miss their work very often, to come late, to leave the job under different excuse, to inform on sickness and so on.

Abuser is also distinctive by his “efficient” work. He always forgets the easiest task to do, he has problems with small issues and he pays too much attention and time to them. He cannot be completely concentrated at the one task and constantly looks aside. His reaction to comments concerning work performing expectations is normally too wild for such situation.
Employees who have problems with alcohol mostly avoid too much workload to be done. They try to show up rarely not to get more work but when and if it happens they became very aggressive and gloomy and started complaining of overloading.

When an employer notices at least some of these evidences and he has some suspicion concerning his employee he should take serious action. He should have a serious talk with his worker. It’s important to explain him that such behavior is not acceptable in the company but it does not mean that he will be fired. He can apply for help with no penalty. At the same time employer should explain to his worker that if he does not take some steps to solve this problem his workplace will be under the question because such behavior is harmful for a worker himself as well as for his colleagues and the working process in general. An employer that has problem with alcohol should understand that if he refuses from help or the evidences are still present, he will be removed from office.

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