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Employee Substance Abuse and Use in the Workplace


Cali Estes of The Addictions Coach and The Addictions Academy interviewed on Employee Substance Abuse and use in the workplace.

A Hard Pill to Swallow: Employee Substance Abuse

June 16, 2014 • Curt Finch

substance-abuseThis type of substance abuse invariably affects job performance and company health, especially in small companies where fewer employees handle more responsibilities.

How Can Substance Abuse Affect Your Company?

Employee substance abuse is both dangerous and expensive, costing U.S. companies an estimated $81 billion annually. Drug and alcohol abusers are more likely to be absent, less productive, and get injuries or cause injuries to others on the job. This costs employers in sick leave, insurance claims, overtime pay, workers compensation, equipment damage, employee turnover, and damage to the company’s reputation.

As Festa puts it, “Employees under the influence of these substances in the workplace not only pose a potential danger to themselves, but also to everyone else around them.”

What Can You Do?

The first defense against substance abuse is formulating a clear policy. Small businesses should have a written policy in place stating that drug and alcohol use will not be tolerated in the workplace. This policy should outline the consequences for incidents of substance abuse, rules regarding alcohol consumption at company events (holiday parties, picnics, etc.), and if your company employs drug testing, the procedures of this testing and the consequences should a failed test arise. But it’s not enough to have a policy in place – your employees need to know about it. Make new hires read and sign this policy before starting work, and consider hosting training sessions to update current employees.

In addition to having these measures in place, business owners should also be able to recognize the signs of drug or alcohol abuse in their employees. According to Cali Estes, a certified drug and alcohol therapist, potential signs of substance abuse include bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, excessive absences, arriving to work late and leaving work early. For more signs of addiction, check out The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s list of common signs.

Alcohol and drug use is a problem in all businesses, but it can be especially crippling for small businesses, which depend on the integrity and hard work of a small number of employees. Fortunately, putting a strong policy and treatment options in place can effectively mitigate these costs and dangers.

Connect with Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach at 800.706.0318




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